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Constructive and Destructive Thoughts 3

What harmful thought patterns can bring a formerly loving relationship down to its knees?

In the second part of our current series, we explored 3 destructive mental frames that can completely distort a person’s perception of his spouse.

Destructive frames of mind can result in the complete disruption of marital harmony, which in turn can produce irreparable damage to the intimate relationship of two people.

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It is essential that you are able to recognize harmful mental frames and avoid using them so you can begin improving your communication with your spouse. Below are some more fractured mental frames that have absolutely no place in a loving, married relationship:

1. Black and White State of Mind – When a person sees the world in black and white and subscribes to the notion that no middle ground exists, destructive dichotomies can easily manifest and ruin a person’s perception of his partner or spouse.

How does this mental frame work?

A good example of a black and white state of mind is when you begin believing that your spouse’s actions can only be good or bad. You believe that your spouse is “good” when he says or does things that suit your needs or desires.

He is “bad” when he focuses on something else or he wasn’t immediately able to provide something that you wanted/needed.

A person who subscribes exclusively to dichotomies forgets that humans are multifaceted beings with complex needs, desires and motivations. With this in mind, it’s not realistic or even possible that a person can be placed within one of two strict categories.

2. The Builder of Horrors – People who fantasize about horrible “truths” about their spouses are aptly called the builders of horrors, because instead of relying on logic and what’s already out there, they resort to dreaming up negative conclusions based on tiny fragments of reality. Here are some statements from builders of horrors:

“He’s always 20 minutes late for dinner, maybe he has a mistress now, some girl from the office?”

“She’s never interested in what I have to say, maybe she wants a divorce now that she has a better-paying job and she doesn’t need me anymore”

“He used to be a complete slob and now he’s fixing his hair and buying clothes, I think he’s leaving me for someone better and prettier!”

Why are these statements harmful?

These statements are made without any prior dialogue; they are merely based on specific behaviors that are taken out of context to fit the person’s doomsday thinking.

What is the victim mindset?

This type of thinking not only disrupts the harmony of the relationship but it also bolsters the “victim mindset” that some people use to dominate their spouses.

Believe it or not, some people use the “victim mindset” to emotionally harm others and it works because no one likes being accused of causing someone pain or suffering. The “victim mindset” is all about reframing reality so that other people are always responsible for one’s misfortunes and problems.

3. Fantasies of Responsibility and Control – One of the most common mental distortions in married life is the irrational feeling of being responsible for everything that happens in the life of one’s husband or wife.

Do you feel responsible for everything that goes on in your spouse’s life?

A married couple is responsible for many things but there exists a fine line between reasonable responsibility and an irrational or almost god-like sense of being in control.

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For example, a husband may feel depressed that “he’s not doing enough” when he sees his wife exhausted from putting in extra hours at work.

If we logically analyze this situation, we would plainly see that the husband’s actions don’t have an impact on his wife while she is at work. When the wife comes home from work, her attitude and stress level are caused by stressors at work and not necessarily by what she finds at home, though this is also a possibility.

However, to say that the husband can “do things” to alleviate the wife’s stress level at work is already pushing the boundaries of what’s real and possible, unless the husband is a manager or project leader in his wife’s company and they’re in the same department or division.

This distorted mental filter is harmful in a relationship because it creates unnecessary stress, frustration and guilt that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

A reversal of roles and responsibilities can also occur; one party may begin to see his/her spouse as the main cause of all current problems regardless of how irrational the idea may seem.

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