Is Your Marriage a Private Matter?

Cer­tainly not; your wed­ding wasn’t. Let me try and explain, but first let me say what prompted me to write this blog. I’ll make it short. I recently talked to the par­ents of a cou­ple who was about to get divorced and they said: “We can­not do any­thing about it. It’s their busi­ness and their pri­vate life. They are adults and we do not want to interfere.”

If no one both­ers to “inter­fere”, there will be all sorts of trau­mas, incon­ve­niences, changes and expenses for all involved: the cou­ple them­selves, par­ents, friends, col­leagues, employ­ees, and employ­ers, etc., etc. In short, every­one with whom the cou­ple comes in con­tact. Peo­ple take sides and it causes a rip­ple effect of bro­ken friend­ships, hurt feel­ings, much gos­sip, and so on. As you can see, this is far from being a ”pri­vate mat­ter”, although it may seem that way at first sight.

In the past, when peo­ple lived in extended fam­i­lies sep­a­ra­tions and divorces were rare. The couple’s fam­ily felt respon­si­ble for their rela­tion­ship. A cou­ple could not behave any way they “felt like it” because there were always wit­nesses to pass judg­ment on their behav­ior. It is clear who is the one mess­ing up a mar­riage. Friends and fam­ily some­how think they are not respon­si­ble for the well being of the couple’s rela­tion­ship. It is so easy to shed the respon­si­bil­ity. Peo­ple often for­get – or they never knew in the first place – that wed­dings are meant for the guests to wit­ness the wed­ding vows and keep the cou­ple account­able and remind them of “until death do us part”. You are not invited to a wed­ding to eat, drink and have a good time only. Cer­tain respon­si­bil­i­ties come with it if you are a friend or a family.

So, as you can see, the respon­si­bil­ity for the suc­cess of a mar­riage is on both sides: the cou­ples, and on their fam­ily and friends. When a cou­ple is alone and iso­lated as a “nuclear fam­ily”, and when it comes to a break-up most peo­ple imme­di­ately take sides with one part­ner or the other instead of tak­ing a stand for the mar­riage itself. I’m not say­ing that all cou­ples must stay together no mat­ter what, but my expe­ri­ence as a rela­tion­ship coach with thou­sands of peo­ple, tells me that there are very few rea­sons that may jus­tify a break up: abuse for one. How­ever, most peo­ple break up for rea­sons such as an urge to be right, jus­ti­fy­ing one’s actions and inval­i­dat­ing the other’s, a wish to dom­i­nate or avoid dom­i­na­tion of mar­i­tal respon­si­bil­i­ties, being needy, hav­ing an inflated pic­ture of their own con­tri­bu­tion in the part­ner­ship, etc. All of these are per­son­al­ity issues that, if a per­son is will­ing, can be eas­ily iso­lated and dealt with. Peo­ple are always so ready to blame oth­ers and at the same time be totally unaware of their own actions and short­com­ings and what is even worse, being in total denial of it.

Friends and fam­ily hear only one side of the story when the going gets rough and often don’t know or don’t dare to ask ques­tions that may open a person’s eyes to their own actions (or more often inac­tions) that might have caused the prob­lem. So, instead of being sup­port­ers for their rela­tion­ships they become accom­plices to the break up.

On the other hand, a cou­ple often does not ask for help until it’s almost too late, or ask for help in the wrong places, with peo­ple who will uncon­di­tion­ally agree with their ver­sion of the whys, the hows and the whos, not both­er­ing to find out if there is more to it than meets the eye.

In con­clu­sion: sep­a­ra­tion is not a pri­vate affair. All involved should take respon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ure of a rela­tion­ship. And, yes, if you know them, you ARE involved. And if a cou­ple thinks that their break up is their own busi­ness, think again. You are not alone in this world; you may be screw­ing up some­one else’s life as well, not only your own. It is time to grow up, become an adult, what­ever that means to you. Stop point­ing fin­gers at oth­ers and see what you can do because you are the only per­son you can have con­trol over. Do not worry about your part­ner since he/she will react to you as she/he always has done in the past and is doing so in the present.


Comments (12)

After Affair

February 14th, 2011 at 12:47 AM    

Thanks for the post. Wow, I for­got how com­plex life really is until I read your post. It reminded me of what goes into a suc­cess­ful mar­riage. It is no won­der why so many are strug­gling. Thanks for the reminder and great content.

