A fight. An affair. An indiscretion. An argument. Some event.
Suddenly, someone announces “this is over.”
You may point to that event, the moment when things seemed to turn upside down.
But that event was just that: an event. It was a “tipping point.” Almost always, there was a long, slow climb to the top before you “tipped over” the summit. The straw was being piled on, before that “last straw” broke the camel’s back.
Unfortunately, people tend to get focused on that single event, pointing to the symptom. Not the problem.
And that makes efforts ineffective. You are aiming at the wrong target. Deal with the problem — not the symptom — if you want to make progress.
Listen in for how.
So many times, I hear couples say, “Stop Controlling ME!” Interestingly, sometimes, both people are saying it to the other. BOTH people are not likely to get very far in controlling. But BOTH claim a controlling spouse, while NEITHER accepts being controlling.
Why is that?
From my perspective, people spend a great deal of energy trying to control things that cannot be controlled, and forgetting to control the things they CAN control.
And this is why both people can feel controlled, and neither can feel controlling.
Do you feel that you are in a controlling marriage, with a controlling spouse? Do you think YOU might be controlling, of your spouse and of your relationship?
Consider 3 categories of control, things over which you:
- have NO control,
- have PARTIAL control,
- have FULL control.
Spend your time trying to control the things over which you have no control, and you are headed for frustration (your spouse’s and yours). Forget to control the things you can, and you are headed for problems.
Let’s talk about control — where you have it and where you don’t.
Have you ever noticed how often we want an easy answer?
Sometimes, people ask for my help, and I start giving some guidelines, offering my System. It turns out they didn’t want that. They tell me, “No, can you just give me a couple of tips?”
I can give tips on how to boil an egg better, how to keep your charging cord from shredding, and even a tip on a simple exercise routine. But a “tip” or hint that will save a marriage? Not likely.
But if you look around, you will see plenty of these tips and hints. Simple things that promise to save your marriage. Tricks, really. Like, say, Reverse Psychology.
Sounds awesome. Just say the opposite of what you mean, and your spouse will suddenly change directions and decide to NOT divorce. Like magic. Or at least like a trick.
We love those tricks. Why? Because then, we don’t really have to change anything. We don’t have to look at the REAL issues. We don’t have to fix the underlying problems. Wed don’t have to really change. We just, well, “trick” someone.
Except for one thing: it doesn’t work.
Let me tell you why. Listen in on this week’s podcast.
There are lots of mistakes people make in their efforts to save their marriage. This particular mistake is what I consider to be the 3rd biggest. I hear it in the questions people send me every single week.
In fact, I hear this mistake probably 3 or more times each day. And here is the sad thing: the mistake is made with all the best of intentions. . . and all the worst of results.
Like all mistakes, it is avoidable. (If something is unavoidable, it can’t be a mistake; a mistake always has an alternative that could avoid the mistake.)
I am betting you have made this mistake. (I have.) My hope is that, once I point it out, it will be so obvious that you will not repeat it.
3 Problems With Marital Therapy
Avoid The 3 A’s
Separation: Will It Help?
Why Your Spouse Doesn’t Believe You Will Change
“I’ve Changed” and 3 Other Things NOT To Say
Grab the Save The Marriage System
Is your marriage on life support? You keep watching as the life slowly leaks away from your relationship. Maybe you feel powerless to turn it around. But is it too late?
When a marriage gets into trouble, there are 4 distinct levels to the crisis (this is not the same as the Stages I note in the Quick Start Guide in the System).
Here are the 4 levels:
1) Marriage Issues: This comes along early in the relationship, when the fundamentals aren’t addressed. Beliefs and expectations keep tripping up the couple.
2) Marriage Problems: Issues aren’t solved. So, now there is hurt. Then fundamentals were never solved, and issues were never solved. This leads to the hurt.
3) Marriage Crisis: The hurt from unresolved problems has led to anger and resentment. Both are feeling less motivated to do anything. Both resort to finger-pointing and blame.
4) Marriage Disaster: One or both have given up, and apathy is replacing the anger. Blame is the predominate interaction.
Sometimes, people believe that things are improving, but they are really falling into disaster. Learn the 3 reasons for this, along with what to do at each level in this week’s podcast below.
And yes, these are the problems that MANY people report. Yes, they are painful and hurtful.
BUT, they are not really the problems. They are the symptoms of the problem.
Let’s call these problems the 5 C’s of marital problems, and then lets discuss how you can USE the symptomatic problem to move toward healing the REAL problem.
If you don’t deal with the underlying issue, you will be playing a long game of “Whack-A-Mole,” with problems reemerging under a different guise, but still the same issue.
Ready to learn about the problems — and what the REAL problem is? Listen below.
When you are in the midst of the struggle, it can feel horrible. You can get frustrated and discouraged, forget the reasons why you are doing it, and be ready to throw your hands up in the air in defeat.
Before you do that, let me tell you: What you are doing, IT MATTERS!
Every single day, I watch as people fight through the hurt and pain, the emotions and discouragement, to keep on working on a hurting relationship. I am in awe of that effort. It is truly courageous.
We live in a world of “disposables.” People easily discard anything. Including marriages. They fail to see the hurt, the harm that is caused by pushing it aside. They think they are taking the better, easier way. Instead, they are buying into the disposable culture — only to see the destruction in hindsight.
But you. You have chosen to stand up to that and say, “I want to save this.” It won’t be easy, but it is noble.
Let me tell you why it matters, why this is so important, in this week’s podcast.
I ask, because I have had that experience MANY times in my life, both with my wife and with others.
It is tragic that those arguments erupt in all our lives. They are not the big things, but the small things. And that is the tragic part: many marriages die from a thousand nicks. It is often not the big deals, but the tiny things. In fact, many times, the big deals are a result of the lifeblood lost on the tiny things.
Which raises the question: WHY do we have these arguments? Why do we bicker? (Check out the podcast below)
And then, the second question: HOW to change this pattern? (Check out the podcast below)
And then, your spouse says, “Too little, too late.”
The bubble is burst, the sail’s deflated. Another kick in the gut.
And you feel like giving up. If it is hopeless, why even try?
Because I don’t think it is hopeless. I have seen MANY situations where a spouse says this, and the marriage is saved. (And yes, I have seen times when a spouse says this, and it turns out to be accurate.) There is one problem: you can’t know on this side of the crisis.
Sometimes, it is not “too little,” and it is not “too late.” It just isn’t over yet. The work is only underway, not completed.
I give 5 steps to moving beyond “too little, too late” in this podcast training. Listen below.
I’ve noticed that as a rule, when I am driving my car, I am better served by looking out the windshield than looking in my rear-view mirror or turning around and staring out the back window.
Turns out that is pretty much true in life, too. When we get focused on looking backward, at where we have been, we rarely get to where we want.
Many people, and many couples, stay focused on what is behind them. Nothing can change, nothing will shift, but there they watch. The history becomes the focus.
If that is the case for you, let me suggest you shift your focus. Face forward and lets decide where to go, not be caught in where you’ve been.
Listen to the training below.