All relationships go through rocky times. Honestly, there are times when one partner seems to be keeping it all together and times when the other takes a turn. This is normal; marriage takes a lot of work and a willingness to be the glue sometimes.
It can be tough, when you feel like you’ve been the glue far too long, to decide if you want to continue on keeping it together. Is it even possible? Can one person save a floundering marriage? It may be possible, but there is a lot to consider before you bite the bullet, dig your heels in, and say “Yes! I WILL do this, even if it kills me!”
Under some circumstances, it might.
Take a Look at Your Reality
I will be honest. As things spiraled downward in my marriage, I was determined to make it work. I just knew that I wanted to save my marriage. After all, I had made a commitment, and I am not a quitter! Every time the idea of divorce crept stealthily into my thoughts I would send it packing. Good, strong Christians did not divorce, they prayed, had faith, and God changed their lives. I knew this was true--I’d read books, been to seminars, and sought godly counsel.
It would work because I would make it work.
I tried everything I knew. I prayed for hours; I spent an entire year fasting and praying, and I worked hard to be that virtuous wife. Things just kept getting worse. I was increasingly depressed, frustrated, and feeling trapped. When I discovered he was cheating, I totally lost it--something in me broke. All of the rage and frustration of years of narcissistic abuse came gushing out in a torrent. It was like uncontrollable, emotional vomiting, and it scared me. All of a sudden I realized that I didn’t want to save it. At some point my relationship had morphed into a voracious, flesh-eating zombie that was devouring everything in its path.
It was time to put it to death before it sucked out what remaining life I had.
First Things First
Before you even get to the question of can you save your marriage, you have to ask yourself if you really want to? It’s important to give this a lot of thought and not make assumptions. I had thought I wanted to save my marriage, but I was deceiving myself.
So, think about it. Do you really want to save your marriage? In the deepest part of your heart do you feel that your marriage, not just your commitment but the whole shebang, is worth saving? Are you prepared to do whatever it takes and endure whatever it takes to maybe make it work? Are you prepared to make your kids endure it?
If there is physical abuse involved, please put space between you and the abuser and work on it with a counselor trained in dealing with domestic abuse. It’s important that you get yourself and your children to a safe place first, before doing anything else.
Ditch the Blame
It’s easy to point fingers and blame the other person for your actions. When you do that, you enmesh yourself in a web of personal deception. You can know if you are playing that game by listening to your statements when you’re arguing.
- You never listen to me.
- You don’t pick up after yourself.
- You always twist my words.
Change those statements to express your feelings.
- I feel disrespected when I feel you are not listening to me. I need you to look at me while I am talking.
- I feel taken for granted when you don’t pick up after yourself.
- I don’t always know how to express myself in a way you can understand.
Removing the blame will diffuse a lot of problems with communication.
Work on Yourself
Make positive changes in your own life. Take a class, begin to do something that interests you, and make new friends. If you don’t go to opera because he doesn’t like it buy a ticket and go! Better yet, find a friend that likes opera and go with them!
By making positive changes in your life your outlook will be better, and your confidence will skyrocket. When you have your own interests, the things he does will have less of an effect on you. As you become more positive about yourself and your life, it will reflect in the things you say and do. No matter what happens, being a strong, confident person is a good thing.
Consider the things about you that your spouse complains about. Do they have a valid point? Is it something you can work on?
Be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time for the changes in you to cause a ripple effect in your marriage. Being thoughtful, being considerate, and being kind will go a long way when it comes to making things better for both of you.
Be Intentionally Loving
It can get easy over time to become roommates rather than paramours. Begin kissing hello and goodbye if you’ve stopped doing that. Touch each other. Hold hands. Look into your spouse’s eyes when you’re talking. Try to remember what you loved about them at first and hang on to that. Think about the things you don’t do anymore.
Have sex. Often.
There are just some relationships that can’t be fixed. If he has narcissistic tendencies, if he lies, if he cheats, or if he is abusive, trying to fix the marriage might be more likely to pull you under rather than lift him up. Drugs (even prescription), alcohol, gambling, and porn addiction are things that are very difficult to overcome.
Do you want to save your marriage or are you just afraid of divorce?
Divorce is hard on everyone, but living in a negatively charged atmosphere causes anxiety and other emotional issues in both kids and adults. Don’t be afraid to let your relationship go if it has, like my first marriage, turned into a zombie.
Do you need to talk out your feelings somewhere safe? Join First Wives World today and talk to others who know what you are going through because they’ve been there.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: ZenJazzyGeek