How to Save Your Marriage If Divorce Seems Imminent

Here’s How To Save Your Marriage If Divorce Seems Imminent:

Is your marriage in the process of getting derailed? Like a train-wreck about to explode onto the landscape of your already stressful life?

If so, I’m sure you’re feeling worried, scared (if not terrified), angry, threatened, sad, hopeless, and maybe even like a failure.

I’ve got some hope to share with you. So take a deep breath, and set your worries aside for a few minutes. I’m about to show you the emergency brake system (EBS) that will slow down this run-away, marital status-changing train and get your marriage back on a secure track.

Yes, you can a avoid the dreaded Facebook announcement that tells the world that you are now single.

If you’re ready to put in the work to engage the EBS, here are 7 steps that will show you:

How To Save Your Marriage If Divorce Seems Imminent

1. Remember…you’re still married.

It ain’t over ‘til the Judge slams down the gavel and declares your marriage dissolved.  The process of divorce takes time. Between the first threat of “I want a divorce” to the actual divorce court proceedings, lots can happen.  So, if you’re still legally married, let yourself lean into the hope of resolution.  Linger in the ah ha of “I’m still married!”

2. Go inward and reflect.

Take yourself on an inner vision quest. Carve out a couple of hours to sit alone so you can organize your own thoughts, feelings, and dreams without the pressure of anyone else’s presence.

Grab a journal and a pen. Then go to your favorite coffee shop, library nook, or a special place in nature.

Make yourself comfortable and do some journaling to get clarity about your marital situation. Write down your answers to the following questions in the order they appear, being as thoughtful, soulful, and thorough as possible:

  1. What are the current issues and problems in my marriage?
  1. How do I contribute to these problems?
  1. If a miracle were to happen, and I could have the ideal relationship with my spouse in the next few months, what would that look like?
  1. What would it mean to me if I could achieve this ideal relationship?
  1. How would this ideal relationship benefit the other people I love?

When you complete your journaling, give yourself a high five for creating the opportunity for this reflection and the insights you gleaned.

3. Make a decision to become the change you want to experience in your marriage.

Not a flimsy, I’m-probably-not-gonna-keep-it decision. Make an iron clad commitment that’s capable of starting to put the brakes on the runaway train of your marriage.

Then, go home and start embodying the change that you so desperately want to see in your marriage.

If you’re unsure where to start, your answer to Question B is your starting point. Make a promise within yourself to stop doing these negative things and start doing the opposite.

Here are a few examples to help you become the change you know is needed to save your marriage:

If you’ve been distant, give your spouse a big, warm embrace when you get home, and whisper “I’ve missed you!”

If you’ve been in battle mode for a while, wave the flag of friendliness and simply don’t fight tonight.

Or, if you’ve been focused on all things negative, tell your partner 3 things that he/she is doing right.

4. Act as if you already have your ideal relationship.

I’m not talking about the notion of “fake it ‘til you make it.”  What I mean is to start doing those things that you’d naturally be doing if the current state of your relationship was already your ideal.

This is where your answer to Question C comes into play. Right now is when you can start acting as if those habits, qualities, and agreements are already present in your relationship.

So, if in your ideal marriage you have better communication, then ask your spouse some caring, open-ended questions tonight and really listen to the answers. Show empathy by letting them know that you care and understand (or at least really want to understand).

Then reciprocate by sharing openly and vulnerably about your day.

On the other hand, if what you crave is greater closeness and more physical intimacy in your relationship, then offer to give your spouse a back rub with no strings attached.

Enjoy the intimacy of soothing touch. Notice that your hands can’t give physical pleasure without experiencing enjoyment at the same time.

5. Have a discussion with your spouse.

Ask him/her to go out for coffee, a drink, or dinner so that you can have a chance to talk without distractions. Sit across from each other for this conversation. It’s important to be able to look into one another’s eyes and face. This will allow you to read each other’s expressions and body language which will naturally improve your communication.

Gently express your concerns about your marriage.

Talk about the things that you feel have gone wrong, and be sure to emphasize that it took both of you to create the mess you’re in. Don’t accuse or blame your spouse for the problems that have damaged your marriage. It took both of you to get to this place.

Invite your spouse to open up about his/her frustrations and concerns, too. Then listen without getting defensive or judgmental. If you have to bite your tongue, then do that.

