We all hit that point where we just want to give up. Remember that poster with the cat at the end of the rope? We get it. We’ve all been there.
While working on your relationship, you may have already hit it. Or you may feel close.
This is normal. Working on a relationship can be frustrating, painful, scary, and defeating. That is part of the process. This is especially true if your relationship has been falling apart for awhile.
You see, many people finally realize their marriage is on the rocks as the ship is taking on water. You keep on bailing, but it seems to keep on filling.
So, when that feeling hits, what do you do? How do you stay in the game? How do you keep moving forward?
Today, I want to give you 3 ways to do just that. These 3 strategies will help you continue forward, in spite of the feelings you may have of wanting to quit.
Since you are here, that tells me you have a commitment to persevering. Let me give you some strategies to do just that.
Let me know what you think in the comments are below.
And if you are ready to get your plan together, visit me at SaveTheMarriage.com.
But what DOES science tell us about saving your relationship?
It turns out, LOTS.
Today, I want to cover one small piece of the puzzle. This is one piece of research you can IMMEDIATELY apply to your relationship.
Better yet, you can apply this researched response, regardless of what your spouse chooses to do (or not do).
This one piece of information was proven to be 94% accurate in predicting whether a couple stays together or divorces. That’s pretty strong evidence!
Listen, and start applying today!
If you are ready for even more help, all based on the most current science of relationships, email me at Lee@SaveTheMarriage.com and I will link you up!
In my book, I note the 3 steps to saving a marriage:
- Connect with your spouse.
- Change yourself.
- Create a new path.
Connecting with your spouse is HUGE. In fact, the leading issue with marriages is that disconnection. Heal the disconnection, and the relationship can stabilize. It does not do away with steps 2 and 3. In fact, #2 needs to be concurrent to reconnecting. But #3, “create a new path,” is much easier when the connection is healing.
So how DO you do that?
Let me point you to some resources that will help you begin the process. Below are links to the resources, so that you can quickly access and heal your relationship.
This is a great starting point. You can begin to understand the ways we have misunderstood connection, so that you can move in the RIGHT direction.
This will help you assess where your relationship is right now! How deeply disconnected are you? Once you know this, you can begin to create your plan to reconnect.
This resource will help you start the process of reversing the disconnection and move toward reconnection.
When you are hurting, angry, and frustrated, it can be difficult to even work on the connection. But YOU may be the only one ready to work on it. Courageous Compassion can help you choose a better path. This resource will help you move in that direction.
One other resource is about showing up. When you don’t show up, you don’t connect. And here is the great thing: you can ALWAYS show up. You can always decide you will show up in your relationship. Find out how!
If you are ready to really step up and heal your disconnection, you may be ready for some more advanced training. If you are, please email me and I will tell you how you can access that. Email me here: Lee@SaveTheMarriage.com
Or how about this one?: “Do you have any idea what he/she did? How can I ever forgive/trust/move on/reconnect/love again?”
As far as we can tell, we humans are the only creatures capable of looking at what has happened and reformulating what is to come.
We are the only ones who can thoughtfully say, “Well, that didn’t work. I think I had better learn a new way/decide on a new path/try something different.”
And as far as we can tell, we are the only creatures that continually live our lives caught in the past, living in the land of “what has been,” while failing to note “what is happening right now.”
This is why I love Dr. Gary Chapman’s quote so much: “I am amazed at how many people ruin today with yesterday.”
Where do YOU live? Where does your spouse live?
You DO have a choice.
Today, I want to talk about 4 simple practices that will help you leave the past where it belongs — in the past, and how to move into what is, this present moment.
By following these 4 simple practices, you can escape the trap of the past, while still learning from it and changing for the better.
To be clear, the issues were already there.
It’s just that many times, one spouse does not know how disconnected the other spouse is feeling.
But when that one statement drops, everything changes. The issues are out there. The problems begin to emerge.
The festering infection is now brought to the surface.
Sometimes, the infection has been festering for years — maybe even the vast majority of the relationship.
Maybe there have been some attempts to address the marital problems in the past. Sometimes, a habit here or there has been changed.
But the underlying dynamic that is causing the real marriage crisis, that has eluded efforts.
“I’m not in love with you” can feel like a kick in the gut. The emotional pain can double you over.
