There are 100 divorces in the US every hour.
And you feel like your marriage may end up as one of those 100 divorces.
There’s no joy in your marriage. Physical intimacy has fled. Instead of talking, you yell. Or, worse, you ignore each other as mountains of hurt and regret pile up.
“I want to know how to save my marriage!” so many people think. But how?
Can You Beat the Odds?
David Finch married one of his best high school friends, Kristin. Theirs was a storybook romance. Five years later, they weren’t talking to each other. Rather, they were yelling at or ignoring each other for days at a time.
Beating the odds.
How do you do it, when you feel the odds are beating you?
You ask yourself, “How Can I Save My Marriage!?”
Every person (that includes you, and that includes me) can increase their chances of saving their marriage by doing three things.
Focus For the Fight
Focus for the fight: the fight for your marriage.
Accept what has already happened, embrace the reality, and decide to make the best of things now and going forward.
Now is NOT the time to give up.
Let me tell you about a story I heard of Jack Johnson, an African-American boxer in 1910, who was challenged by the “great white hope” retired boxing champion, James Jeffries.
No one in the crowd liked Jack Johnson, and his opponent, Jeffries, jeered at him and hated him. There were nasty remarks from the crowd and his opponent, but he had decided beforehand, So What? He was always calm, always in control, each remark bringing a lacing so that the opponent lost his cool and caved to Johnson.
Just as Jack Johnson ignored the negative and critical comments of thousands around him, so you can ignore the negative and critical comments in your own mind, or from your own spouse.
Make your marriage your One Focus now. And meet adversity with a smile.
Everything else can take a back seat. This is your One Big Goal: Saving Your Marriage.
David Finch, the author of The Journal Of Best Practices, focused single-mindedly on saving his marriage when he found out how close his marriage was to shipwreck.
You may have been in a rut for so long that you’ve stopped caring.
Now is the time to change all of that!
Make saving your marriage your top priority, and you’ll find yourself tapping into the energy and resolve you didn’t know existed.
The power of a major, definite purpose cannot be underestimated.
And saving your marriage is a worthwhile purpose.
“If you change nothing, nothing will change.” Tony Robbins
A best-selling author, Richard Paul Evans, wrote about how he saved his marriage.
More than once, he and his wife had discussed divorce. They were fighting constantly.
He was desperate.
One day, while away from his wife on a book tour, he cried out to God, at the end of his rope.
While in the shower, an inspiration came to him.
Finally, hoarse and broken, I sat down in the shower and began to cry. In the depths of my despair powerful inspiration came to me. You can’t change her, Rick. You can only change yourself. At that moment I began to pray. If I can’t change her, God, then change me.
1. Change Your Response to Your Spouse
In The List That Saved My Marriage, Becky Zerbe shares the advice her mother gave her when she told her about her decision to divorce her husband.
a. List all your spouse’s faults.
b. Beside each fault, list how you commonly respond to those faults.
c. Most importantly, ask yourself, “How do I need to respond differently to my spouse’s faults?”. Then ask yourself, “How can I respond better?”
2. Change Your Communication – Write It Out
In the heat of talking and yelling and emotions, we can have a hard time saying what we need to say.
Take time to write your thoughts out.
Write a first draft.
Then sit on it for a week.
Then take it out, read it, and write a second draft.
When you feel that you’re ready to give it to your partner, do so.
Writing letters to my wife, and her writing letters to me has been one of the best ways to deal with issues that have brought up too much conflict to talk about. It takes the heat of the emotion out of the encounter, and often I find that, as I write, I become much more clear about my thoughts and feelings about the issue.
3. Change What You Dwell On – Give Up Fantasy
Give up the fantasy of thinking you’ll find another partner who is perfect in all the ways that your partner is not.
Give up fantasy in general – are you escaping into an activity, an addiction, or pornography?
When the feelings are hurt, when the conflict is high, and when the walls are high in between you, it’s easy to look for ease. But usually, a fantasy is just that….a fantasy.
Commit to facing the reality of your current relationship: the strengths, the weaknesses, and your plan of action to make things better.
Invest In Saving Your Marriage
This article, written in 2013, shared that his divorce cost about $30,000.
Legal Zoom, quoting a 2006 article in Forbes Magazine, confirmed that the average divorce costs between $15,000 and $30,000.
