A relationship can be a lot like taking a road trip.
You start out excited and eager. You and your partner are thrilled to be together. You hang on one another’s every word and you truly have fun and plenty of passion together.
At some point, the trip becomes a little routine. You’ve passed about a million cows or billboards or those green road signs that announce upcoming exits and crossroads. You feel tired and hazy.
Then, you look up from whatever it is you’re doing to keep yourself occupied (and less hazy, bored or irritable) and you see that your car is headed for a cliff! The end of the road where the cliff drops off seems to be rushing at you and your partner fast and furiously.
You want to turn the car around, but aren’t sure how or if it’s too late!
This is the way it can feel at the moment you realize that your marriage is rushing fast and furiously toward divorce.
You might have seen the “wrong turns” along the way or maybe you didn’t. The fact of the matter is, you are aware that your marriage is in trouble and might end if you and your partner don’t do something immediately.
The challenge is that you may have already tried to fix the problems. Maybe you two are trying to rebuild trust after it was broken by lying or infidelity. You are working on the jealousy that causes so many arguments.
Still, the cliff edge seems to be just ahead and you feel afraid of what seems to be coming .
These 4 tips can help you “turn the car around” and rescue your marriage…
#1: Choose a direction.
Which direction do you truly want to go? This is something to consider. As much as you may want to avoid divorce, are you willing to do what it takes to save your marriage?
Give yourself permission to honestly choose whether to stay in or leave your relationship. For the moment, set aside all of the “shoulds” and “have tos” that may be running through your mind. Allow yourself to consider all of the possible roads that you could take.
Ask yourself what is wise and truly best for you.
- Divorce can seem like falling off the “cliff” and it is a big change with significant consequences for you, your children, your finances and your life overall. It can also be a fresh start and chance for you to live more authentically and (eventually) more joyfully too.
- Separation is not always the first step to divorce. It can provide you and your spouse a chance to really get clear about what you each want. It can give you both space to reassess your lives and your relationship and to re-discover one another too. Be honest and communicate your expectations for how much contact you will have with each other and with other people too.
- Staying in your marriage is another option that might seem impossible to you because of the situation going on right now. As long as there is no abuse, consider how you feel about staying with your partner. Are you willing to re-think your relationship and put the past behind you?
#2: Stop blaming.
Blame will send your marriage over the edge of the cliff! Recognize your tendency to blame your partner for your upset, your dissatisfaction and everything you believe is “wrong” with your relationship.
You probably have many valid reasons why you think your partner is to blame. It’s likely that you’re not making this up! But, if all you can see is how he or she is to blame, you can’t see any solutions.
The same obstacles to improvement come when you only (or mostly) blame yourself. If you have a habit of making misunderstandings or arguments all your fault, get curious about why you do this. Is it to avoid conflict? Is it because you are insecure and believe that it really IS your fault?
Take responsibility for your share in what’s disconnecting you and your partner from one another. Set boundaries if he or she is doing things that are undermining trust. But, keep yourself focused on finding the next best step in addressing whatever challenges you two are facing.
#3: Create agreements.
Creating conscious agreements is a powerful way to turn around your relationship and move it in a more desired direction.
Keep in mind the difference between an agreement and a demand or ultimatum. An agreement is something that you BOTH feel invested in following through and keeping. It might not be the easiest to reach, but there is a sense of buy-in from all involved.
Agreements are most effective when they are specific (time and behavior) and clear (re-stated and confirmed). Come up with agreements to address those habits you and your partner have that are endangering your marriage.
#4: Get help when it feels out of control.
Know when you are speeding out of control toward divorce. If you want to save your marriage but aren’t sure how or if this is can happen, get help.
Be choosy and find a professional counselor or coach who is a match for what you and your partner are looking for. In addition to the background of the person you might work with, find out what approach to relationships and working with you he or she takes.
Even if your spouse is unwilling to participate with you in therapy or coaching, if it’s something you’re open to, try it and see what happens.
We’ve helped individuals and couples just like you turn their marriage around through Breakthrough Relationship Coaching. For more information, visit: www.relationshipgold.com/coaching2.htm