And when we are in emotional pain, we rarely respond in constructive and helpful ways. The infection can quickly overwhelm the marriage.
But what does that phrase REALLY mean? Why does it often appear “out of the blue?” Why is the spiral down so quick after this is spoken?
Let’s talk about this. In today’s podcast, I help you understand the meaning behind this phrase — and what to do about it!
“Linda” is a member of my virtual coaching program. She left me a message yesterday, “Sometimes, it just sucks.”
For the past four months, Linda had been working hard to save her marriage. Over the years, Linda and “Craig” had fallen out of step with each other. Maybe it was just those life events pulling at them: careers, kids, friends, other interests. Neither meant for it to happen. But it had. Linda and Craig were so disconnected that Linda found herself avoiding Craig, while Craig was doing the same.
Every discussion led to an argument. Every argument led to the “silent treatment” by one or the other.
Sex, well. . . it seemed that “making love” was replaced with “making hate.” Then one day, even that stopped.
Their spiral was steep and fast. One day, over one glass of wine too many, Linda asked, “What are we doing? Where are we going?”
Craig responded. And Linda hadn’t expected his reply: “I’m about done here,” Craig stated. “I can’t live with the tension and disappointment. Every time I look at you, I see how you look at me. I feel horrible every day and every night.”
That night, Craig moved to the couch. He told his kids the next day, “I have allergies and have been keeping your mother up, snoring.” They had no reason to not believe him. Linda’s eyes were red and swollen. She cried and sobbed throughout the night.
For the next few days, the “silent treatment” became icy silence. They practically avoided each other.
But Linda couldn’t stand it any longer. “So what are we going to do?” plead Linda.
Craig said he was not sure. He just knew that things could not be like they were, and he didn’t think anything could change. Deep down, Linda feared the same thing. But she refused to face that.
She began to plead and beg. She tried to rationalize and argue. But after a couple of days of that, Craig was only more convinced of how bad things were — and more convinced that nothing could change. Linda realized she had to stop trying to convince him to stay.
For the next couple of weeks, Linda simply dragged through the day. She was barely able to move one foot in front of the other. Linda has told me that the only thing that kept her moving was her kids. She did not want them to see the pain and be scared.
One day, Linda woke up (and truly woke up). She decided this was not who she was, the situation was not what she wanted, and she was not going to give up. That is when Linda found me and my Save The Marriage System.
By that evening, Linda had digested lots of information and was ready to save her marriage. She changed how she interacted. She changed her arguing, stop trying to persuade, quit reacting to the “bait” Craig threw her way, and started looking for opportunities to connect.
Guess what happened?
Craig barely responded. He didn’t even seem to notice.
That could have been the end of the story. Linda could have given up. She could have walked away, and they could have started the legal process.
A few things kept Linda moving ahead. First, she came from a broken home and knew the pain. She did not want that for the kids. Second, Linda had made a decision that staying too long and trying too hard was better than giving up too soon. Linda had made a promise at her wedding. She wanted to keep it.
So, she kept at it.
And some days, it sucked.
Craig would tell her that nothing had changed (even though Linda knew she had changed). Craig would remind her that he believed that once love is gone, it is gone forever (strangely, as Linda worked on herself and he relationship, she began to feel a softening toward Craig — not quite love, but no longer was it hate). Craig stayed disconnected (in spite of Linda purposely trying to reconnect in ways Craig always wanted).
Some days, it sucked badly.
Linda wanted to give up.
One thing kept her going: she had committed herself to work as long as she could.
I told Linda something that changed her stance:
“Sometimes, bad marriages are made by good people acting badly toward each other.”
As much as Linda wanted to look at Craig as a bad person, she knew differently. She just needed a reminder. People do not always act as they should. They act out of their hurt — which feels like anger to the other person. Those moments of hurt and anger, though, are just desperate attempts to connect.
1) Work to see your spouse through loving eyes. It is much too easy to only see your spouse through the hurt and pain. Through that lens, you will only see someone who may be: spiteful, vengeful, hurtful, angry, etc. But when you use loving eyes, you may see someone who is also hurting and unsure what to do, someone just as disillusioned and worried as you.
