I recently heard from a wife who was fearing the worst in terms of her marriage. She perceived that the marriage was reaching a natural end because she and her husband just weren’t close or intimate anymore. Sometimes they fought. Other times they ignored each other. But they were almost always interacting negatively. This was happening with such frequency that both were just sort of ignoring each other and avoiding one another so that no one would have to face the truth that was right in front of them.
The wife was upset both by all of the negative interactions and the fact that she did not want to end the marriage. Somewhere deep inside, she still loved her husband and wanted to save the relationship. However, she feared that things were too far gone and she had no idea how to start. This was especially true because neither of them had come out and discussed or made an observation about what was happening. Yes, they were talking about their anger at each other and their disappointments with their lives, but any discussions were pretty much just complaining and small talk. Neither of them was willing to have the courage to identify and discuss what was really going on and I felt that this needed to be done for a variety of reasons. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Whether The Marriage Is Really Over Or Things Just Aren’t Great, You Should Take The Correct Definitive Action: The wife was reluctant to say anything because she did not want to make things worse and she was afraid that her husband would just roll his eyes and tell her that she was bringing on the drama. (This was his common reaction to her lately.) She was right that it’s very important when and how she addressed this.
I felt that she should choose a time when everyone was calm so that he would be receptive to what she was saying. She basically told me that there was never a time like this. Their lives, she said, consisted of just tense moments and avoidance. So it was clear that this needed to change first before she could move any further.
I asked her to try to spend more time with her husband. When he took off – as he often did, I felt that she should calmly and cheerfully ask to come along. It’s small steps such as these that eventually set off very large and lasting changes. She was reluctant because she said that things had gotten so tense between them that they had “nothing to talk about.”
Well, I do understand this. But, she had to take some risks to gain some rewards. And, there were plenty of times, in the beginning, when the two of them could not stop talking. So, she had to admit that anything was possible. I had her think about what the two of them used to enjoy discussing and doing. I wanted for her to draw on those things. And yes, the husband was a little shocked and abrupt when she asked to come along on his golfing outing. But, you know what? He didn’t reject her. And it did get the ball rolling.
Turning Small Steps Into Large Changes When You Don’t Want Your Marriage To Be Over: I knew that this wife and her husband were going to have to eventually work out their problems and to restore the intimacy. But, I also knew that this wasn’t likely to happen if the two of them could not even comfortably be together for long periods of time before someone started to feel awkward or angry.
They were going to have to build up to this. It would take time, patience, and willingness. And nothing said that they could not start small. In fact, the wife didn’t even need to tell the husband that she was doing this if she feared his resistance. She only had to begin changing the way that she acted knowing that this would create a ripple effect.
She started by only going along with him on outings a couple of times a week. This eventually turned into lunches out which in turn gave way to them revisiting trips and hobbies that they both used to enjoy together. It was only then when they were reconnecting and more comfortable with each other, that it was time to discuss the issues that we’re continuing to crop up.
The wife was surprised that, by the time she mentioned the marriage, the husband did not laugh, object, or try to change the subject. In fact, he agreed with her. So what was different this time? She waited to wade through the tough subjects until the two of them were reconnecting, and when the mood was light hearted and cooperative.
Often, if you try to tackle large issues like your marriage potentially ending while the two of you are continuously at odds, no one is really listening anyway. So, all your really doing is continuing to dig a deeper hole and getting more and more frustrated. It’s a cycle that only gets worse and worse.
But, if you move very slowly and take very small steps to restore the good will, cooperative attitudes, and the pay off of good feelings that are shared, the process is going to go so much more smoothly because both parties have a vested interest in making it so. And, both parties now know that there is no reason now that the process can’t be pleasurable and successful.
There was a time that I thought my marriage was truly at its end. At first, we ignored the problems but when things got really unpleasant, we seemingly tried everything – from counseling to a trial separation. Thankfully, even though I had doubts, I decided to try one last thing, to give a little more, and to approach it from another angle (by focusing on my own time and efforts) and this eventually worked. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/