Just don’t criticize or argue with your spouse if you want him/her to keep sharing.

6. Emphatically state your desire to stay in this marriage.

Make a clear, direct, and unwavering statement that you want to remain married. Be assertive and actually proclaim what it is that you want. What you most desire.

Don’t just wait to see what your spouse says or does in response.

Instead, do this: Take your spouse’s hand, look right into his/her eyes, and say “_________, I love you and I want to stay married to you.” (Put your spouse’s name in the blank.)

Then let your partner know that you completely understand that you both have a lot of work to do to make things good again.

Tell them that you’re willing to work hard to save your marriage.

Let your partner know that you’ve tapped into some hope for your marriage. And that you believe you can work together to find a solution and create a win-win outcome.

For now, ask your spouse what’s one thing you can do to make him/her feel more loved. Then do it! (As long as it doesn’t violate your integrity).

7.  Learn the skills for a successful marriage.

This last step in how to save your marriage if divorce feels imminent is super important. It requires you to invest in your relationship by getting expert help.

Get busy finding the tools, strategies, and skills to fix your marriage problems.

Buy and read books, invest in marriage education courses, and/or find a good marriage therapist to work with.

Face it, you need to find some good resources that will teach you the skills to become a secure and happy couple. Sadly, most of us didn’t learn these skills in school or from our own parents.

It’s the lack of these skills that has gotten you to the point where your marriage is at risk of derailing.

To get you started, here are three books I highly recommend:

Wired For Love by Stan Tatkin, PhD

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, PhD

Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships by Sue Johnson, PhD

Just click on the title, invest a few bucks, and start learning how to keep your marriage from running off the rails.

If you’ve already read books about how to save your marriage and you know you need to find a good marriage therapist, I’d be happy to help. Call me at (719) 544-2016 and we can have a brief telephone conversation to come up with the best plan to engage the emergency brake system and put your marriage back on track.

3 Tips For How To Save Your Marriage Alone

 

3 Tips For How To Save Your Marriage Alone

 

In this piece I’m going to share my best 3 tips for how to save your marriage alone.

3 Tips for how to save your marriage aloneSo the first thing I want you to wrap your head around is that it is absolutely possible to change your relationship if you are the only one that wants to.

Yes, even if your spouse is completely checked out, unplugged, and doesn’t seem to give a damn about trying to save your marriage.

I’m not going to bore you with the theories and evidence behind my declaration that you can save your marriage alone.  But trust me, it’s been shown over and over…one person can change a marriage alone.

Take a few seconds and notice how good it feels to know that you can be the brave agent of change that turns your marriage around.

What will it mean to you to save your marriage and be a happy couple?  Keep this feeling in your awareness, as it will help you in the first action tip below.

To be clear, I’m not saying that you’re the only one that needs to change in order to have a great relationship.

The mess you’re in is not all your fault.  And no one is suggesting that it’s all your responsibility to fix.  Ultimately you’ll both have to show up differently to be a happy and secure couple.

The point is, someone has to be the first one to start the change that you want.  You can start a positive chain reaction by being the first one to do a few things differently.

The key is to get into action.  New action.  Different action.  Remember, when you do the same things over and over, nothing changes.

You want to save your marriage?  Then you’ve got to change some of the things you do.

To get out of the place where you feel like your marriage is in a terrible rut and destined to failure, you’ll have to change some of the ways you typically react. You’ll have to step out of your place of comfort, shake it up, and take a risk.

These 3 tips for how to save your marriage alone are all about the simple changes you can start making today:

1.  Remember your “why?”

The first action step has to start in your head.  Take a minute and really think about this question:  Why do I want to save my marriage?

Really.  Get clear on why you want to stay together and have a happy marriage.

Is it because you made a vow?  Because you don’t want to divorce?  Or because you don’t want to break your kid’s heart?  Because you have a deep abiding love?  Is it because it will be expensive to break up?  Or maybe because you know that if you guys fix a few problems you can have an amazing relationship?

What else?  Get specific.

Now take out a piece of paper and at the top of the page write down this question:  “Why do I want to save my marriage?”

Then write down all the answers you came up with.  Be as thorough as possible.

When you’ve gotten down your “why?” put the paper in a safe place.  Then you can refer back to it when you’re feeling discouraged.  In the meantime, stay focused on your “why?” as you move on to the next two steps.

