Posts Tagged :

how to save my marriage

Dealing With Naysayers
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Dealing with naysayers and negative people when you are working to save your marriage.You’ve decided to try and save your marriage (good for you!).  But whenever you talk with family, friends, or even some professionals, they tell you to give up and walk away.

How do you keep from getting derailed by the negativity?

First, let’s be clear that they are probably well-meaning and want to be helpful.  Second, let’s be clear that many people truly believe that a broken marriage is, well, permanently broken.

After all, much of the world has never seen another option.  Many people (even professionals) do not know there is an alternative.  So, they are speaking from their knowledge and experience.

Which does not mean they are right.  Only that they are speaking from their viewpoint.

Consider the reasons behind the “advice” you are getting.  And consider your own reasons for seeking the advice.  Then, decide what you are going to do with that advice.  Does it really need to derail you?  Nope.

Let me give you some suggestions for dealing with Naysayers in this week’s podcast below.

Healing Your Resentments
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Healing your own resentments.Resentments are the deep infections of anger.  When anger is unresolved, it becomes a systemic poison.  But do remember that anger is really a result of hurt and fear/threat.  It just comes out as anger.

When the hurt goes unaddressed and the anger festers, it becomes resentment.  Resentment then spreads into more and more areas of relating.  It pulls the relationship down, weakening the connection and destroying good feelings.

Your spouse may have lots of resentment toward you.  We will be covering that next week.  But we always start with ourselves.  What about YOUR resentments?  How do you heal YOUR resentments?

If you don’t start there, you won’t be effective in addressing your spouse’s resentments.

Join me for this week’s podcast, as we discuss healing your resentments. . .

SOME RELATED RESOURCES
4 Mind Modes Killing Your Marriage
3 Relationship Killers (And 3 Nurturers)
Save The Marriage System (Including Anger/Resentment Module)

Gratitude In The Midst Of Crisis
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

How to find gratitude in the midst of crisis, marriage or otherwise.Here we are, right at Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  The day we are supposed to be filled with gratitude, feeling thankful for those around us.

Which may feel like a tall order if your marriage is in the middle of a crisis (or if you are in any sort of crisis for that matter!).  What, gratitude when life stinks?

Yep.

In fact, gratitude is even MORE important when we are in the midst of a crisis.  Yes, it is important every day.  But when your life is upside-down, gratitude can help you get it rightside-up.

Is it easy?

Nope.

Is it important?

Yep.  So, let’s talk about finding gratitude (not just having gratitude, but finding it) in the midst of a crisis.

Need more on being thankful and feeling gratitude?  Listen here and here.

5 Roadblocks to Communication (and How To Break Through)
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

5 roadblocks to loving and effective communication.Is communication an issue between you and your spouse?  Do you find loving and effective communication lacking from your relationship?

In this week’s free audio podcast training, we discuss 5 roadblocks to loving and effective communication.  One of my top Relationship Coaches, Annette Carpien, joins me to share her thoughts on the roadblocks.

And yes, we do discuss how to get past the roadblocks.  We give you tools and understandings for how to smash through the roadblocks to create loving and effective communication with your spouse.

If you find the training helpful and would like to contact Annette, just CLICK HERE.

(And here is a bonus training on Communication for you.)

Save Your Marriage Rule #10: Work On Yourself
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Save your marriage by looking in the mirror.Really, saving a marriage is a two-pronged process.

One is reconnecting the marriage.  We have spent a good bit of time talking about the rules of working on your relationship.  So let’s move to the second level.

Because the second prong of the process is working on and improving yourself.

At this point, you are saying one of two things to yourself.  You may be saying “absolutely, I need to make some changes!”

But more likely, you are thinking “why should I have to change?  What about my spouse?  Why doesn’t my spouse have to change?”

That is a fair question.  Just not helpful.  Would it be great if BOTH you and your spouse changes yourself?  Absolutely.

But you are the one that is here.  You are the one looking for help on how to save your relationship.

At a deeper level, though, a response that is about “why do I have to change?” also notes why we don’t change.  We are keeping score, looking at what the other needs to  do.

For myself, I am quick to acknowledge that there are always some areas I could improve.  There are always areas of growth and development.  In fact, some days, I am constantly tripping over the multitude of things I need to change about myself!

Part of what I see as the task of life is to always be growning and developing.  We ALL have places where we fall short.

So, just for a moment, if you are objecting to you having to change, let’s just set that aside.  Instead, see this as an opportunity to grow, to be a better person.

Which raises the question of why I think this is so important.

First, I have already stated my bias that life is about growth and development.  As Ray Kroc said, “you are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.”  I love that quote!

