Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, economics, biology, and philosophy. I believe it also has a place in marriage theory.
Chaos theory studies the behavior of a dynamic system that is highly sensitive to its current condition. Small differences in initial conditions yield any number of widely diverging outcomes, causing chaos to result. This makes predictions nearly impossible even though the behavior of these systems (weather, the human body and marriages) can be determined by past observations and their current state.
In other words, for marriages, a small factor between a husband and wife can make an immense difference in how they interact whether for the bad or the good. Is your marriage in chaos? It might be a matter of changing a few simple things. Not to be deceiving, the change is quite difficult.
A basic part of chaos theory that one must understand is that the chaotic event that occurs did not happen at the moment of impact but rather hours, days, or weeks prior. For example, a car wreck doesn’t occur just because someone runs a red light. It occurs because the person oversleeps and gets tangled up in all the effects that come from running late in the morning. Had the driver assured the clock was set and their necessary items for the morning were prepared the night before, disaster could have been averted. In marriages, a couple can have an argument hours after they see each other simply because the husband didn’t hug his wife when he got in from work. Studies have shown that not doing things for your spouse (hugging, kissing, etc) can cause a feeling of disdain to grow from literally nothing. Well, it isn’t really nothing. It’s ignoring.
The movie Blue Valentine is a wonderfully tragic example of how marriages can live in chaos. It is extremely real and I would not watch it if I was easily offended. “The film centers on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.” (IMDb.com)
You watch as the daily stress of life and a lack of positive marital assets makes even the most normal activity a struggle. They constantly fight and it seems that this is the only thing they know how to do. Basically, life has gotten to them, they can’t handle it, so they turn on one another.
Like many struggling marriages, they are stressed and want to have a good time one weekend. The wife is on call (as a nurse) and the place the husband wants to go is a good distance from their house. Many mistakes occur within this sequence that husbands could learn from. First, he asks her to go away for a weekend where she won’t be able to concentrate and unwind. She’s on call at the hospital and what he will be wanting, she will not be able to fully offer. The chaos begins. Second, once they are at the hotel, you wonder how on earth someone could pick such a tacky place. She was not impressed. Does the husband have any real idea about what the wife wants? It was like that time Homer bought Marge a bowling ball because he liked to bowl. Third, they turn to the alcohol to “loosen up” and all this does is make him angry and her scared, ruining the night.
This type of pattern repeats itself regularly in that they can’t get together on what should happen because he is oblivious and she doesn’t know how to assert what she needs. He wants to make it a great time, she is not mentally or emotionally there but doesn’t want to disappoint him so she goes along with it. This house of cards will not stand. By trying to force a romantic evening among bad circumstances and getting angry when the desired results don’t occur, the husband finds himself in a chaotic sequence of events that he doesn’t understand. Most husbands would just get angry but in this extreme case the husband, played by Ryan Gosling, turns violent.
Husbands must learn three things about their wives when doing anything, but particularly when trying to set up a romantic evening.
- She has to decompress from the stress of life. She can’t have anything on her mind that is stressful if she is going to be the woman she knows you want her to be and that she wants to be for you. If you are a part of this stress, YOU really must work on this if you are going to have the relationship with your wife that you will be proud of.
- Men must learn what their wives need and when they need it. Men become frustrated with their wives when they are upset about something. You must respect your wife’s right to feel a certain way because she’s not a garbage man. Just because you put something on the street, it doesn’t mean she’s going to drive by and pick it up.
- One evening away from the kids won’t make things better if you can’t enjoy regular days with your spouse. Not getting along? Seek counseling and work to save your marriage. A quote from the movie really stuck with me and I hope it encourages you to get the help you need.
The wife, played by Michelle Williams, is eating dinner at her parents home and it is obvious that her parents don’t get along. While you watch this uncomfortable scene, Williams’ character says the following in explaining her parents:
“I know they must have loved each other at one time. Did they just get it all out of the way before they had me? How can you trust your feelings when they just disappear like that?”
The feelings don’t have to disappear. You can make them come back and have the love in your marriage that you dream about.