Family crisis: a psychologist tells how to restore harmony in a relationship

Family crises in the 21st century are rapidly gaining momentum. The emergence of all kinds of psychotherapeutic techniques is the main proof of the increasing level of tension in relationships between people. The inability to effectively and quickly prevent conflicts has plagued humanity at all stages of development. A crisis in marriage was the norm in the Middle Ages, but the spiritual values ​​of that time did not allow focusing on this.
At the turn of the 2000s, the popularization of divorce began to rapidly gain momentum. The family crisis revealed itself to the world, and people free from party and state oppression began to consider divorce as the only way out for liberation.


Family relationships: the ideal is unattainable, but the paths are known

Psychology was the youngest branch of medical sciences. The knowledge accumulated over several decades was not enough to give people help in resolving controversial situations.

Now things are different. Psychotherapy became the norm, spouses learned to consciously approach everyday problems, and society was able to talk openly about sex. But despite this, the divorce rate is growing. What to do and how to learn to deal with crises?

Crisis of the first year: from romance to everyday life

Young spouses face their first serious test after the first year of marriage. Feelings for each other are no longer as bright as at the beginning of the relationship, and we begin to notice that other halves have not only advantages. A husband, for example, may be an early bird, and a wife a night owl. He is an avid homebody, and she is a lover of outdoor activities. And everyday problems like a leaky tap are increasingly adding their own fly in the ointment.

What to do?

We are different, we are equal. Understand that, despite the fact that you are now one family, you still remain two different people, with your own habits, tastes and views. “Re-educating” a spouse is an unpromising task, and it is also a sure way to ruin a relationship.

From monologue to dialogue. Determine for yourself the fundamental issues on which you are not ready to concede, and those that are not so significant. Be sure to discuss what really worries you, because otherwise it is simply impossible to resolve the brewing conflict.

Respect is the foundation of marriage. Try not to blame, avoid generalizations: “You always...”. It’s better to say: “I’m sad and lonely because you’re at home less and less on weekends.” And never criticize your loved one in public, because if he did that to you, you obviously wouldn’t like it.

We all come from childhood. Refer to the experience of your parents. By immersing yourself in childhood memories, you may make interesting discoveries about why you or your partner behave the way they do. The experience taken from the parental family is very important. Analyze what exactly from this experience you want to transfer to your family and what not. These tips will help you overcome the crisis of 1 year of family life.

Crises in family life are natural stages in the formation and development of a family. You should not take the generally accepted time limits of a crisis literally (a crisis of one year or seven years) - they are arbitrary. For some married couples, a relationship crisis may begin a little earlier, while for others later.

From 11th to 13th

Usually, by 11–13 years of marriage, spouses reach adulthood, and a reassessment of values ​​occurs. Natures prone to excessive reflection begin to lament a life lived in vain, about missed opportunities.

Women feel that their husbands do not value their contribution to the family. Men are confident that something is constantly expected of them:

  • actions;
  • decisions;
  • money.

Old grievances and contradictions often surface. The situation is complicated by the presence of teenage children, because of whose behavior parents enter into endless disputes among themselves.

At this time, you need to learn to abstract from your personal experiences and try to outline general plans. The more global the goal, the better.

Three-year crisis: school for young parents

The next crisis of 3 years of family life usually occurs in the fourth year of marriage, because most often it is during this period that the first-born appears in the family. And this is not only a great joy, but also a serious test. The usual way of life is changing dramatically. A woman usually devotes herself to the child, and the financial support of the family falls entirely on the shoulders of men. All the woman’s attention during this period is devoted to the baby, and the husband sometimes begins to feel out of place in his own home. Lack of money, sleepless nights - all this significantly impacts relationships.

What to do?

One for two life. To survive the crisis of 3 years of marriage, you need to actively involve your husband in household chores. A man, for example, can take on the purchase of groceries and some of the housework. Yes, he may not succeed the first time. He may buy the wrong milk or wash the floor wrong. However, this is a matter of skill and nothing more. The well-being of the family greatly depends on the tactfulness of a woman and the willingness of a man to come to the rescue.

Returning to each other. Spouses have to re-establish the intimate sphere of their relationship. Hormonal changes in a woman’s body, increased fatigue, complete immersion in caring for the baby, of course, affect the quality and quantity of intimacy. And a man, overwhelmed by the joy of fatherhood, sometimes begins to see his wife exclusively as the mother of his child. Be patient, be attentive to each other, and do not hesitate to discuss issues that concern you.

