Divorce: Can You Save Your Marriage?
When you’re not the one who wants the divorce, it’s very hard. If you can determine why he wants to leave, listen and find out why he’s so discouraged about the marriage, maybe you can use the guidelines below for saving your marriage.
Dr. Romance’s 3 Guidelines for saving your marriage
1. Calm down. It’s easy to feel panicked when something goes wrong in your marriage. Understand that problems are just opportunities to learn and grow, and to find a new and exciting way to do things. You can’t think when you’re upset, so don’t talk when you are. Take a moment to calm down, take a deep breath, and talk rationally about what’s going on. Any problem can be fixed, if you both focus on finding a solution. 2. Avoid drama. People who are anxious about marriage usually grew up with parents who create a lot of drama – fighting, cold silences, leaving and returning, court battles, child custody problems and financial struggles. Drama of that type is never necessary – it’s a result of adults acting like upset children. Avoid dramatic pronouncements, scenes and ultimatums when problems arise. Instead, learn to sit down as an adult, and talk about what the solution might be; think and act as you do at work when a problem arises – most people can’t throw fits and keep their jobs. 3. Get counseling early. When my husband and I first married, we made a deal: If we couldn’t solve a problem on our own in three days, we’d go for counseling. In the first few years, we had a few sessions, which were very helpful in teaching us how to be effective with each other. 26 years later, we are happy and haven’t needed counseling in many years. Getting counseling early, before the drama sets in, will help you create a successful marriage together. Whether or not you want a divorce, it could be in your best interest to agree. These guidelines will help you decide. As a counselor, I’ve helped lots of couples solve difficult relationship problems, but it isn’t always possible.
Three reasons to know it’s time to let it go:
1. Your partner keeps going out of bounds: Your partner is struggling with compulsive behavior –either sexual compulsion to keep having affairs, spending money on porn –or other compulsive behaviors such as gambling, drugs, alcohol or losing money on the stock market. If you’ve caught your spouse out of bounds before, and he or she keeps repeating the behavior, it’s an addiction that’s out of control. If your spouse won’t get proper treatment, or treatment hasn’t worked, leaving the relationship may be your only choice. Paradoxically, leaving an addicted spouse is often the only thing that breaks through the denial. 2. Violence, verbal or sexual abuse: If you or your children are subjected to violence, verbal abuse or sexual abuse, it’s important for you to get safety for yourself and your children. Report the abuse, get a restraining order, and get out of the relationship. 3. You tried therapy –it didn’t work: If you and your spouse have been to couples’ therapy, given it a good effort, and it didn’t fix the problems or stop your fighting and teach you to communicate, perhaps one or both of you haven’t enough motivation left to stay together.
What you need to know to create a successful new marriage, or to rehab your “almost divorced” relationship:
1. Talk frequently and honestly to each other about your frustrations, about sex, about anger, about disappointment, about your appreciation of each other, about the meaning of life, about everything. No topic should be off limits. Learn to listen and communicate instead of fighting. Fighting is childish, and you want a grown-up relationship. 2. Strive to work together to solve anything that comes up: Be a team, create a partnership. Don’t get stuck on who’s right or wrong, instead focus on what will solve the problem. Strive to work together so both of you can have what you want. When you build a successful working partnership, each of you will feel supported and respected by the other. When each of you feels that the other has your best interests at heart, problems are solved not “my way” or “your way” but so that both are happy with the solution. The mutuality of this type of partnership creates an environment of love where deep trust grows. When trust, respect, responsibility and love feel mutual, that’s when we feel secure in being loved. 3. Keep your connection going through communication, sex, affection, understanding and concern for one another. Nothing insures that your relationship will remain faithful better than a good, warm connection with great sex. 4. Have a sense of humor; give the benefit of the doubt, care about each other. Store up plenty of good times in your relationship reservoir to draw on in the hard times. Treat your partner like your best friend.
— Tina B. Tessina, PhD, LMFT, Dr. Romance, http://www.tinatessina.com
If you’re considering a divorce, or going through one now – gather all the information you can in our Divorce section.