Why Does My Marriage Feel Like a Trap?

By: David Lechnyr, LCSW

The Freedom of Choice is the most valued factor in our lives. Human beings will do most anything to insure that they can have choice in all of their decisions. Much of what counselors, therapists and psychologists hear in therapy is related to a sense that the individual does not have a sense of choice in their lives. When we feel an obligation to do something, being forced to do what others want, we resist. This is made worse when there is a sense of betrayal in the relationship in some manner. This causes a worry about trust and how that is to be re-established in the relationship.

When Choices are Forced Upon Us

  • If anyone enters, or is in, a relationship, and feels that they have to be there, they will come to resent it.
  • Even if you wanted to be in the relationship, but later felt that you had to be there, you will come to resent it and fight to get out!
  • Feeling forced to be in a relationship takes away the most basic human need:  Freedom of Choice.
  • When we lose choice, we come to resent it.
  • The Basic Human Need is to feel that we have Free Choice.
  • When we feel that we must be there, we feel the need to escape.  Like most prisoners, we want to run.
  • If we cannot run or escape, we become angry, irritable, or withdrawn, hopeless, depressed and/or act out in some type of negative behaviors.
  • Freud said that, Depression is Anger Held Inside.

Solutions to Feeling Trapped

  • The focus of this solution requires that the element of CHOICE be central to each step along the way. This means that one has to be allowed “yes and no” decisions each step along the way — even if in the end the decision is a “NO” one!
  • CHOICE must include the DECISION(S) as to whether or not you will go do one thing or another. The decisions cannot be made by others.
  • CHOICE also involves DECISIONS about what each individual wants to do. Neither one can feel forced to decide a certain way.
  • It involves giving the other person a few options to choose from rather than being told that there is the only option open for them.
  • For example, it is important that the each individual commit to starting the relationship over again. That means there is a need to have a courtship over again, even if you are still in the relationship!
  • When one enters a relationship, or marriage, by Default we lose our choice and decision to say yes or no. The relationship is one that then is undefined, unclear, and uncomfortable.
  • Choice means that one can say yes or no. If we are not given a choice we will resent it. If we say no at one time and the other will not later allow for another choice, we will also then resent it in the long run!
  • Without the Freedom of Choice there is no hope. Humans value and fight for such choice. We even demanded it in the Garden of Eden, even though it came with consequences. Choice gives teens, and adults, a feeling of control, and future, in their lives. We have to allow others to fail and make wrong choices, knowing they will figure it out for themselves. Even if you feel “stuck” you can decide whether or not you have a choice in it in some way.