Not mom's or dad's, but ours. Try to take care of the child together. Help your husband overcome fear and uncertainty about the fragility of the baby. Bath your child together, go for walks with him, and visit pediatricians. Do not interrupt your husband’s attempts to show concern for the baby, even if they are clumsy. Gently explain or show how to do it correctly, thus helping your husband become a Pope with a capital D.

Grandma is in a hurry to help! Don't neglect the help of your new grandparents. Thanks to them, you can get out to your favorite restaurant or cinema from time to time. Having a pleasant time together will help you step away a little from the roles of mom and dad and refresh your marital relationship.


Regulatory crises

The main current classification of family crises is named after the famous American psychotherapist Virginia Satir. She calls them normative and identifies 10 main problematic issues that every couple faces:

  1. Birth of the first child.
  2. A child's acquisition of speech.
  3. His admission to school.
  4. His teenage period, which overlaps with his parents' midlife crisis.
  5. “Empty nest” syndrome – children leaving the family.
  6. Children creating their own families.
  7. My wife's menopause.
  8. Decreased libido in husband.
  9. Mastering new roles - grandparents.
  10. Death of one of the spouses.

It is easy to see that the first normative crises are based on growing up and raising a child. The viability of this classification is proven by statistics: couples who do not have children either divorce in the first 3 years, or continue to live and never break up (after 3 years of marriage, divorce in such families is only 5%). This suggests that they do not have to live through most of the difficulties highlighted by Virginia Satir and associated specifically with children.

Non-normative crises

Psychologists Eidemiller and Justitskis identify other crises in family life that are associated with unfavorable living conditions and problems that arise at different stages. These include:

  • illness of one of the spouses;
  • socio-economic processes (financial crisis, war);
  • adultery;
  • conflicts with other people;
  • housing problems;
  • change in the social status of one of the spouses;
  • excessive load;
  • state of divorce;
  • domestic violence;
  • adoption, guardianship.

Non-normative crises can overtake a family at any period of life and even overlap one another, which aggravates an already precarious situation.

Fifth year crisis: family and career

Maternity leave is being replaced by everyday work, and at the same time many questions about how to combine family and professional life. It can be very difficult for a woman to get involved in the work process again, and the child is still small and requires a lot of attention. A woman does not have enough energy and time to do everything. She is exhausted physically and mentally, and this does not add happiness to family life. This situation is typical for a crisis of 5 years of marriage.

What to do?

We agree “on the shore”. To get through this stage less painfully, you need to redistribute responsibilities in advance. For example, a wife can take charge of cooking, and the husband will keep order in the house. One of the spouses can take the child to kindergarten, and the other can pick it up. The more questions like these you solve in advance, the easier you will get through this crisis. Of course, at first discomfort is inevitable, but gradually you will get used to the new order.

Don't overestimate your capabilities. Of course, a woman has every right to professional self-realization. However, it is worth understanding that if you set your sights on “great things” during this period, you can get pretty overextended. The child is still small and urgently needs you; not even the most loving grandmother or kindergarten can replace a mother. By leaving home when your child is still sleeping and returning when he is already asleep, you risk missing many significant moments of his growing up. Therefore, it may be worth postponing the climb to career Everest until the child is at least three years old.

Support and more support. Trust, support and mutual assistance are very important at this moment. The opportunity to sit in the kitchen in the evening with a cup of tea, sharing problems and sincerely empathizing with each other is the key to a strong relationship. If each spouse tries not to withdraw into himself, but is ready to accept support from a loved one and come to the rescue in a timely manner, not a single crisis can destroy such a union.

What it is

According to psychology, a family crisis is a state in a couple when homeostasis (self-regulation aimed at maintaining internal constancy and dynamic balance within the system) is disrupted, and this leads to frustration (dissatisfaction). Usually the impetus is some new situation that cannot be resolved using the usual model of behavior.

Example. The crisis of the first year of family life is most often associated with the birth of a child, which is the very impetus. Spouses can no longer maintain homeostasis (as before, visiting guests, traveling, just watching TV in the evenings), i.e., internal balance is disturbed. The wife is in a state of frustration because her husband is not helping her. He, in turn, is dissatisfied due to the lack of attention on her part. Habitual models of behavior no longer work: if previously the negativity of a quarrel could be extinguished by conversation, reconciliatory sex, or a conversation with a friend, now the problem has to be solved in other ways.

Over the years, experts have collected information about exactly what stage of the life cycle family crises occur at, and this allowed them to create several classifications.