But second, in terms of the relationship, being a growing, changing, developing person is attractive.  Being stale and stagnant is, well, repulsive.

And in the process of moving from wherever your relationship is to having a deep and satisfying relationship, my guess is that one element that needs to shift is that attraction.  We all want our spouse to have that “in love” feeling toward us.  That is based, in part, on being attractive (not necessarily physically).

Time to head for the mirror!  Time to take a deep and long look into that mirror and ask “who do I need to become?”

One wrong answer:  “whatever my spouse wants me to be.”

Right answer:  “wow!  I know I need to address these areas in order to be a better person!”

In my System, I discuss boundaries.  Boundaries are ways you protect yourself.  A boundary is what you will not let someone else do to you, your marriage, or your family.

But there is a closely related term:  Standards.  Personal standards.

A standard is what you expect of yourself — the standard you hold.

For example, a standard may be “I am honest with everyone in all of my dealings.”

The space between where you are now and what your standard is, well that is your area of growth.

So, let’s start there.  What do you expect of yourself, but don’t currently measure up:
How you treat other people.
How you treat your own body.
How you interact with the world.
The attitude that you take toward life.
etc., etc., etc.

Then ask this: “what do I hear from my spouse/kids/friends on how I act that upsets them?”

Years ago, my sister-in-law (who was my brother’s girlfriend at that time) made an off-handed comment about my sarcastic sense of humor.  It was pointed and edgy.

I realized I did not want that to be my image.  I set out to change that.

My family will tell you, I can still be sarcastic/ironic/cynical for humor.  But it is nothing like it used to be!  And when I notice I am moving in that direction again (usually because I notice I hurt someone’s feelings), I know it is time for a mid-stream readjustment.

What areas do you hear from others where you need to change?

By now, if you are honest with yourself, you have the targets.  That is the starting point.

Time to work on those issues.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but start working on being the person you want to be.  Resist seeing it as all-or-nothing.  It is about growth.  Accept you will make mistakes and fall back into old patterns.

But over time, you will see that you are growing.  You are becoming who you need to be.  And guess what?  Those around you will see it, too.

Which brings us to a final point:  Do not TELL people how you have changed.  Don’t try to get them to see it.  Simply BE the change.  Let them experience you differently.  Let them discover you are different.  Then, they will know it is legitimate.

That’s it!  Those are the Top 10 Rules For Saving Your Marriage.  Are you ready to take the next step and really get going?  I invite you to grab my information by CLICKING HERE.

Knowledge Is Power. . . NOT!
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Have you heard that before?  Knowledge is power?  Trust me, after spending over 9 years, post college, in graduate school, I believe that information has power.

Problem is, too many people forget one thing:  knowledge that is not applied is useless.  Knowledge is NOT power.  Applied knowledge, THAT is power!

On a daily basis, I hear from people who want to save their marriage.  Just this morning, a gentleman asked me for “a few pointers” to save his marriage.  I referred him to my Save The Marriage System.  But I get the feeling that he just wanted a couple of points.

He wanted the “magic knowledge.”  And that is what sometimes worries me.  Are you ready to take action?  Or have you been seduced by society’s obsession with “the easy answer.”  Most easy answers are not even answers.  But more than that, how many people even apply them?

All I have to do is look at my bookcase at all the “information” available to me.  Wow!  I have a solution for many problems. . . and they would probably work — if I applied the information!

My point is, sometimes we get so caught up in chasing information that we never take the next step — action.

Are you wanting to save your marriage?  Stop a divorce?  Improve your relationship?

Do yourself a favor:  once you have some information you trust, spend some time implementing and trying it out.  Don’t keep looking for more information.  Try it out!

About 6 months ago, I got serious about really getting into shape.  I found some information I trusted.  And I applied it.  Want to know what happened?  I lost weight, got fit, and am now in the best shape of my life.

Several people asked me what I did.  I told them.  Some even got the book.  One joked “I read it and nothing happened.  Do you mean I have to do something different?”

Indeed, knowledge is NOT power.  Applied knowledge, THAT is power!  Get the information you need, then take action!  A new year and new life awaits you!

Ready to change your life and your marriage?  Grab this information and save your marriage!

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
–Albert Einstein

Saving Your Marriage: What Does Pavlov Have To Do With It?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Remember Pavlov and his dog?  In this famous experiment,Pavlov and Saving Your Marriage Ivan Pavlov would ring a bell and then feed his dog.  He repeated this process over and over, and then he just rang the bell.  No food.  Remember the dog’s response?  He still expected the food and started salivating!

We can all be clear that Fido was not sitting there thinking “dinner bell just rung, so here comes my dinner!”  Yet that is exactly what his body was doing, getting ready for dinner.

