Remember the day you got married? The moment you said “I do?” Your first kiss as husband and wife?
On our wedding day, we can’t even conceive of divorce. And yet, as you know, about 50% of marriages fall apart. But, what you might not know is that virtually all marriages come very close to this unfortunate end.
The good news is that there is hope. Psychologists have had plenty of time to figure out what leads to marital problems, and to find effective solutions. Yes, there is a very real and tested way to save your marriage.
The process by which I came to learn how to save a marriage wasn’t an easy one. In fact, it was a most painful journey. After three years of marriage, and a small child, my husband announced to me that he wasn’t sure how he felt about me anymore.
Needless to say, I was devastated. We had a life together. We had a house, shared finances, and a living, breathing human being who depended on us.
The desire to fix my marriage overwhelmed my entire being. It appeared to defy logic. I didn’t believe at the time that it was even possible.
I looked for an answer everywhere – and I mean everywhere. I asked everyone I ran into for advice. I search the internet tirelessly, night after night. I read every book I could get my hands on.
For a long time nothing happened. Everything I tried seemed to just make the relationship worse. I was so devastated that I was beginning to come to terms with the possibility of divorce. “I’m OK,” I remember telling myself, “Many people start over and survive, and so will I.” Finally, I stopped crying.
This is when the answer came to me. It turned out that psychologists have had the answer all along. Experts have identified key solutions to solving marital problems many decades ago.
Unfortunately, these solutions aren’t very well known, but they should be. Something that works so well should be common knowledge. In a world marriages are just as likely to fail as their are to succeed, this information can make a real difference.
That is why I wrote this article. If you find the information in this article useful, please share this article to help spread the word.
Here are the three things you need to know to save your marriage.
Differentiation is the process by which two once again become two. It all boils down to creating space in the relationship. But, it isn’t superficial space that I am talking about. What I am talking about is recreating emotional separation.
You see, when a couple first gets together, it is all about closeness. At first, this feels wonderful. The dreamy state of falling in love and merging with another human being brings about a feeling of inordinate joy. The technical term for this is “fusion.”
“Fusion” is a state in which the separation between two people becomes blurred. It’s when two becomes one. At this stage, people sometimes start using the word “we” instead of “I.” They care deeply about their partner’s views and opinions, to that the point that they can be deeply hurt by disagreement on an important issue. Spouses start leaning on each other and become overly reliant on each other for emotional support.
Unfortunately, this state of “fusion” doesn’t work out so well in the long run. No matter how great it feels to imagine that we have found our other half, no two people are the same. Each of us needs space, both physical and emotional, in order to pursue our own path in life and grow as individuals.
At one point or another, the cozy feeling of intense attachment becomes suffocating. This is when serious problems arise, and one of the partners (the one who feels suffocated first) pulls away. This is so confusing and immensely painful that it often leads to divorce.
What we usually don’t realize is that the key to resolving relationship problems is to create space, and restore a sense of individuality. With our sense of individuality restored, the desire to run away usually fades. This is also when people remember why they fell in love in the first place.
Try to remember what it was like before you got together with your spouse Remember that feeling of freedom and independence? You don’t have to break the relationship to restore this feeling. While it does take practice, it is possible to live together and yet feel a healthy dose of separation at the same time.
Want to pursue a hobby? Want to change your career? Want to wear clothes, eat food, and see friends that your partner doesn’t approve of? Go ahead! Fight for your right to be who you are.
When that sense of independence is restored, not only are partners less eager to run away from each other, but that initial passion, the spark, reignites!
And this isn’t just theory, I’ve been there. My husband and I went through the process of differentiation, re-establishing ourselves as separate individuals. It might not sound very romantic, but we learned how to care a little less about each other’s opinions and approval and think more independently.
With this came a great sense of freedom, which I used to believe was a privilege of the single. But more importantly, the separation between us make us a lot more interested in each other. Differentiation reignited the spark, and awakened our marriage.
A key part of differentiation is the reduced reliance on your partner for making you feel better. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t our partner’s job to be our therapist.
They don’t have to fix our problems, and they shouldn’t have to listen to them all the time, either. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a needy person, then you know how profoundly difficult this position can be.
Give your partner space, and do something a lot more effective instead of asking them to sooth you: go ahead and sooth yourself!
Not sure how to go about it? Just think what you would do had you been single. Would you take a nice bubble bath? Would you watch your favorite funny movie? Would you write about it in a journal? No matter what it is that works for you, you have a much better shot at finding the solution than your partner ever will.
When a relationship is going into a crisis, both people need every ounce of their energy to take care of themselves. When you rely on yourself instead of your partner for soothing, the relationship is relieved of a great burden. By taking care of yourself first, instead of taking care of each other first, you give your marriage a much better shot at survival.
When I first learned about self-soothing I was very confused. I thought that being in a relationship was all about taking care of each other. But as my marriage was then falling off a cliff, I had nothing to lose. I decided to give it a shot.
So the next time I was upset, I imagined that I was home alone. Instead of complaining to my husband, I took a long bath and then wrote in my journal. An amazing thing happen. I felt so much better! A lot better than I felt the previous times when I expected him to take care of me. Moreover, self-soothing radically reduced the frequency and duration of our fights (which were common during that delicate time), leaving more room for positive interactions.
Finally, there is self-validation – the act of reassuring your own views and opinions when you partner disagrees. Surely, you allow room for disagreements with your friends. The same applies to healthy marriages.
Remember, your partner is entitled to their own opinion. It’s OK to disagree. You don’t have to change your mind, and neither do they.
Find within yourself the strength to believe in your own beliefs, and trust your own opinion – regardless of how your partner sees things. As a side effect, this confidence will even be attractive to your partner. But more importantly, it will give you strength to live life on your own terms.
My husband and I used to be so uncomfortable with disagreement that we fooled ourselves into believing that we always agree. As a result, we used to make many unnecessary compromises, which lead to a great deal of resentment in the long run.
Now we are getting better at self-validation and it has made life so much easier. Learning how to be comfortable having different opinions made our relationship more honest, simpler, and even more interesting. Unhindered by the need for consensus, we each live life on our own terms, giving us a great sense of autonomy and freedom.
Stay strong. There is hope. The journal can be hard, but the days of love and peace return.
If you can, show this article to your spouse You don’t need them to cooperate in order to see the effects of these well-tried methods. But, if they work on differentiation, self-soothing, and self-validation at the same time as you, then you might heal your marriage even faster.
But even if your partner does not want to participate, working on these skills individually can make a huge difference to your marriage. Yet, you don’t have to do it alone! As you practice these three principles, come back here and share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
I know how hard marital problems can be. This is why we welcome your questions and advice. Let’s learn from each other and help each other out. Together we are stronger.