Triangulation is a term used in family therapy to describe a situation where one family member (usually a parent) involves a third party (such as a child) in a conflict between two other family members (such as the parents). When this happens in a marriage, it can have negative consequences on the relationship. Here are a few ways triangulation can hurt your marriage:
- It undermines trust: When one spouse involves a third party in a conflict between them, it can erode trust between the spouses. The spouse who is not involved in the triangle may feel left out, betrayed, or that their partner is not loyal to them.
- It creates an unhealthy dynamic: Triangulation can create an unhealthy dynamic in a marriage. The third party may become a mediator, and this can lead to one spouse feeling ganged up on, or that their opinions or needs are not being heard or respected.
- It stifles communication: Triangulation can make it difficult for spouses to communicate directly with each other. When a third party is involved, it can be challenging for couples to express their true feelings and thoughts to each other, which can lead to misunderstandings and a breakdown in communication.
- It can lead to emotional distancing: When triangulation becomes a pattern in a marriage, it can lead to emotional distancing between the spouses. The spouse who is not involved in the triangle may withdraw emotionally to protect themselves from being hurt or rejected.
- It hinders problem-solving: Triangulation can also hinder problem-solving in a marriage. When a third party is involved, it can be challenging for couples to find a solution that works for both of them. The third party may not have the expertise or knowledge to help the couple find a resolution that is satisfactory for both parties.
To avoid the negative consequences of triangulation in your marriage, it’s important to communicate openly and directly with your spouse. Work together to find solutions to your problems, and avoid involving a third party unless it’s absolutely necessary (such as seeking professional help from a therapist).