Do you and your spouse lack intimacy in your marriage? Or feel like financial decisions are being made without understanding why? If one or both of you feel your relationship is unfulfilling or confusing in any way, you might have an emotion-based marriage. There are two types of emotion-based marriages: benign and malignant.

One example of a benign emotion-based marriage is a couple that is so busy with other tasks that they seem to have no time for regular systems of intimacy, such as sharing feelings, dating, or collaborating on financial decisions. Instead, they go through their daily lives based on their emotions. Thus, if a goal has been set to achieve by the end of the day, but one spouse feels like doing something else, that goal will be set back yet another day.

As a result, the relationship has no structure. It is difficult to get this couple to do anything together on a regular basis. Nothing gets done by any deadlines. Practiced consistency, or principle-based judgment, eludes their thought-process. Neither spouse is intentionally trying to harm the other, but they struggle to maintain any semblance of organization.

Over time, this lifestyle damages a couple’s prospects for lifelong intimacy—it takes more than just fleeting moments of discipline to establish that long-term closeness. Rather, it is accumulated through a lifetime of disciplined behavior. Even if a spouse doesn’t feel like completing a task set out for the week, that husband or wife will see it through because he or she made a commitment that is only given meaning when obeyed.

On the other hand, a malignant emotion-based marriage looks like this: if one spouse wants to punish the other through neglecting the other spouse for days at a time, he or she will, regardless of the consequences. Selfishness like this is toxic; it causes an unpleasant volatility and inconsistency in intimacy. Anger and silence are used to control the spouse and other family members.

Refusal to heed counsel or instruction from others is also common in a malignant emotion-based relationship. If this continues, it can also lead to undiagnosed forms of emotional disorders: addictions to work, alcohol, drugs, or sex. Basically, the attitude of one or both spouses’ hearts is “my way or the highway.”

On the flipside, the opposite of an emotion-based relationship is one based on principle, in which intimacy flourishes and one person never dominates the other. There is structure to their relationship, and real consequences if goals are not met within reasonable timeframes. They work together to solve problems and avoid acting to serve their own impulses.

The key to such a marriage is spiritual maturity, which is crucial in establishing long-term intimacy as well. There are certain areas in which one or both spouses act like a child, adolescent, or adult. The first step to repairing the infrastructure of your marriage is identifying and discussing these areas with your spouse honestly, without attacking or shaming him or her for the deficiencies you perceive.

If these problems are too severe to resolve on your own, consult professional help from a counselor or a pastor. Only from here will you be able to improve upon these issues accordingly and set real goals and guidelines that establish a stable, long-lasting marriage structure. Then, finally, you will experience your relationship blossom into something you never could have imagined.

Excerpt taken from: 30 Day Marriage Makeover

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Heart to Heart Counseling Center offers counseling and intensives to help you achieve love and understanding with your spouse.


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