Crisis of the seventh year: peace and quiet

One of the most acute periods is the crisis of relationships after 7 years of marriage, despite the external calm and well-being of the family. The children are growing up, life is settled, responsibilities are distributed. The former passion and romance in relationships is no longer there, family life is increasingly reminiscent of an endless “Groundhog Day”, and spouses become bored with each other. During this period, betrayal is not uncommon. Men, having an affair on the side, most often do not want to leave their nest, but simply crave fresh impressions. But women, on the contrary, having reached a certain boiling point, can leave their husbands and plunge into the abyss of new passions.

What to do?

Is someone else's honey really that sweet? An affair on the side can shake things up and give you fresh impressions. However, the price of such adventures is incredibly high. Betrayal can destroy everything good and dear that was in the family once and for all. Another way is to move away from the usual stereotypes and bring something new and interesting into the relationship for both. This is the only way your relationship with your loved one will sparkle with new colors.

Stay within range. If you get the feeling that everyone lives on their own, and family communication is increasingly reduced to issues of raising children and everyday troubles, it’s time to think seriously. Don’t withdraw into your shell: talk about what worries you, share your dreams, give each other pleasant surprises for no reason.

Non-childish problems. Whatever difficulties arise in the relationship, try not to involve children in them. You should not manipulate children in order to put pressure on your spouse. Moreover, you should not make the decision to have another child alone, especially if your husband does not want this at all. Such a way to save a marriage is actually nothing more than a deception, fraught with far from pleasant consequences for the whole family.

Look for common ground. Having a common hobby greatly unites spouses, making them like-minded people and a team. A common hobby - alpine skiing, tango lessons, hiking - awakens interest in each other and refreshes feelings.

8 symptoms that are dangerous for the family:

  1. The desire of spouses for intimacy decreases.
  2. Spouses no longer strive to please each other.
  3. All issues related to raising children provoke quarrels and mutual reproaches.
  4. Spouses do not have the same opinion on most issues that matter to them (relationships with family and friends, plans for the future, distribution of family income).
  5. Husband and wife poorly understand (or do not understand at all) each other's feelings.
  6. Almost all actions and words of a partner cause irritation.
  7. One of the spouses believes that he is forced to constantly yield to the wishes and opinions of the other.
  8. There is no need to share your problems and joys with your partner.

Crisis of seven years of family relationships

The 7-year crisis is dangerous for spouses because their relationships become predictable.

Differences in interests, lack of common hobbies, beliefs and views can alienate people from each other, especially since intimate sexual life becomes less intense and varied.

If we draw a parallel with the development of personality, we can remember that at the age of 7 a child begins to develop such new mental formations as: conscience, self-esteem, inner speech. Have you ever seen a seven-year-old child walking towards you on the street and talking to himself? If yes, then know that this child has begun to form a so-called inner world, the one in which we conduct a dialogue with ourselves.

The crisis of '14: gray hair in the beard, demon in the rib

This family crisis often coincides with the teenage crisis of a son or daughter, making the ordeal even more difficult. The child makes you quite nervous, defending his independence, and the husband is entering that age when he is no longer too young, but not yet old, and also sometimes resembles a arrogant teenager. The crisis of forty-year-olds is characterized by a desire to prolong the period of youth, when it is attractive, sexy, full of strength and hope. It is during this period that men often go to great lengths, hitting on young beauties.

What to do?

Stay on your toes. Often women forget to take care of themselves, believing that it is no longer so important. Not true! Take care of yourself, develop, live a rich life. The man of such a woman is proud of his wife and at the same time remains on guard. Seeing each other as man and woman is vital to a relationship.

Me + you = us. Bring something new into life, but at the same time keep family traditions dear to your heart. Try to solve some issues together, be it repairs or raising a child. Don't demand or blame, but ask for help, while demonstrating how significant it is to you.

This too shall pass. It’s worth being patient - the crisis will end someday, and the value of family will acquire a new, deeper meaning for yesterday’s adventurer and today’s exemplary family man.

Stages of crises

Having dealt with the crisis in family relationships over the years, it is also necessary to understand at what stage the crisis is at one time or another. It is clear that a conflict situation does not arise out of nowhere, out of nowhere. There are no such situations when a couple lives happily, and suddenly the family falls apart in just a few weeks.

The psychology of family crises over the years is such that the process of deterioration in relationships lasts a long time, and this happens as gradually and step by step as in the development of just beginning relationships.

