By Steve Horsmon – January, 2013
With divorce rates consistently above 50%, this topic get LOTS of attention! The problem with “Googling” the topic of “How to Save Your Marriage” is that you will wind up in places that don’t even apply to you and your situation. But you will be tempted to start trying things, ANYTHING, to get your spouse/partner to stay with you. This is a truly devastating and desperate point of your life. Take a real deep breath and don’t say or do anything drastic. At least, not yet.
Marriage saving remedies come in many varieties:
- Couples Counseling With a Licensed Professional
- Counseling One Spouse With a Licensed Professional
- Professional Life Coaches specializing in relationships
- Church counseling for one or both partners
- Do-it-Yourself Manuals for both people
- Do-it-Alone Manuals for one person
- Online Support Group Counseling
- Following the advice of friends and relatives…really?
Which route is right for you? Nobody can tell you that with a quick answer and don’t trust them if they think they can.
Each of the options come with processes, tools, programs, homework, recommended reading, and lots of talking. No matter which option you choose, you will need a strong sense of commitment, faith, and willingness to do the work of looking at yourself and your role in the relationship. The process will be absolutely life changing! But it’s up to you to choose if that change will be a good thing for you or a bad thing. Change is coming to your life no matter what. You have the power to decide what you’re going to do with it!
The best option for YOU depends on a lot of things. A understanding of the current state of your relationship and its history is important. Equally important is an analysis of each partner and their personal goals and personal issues. The BEST situation is one in which both partners have a stated desire to stay married and grow together. They readily admit that their marriage is missing something they both want and don’t know how to fix. They want to take action before things get worse. They are open to discussing all options for personal development and growth to save the marriage and make it better than ever before.
In this case, a couple will be successful with any high quality counselor, coach, or even a top notch DIY manual. They will succeed because they are taking it seriously and they WANT to change.
But what if that isn’t YOUR situation? What if your situation has these problems?:
- One spouse has totally disconnected
- There is a suspected emotional or physical affair
- There are frequent angry arguments and disrespectful behaviors
- Someone is already sleeping in a separate room
- There have already been threats of divorce
- You’ve been living like roommates for a long time
This situation is an EXTREMELY common predecessor to most divorces and the solution isn’t an easy one. Feelings are raw, blame is high, distrust runs rampant, and respect is at an all time low. Neither partner is well equipped to step up and start trying things that don’t feel right anymore. The love is gone. They feel obligated to try so they can say they “went to counseling” before deciding to divorce. Some counselors even get blamed for the divorce when they call it as they see it – that one or both people have chosen to quit trying.
So what are you to do if you’re not ready to quit but she/he is? You may not like the answer, but if you see yourself in the case above it is the only answer that makes any sense. It is the only answer that is going to make this change GOOD for you no matter how it turns out. It is the only answer that will create the type of change your partner can live with. It also happens to be the only answer that will create the type of change YOU must make to have an incredible life – no matter what your partner chooses to do with theirs.
The answer lies in you. This means changing you and how you see yourself in this world. It means learning about things nobody ever told you. It means becoming the kind of person that anybody would love to have in their life. It means taking a journey of improving your relationship IQ, your self-awareness, and becoming confident in this new mindset. It is THIS person your spouse wants to meet again. It is THIS person your spouse fell in love with. It is who you were meant to be and somehow lost.
It is a fact that you have not been the perfect partner. Like most of us, you probably got married and thought that personal growth and development was pretty much over. After all, you got the girl/boy, didn’t you? Wrong.
The good news is that you have the power to choose. Whether you are 25 or 65 years old, this next adventure is going to be the best one yet. This is because you will discover that the pain and sadness of your current situation is going to make you stronger and better than ever. There IS a person inside you who has the ability to say this and believe it:
“I have committed to making major changes in myself as a person and a partner. I know I haven’t been perfect, but I’m working on it everyday. I am becoming a person who is learning to understand and meet the needs of those I love. I am also becoming a person who knows what I value, what I want, and what kind of partner I deserve in my life. I’d love it if you choose to join me on this path. I’ve made my choice. I am going to have an incredible life with or without you.”
This is the answer to your current situation. It may look scary, but it’s not. It’s your only way through this. It’s the only way your spouse can possibly gain enough admiration and respect for you to want to work on your marriage. It means you have to be strong enough to know your good is coming even if you have to let go.
The process of arriving at this point is a trip and a program I call the “Epiphany Ridge Trail”. It’s a great ride and may very well result in a saved marriage. But the final destination for you is even better than that. You can arrive at a vantage point where your values are rock solid, your confidence is strong, and your future is bright.