Figuring out how to save your marriage could be the most importantaction you ever take. Your live, the life of your spouse, and the lives ofyour children are going to be dramatically affected for the remainder ofyour days on this Earth by a decision to divorce. The trauma this inflictson a child can lead to a pattern of unhappiness and unfulfilledrelationships even in their adulthood. A decision to divorce should not betaken lightly, and the two of you should work on saving the marriage.
You won’t always be able to save the relationship. But you andyour wife should fight and claw to prevent the final breach, so you canalways say you tried everything. Sometimes, these seemingly irreconcilabledifferences don’t look so big in the rear view mirror. A little perspectiveand a lot of love sometimes leads to a rejuvenation of your married life.People with open hearts and open minds can always gain a little addedwisdom.
Show Each Other Respect
- You don’t have to agree with one another.
- You don’t even have to like one another right now.
- But you do have to show one another respect.
This advice goes double when the kids are around, or when any thirdperson is around. Respect and honor each other.
Behavior is habit forming. If you disrespect your spouse, itbecomes easier to do it the next time around. Pretty soon, they’re likely torespond in kind, as a defense mechanism. The next thing you know, the two ofyou are trading insults and trying to tear down each other at every look andglance, to friends and acquaintances or anyone who’ll listen–even yourkids. Do like sports teams do: keep it in-house. Don’t complain to others.Settle issues behind closed doors.
Showing each other respect is habit forming, too. Your spouse isgoing to calm down, because he or she isn’t on the defensive all the time.You won’t be have to respond to attacks. The two of you, slowly and surely,begin to learn how to behave around each other. Show respect enough and youmight start seeing a different side of this person.
Let the Little Things Roll Off
Every person alive has little quirks and habits that, over the years, candrive their friends and roommates crazy. Familiarly breeds contempt.Maybe he smacks his food when he eats certain things. Maybe she clings afork on her teeth when she eats yogurt. Or maybe she leaves the lights or tvon when she walks out of the living room, while he leaves his shoes at thefront door.
If these things annoy you, let them roll off your back for the timebeing. Give it a rest. Don’t find little habits and turn them into bigissues. This should automatically mean you won’t fight as often.
Be Willing to Listen
To be engaged in the marriage, you have to be willing to listen toyour spouse. Your wife has cares and concerns that are not your own. Youmight not view them as entirely rational or legitimate, but she does.Listen, be ready to sympathize, and understand this is important to her. Ifshe’s important to you, and this problem is important to her, then theproblem should be important to you.
That tip goes double when her problem is with something you do.It’s natural to get defensive on reflex, but instead, shut your mouth andactually listen to what she has to say. Listen and analyze, then make arational response. Do your best not to get defensive (I know it’s hard) andmake a good-faith effort to address her concerns. You’ll probably find thatgets a much better response than another argument does, once she perceivesyou’re willing to listen.
Avoid Jealous Outbursts
Jealousy is a sure way to kill a relationship. It’s natural for aman to be somewhat territorial of his wife. But when your suspicion andjealous thoughts get so out-of-control, you do irrational things. Spying onyour wife and trying to catch her in lies is a way to start losing yourwife. Accusing her of infidelity or having a wandering eye is a way to driveher away. In the end, marriage is based on trust. If you have suspicions,seldom is it a good idea to voice them.
I’m not saying you should have blinders on. Plenty of marriages end ininfidelity. If your wife starts acting differently or suspiciously, I’mnot telling you to stick your head in the proverbial sand. What I’m talkingabout is jealousy anytime your wife speaks to another man in a public placewhere conversation is expected. I’m talking about jealousy when your wifegoes out with her girlfriends for a movie or Bunco Night. Your wife needs tobe able to breathe, to relax and enjoy the company of friends, and shedeserves to have you trust her.
Be Willing to Forgive
Some things you have to let go. Sometimes, you have to forgiveyour wife, just as she has to be able to forgive you. Once again, I’m nottalking about real betrayals here. Some things are unforgivable in amarriage (at least with most people). But if your wife gets angry and sayssomething she shouldn’t, or if she gets into a fender bender and tears upthe front of your cherished car, these are not things to hold a grudgeagainst for months and years to come.
When she calms down and she realizes her anger got the best of her, agood wife is going to feel sorry for what she did. And if she dented up yourprized possession, she likely feels terrible about it already. Tocontinually torment her and get revenge day-in-and-day-out is a childishreaction. Learn to forgive the petty slights and human errors of yourspouse.
Keep Your Promises
Whatever you promise to do, keep that promise. If you don’t feelcomfortable with an arrangement or request, don’t make the promise in thefirst place. So much in life is about managing expectations. When you make apromise or statement of intention, it’s natural for the other person toexpect that to happen. When it doesn’t, their bitterness and disappointmentis justified. If you make a promise, keep it.
Understand It Requires Teamwork
Understand that one spouse cannot save a marriage. Amarriage is a partnership, a team. If one person doesn’t want to be in themarriage, it’s never going to work. You could be the perfect husband, theperfect spouse, and you’re never going to do enough to make yourrelationship work. Your spouse has to want the marriage to work, too.
Finding out whether your marriage partner wants to be in or out of themarriage is an important first step. Learn this important fact, nomatter how much you fear rejection and dealing with the pain of not beingloved. If she doesn’t want to continue, you’re saving yourself a lot ofneedless heartache, wondering, and suffering. If she does want to continue,this is a moment when the two of you can turn a corner and start workingtogether.
Saving Your Marriage
If all else fails, listen to your wife and attend marriage counseling.I know what you imagine this is going to be like. Marriage counseling isinstruction and training in how to manage a married relationship and how tosteer clear of the worst troubles. If you didn’t know how to fix acarburetor, you would study how. If you didn’t know how to install a newoperating system on your computer, you’d find a manual. So if you don’t knowhow to save your marriage, there’s nothing wrong with getting advice from atrained professional.