Marital disharmony

Family doctors often have to provide marital counselling for one or both partners. The problems may be resolved quite simply or be so complex that marital breakdown is inevitable despite optimal opportunities for counselling.

Opportunities for prevention, including anticipatory guidance about marital problems, do exist and the wise practitioner will offer appropriate advice and counselling. Examples include an accident to a child attributable to neglect by a parent, or similar situation in which that parent may be the focus of blame leading to resentment and tension. The practitioner could intervene from the outset to alleviate possible feelings of guilt and anger in that marriage. Some common causes of marital disharmony are:

• selfishness

• unrealistic expectations

• financial problems/meanness

• not listening to each other

• drug or alcohol excess

• jealousy, especially in men

• fault finding

• 'playing games' with each other

• driving ambition

• immaturity

• poor communication

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