People often ask “can this marriage be saved?” They want to know if their situation is SO bad there’s NO hope. Did they marry the WRONG person? Have they totally screwed things up? Are they in all this pain now simply because they got married for all the WRONG reasons?
Yup. Yup, that’s it. There is no hope.
Do I say that?
Um, NOOOOOO, I don’t. But you probably already knew that, right?
Answering “It depends” is a cop out.
Do I say that? Sometimes. Because really, it does depend. But not on the things above. In order to know if this marriage can be saved, we must know what “it depends” means.
First, it doesn’t depend on marrying for the right reasons or the right person. It doesn’t matter how much crud has happened. Solution doesn’t even depend on whether “he’s a narcissist” or “she’s bipolar” or any of the other things people complain about regarding their high-conflict spouse.
Now, maybe you’re not high conflict. Maybe you’ve just “grown apart” or you feel so very blah. Perhaps you’ve found passion and spark with someone else at a time when the marriage seems “long over.” Or your spouse has cheated and one or both of you just wants out.
No matter what the situation, there’s often a big pause before one or the other pulls the plug entirely. You might both have the question, “Hey, wait. Can this marriage be saved?”
Thankfully, it does not depend on anything out of your control, except that you can’t actually FORCE someone else to hang in there and try harder and love you.
You can make it a helluva lot more inviting to hang in there, try harder, and yes, they might have a chance of loving you again. But not by doing the same things you’ve been doing.
Most often I say this TRUTH:
No matter how you each are made, what has happened, and what is the pattern of your relationship, you CAN get to a place of health where your marriage works for both of you.
Your marriage can be safe, connected, and nourishing for both of you.
That would be cool, right?
The relationship of your dreams CAN be yours… if you both want it… and you are willing to do the work to get there.
Now, look, that does not mean that both of you know you want it and know you’re willing to do the work to get there. I am realistic. I know that ambivalence is part of the reason you’re in pain right now. Blasting past the reasons without processing that ambivalence does neither of you any good.
So if one or both of you are ambivalent, we’ll explore that first.
There has to be a reason to put in the work.
Because the work itself, is, sorry to say, not the most fun you can have on a weekday between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.
It’s true, in my office we engage humor on purpose, knowing that none of us benefit from MAJOR, SUSTAINED INTENSITY. Besides, you don’t want to spend time in the same pattern of communication, defensiveness, bad feelings, and utter yuck that brought us all together in the first place.
You won’t be doing any of that yuck in my office, by the way.
We will be doing some of the scary stuff you’ve been avoiding. But not before offering you some hope and underscoring the reasons you personally have for getting better at relationship, even at this very relationship.
If there’s a good reason, most every marriage can be saved.
Big talk, right?
But it’s true.
If there are children you want to raise together, that can be the motivator. If you want to look into the eyes of those same children and one day say, “Mom and Dad figured it out, weathered the storm, and took responsibility,” that’s a good motivator.
Maybe you’re tired of failing at relationship and you just want to get it right. That’s a good motivator.
Maybe you believe divorce is for wimps and the faint of heart looking for a loop-hole and that’s not you. Well, that’s a good motivator.
If, in the end, you just want to say you gave it your very best effort, that’s a good motivator.
You are gonna have to find your reason.
If you don’t already know, a good couples counselor will help you. She’ll listen well, identify your values and concerns accurately, and help you clarify just why you’re making the investment. She’ll explore the motives for each of you.
If one of you wants to stay and one of you wants to go
Keep this in mind: using convincing tactics to persuade a skeptical partner is, not just ineffective, but, ewww, gross, it’s so very unattractive.
Also, it NEVER works.
So, if you are the one who would like to preserve the relationship and your spouse is ready to move on double-quick, get yourselves to a proper, trained therapist who knows how to help you stop doing what’s not working and start doing what will actually help.
Of course, I can be that therapist for the two of you. You might want to give marriage counseling a fighting chance.
If your patience, time, and energy are limited, look into doing a Couple’s Intensive to answer in two days’ time whether it’s time to call it quits or if you have a reason to hang in there and make things work.
Contact me and let me know what’s going on and which option for help you’d like to explore.CONNECT