Pas­tor Vance Williamson

Alex Chew

March 27th, 2011 at 7:17 PM    

Great arti­cle on mar­riage. Indeed the respon­si­bil­ity that comes with mar­riage can­not be undermined.


April 19th, 2011 at 3:10 AM    

It is very true that most coupes take mar­riage as a pri­vate mat­ter but when it reaches to such a point where there is divorce, most peo­ple suf­fer and espe­cially the chil­dren. there is a mag­a­zine that can help you to know that mar­riage is not a pri­vate affair.

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April 20th, 2011 at 11:00 PM    

In west­ern mind,marriage can be a pri­vate matter.But in Asia,marriage is always related to two families,which can’t be con­sider as pri­vate matter.

Daren Neehouse

April 27th, 2011 at 4:04 AM    

I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be just what I’m look­ing for. Does one offer guest writ­ers to write con­tent avail­able for you? I wouldn’t mind com­pos­ing a post or elab­o­rat­ing on many of the sub­jects you write in rela­tion to here. Again, awe­some blog!


May 4th, 2011 at 6:09 PM    

I think its a fine bal­ance. For the most part what hap­pens in a rela­tion­ship is per­sonal. Mak­ing inti­mate details pub­lic knowl­edge is a betrayal of trust. On the other hand there is a time and a place for rela­tion­ship inter­ven­tion. A dis­as­so­ci­ated third party can often see a sit­u­a­tion with a clearer set of eyes.

Petrovic N

May 12th, 2011 at 3:37 PM    

For most I have to admit this is a great blog. Thank you. How­ever on this one I do have to dis­agree, since in my expe­ri­ence and in Europe we have dis­turb­ing fenom­ena of “toxic par­ents” influ­ence over the grownup life in male and female. There­fore most rela­tion­ships prob­lems of an adult derive from affec­tiv dis­sor­ders gen­er­ated by the “toxic fam­ily” and edu­ca­tion in the child­hood often per­pet­u­ated. Obe­di­ence con­fused with respect, lack of integrity, passiv-agressiv atti­tude, ego­cen­trism, autode­struc­tiv behav­iour etc. These indi­vid­u­als go through life with affec­tiv depen­dency, costantly crav­ing approval from their par­ents. This type of fam­ily is not rare and involved or not, can only be destruc­tiv on the entire exis­tance not only relationships.In my opin­ion some peo­ple need to desso­ci­ate from “toxic fam­ily” or “toxic friend­ships” in order to keep the rela­tion­ship sane. We are all capabe to F-it up by our­selfs, we don’t need help there!


May 13th, 2011 at 11:03 PM    

The Rela­tion­ship Saver writ­ten for men­tally healthy and sta­ble peo­ple. I agree that if there is a deeper psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion to be dealt with i rec­om­mend that a per­son see a ther­a­pist. I also rec­om­mend that you never com­plain about your part­ner to your fam­ily or friends.


November 8th, 2011 at 10:11 PM    

As pri­vate a mar­riage is at the same time it isn’t. It’s impor­tant to talk about your mar­riage and even issues with other peo­ple to get insight on. Maybe some­one else has a dif­fer­ent out­look on the sit­u­a­tion that you didn’t think of. The impor­tant stuff of course needs to stay pri­vate but it takes a lot of work keep a mar­riage together.

DUI evaluation

January 26th, 2012 at 4:19 AM    

When cou­ples are start­ing to have prob­lems, it is advis­able to set­tle it first by them­selves. After all, they are the ones who know what to be resolved. How­ever, if there is still an issue, pro­fes­sional help is likely their option.


February 4th, 2012 at 11:58 AM    

You are right. Only cou­ples them­selves can solve their prob­lems. No one can do it for them. That only they know what to be resolved is only par­tially true, though. Cou­ples often think that the prob­lem resides in the other per­son and don’t con­sider that their part­ner may sim­ply be react­ing to their own behav­ior. What they don’t know — and that is where they need help from the very begin­ning — is how to do it. I very often wish peo­ple had the access to The Rela­tion­ship Saver as soon as the trou­ble starts and even before that. Unfor­tu­nately, I often get let­ters start­ing with: “We have been sep­a­rated for three monts…” You can­not solve the prob­lems with same way of think­ing that cre­ated the prob­lems in the first place. Change of the per­spec­tive is nec­es­sary. That’s why The Rela­tion­ship Saver works.


September 2nd, 2014 at 9:41 PM    

Huh…I never thought of it like that.…being a wit­ness to their vows, and basi­cally hold­ing them both account­able for it…interesting way of look­ing at it.

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