It’s tempting to see marital issues as diagnoses; but they may be symptoms of a larger problem.
Diagnoses are tricky! We tend to jump there instead of looking at all the symptoms first.
There’s a book we read during engagement called “Holy Sex”. It was written by Catholic psychotherapist Dr. Gregory Popcak to give engaged couples a start to practical conversations about sex and holiness within marriage. In his book, Dr. Popcak explained there must be continuity between your daily relationship and your sexual relationship.
Dr. Popcak’s advice is to look at your sexual life in relation to your daily life. Every aspect of intimacy, appreciation, and happiness is linked together in marriage. There have been countless celebrity divorces this year that featured ex-spouses saying they needed to “figure themselves out.” There are even cases of divorces due to “sexless marriages.” These issues with intimacy and individualism have been the diagnosed problems in these broken marriages.
Diagnoses or symptoms?
As Dr. Popcak wisely says, there is continuity in every aspect of marriage. Needing to spend time on yourself is not the problem. Selfishness within marriage is the problem.
If a person decides after years of marriage that they need a break for themselves, something else has gone wrong. Maybe they actually married a controlling person who did not allow them to have an identity outside their marriage. Or, more likely, they were never willing to rise to the challenges of married life and are running away from the need to grow. A lot of people, especially women, struggling with this issue when they become parents.
If a marriage is “sexless” and lacks healthy intimacy, the lack is not the problem. The problem is the emotional disconnection that is keeping spouses from physical connection. Most of the reasons people report they divorce are symptoms are larger problems with trust, selfishness, and intimacy.
Yet, they get diagnoses as the problem, and divorce is the prescription.