Want to save your marriage? Start by taking these steps

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Saving-Your-MarriageTimes are tough. Your relationship is in the emergency room and the last rites are being read. The person you fell in love with has the capacity and the inside knowledge to destroy you. It is time for drastic interventions.

Divorce has few victors. Children suffer. Everyone, almost invariably, loses. There may be exceptions to this but if you can consider avoiding divorce in your life, do it.

This is about the moment when your partner is on the brink of being out the door or is at the point of running you out, and it’s not what you want. Before you connect again we need to build respect, then protect and then re-connect.

First, if you do not want your relationship to end it is likely you are grieving, hurt and sad. Your partner may want to rush things along to a quick separation. For this reason slow the process down, if you can.

People who want to end a relationship abruptly are almost always out of the resilient zone. They are feeling agitated and usually ascribing the reason they feel this way to you. Usually they are in the ‘flight’ mode. Alternatively, they are absent and attributing the reason for feeling deadened to you.

As hard as it is to think about their perspective at this time, it is important. Realise that there is often just as much pain the person wanting to leave. This can be hard to believe, especially if there has been infidelity, and they will often put on the appearance that they are determined to be rid of you. In the dark recesses of their mind, however, a shred of doubt will always linger.

We are going to use that shred of doubt to increase your chances of not getting divorced.

Respect

The first thing to know is that the person you hope beyond hope will care for you and love you is not able to do that for you at the the moment. Even if they don’t show it, they are going through their own turmoil and pain. Most likely they are concealing this and instead directing their anger and blame towards you. You may well think, ‘Well, let them, it’s their fault after all – they’re the person who wants to leave!’

Make sure that the people you vent to or confide in do not make emotional submissions on your behalf.

If you really don’t want to separate and divorce, you need to think clearly and be strategic. This means you may need a lot of support from friends and family as you process your feelings.

First, avoid begging, pleading or cajoling. Make sure that the people you vent to or confide in do not make emotional submissions on your behalf.

 There is a part of you that is probably hurting like hell. There is probably another part that is furious. The fragile part of you that is in pain wants to cling on. However, if you chase your partner they will feel suffocated or hunted and shift to the agitated zone. They will begin to feel trapped and that everything has to happen quickly. Needing to cope with this will switch them into the avoidant zone. It is time to stop giving your partner reason to leave you.
This is going to be very hard, but don’t be put off by the challenge. It may be the best thing you ever do.

Stop discussing the relationship for a time

Trying to reason with or persuade a partner who wants to end a relationship rarely works. It is never just a matter of convincing the other person. You may be distressed and upset. They are also likely to be confused, reactive and defensive. This situation involves a powerful cocktail of emotions.

Stop pursing them

Immediately stop anything that your partner might view as trying to keep them involved. This means stopping: frequent phone calls, texts or emails; loving messages of any kind; begging, pleading; describing all the good times in your relationship; following your partner around; encouraging talk about the future; asking for reassurances; buying them gifts or flowers; planning holidays or trips away together; trying to schedule dates together; the surveillance program – no spying on them, checking their phone or computers or their arrangements.

Stop saying ‘I love you’. Completely stop. Every time you say ‘I love you’, you might be reminding your partner that they might not love you.

Get a life

As shattered as you likely are, get a life. While this is a really big ask, you do need ot act as if you are moving forward with your life. Otherwise, you might as well seek legal advice and draw up the documents.

I expect you are asking yourself, ‘How can I do this when I feel like crap? I can hardly function, it’a  miracle getting out of bed each day, and things are horrible at home.’

Start to treat yourself better. Start doing things that are out of character compared with the way you have been acting lately. Move gently beyond helplessness into action and power.

Edited extract from The Revolutionary Art of Changing Your Heart by Andrew Fuller, published by Hachette Australia on 28 May 2019, $29.99 Trade Paperback.

Dr Andrew Fuller is an Australian clinical psychologist.

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Categories: Counselling, Marriage and De Facto, Relationship, Saving your marriage
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