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  • by Jonathan Sobin, Psy.D. tampamarriagerepair.com

The Big Umbrella


The big umbrella is a fundamental concept for committed relationships, including marriage.

I see so many couples who argue, and then in the middle of the argument one or the other of the couple makes the big pronouncement: "That's it! I'm done!" or "I want a divorce!"

It is so destructive to reference the end of a marriage. For me, the D-word is a swear word. It must never be uttered lightly. I tell couples that I don't want to hear anything about that kind of talk unless the person really means it. By which I mean that there should follow serious discussion about the ending of the marriage, and the involvement of lawyers. Otherwise, it is just a blunt instrument for beating up your partner.

If that is not your intention, you need to stop doing that right this minute. Marriage is a fragile institution and it must never be treated roughly. Do not take liberties; do not make threats.

Instead, consider the image of a Big Umbrella. This is the understanding you have with your partner, and the promise that you have made, that your marriage is permanent and forever. The point here then is that any disagreement you might be having is narrow and enveloped by the enormity of your commitment.

What this means is that you should be able to return to the Big Umbrella even when you have unresolved issues. In other words, you can put a disagreement on hold, or know you have an unresolved issue, without having the feeling that you have lost your connection with your partner. You never want to be thinking, "See, this just proves it's hopeless."

Instead, you and your partner can go back to being "lovies," even knowing there is an unresolved issue that will have to be discussed again later. Guess what? There always are and always will be unresolved issues and differences in perspective. If you are going to disconnect every time you disagree, your marriage is doomed. The argument is not your marriage. Your marriage is the Big Umbrella that encompasses all the days and years, good and bad.

In addition, you don't have to stay angry and underscore your position by using the silent treatment or sarcasm or other connection-breakers. This is called "acting out," which means you are making your point in indirect, passive-aggressive ways. Rather, go back to being lovies, in other words get back to be business of being married people. But know you can return to the matter on which you are in disagreement at a later time.

One of the best days in 50 years of marriage is the one when you learn how to say, "I'll stop being angry if you'll stop being angry." What a joy when your partner has the courage to say, "Sounds good to me!


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Jonathan Sobin, Psy.D



 

 

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