Marriage isn’t easy. At times, we all feel like we’re in it alone.
When your marriage is in a free fall of disconnection, anger, or resentment, it can feel like you are standing on the sidelines watching a train wreck and you’re helpless to stop it. It’s terrifying. Even worse, if your spouse has already asked for a divorce, you may feel like the end is inevitable.
Let me give you the good news first.
Fixing things doesn’t require that you both jump in and dissect your issues. When you change any part of a system (in this case, your relationship), the whole system reacts and thus changes.
Every marriage goes through difficult times which can drive you to question whether it is even worth sticking it out. But marriages can stay together as long as both of you don’t give up at the same time.
The bad news is that clearly what you are doing isn’t working. That means that in order to fix things, you have to make some changes, but probably not the ones that you thought. Truth be told, until the divorce papers have been signed, you still have hope.
Here are some important tips on how to save your marriage that will inspire your spouse to wake up and recommit:
1. When your spouse is upset with you, don’t promise to make a change too soon.
Out of desperation, most people promise to make changes that they haven’t fully thought through. This knee jerk reaction is not sustainable and only leads to disappointment. Over time, disappointment like this does more damage to the relationship — something you can’t afford right now.
A better response when your partner is upset is this: “I’m going to try to figure out why I do that because I really want to change that behavior for you. I will work on it and let you know when I figure it out.”
Then, actually explore that behavior so you can discover what motivates you. From there, you can talk to your spouse about the issues so real change has a shot at working.
2. Distance yourself.
This is a hard one because it seems counterintuitive. Your spouse is already showing signs of pulling away, and that causes every cell in your being to want to chase after them. I’m telling you… don’t.
Here’s why: when you chase after something, the natural animal’s response is to run. When you move in the opposite direction, the other’s natural response is to move towards you.
Distancing yourself is not a passive aggressive act, but an authentic and purposeful mental separation that gives your spouse some space they may need. It also has the added benefit of sparking curiosity and renewed interest in you.
We are naturally attracted to that which we feel eludes us. By distancing yourself, you are giving your spouse a chance to see you in a different light.