2) Make a list of the reasons why you want to work on the relationship. Write out as many as you can think of. You will come up with practical reasons: your finances, the kids, what others will think, and retirement. But you will also come up with some deeper reasons: belief in commitment, desire to learn and grow through a crisis, wanting to show your children how to move through struggles, and many others.
Mark out the practical ones. They may be important. But they will do little to inspire you. Keep a list of the deeper, soulful reasons. Pull them out and read through them when you are frustrated and feel like quitting. Your feelings can lead you away from your plans. As my wife says,
“Consult your plans, not your emotions.”
3) Accept that some days will suck. They just will. Sometimes, things will be moving forward. Then, you have a setback. It is easy to panic and decide to quit. Or you can just accept that is the nature of the process. Some days go great (don’t think you are in the clear), and some days will suck (don’t think this means it is all over). Keep it all in perspective. Enjoy the good days; endure the bad days.
Keep it all in perspective. Your marriage did not get into trouble overnight, and it will not improve overnight. The process can be slow and frustrating. But it is worth it in the end.
4) Take care of yourself. This is a stressful time. Your body is feeling it. Be sure and:
a) Eat well. Don’t get suckered into “comfort foods” that are full of carbs. The carbs turn to sugar and keep your body in “siege mode.”
b) Get some movement. I hate to call it exercise, but you need your body moving. 20 minutes of walking or even some short-duration, high-intensity activity (see the 7 Minute Workout) can help your body burn off the adrenaline load and help you maintain a good physical and mental frame.
c) Get your rest. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Too little or too much is an indication and a cause of stress. Get your rest and you will have more resources for your efforts.
5) Take this time as a chance to grow. Read some books on self-development, listen to podcasts or audios (I have podcasts here and at my blog for self-development, Thriveology.com). There are so many resources out there. Feed your mind, your soul, your spirit. Take this difficult time as an opportunity to grow and discover what your challenge has to teach you.
Linda was right. Sometimes, it just sucks. But in the midst of the “suck-y,” you may discover lessons you need to learn and capacities you never knew you had. The effort, regardless of outcome, is what you can control.
Your intentions and actions are within your control. Circumstances and actions by others are not.
You line up your argument: hit ‘em with facts about how divorce affects the kids, show ‘em how divorce will devastate retirement for both of you, show ‘em research that proves divorces do not lead to more happiness or satisfaction, etc., etc., etc.
Now, you just know you can convince your spouse to stay!
Have you done that? Have you decided to rationally explain why you should stay married, and how you two can work things out?
How did it go?
My guess is, it failed miserably. At least in my experience, I have not seen that approach work. A polite spouse may say, “You’ve given me lots to think about.” (This is short-hand for “You’ve given me lots to think about, but I have no intention of thinking about it.”) A less polite spouse may tell you where you can go, making it clear that the spouse is not interested in logic or reason.
Why is that? Aren’t we reasonable creatures? Don’t we follow logic?
The simple, and quite obvious, truth is that we humans are anything but rational, reasonable, and logical.
A quick glance around will let you know that logic is not winning in the world. Emotions carry the day.
In fact, according to research, upwards of 90% of decision-making is emotional (and mostly unconscious). We simply look for logical and rational reasons to support our emotional decisions.
Which is why your efforts to argue logic and reason will fail.
Marriage is nurtured by emotional connection — and starved by a lack of it. When a marriage is connection-starved, decisions to leave are fueled, not by logic, but by emotions. And attempts to argue logic? They will fail.
Listen to the podcast and let me know what you think!
If you feel the need for more help in healing the emotions, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A little explanation: for years, my son said he wanted to skydive when he turned 18.
That was years ago.
Last week, he turned 18 (what happened to those years??).
Time to follow through.
My wife spent a great deal of time and effort for us to be able to take the leap on his 18th birthday. But the weather had other plans. A rainy, yucky day canceled the jump. . . .
Until the next day. A beautiful, sunny, cool fall day.
We drove out into the middle of nowhere. And we jumped.
The pre-recorded disclaimer by the attorney said it all. He stated, and I quote, “I have no idea why someone would choose to jump out of a perfectly good plane. But you have chosen to.”
The ride up was no big deal. I kept rehearsing what needed to happen.