2.  Stop focusing on the problems!

I want you to have the guts to stop focusing on your marriage troubles.  I know this seems backwards, but I assure you it’s not.

If you’re going to fix this, you have to stop talking about all the things that are wrong.  Here’s how to do that:

  • Stop talking to your spouse about your marriage problems.
  • Don’t tell him what he’s doing wrong.
  • Don’t tell her what she should be doing differently.
  • Stop blaming your partner.
  • Quit giving your friends a play-by-play of your last fight.

Ruminating about the problems, rehashing conflicts, endlessly analyzing the unhealthy patterns, blaming your spouse for everything that’s wrong, and repeatedly arguing about the same things—these are some of the things that are actually keeping you stuck.

Take a break from those habits and watch what happens.

When thoughts about your marital problems start creeping in, and you find yourself focusing on them again, here’s what I want you to do.  Redirect yourself in these ways:

  • make a gratitude list
  • go sing a song
  • crank up the tunes and dance
  • do a chore you’ve been putting off
  • call a friend
  • take 10 slow deep breaths

Doing these types of self-care activities (what I call a stop-focusing-on-the-problem detox) will help you relax, become more creative, find joy, see what’s going right, uncover hidden solutions, and get clarity on what you really want and need.  How does that sound?

3.  Do a 180°

What’s a one-eighty?  Well, what I mean by “do a 180°” is to make deliberate choices to do the exact opposite (a 180° angle) of what you’ve been doing in response to being worried about your relationship.

In times of relationship distress people typically respond in one of two ways.  People tend to either get more clingy to their partner or to distance more from their partner.

Would you say that your reaction to your current relationship problem is that you’ve gotten more clingy or more distant?  Are you pursuing your partner, or are you trying to get time and space away from your partner?

In either case, this action step is to do a 180.  You’ll need to start doing the opposite of what you’ve been doing recently.

If your natural instinct is to cling to your spouse in times of trouble (trying to get your spouse to talk, be affectionate, spend time together, plan a date-night, have sex, text during the day, or do an activity together) I want you to have the courage to take a step back.

What I want you to do right now is take a deep breath and focus on yourself without doing anything.

Just breath.

And have a little heart-to-heart with that younger part of yourself that’s so afraid of being abandoned. Tell her that she’s going to be okay, and that this is the way to get more of what she needs.

If you’ve been clingy and holding on tightly, my advice is to hold on loosely but don’t let go.

You can do this by taking yourself on one of these adventures:

  • go out with a safe friend for dinner
  • join a yoga class
  • get a new book to read
  • take a bubble bath
  • call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time
  • go for a walk
  • write in your journal
  • meditate
  • resume a hobby
  • take a class you’ll enjoy

The important thing is to loosen-up the death grip that you have on your spouse.  I promise it’s driving him bananas!

If, on the other hand, you’ve been isolating and you haven’t been willing to connect with your partner because you’re afraid that she’s going to do you wrong, you need to step in and move towards her.

You can start by taking a deep breath and having a reassuring chat with your inner child (who is probably afraid of being overwhelmed, consumed, or scrutinized by your spouse).  Let that younger part of yourself know that you can always get some alone-time when you need it.

After you’ve soothed that part of yourself, you’ll need to be brave and move toward your partner.

Yes, I’m serious! It’s time to start engaging and reconnecting with your partner again.  I don’t mean every minute of the day.  But do at least one thing every day that moves you in the direction of your spouse.

Some of the ways you can move toward your partner are to:

  • take her on a date
  • send him a couple of out-of-the-blue texts when you’re at work
  • offer to cook dinner together
  • surprise her by playing “your song” and dancing in the living room
  • give him a long welcome home hug
  • talk about your days
  • cuddle on the couch
  • exchange shoulder or foot massages
  • tell her you miss her
  • write your spouse a love letter
  • hold hands on a walk

Now that you know the 3 tips for how to save your marriage alone, I encourage you to try them out.  But if you still feel frustrated that you have to be the one to work on changing or you’re concerned that your spouse isn’t going to even notice, these are signals that it’s time to talk to a professional.

I’m here to help you save your marriage.  If you’d like to talk with me about your situation, call me at (719) 544-2016 for a free consultation.  We can talk about your marriage and come up with a plan together.