When couples have trouble in their relationship or marriage, what can they do to salvage the relationship? If it seems to get worse over time, don't give up. Get help. In psychotherapy I will help you both to communicate with each other and to understand the psycho-dynamics between the two of you. For example, let's say that the husband or partner has a controlling personality out of the fear he learned in his family of origin, and the wife has an adamant feeling of being suffocated by it as she is an independent thinker and perhaps her dysfunctional family had a father who did not let her think for herself. I would help this couple to see, in an experiential way, the hyper-vigilance each has from their dysfunctional families. Once thy become aware of their projections onto each other of past hurts, and gradually begin to withdraw them, by communicating with each other in therapy, then the relationship will have a chance at something long lasting. The key here is awareness, that is half the work.
It will be helpful, in therapy, to work on withdrawing the pr,ojections onto each other, from past relationships that made them feel that they weren't loved unconditionally, is key. We must leave the past in the past, otherwise it will destroy our present relationships. Often you are not aware of why you trigger each other so much. When you become aware of the triggers it is much easier for you both to work on it in therapy, and in between so that you can change it. Working in the present, while becoming aware of how the past dysfunctional psycho-dynamics have caused much harm, will go far in restoring your marriage and/or relationship.
An additional factor is that, it is important to be mindful that society sets the standard, in each generation, as to how the parents try to live up to creating children who will fit in. In this generation one would think it would be easier because of how much is available in terms of psychotherapy. But our present-day society has changed so much that it is difficult for people to separate themselves from the values of our society, instead of sticking to what their own values are and have been. This requires a lot of soul searching. Opening up to each other in therapy will help to resolve this and have an understanding between one another.
Also, it helps to understand that the reason our present culture is rampant with dysfunctional family patterns that are much more pathological with each generation, going way back, many centuries ago. The reason for this is that if the dysfunctionality from most of the families in1742, for example, are not resolved, then it is continued and actually gets worse with each generation. As a rule, parents raise their children the way they were raised. If they did not go to some kind of therapy, it will not be resolved and their children will grow up with the same painful and disruptive psychodynamics… and then add to it, unconsciously, of course. Additionally, as painful as their as their home life was, they may not have known how to change it. The dysfunction gets worse with each generation. When the children of the next generation make the dysfunctional patterns even worse. These days, the dysfunction in most families are so twisted in terms of the psychodynamics between members of the family that it is often debilitating for the children. Parents treat their children as their parents treated them, and that family gets worse than those before it. Because of this, and the confusion and strife in our society, people are becoming addicted to all kinds of things. Just as Freud suggested, we humans tend to try to avoid pain by seeking pleasure (sometimes in unhealthy ways, such as addictions. Getting in touch with feelings instead of trying to get rid of them helps to be centered and calm in a world that is always changing.