Are we so different than the dog?  Oh, sure, we can think in words, so we can do a little reasoning.  But we are still creatures of conditioning.  When we go to a movie, popcorn suddenly sounds good.  When we hear the icecream truck, we start thinking about how good that icecream would taste (Talk about a business taking advantage of Pavlov’s research!  Kids salivating at the ringing of a bell!), when we hear the angry tone in our spouse’s voice, our stomach tightens.

See how I dropped it in there?  Indeed, Pavlov and his dog have a great deal to do with our marriage.  And here, they have a good bit to do with our saving our marriage.

You see, we condition each other in a marriage.  Over time, it is as if both of us are Pavlov, and each of us is the dog, simultaneously.  At the same time I am being conditioned, I am conditioning.

**SIDE NOTE:  if you are not familiar with the term “conditioning,” it is a term from psychology that talks about how a behavior is structured by a set of inputs.  When I “condition” my dog to sit on command, I get him to sit, then reward him.  First input, my command to sit.  First response (hopefully), he sits.  Second input, I reward him.  Second response (if all has gone well), he learns that if he sits on command, he gets a treat!**

Now let me be very clear here.  I am NOT calling your spouse a dog.  I AM stating that we humans also respond to this “stimulus-response conditioning.”  In fact, we have so much coming at us that we do many things on automatic, as we just can’t think through everything.  So, our brain takes shortcuts.  We learn a response, and we use it over and over.  Sometimes, it is helpful.  Sometimes, it is not.

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting at the table, working on the bills.  In walks your spouse with what you interpret as a scowl on their face.  Without really processing it, your brain notes that it has seen that look before, and things did not go well.  So, trying to shortcut the problem, you say “what’s wrong with you?”  What you might not notice is something your spouse noticed:  a little edge in your voice.  Ouch!

“Nothing is wrong.  Why do you always assume something is wrong?”  Already, you have been trying to figure out how to get the bills to fit into the money available, and already have some adrenaline running through your system.  And that is all it takes.  Each of you have a bit of fuel thrown onto your flames.

In seconds, a quiet afternoon erupts into a relational wildfire.  And as both of you keep digging into your bag of learned tricks, you find more and more fuel to dump on the flames.  Soon, every weakness, slight, and pain from the years of your relationship are heaped onto the table.  And there seems little way out.

Sound familiar?  Change the circumstances just a bit.  Do they fit the pattern for you?  Or perhaps you have followed that path so many times that you have another conditioned response:  silence.  Freezing silence to prevent the fire.  It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

One of the things we humans do not like to admit is how much we work on automatic, how much we are conditioned to respond.  We pretend that only animals are that easily influenced.  Somehow, our higher capacity of thought is supposed to keep that from happening(!), but nothing is further from the truth!  MUCH of our lives is run on a simple “stimulus-response” capacity.

So why not use that to your advantage?  Why fight it?  Instead, befriend conditioning and make it work FOR you!

First, consider what ALL the research shows:  positive conditioning is MUCH more powerful than negative conditioning.  In other words, if you want to try to use conditioning, reward the behavior you like. . . and ignore the behavior you don’t like.  You see, when you give negative conditioning, you are still conditioning FOR the behavior.

Let’s think back to the toddler years.  A child is walking through the aisles of the store, sees a toy he MUST have, and tries to get you to buy it.  You refuse.  He melts down, goes to the floor in tears, and wails as if he is on the edge of death.  You:
a) grab that toy and buy it (positive conditioning for negative behavior),
b) grab that boy and drag him out of the store (negative conditioning for negative behavior, showing him that his fit DID get a response),
c) stare at him quietly, giving no cues to what you think, but giving him that slight “you look foolish, and it ain’t working” bemused look.

Outcome to a):  he will throw a fit whenever he wants something.  Outcome to b):  he will throw a fit when he wants your attention.  Outcome to c):  he learns that the fit does not work, so he gives it up.

Application:  when your  spouse does something you like, let him/her know it, loud and clear!  If your spouse does something you don’t like, as long as it falls short of abuse or danger, ignore it.

Back to the bill-writing episode of the spouse with the scowl.  Why even respond?  If something is wrong, isn’t it up to that person to address it, bring it to your attention?  Otherwise, we are training our spouse that we will try to read their mind — a recipe for disaster!

Assume that, unless your spouse approaches you about what is behind that scowl, it is their issue.  It is up to them to address, not up to you to discover.  Let it go, and move on.  Remember, you are conditioned, too.  And you need to recondition yourself.

