I get several calls a week with clients asking me if they can save their marriage when their spouse is unwilling or uninterested in doing their part to salvage the relationship. I tell them they can save it if they are willing to do a lot of hard work and never guarantee they will get the results they’re hoping for, but I know of many clients who have saved their marriage alone. When a client comes to me for counseling and coaching I sit down with them and help them through the step-by-step process of saving their marriage. I am going to share with you what you need to do for yourself and your spouse if you are, indeed, willing to do the hard work. I have seen the most difficult relationship where the couple literally hated each other, fix their marriage and become best friends again. If you’re willing to put your pride aside and make some tough commitments, anything can happen.
As I headed to football practice as a high school football coach that October afternoon, there was a steady rain that reminded me that my life was in a mess. The wipers were on as I turned on the defrost to keep the windshield from fogging up. The cold rain matched my feelings towards life in general: gloomy, dark, sad and cold. I turned on the radio to drown out the noise from the wipers. As I drove, my mind raced to happier times, the few of them that I had.
One of those happier times was with my daughter when we were feeding the ducks at the park. She was 7 and full of life and wonderment. I was just starting to realize that I was a father, her father, and wondered why it took so long for me to figure that out. Looking back, my wife was probably wondering that too!
Over the years, it was slow at first, the distance that grew between my wife and me. We talked less and avoided being in the same room. She would watch TV upstairs and I would watch it in the den. I would run errands in town and found myself taking my time coming home. She would visit friends and stay for dinner and a movie just to avoid coming home. We are living in our own world. I felt safe in mine and afraid of hers. Soon we became comfortable in that day-to-day routine. I didn’t miss her and she didn’t miss me.
Looking back I tried to remember where I began to make the mistakes my marriage and as difficult as it was to face, I realized I had made plenty of them. The major ones came to light first. I remember being so involved with sports that I played ball 5 nights a week and was in tournaments on the weekends. I was never home. And to make things worse, I wasn’t good a communicating with her. I never put my wife first. I always put others first. If a phone call came, I would go rescue or help anyone in need just to get out of the house. When she had needs, I always put more importance over my needs. As you can see, I wasn’t a good husband. I was in my late twenties and very self-centered.
When I was served with divorce papers my world came crashing down around me. Prior to getting served, my wife was asking my friends if they would talk to me about working on our marriage. Each person she talked to said “no way!” They were doing the same thing I was doing to my wife – living separate lives while being married. Most of those guys are divorced now and on second and third marriages. And most of those guys were being unfaithful to their wives and wanted nothing to do with talking to me about my marriage. Besides, I was married to my sports but never realizing that I was. As you can see, I probably represent many men whose wives are considering divorce. I hope you can learn from my mistakes, if you can, you can probably save your marriage.
In next week’s article there will be some steps in correcting some of the things you’re doing that will help heal your relationship. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call.