I spend a good portion of my week responding to consultation emails and working with clients. This week, I had two cases that reminded me of a very important fact: we all have a tendency to play tug-of-war.
Let me explain with a personal example. A couple of years ago, I was at a conference. In the afternoon session, we were asked to turn and face another person, and place our arms in an arm wrestling position.
The instructions were simple: touch each others’ hand to the table as many times as possible in 60 seconds.
For the next minute, everyone in the room engaged in a strenuous match of arm wrestling. Few people got their count above 10, and that was mostly because of a mismatch in size and strength!
Then, the leaders pulled out a table and put their hands in position, but they cooperated! Each took turns having their hands hit to the table, and they were able to get over 90 touches in! They had given us the directions, but we were already poised to arm wrestle!
Now, back to saving marriages. When a spouse decides that he or she wants out, a tug-of-war can be set up. Our natural tendency is to pull in the opposite direction. In other words, they pull away, we pull toward the relationship!
So, this week, one woman told me how hard she was working to save her marriage. She also told me her husband had already had not one, not two, but three affairs! I suspect there were others! I told the woman that she needed to pause for a moment, and instead of trying to figure out how to save the marriage, she needed to ponder another question. She needed to decide on whether she could continue in a marriage with a philanderer. She suddenly realized that she could not do that.
The very next day, a woman started telling me about all her attempts to save her marriage, then noted the affair and abuse she had suffered through with her husband. Again, I got her to pause in her marriage-saving strategy and ask whether she wanted to have the marriage she was in. She is still thinking.
My point is this: are you just trying to save a marriage, or do you want that marriage? I am all about saving marriages, but I am also about having a marriage you want to have. Don’t get caught up in saving a marriage, and fail to see that if you did save it, you wouldn’t want it! Instead, focus on saving a marriage AND making it a marriage you can treasure!
More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.