The following stages of the crisis are distinguished:

  1. irritation _ At first it may seem that there is nothing wrong with irritation. But, a husband is annoyed by his wife for no apparent reason, just as a husband is annoyed by his wife. Both spouses develop a state of unreasonable internal anxiety;
  2. Spouses' ideas about marriage and relationships change . At some certain moment, one of the partners comes to the understanding that he has connected his life with the wrong person. Such thoughts begin to occur to a man when he loses his life purpose, he becomes sad, and does not want any progress in the relationship. This annoys the wife, she develops complete antipathy towards her husband;
  3. the husband becomes petty , and the wife strives to take possession of the entire family budget by any fraudulent means. A man begins to regret money for only one reason - he suddenly realizes that the woman next to him is not his destiny. So he stops investing. A woman in this situation should not rack her brains over why her husband suddenly became stingy and fraudulently sought money. We need to find the reason why she, as a woman, has become uninteresting to him;
  4. dangerous stage . In which, after violent scandals, the husband begins to raise his hand against his wife. In addition, he speaks insultingly about her appearance and mocks her personal qualities.

After such insults, a woman becomes withdrawn and discusses all her problems with her friends. In addition, the woman begins to envy her friends who are more successful in family relationships, but hopes that their relationship will collapse just as quickly.

The listed stages of the family life crisis over the years move from one to another if the very first problem that arises is not initially solved. If the situation is brought to the last crisis period, then by this time the relationship will be practically destroyed.

A man, having reached the last crisis stage, becomes a complete loser, sometimes finding solace in alcohol. The woman is constantly under stress. Female panic attacks, combined with low self-esteem, lower a woman to the lowest level, from where it is almost impossible to rise. When a couple has reached the last stage of a family crisis over the years, the best thing to do is to separate. Even after separation, the spouses will need some time to comprehend what happened. It is possible that having calmed down and thought about their behavior, the couple will get back together and try to restore the relationship again.

Crisis of '25: empty nest

This is perhaps one of the last significant and painful crises in the life of a family. The career has already been built, the children have grown up and created their own families, and, perhaps, have already pleased them with grandchildren. Left in an “empty nest,” spouses may feel that the threads connecting them are now completely lost. Few people in such a situation get officially divorced, but the actual collapse of the relationship can hang a silent curtain in the house.

What to do?

Be nostalgic. Remember how it all began, how your feelings arose, what the joy was from having your loved one nearby. At that time there were no children in the family yet, but their absence did not at all prevent them from feeling close and significant to each other.

Master new family roles. Now you are grandparents, and this is a great happiness. Enjoy these moments together and you will feel twice as happy.

Make your dreams come true. You've worked hard, and now is the time to give yourself permission to live for your own pleasure. Make your dreams come true. Do you dream of traveling? This means it’s time to start planning your route and setting out for new experiences. Tired of the city? Get a summer house and enjoy moments of silence and the opportunity to plant the flower garden of your dreams under your window. Look for what is close to both of you and bring it to life.

General points

Psychologists identify three symptoms that indicate the onset of a crisis:

  1. Stopping confidential conversations when spouses stop sharing their own experiences with each other.
  2. Decline in sexual activity.
  3. Irritability towards your significant other.

There are only 2 ways out of every crisis:

  1. Constructive when the marriage survives.
  2. Destructive when a couple files for divorce.

If earlier in family psychology it was believed that a constructive way out of a crisis is always positive, and a destructive way out is always negative, now such a gradation of assessment has been abolished. It often happens that a husband and wife decide to stay together because of the child, so as not to traumatize him. However, both are unhappy, can barely tolerate each other and take it out on the one for whom they saved the family. The result is psychological trauma for everyone. And sometimes, freed from oppressive relationships, people gain peace of mind, peace and a new value consciousness, which contributes to their further personal growth.

Decline in intimate activity

It's no secret that intimacy changes with age. Chronic diseases, age-related hormonal changes, stress, and menopause have an effect. If both are looking after their health, something else can be done by shifting the emphasis to friendship and common interests. But if one person’s sexual activity remains, while the other’s decreases, mutual discontent begins, a search for adventure on the side begins, which becomes the cause of discord. By the way, the first to be hit are couples whose intimacy was the only glue that held the union together.

Conventionally, several of the most critical ages of the family are identified.

Crisis of the first year of family life

This is the first and most predictable crisis. In the first year of married life, “polishing of relationships” occurs, the couple learns to live under one roof as a single whole, solves financial problems, distributes household responsibilities, and simply begins to use one closet, bathtub, toilet before going to work. The young people spend all their free time together and begin to get used to each other.