But that one moment, precariously balanced on the wing, staring down 10,000 feet to the ground, I had a thought, “What am I doing?” Then, I recommitted, and we jumped.
That jump made me think about one thing: there has to be that time when you fully commit to something. That moment when there is no turning back. There is only going forward, leaping into the unknown and hoping for the best.
Working on your marriage requires that leap!
Sometimes, we get so caught up in becoming an expert in some new pursuit that we forget to jump.
If you want to save your marriage, you do need to gather some basic information and begin to create your strategy. (If you need help with that, grab my Save The Marriage System.)
But then, at some point, you have to commit and leap.
You can’t keep planning. You have to get started.
Once you get started, you can work on fine-tuning your plan, learn more, and continue progressing.
Take a listen to my podcast, and if you are ready for some coaching “on the way down,” drop me an email! Email me here.
Then, Julie began to tell me a story about growing careers, a big social life, passionate pursuit of hobbies, and then children. Three. All within 5 years.
One day, when the youngest had just started school, Julie’s husband dressed for work, dimpled his tie, turned toward Julie and said, “I’m not happy, you are not happy. This is not working.” Then, he left.
Julie was shocked that he was so matter-of-fact. Could he really drop that emotional grenade and head to work, acting as if nothing happened? Julie reeled through the day, lost in her painful thoughts. Hadn’t they been in love at one point? Wasn’t this supposed to be “happily ever after?”
Then, Julie saw flashes. Times when each chose something else — a hobby, an activity, friends, work, children, even the iPhone, over spending time with each other. Julie realized they had stopped kissing goodnight, stopped holding hands at church, and stopped telling each other about their days.
Oh, Julie had known this. But she kept telling herself, “When the kids are older. . . ,” “When he gets that promotion. . . ,” “When the triathlon is over. . . ,” “When summer/fall/winter/spring comes. . . .” She just knew they could reconnect then.
But after each new stage of life, they just continued on the well-worn path of disconnection.
Julie and her husband had drained their battery of connection. Sure, it was well-charged when they married. But they kept draining it over the years, neither noticing the battery was nearing being drained. Then one day, Julie’s husband spoke a truth they both knew: they were disconnected. In fact, they were so disconnected that he could say the words and go to work. He might have know Julie would be caught off-guard. But he was disconnected enough that he didn’t care.
Connection is like your cellphone battery. It may carry you through a day or so. But the more you drain the batter, the longer it will take to recharge. Keep draining it, and at some point, it will simply shut down.
Let’s look at the 5 myths of connection in this week’s podcast. See if you are falling into the myths — and headed for trouble.
If you are already there, please grab my Save The Marriage System RIGHT HERE.
If you want even more advanced training, drop me a note: Lee@SaveTheMarriage.com
Connection is the nourishment of every marriage. If you break the connection, you starve the relationship.
So why are so many marriages connection-starved?
Most people don’t realize how important the connection is. So, life gets in the way: careers, friends, hobbies, interests, children. Over time, the distractions build up.
Until one day, you realize that either you do not feel the warmth toward your spouse or your spouse does not feel the warmth toward you.
By then, you may already be a couple of stages into the disconnection spiral. And you may have never seen it coming!
Just a couple of days ago, “Sue” told me she thought the relationship would take care of itself. She thought she and her husband built the connection during their dating days.
“Somehow,” she told me, “I thought the marriage would just roll along. We would be happy and all would be good. I forgot to reach out to him. He stopped reaching out to me. Now, there is a huge, cold divide between us in bed. I don’t even know how to move forward. I am beginning to think he doesn’t even like me anymore. And I have lost all respect.”
Take a look at the graphic to the right.
You will notice that Sue has identified 2 stages in the process of disconnection: dislike and disrespect.
Where is YOUR relationship?
In today’s podcast, I explore the very typical (but very tragic) pattern of disconnection — a process that takes many marriages right to the brink of divorce and separation.
If you know the stages, you can understand the process. And the process is reversible. The earlier you start, the easier the process. The deeper the hurt and the lower the stage, the more difficult the recovery process.
Are you ready to reconnect? Please grab my Save The Marriage System RIGHT HERE.
If you already have my System, but want some more intensive training, shoot me an email: Lee@SaveTheMarriage.com. I have some audio training that will transform you and your marriage.