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Normal Marital Hatred – Is It Real?

Terence Real, normal marital hatred, relationship ecosystem, Gwyneth Paltrow, hate your spouse, contempt, John Gottman, marriages, conflict,

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to debunk the belief that there is such a thing as “normal marital hatred”, and reveal real life stories of marred couples free of “normal marital hatred”!

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What Is Normal Marital Hatred?

According to one family therapist, it is okay to hate your partner, labeling it as “normal marital hatred.”

“No one acknowledges the underbelly of relationships. Nobody acknowledges the darkness…There are going to be moments when you look at your partner, and at that moment, there is a part of you that just hates their guts. You’re trapped with this horrible human being. How did you wind up here? What I want to say is, ‘Welcome to marriage. Welcome to long-term relationships.’” –  Terence Real

I believe this concept of “normal marital hatred” is just an attempt to get lots of publicity and reaction – state something that is shocking, controversial and goes against the grain.

It is an absurd statement to say “No one acknowledges the darkness [of relationships.] Really? “No one?” The media constantly sells stories of relationships that fail – particularly celebrity marriages. Think of the publicity of relationships and marriages of Mel Gibson, Alec Baldwin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and so forth. I have even written an article that relationships can be like Chinese water torture!

Normal marital hatred is not normal, it is not a thing, and it is not healthy

Now, let’s dismantle and debunk the awful and harmful teaching that it is okay to hate your partner.

Normal means that something is usual, typical, and expected.

Hatred is intense dislike or ill will.

We might say, “I hate broccoli” but we all know that to say, “I hate John” has a very different meaning and connotation. We don’t harbor ill will against broccoli when we say we “hate” broccoli.

Thus, this man is stating that you should expect to hate your romantic partner – dislike them intensely and harbor ill will against them. How can you think that it will help you to thrive in any relationship when you believe that it is okay to hate your partner?

When hatred builds in a relationship, when it becomes frequent, lasts a long time and is intense, it will lead to contempt. There is no turning back when hatred and contempt take over a relationship. Once you have contempt towards someone in your life, you will end the relationship or marriage!

So, no, hatred is not normal in marriages – except those headed for divorce.

In fact, research shows that strong relationships have a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. (John Gottman, a University of Washington marriage researcher.)

Yes, there will be moments when perhaps you dislike your partner for something that they have done that has hurt you, disappointed your or not met your expectations. (I teach to focus on disliking the behavior first over the person.)

If, though, the act is sufficiently egregious and you now hate the person, then this intense dislike and harboring of ill will, will lead to the end of the relationship. For example, a betrayal may mean that not only do you hate this person or act, but that you are no longer willing to trust this person ever again.  

Real Life Marriages Say That Normal Marital Hatred Is Not Normal

Here are a few responses from married couples that also debunk the myth of “normal marital hatred.”

“Good lord. I’ve been married for 20 years and I have never hated my husband or felt trapped.”

“A friend just divorced after 40 years of marriage and 3 years of couple’s therapy. There was a lot of hatred between them during the last few years and none of it seemed normal to me.”

“Been married for 32 years and I have not once hated my husband. And I doubt he’s ever hated me.”

“24 years with my wife, we’ve never hated each other. The idea that there is ‘normal marital hatred’ in relationships says a lot about how terrible America is at being good humans.”

“’Marital hate’ is a headline to get attention but is an exaggeration. My wife and I have been married 45 years, have had arguments and disagreements and I’ve never “hated” her for 1 minute. What crap.”

“I have been married 45 years (to the same man!) and while I love him dearly, there have been times when I want to strangle him. Hate isn’t the right word but there have been several instances where if I could have walked away, I would have. I am glad we are still together but the line between love and ‘hate’ is muddy. Replace hate with a less incendiary word and I think most long-term relationships can identify.”

“I was married for 30 years, some years better, some worse. There were times, moments of anger, irritation, frustration, fury. Those passed. When I realized that hatred had become the principal emotion, divorce was the next step. If you actually hate someone it poisons everything else. ‘Normal marital hatred’ is not normal or sustainable.”

How To Avoid The Experience Of Normal Marital Hatred

Terence Real, normal marital hatred, relationship ecosystem, Gwyneth Paltrow, hate your spouse, contempt, John Gottman, marriages, conflict, love & hate,
Normal Marital Hatred – Can You Hate Your Romantic Partner? Is There A Thin Line Between Love And Hate?

There are things you can do to prevent you from experiencing hatred in your relationship or marriage.

Your marriage is a union and partnership.

I do agree with Real who promotes marriages as an ecosystem (which contradicts his teaching of normal marital hatred since an ecosystem of two does not and cannot survive hatred.)

What is an ecosystem in marital terms? Whatever you do and whatever your partner does impacts the union and ecosystem. You are not separate; you are living inside the relationship. You affect each other. Your relationship can either be symbiotic or parasitic – two people mutually benefitting each other or one person feeding of the other.  Beware of toxic individualism – focusing purely on loving yourself.

Support and Validation

You can enhance the connection and ecosystem by supporting and validating your partner’s emotions and experiences. Focus on also seeing the world and what you have done through their eyes.

“I see that you are frustrated and hurt. I am sorry that you are experiencing that. What can I say or do to help?” Real teaches to say, “I am sorry you feel that”, but that is not a healthy approach because it sounds as if you are negating what they feel.

Conflict Resolution

Focus on ways to resolve conflict versus escalating conflict – note your default conflict style. Avoid conflict by asking yourself a simple question, “Is what I’m about to say respectful and not hurtful?” Focus on resolving the issue rather than being right.

Acceptance and Love

I teach love is wanting the best for the other person. Accept their imperfections, choose to be vulnerable, and express intimacy.

Are you experiencing problems in your marriage or relationship? Are you struggling to get over a betrayal? Get the help you want, need and deserve. Do it now gently, easily, and quickly with my SRTT process. Book an SRTT session and be set free from the past.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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