The reasons for quarrels during this period are reluctance to change the previous way of life, take into account the opinion of the other half, and financial difficulties. Often the situation is aggravated by accepting financial assistance from parents. In such cases, the husband does not feel like the breadwinner and head of the family, and this inevitably leads to tension in the relationship.

What to do: if spouses love each other, then this crisis will be overcome quite easily, by simply finding compromises. Don't hold a grudge: if you don't like something, talk to your spouse and try to solve the problem peacefully. There is no need to issue ultimatums or blackmail your loved one with sex or anything else important to him if you are not satisfied with his behavior. You should not threaten your spouse with divorce, because he may unexpectedly agree to end the marriage, and not because he wants it, but because he is simply offended.

Crisis of three years of family life

During this period, illusions about your partner dissipate, and it becomes finally clear who he really is and that he or she is not the same as in your dreams. Constant routine, problems and other circumstances are strangling your family. The reason for conflict is the reluctance of one of the spouses to have children, while the second spouse has long dreamed of a child.

What to do: during this period, you need to understand that family is you together. And all problems must be resolved through mutual efforts. If you love each other and want to save your marriage, you must have common interests and aspirations. Only then will you cope with the routine and any problems that come your way.

Family crisis after the birth of a child

Before giving birth, a woman was completely absorbed in pregnancy, and after it she devotes all her time and love to the child. The husband may feel superfluous and abandoned: after all, he receives much less attention than before. He misses his wife’s affection, but she, captivated by the child, does not notice this and does not understand why her husband has become so irritable. Some men throw themselves into work during this period, some go “to the left.” The woman feels some uncertainty. She doesn’t work, her appearance has changed, doubts arise and, often, groundless suspicions and quarrels. Spouses may also experience difficulties in arranging their home and finding a profession. What to do: already during pregnancy, a wise woman makes her husband feel that he is not a passive observer, but an active participant in events; she involves her husband in raising and caring for the child. At the same time, you should definitely remember: everything will be fine for the parents, and everything will be fine for the child. Communicate in a friendly manner, give each other pleasure in sex.

Maternity crisis

This crisis can manifest itself at the end of pregnancy or after maternity leave. The crisis is fraught with betrayal of the wife. The reason is that she wants new sensations, to feel like not only a wife and mother, but also a beautiful and sexy woman. And if she does not feel like that with her husband, then she begins to look around. What to do: here a man should not let the happiness of his family out of his hands - love your wife, emphasize that she is desirable, do not skimp on gifts, compliments and spending time together.

Family crisis of monotonous life

May occur after 7-9 years of family life. Everything is stable and monotonous. No romance or adventure. Often there are connections on the side. What to do: arrange a real trip for yourself, arrange surprises for your household, be together more often, go to the movies, for a walk. The child is already old enough to explain to him that his parents need to be alone. Come up with new ways to awaken your old feelings.

Crisis of forty years (forty years for the person, not the marriage)

This crisis is one of the most difficult. Half your life is behind you, and you begin to comprehend what has been done during this time. And if a woman can boast that she gave birth to children, then a man looks for himself in work.

Overcoming this crisis is quite difficult. Very often, men look for another, younger wife, because they can easily provide for her. Women plunge headlong into their careers.

What to do: we can overcome this crisis, like all previous ones, only together. Find a new hobby together, create a family business. Try to constantly interest each other, do not hide your feelings and emotions, and it is better to let them be positive.

Family crisis of loneliness

This crisis manifests itself when children grow up and become independent. Spouses are moving away from each other, there are fewer and fewer topics to talk about, a lot of free time appears, and the relationship is exhausting itself.

What to do: this family crisis is being resolved, like the previous one. Yes, and in the end, think about your grandchildren and walk with them more often. Add variety to boring everyday life - sign up for dancing, sports, a folk song ensemble, or fly in a hot air balloon. Have family reunions more often

e lunches. Rediscover your spouse, love him. Crises in family life happen in every family. But this is not a reason for divorce. Family is happiness, and it should not break down in everyday life. Love, mutual respect, common goals and desires will help you overcome any difficulties.

Birth of a child

The crisis of the firstborn must be considered separately, because a child is born in a family at different periods of the relationship. If most women almost instantly feel like mothers, then a guy needs more time to realize paternity. Often, spouses completely switch to heirs, neglecting the attention of their husband, which leads to resentment and quarrels. In the whirlwind of everyday problems that have fallen on their heads, some wives forget about their appearance, become sloppy, and extremely stingy with affection in bed. The belief that “now he won’t get away from me” is extremely erroneous. Right now, the hidden rival has a good chance of upsetting your marriage.

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