There are other costs that linger after a divorce. Families, post-divorce, often suffer financially.
With these costs in mind, why not Invest time and money into saving your marriage?
1. Go to a trusted marriage counselor.
Before you start searching, ask people to refer you to a marriage counselor with a good reputation.
This article, 10 Things Your Marriage Counselor Won’t Say, will help you go into marriage counseling with your eyes wide open.
This article will also help you as you look for a competent marriage therapist.
2. Read Good Books
Whether you are on the autism spectrum or not, David Finch’s Journal of Best Practices is a must-read.
I just finished reading his book. David’s commitment to change himself, to work on his marriage, and to put his family first deepened my resolve to do the same in my marriage.
Read the Divorce Remedy, by Michele Weiner-Davis.
From the Amazon.com summary, Ms. Weiner-Davis helps you
-avoid the “divorce trap”
-identify specific marriage-saving goals
-move beyond ineffective, hurtful ways of interacting
-become an expert on “doing what works”
-overcome infidelity, Internet obsessions, depression, sexual problems, and midlife crises
-get your marriage back on track — and keep it there
Check out the book, Loving Someone with Aspergers Syndrome.
Dr. Ariel has worked with Asperger-neurotypical couples for years.
Whether you or your partner has Asperger syndrome, this book will help you better understand Aspergers. Dr. Ariel stands apart from many marriage therapists in that she understands many Asperger characteristics and helps both spouses better understand each other.
She includes loads of practical problem solving exercises that would help any marriage, not just an Aspergers-NT marriage.
Read my article, Keep Your Marriage Strong with These Organization Tips, as an example of one of her helpful exercises.
4. Close the Exits.
Dr. Harville Hendrix, in Getting the Love You Want, writes about ways that partners “exit” their relationship when the marriage starts going south.
There are hard exits and soft exits, and exits that fall in between.
Watching too much tv.
Spending too much time blogging (oops, how did mine get in there! 🙂
Pursuing a specialized interest at the cost of spending time with our partner.
Cruising the web.
“Spacing out”, and thinking about anything other than being here and present with our loved one.
Overworking. This one is tough for men, because it’s “socially acceptable” to earn a living, right? But it can also be a convenient way to avoid spending time with our partner.
Cruising smartphones! Texting, browsing videos, Facebook, Instagram. Each of these things is okay, until it sucks time away from spending time with our husband or wife.
The list goes on, and on….
Note: This isn’t about completely eliminating these activities from our lives. Rather, it’s about figuring out where we need to reduce our time, to open communication and intimacy time with our spouse.
Activity: Read this article, and watch the video in the article to better understand how to close your exits.
5. Start Going on Dates.
You can get 30 date ideas for under $30 dollars by going to Only You Forever (a podcast I highly recommend – no affiliate relationship), and subscribing to their newsletter.
Or check out this free article, 50 Date Night Ideas For Any Budget, from Redbook.
6. Consider A Marriage Intensive
A marriage intensive takes marriage counseling to a new level.
You and your spouse spend time away from home for two or three days to focus primarily on your marriage.
Two marriage intensive weekends I can recommend:
Imago Workshops and Programs for Couple and Individuals.
First, buy the book, Getting the Love You Want, as well as the Workbook. I own the workbook. There are a host of very practical exercises in there to get your marriage back on track. Once you’ve read the book and worked on the workbook, go here to find a weekend workshop in your area.
Second, check out Dr. John Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Like the book above, Dr. Gottman includes multiple exercises you can follow to get your marriage going in the right direction again.
Drs. John and Julie Gottman host private couple retreats and marathon marriage counseling weekends.
“I Want To Know How To Save My Marriage!”
I mentioned David Finch at the beginning of this article.
I admire David, because when Kristin, his wife, confronted him about the damage in their relationship, he didn’t turn and run.
Rather, he faced the facts. As part of learning to change, he and Kristin discovered his Aspergers diagnosis, and he set out on a journey to improve things between himself and Kristin. He read, reflected, and even conducted “performance reviews” on his efforts to change, reporting to his new “boss”, Kristin.
In the end, the journey was worth it.
He and Kristin are still married, and he talks all about his journey in his book.
Check out more information here:
Copyright: andreykuzmin / 123RF Stock Photo
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