Has Your Marriage Crossed the "I Don't Care" Line?
I can still recall the early years of our marriage. My wife and I were young, strong headed and somewhat lost as to what we wanted and needed from each other. It was not an easy time.
Each marriage has its own unique challenges that it must deal with but there is a point of crossover that seems to have a profound effect on how couples deal with their struggles. Dr. Gottman, renowned researcher and marriage expert from the University of Washington refers to this point as, Positive Sentiment Override and Negative Sentiment Override. I refer to it as the, I Don’t Care Anymore line.
The, I Don’t Care Anymore line is the point at which despair wins out over hope in a marriage. This often happens when an issue of conflict continues to arise in a relationship with no solution to be found. Eventually, one or both partners wear down and say to themselves, I just don’t care anymore. When this happens, the desire to find constructive resolutions to problems is lost. Instead of hopefulness, a passive, defensive, contemptuous, antagonistic language and attitude begins to develop toward the marriage and one another. And, even though this doesn’t necessarily mean the marriage is doomed, it will certainly change the dynamics and quality of the relationship.
So why do people, once so deeply in love, cross the I Don’t Care Anymore line? Just like my wife and I, we felt frustrated over issues that we couldn’t seem to find answers to. One day, in a moment of discouragement I almost crossed the line. In that instant, I felt completely justified in adopting a new, darker, self-serving attitude. Fortunately, with some insight from my past and a little luck, I was able to resist my short-term desires and try once again to find answers to our struggles. Looking back over 33 years of marriage I can honestly say this was one of the biggest and best decisions I have ever made!
If you feel like you are getting to the point of saying, I just don’t care anymore, stop where you are, think through your options and confide in your mate. It is so much easier to move away from the line then trying and get back across it. The damage that can be inflicted on a marriage after the, I Don’t Care Anymore line is crossed can be irreparable. If you think you or your spouse has already crossed the line, resolve to seek professional help or at a minimum be willing to approach one another and sincerely say, “I want to care again.” For a marriage to work properly both partners need to help foster an attitude of hopefulness about the future of the relationship and it is the simple effort of caring for one another that is critical to this attitude of hope.