Years ago, there was a ladies’ magazine with a regular column asking the question, “Can this Marriage Be Saved?” After reading about various marital woes, I concluded that if there was love, your marriage could be saved, but if not, then marriage would simply become a compromise.
Here are eight steps to help you answer the question, “Can your marriage be saved?”
Mutuality is the key to marriage, and the two most constructive sentences you can speak to your mate are: “Sweetheart… how do you feel about this?” and, “Sweetheart… what do you think about that?” By being mutual, you are telling your mate that you value and respect him, as well as his thoughts and feelings. Therefore, you are ready and willing to problem-solve together. Solutions don’t have to be competitive, but rather, evolve for the common good. Collaboration is the key to constructively reaching confident conclusions.
2. Time Out
If you’re only fighting, you can’t find time to build intimacy. You need time out in which to reconnect in a loving way. That means no critical talk – no baiting or switching – and don’t play the blame game. If you can change the tone, even for a little while, you can begin to reengage tenderly. Delete from your dialogue sentences such as, “Get Out,” “I want a divorce,” “It’s my way or the highway,” and “You’re either with me or against me.” And. never escalate a fight to lower your own anxiety. That’s a sure way to raise it… and end up apart.
3. Look Inside
See how you can help your relationship. Ask your partner, “What can I do to make it better? What do you need from me?”
4. Be Emotionally Proactive
Touch more, smile more, hug more, and have more sex. These simple acts of kindness and warmth go a long way towards helping you find each other again. Simply helping by unloading a dishwasher can ignite warmth and closeness in your spouse.
5. A Love Letter
Write a love letter to your mate expressing your feelings, both positive and negative. Be descriptive in your language, and only speak about your feelings. Your opening and closing should be loving, while drawing your mate to your emotional sphere. This way, you can help him feel what you’re feeling when he does anything that you experience as hurtful. For example, you can write, “When you say bruising things to me, it makes my stomach feel queasy, as if I’m in a plunging elevator.”
6. Confront All Problems Together
You are a team. There’s nothing more disconcerting than hearing from a friend that your spouse is having a problem that you weren’t privy to. Make time weekly for my empathic process, where together you can discuss difficult things with empathy and trust.
7. Trust Is Based On Experience
Never betray your spouse’s trust. Never discuss your sex life and always be respectful of your husband’s shortcomings. Men and women equally hate to hear their personal life bandied about among their friends. If you break trust, for example, by having an affair, and you want to keep your marriage, end that affair immediately.
Finally, if your marriage is overwhelmed by destructive behavior – mental or physical abuse, anger, addiction, affairs, and so forth – and has become insupportable, seek professional help, and when necessary, divorce.