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"Them" and "US" in a marriage!

We see happy couples around us. On facebook, instagram, whatsapp statuses. Posting pictures, smiling, dancing, enjoying, travelling. So many smiling faces. Such happiness and bliss. Especially couples who are newly engaged or married. With time, the frequency of posts change. At least till the time the couple has a baby who is at least 3-4 months old. And then, it is mostly about the family, friends, baby, etc. Every single event of their lives is online. Then there are influencer couples. The ones who try to paint the reality of relationships. They often show how the wife is upset with the husband and what the husband does to please her or to take her wrath. Or about funny incidents where stereotypical gender roles are displayed in the most humorous ways possible.

To the ones, sitting on the other side of the phone, tablet or laptop, this world seems like reality. Marriage seems to be an idea to be suffered yet cherished. It looks difficult but there is so much spice to it. Until they actually do get married and then reality strikes after a few years. Everything you know about marriage, starts falling apart when you experience it firsthand. I will be writing about each of these events. However, in this article, I am going to write only about 1! Thats TEAMWORK!!!

As couple therapists and psychologists, we have the privilege of being a part of an individual's or couple's journey. The reality is that most couples report feeling a distance from their partners

after a few years.This distance is emotional, organic and nobody really seems to know how they got there. The distance does not automatically mean a DIVORCE or INFIDELITY or ABUSE. It is merely felt by either one or both partners, and none knows what to do about it, but to just CARRY ON.

He took parts of me away from me. Promised that he would hold on to them to care for and to nurture. He did the same for others: his parents, best friends, and then I did not know when parts of me got entangled with parts of him and his loved ones who I barely even knew. And now, I'm just left struggling to find these pieces of me, one by one, trying to remember who I was, who I am, before I met him. The first blow to me is something I do not even remember, because it was so subtle. I barely even noticed. Was it asking me to be a certain way in front of his loved ones and not be entirely myself because THEY may not like it? Was it when he preferred going out with friends/family than spending time with me for most nights during the week? Was it involving loved ones on every occasion that was supposed to be privately celebrated by us? Was it extreme and disturbing closeness with his loved ones that told me they mean more to him than I mean to him? I wish I had known that ADJUSTMENT also meant giving up on the unity and oneness of us as a COUPLE. I did not know that COMPROMISE also meant being okay with being SECONDARY to someone but being told that I AM PRIMARY, a lie that today I refuse to believe, because now, TODAY there is no more US. It's only THEM vs ME!

What do you feel when you read this? The first blow to a marriage or any relationship for that matter, is when the WE doesn't get a chance to form. Almost 60-65% of couples who I see are facing this.

Now, the challenge lies in explaining this. This feeling in one partner that "we are not on the same team" is an extremely DANGEROUS one. This mostly happens in cultures, where family or friends take precedence over anything else. It is a need for security, familiarity and comfort which drives people into constantly seeking the GROUP feeling with another set of people/person. The insecurities can sometimes be related to the other partner, because somehow the partner also fails to instill a level of confidence that this is a strong and solid commitment. Whatever the reason, when there are competing elements around the marriage, couples find themselves in a situation, where they fail to understand the issue at hand. Lack of identification of the problem does not allow couples to find a way out or resolve these differences.

Often the negative sentiments of the injured partner towards their spouse's other teammates is so strong, that resolution between the two, can never be the solution. In fact, the emotional distance keeps growing if they even try doing this. So then, how do you try to work on this TEAM?

The first step is identifying, accepting and TAKING RESPONSIBILITY. Most of the couples are so blind to this fact that they fail to identify the real reason. The partner needs to take responsibility for not being proactive in forming a TEAM with their partner. Taking responsibility means accepting that there is an unhealthy attachment he/she has towards the other team members. It probably also means regulating this attachment or in some severe cases, even cutting ties.

The next step is to give REASSURANCE by ensuring that the couple is actually visible as a TEAM in the eyes of the other "teammates". This reassurance usually comes by the disconnected spouse starts APPRECIATING the injured spouse publicly, takes a STAND for the injured spouse and their interests, displays LOVE & AFFECTION publicly in front of other loved ones. This ensures that no crack is seen in the couple as a team for any third entity to enter their space. Even if the injured spouse is perceived as wrong, the disconnected spouse needs to still protect them publicly, while privately discussing the matter and seeking a resolution for the same.

The most important part is maintaining PRIORITY and PRIME POSITION of the partner. When both partners are absolutely clear that they are of primary importance, then they can still bend over backwards to accommodate

other loved ones or "teammates". However, the more an injured partner feels isolated and separate from the other "team", they will invite even more conflict, thereby making the disconnected spouse further their distance.

Really, it is not so difficult to resolve issues that you are facing as a couple. If you follow these steps, you can find yourself in love with your partner more than ever, and you can have that beautiful, harmonious relationship with each other-the one you've been seeing on social media and much more! So all the best to all those couples who are willing to work on their marriages like a TEAM!

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