Want to save your marriage? Start by taking these steps

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.


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.

Domestic violence perpetrators to be given crisis housing in SA trial

Crisis-AccommodationSome domestic violence perpetrators will be removed from their family homes under a new scheme by a state government, but experts warn it could leave the victims struggling financially.

The South Australian government last month announced a small trial under which perpetrators will be removed and placed in crisis accommodation, giving victims the option to stay at home.

It is part of a $4 million initiative which will see 40 new crisis accommodation beds rolled out in the state – a small number of which will be for perpetrators.

SA human services minister Michelle Lensink said in announcing the pilot that it would result in less disruption to victims’ lives at an already very traumatic time.

“The trial is also an opportunity to explore what interventions might work as perpetrators will have an opportunity to engage with support services,” she said.

Experts have welcomed the trial but have concerns; not just about the safety risk of a perpetrator returning to the home, but also the victim’s ability to keep the roof over their head.

It is a good idea in theory, says Shelter SA executive director Alice Clark, because it provides stability and continued access to support networks.

But dropping from a dual-income household to one meant victims may be unable to meet rent or mortgage repayments and would need additional financial support.

“It’s like a drop in the bucket,” said Dr Clark. “We see thousands of women going back to violent situations and partners because of [poor] housing affordability.”

She added an increase in public and community housing was crucial to support victims. It was a sentiment echoed by housing consultant Sue Cripps.

“If a woman is left behind in a house with a massive mortgage or rent she’s going to end up homeless herself because she can’t afford it,” Ms Cripps said.

However Ms Cripps sees merit in the approach as long it comes with support services for both victims and perpetrators,

“How many years have we been creating safety for women at refuges and one woman a week is still getting murdered,” Ms Cripps said. “It actually makes you think it’s time for something different, but it has to be in addition, it can’t diminish what is available.”

While many may question providing accommodation for perpetrators, and prefer it if they were just kicked out, Ms Cripps said that would not solve the problem or keep victims safe.

“Just putting them out on the street does nothing to reduce anger and violence,” Ms Cripps said. “You cannot expect people to do the deep therapeutic work if they don’t know where they’re sleeping at night.”

Dr Sarah Wendt, professor of social work at Flinders University, said to seriously tackle domestic violence attention needed to turn to perpetrators, but it could not be at the expense of victims.

“If you think about the resources and intensity of moving women and children around versus one man there is some economic argument for it,” she added.

Dr Sarah Wendt believed that with the right support services a victim could address the housing affordability issue, but warned few perpetrators would move out of their own accord. She added the composition of such crisis accommodation would be crucial in helping perpetrators recover, but they would need more than a few weeks of support.

She said there are a very small number of similar programs in Australia, including Communicare Breathing Space in Western Australia and Room 4 Change in the ACT. There’s also Fixed Address, a new program on the mid-north coast of NSW, which will assist with support services and transitional housing for perpetrators at eight properties.

While no one has been housed yet under the Fixed Address program, Kempsey Families executive officer June Will said requests have come from victims, family members, correction services and the perpetrators themselves. While there has been some community backlash to the housing of perpetrators, Ms Will said that without alternative accommodation, they would simply try to go home.

“This is not about supporting perpetrators because of their violence, it is supporting them to reduce their violence,” she said. “For us it’s about a far greater reduction in risk … and you can provide a range of support for the perpetrator with more success.”

Dr Sarah Wendt warned the sector not to underestimate the potential or risk of this “brave” trial, and said initiatives should be thoroughly evaluated before they were scaled up.

Secret recordings flooding Family Court trials

secret-recordings-in-family-courtAustralian judges are increasingly being presented with covert recordings of family disputes in Family Court trials. Even though they’re frequently made illegally, that doesn’t necessarily stop then being admitted as evidence.

If you wanted to provide evidence of a family member mistreating you or your child, chances are you might look to your smartphone.

It’s becoming common practice for Family Courts in Australia to be presented with home-recorded audio and video material.

Lawyers estimate more than 30 per cent of family law litigation cases now see parties submit recordings, typically recorded covertly, as prospective evidence to support their arguments.

But when are they actually admissible as evidence? Are they even legal?
In many Australian jurisdictions it’s illegal to surreptitiously record a conversation. In others, secret recordings can be made but it’s illegal to publish or communicate those conversations.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, Diana Bryant, says under certain circumstances, such recordings can have significant probative value—that is, provide non-prejudicial evidence that contributes to a trial.

In the 2014 family violence case of Gorman & Huffman, Justice Hannam said she was inclined to allow unlawfully obtained recordings to be admissible as evidence.

Dave (not his real name) was encouraged by police to make recordings of interactions with his ex-wife after she made serious allegations against him, which the Family Court labelled as ‘groundless’.

‘I was advised by a police officer to record any contact,’ he says. ‘”She is out to get you” were the words that were actually said to me.’

He made recordings of his ex-spouse during conversations in front of their children, and used them later in his affidavits. But recordings made by a family member in the aftermath of a dramatic violent event were ultimately deemed inadmissible by the court.

Involving children can be considered ‘problematic’
‘My ex-wife’s partner hit me with a car and stabbed me five times and I was in hospital in a very serious condition,’ Dave says.

‘They were recordings that my sister made when she was arranging for my children to come and see me in the hospital, and that would have certainly given rise to some concerns about the attitude of my ex-wife.

‘They were inadmissible as they were, as the judge put it, illegally obtained.’

Judges are particularly less inclined to allow recordings, surreptitiously recorded or otherwise, that involve children.

Recordings can backfire in eyes of the courts
The executive officer with the New South Wales Women’s Legal Service, Helen Campbell, says the courts have to be extremely wary of recordings involving children in acrimonious high conflict separation disputes. The court tends to believe involving the child in a covert recording is a manipulative situation and is using the child for the furtherance of a dispute between the parents, Campbell says.

In some cases, the judge has said that this lacks insight, and has even gone so far as to say it’s nearly child abuse, to use the child to perpetrate your arguments for you in that way! She says parents can go to extreme lengths to produce recordings involving their children, but it can actually serve to backfire in the eyes of the courts.

‘There was a case where the parent secretly put a recording device in a child’s toy, just for the purpose of recording what was being said at the time of handover,’ she says.

‘I believe that the evidence was admitted, but it was considered negatively against the person who made the recording as well as the person who was recorded. But the judge thought both parties were equally not good.’

Earlier this year, Justice McLennan warned of an ‘opening of the floodgates’ with parents submitting recorded material to the Family Court.

Yet it seems even in instances where recording have been made illegally, judges will continue to grant them serious consideration for admission as evidence if they are deemed to have sufficient probative value.

Related Family Law Judgments