Second, notice when you are automatically reacting.  Look for it.  Here are some places to look:
a)  when you are repeating the same arguments, and they start the same way,
b)  when you find yourself wondering why your spouse is not responding to some action, expression, or tone you are using (maybe they read this first!).
c)  when you feel your gut tightening, a sure sign that you are caught by some pattern.

Marriages do not suddenly fall apart.  They are taken apart, brick by brick.  Pattern after pattern, conditioned response after conditioned response, the foundation is taken apart.  And marriages are not saved in an instant.  They are rebuilt brick by brick.  But the rebuilding starts when someone decides to stop acting on automatic.

Can A Separation Really Save A Marriage?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Saving a marriage by separationWere you watching the Today Show this morning?  After a Wall Street Journal article, a segment on how a separation saved a marriage was on.

Which means that countless couples this morning are contemplating separation.  Some are hoping it will save their marriage.  Others simply want justification to get out (“let’s separate and see if that helps”).

The stories noted above are about a couple that wrote a book about how their separation saved their marriage.  The danger is in the extrapolation:  “it can save your marriage, too.”  And in a VERY limited number of cases, they may be right.  But in the vast majority of couples, a separation is exactly what I have been calling it for years:  “a dress rehearsal for divorce.”

Let me be a bit more blunt:  not everyone dies from cancer.  Many survive.  That doesn’t mean I want to take a risk and get cancer!  I’d rather avoid it altogether.

That said, I have worked with couples that have separated and gotten back together.  It is just my opinion that this is really a last ditch effort.  Sometimes, one person insists and there is nothing more that can be done.  The separation is going to happen, and one has to bend to the will of the other.

In that case, I have a few suggestions.

1)  If possible, opt for an in-house separation.  That means that you stay in separate bedrooms, and create boundaries of separation.  For example, you may agree that after dinner (or after work, or whatever you decide), you will go to your “neutral corners.”  That often gives the emotional distance necessary to cool off, but it keeps the family intact.  It also avoids the substantial costs of the second household.

2)  If you do separate, be clear about how and when you will maintain contact.  If you decide to break off contact, you are taking a huge leap toward the dress rehearsal.  But if you are intentional about maintaining contact, then there is somewhere to move toward.  Schedule phone times, time together, etc.  And be specific about it.  No generalities.  There is too much room for avoidance in generalities.

3)  No dating during the separation.  Some people argue that you should date.  I would argue that during a separation, you are still married.  You have vowed to be faithful, and being otherwise only multiplies the problems and divides the chances at reconciliation.

4)  Have a specific time-frame.  No need for a minimum, but definitely a maximum.  For example, you may say “we will separate for no more than 3/6/9 months, and then sit down and decide where we are.”

5)  Try to keep the family routine as normal as possible.  At this point, the children need to feel that life is normal and not falling apart.  Dealing with marriage issues is one part.  Dealing with family issues is an entirely different piece.

6)  Be civil.  Kindness and politeness makes a huge difference.  If you are trying to reduce the conflict, and that is the reason for the separation, then reduce the conflict.  Make a conscious effort to be civil toward each other.  But go one more step and look for the positive in the other person.

How To Save Your Marriage When It Hurts
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Too many times, I have answered my phone to sobs, had people come to my office in tears, write emails that are outpourings of pain.

So, let’s be clear — saving a marriage is tough work!  It requires you to set aside the pain you feel and move forward.  It means setting aside anger and resentment and choosing to relate.

Said another way, it requires us to get out of our lizard brain and back into our sensible brain.

We all have that lizard brain deep within our head.  It is the part that tries to avoid pain at all costs, the one that calculates it is easier to avoid than deal with the tough stuff.

Your lizard brain is constantly telling you what to fear, what it thinks can hurt you — which, by the way, is just about everything.  That part of you that keeps saying “but what if I try, and my spouse rejects me?” or “what if I do/say the wrong thing?” or the one that says “nothing is worth this.”

The sensible part, the one we humans pretend is really in charge, hears that deep voice, and then pretends it makes sense.  But one step back, that brain knows that 1) there are no guarantees in life, 2)  sometimes, life hurts, but that doesn’t mean we should shrink away, and 3)  there are things like family, commitment, and love, that make the pain bearable.

When you find yourself wanting to give up, to get away from the pain, take a step back.  Give yourself a chance to breathe.  Then ask “can I keep trying?”, “am I really ready to quit?”, “am I willing to really give it my best shot?”  If you decide you really want to quit, just make sure that lizard brain hasn’t hijacked the rest of you.

And when you are ready to keep on moving forward, to find a way, find your answer on how to save your marriage here.

Sometimes, It Is Just Easier To Give Up, Call It Quits. . .
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Couple Disconnected. . .throw in the towel, walk away.

Easier.  But better?

Let me tell you about Rod and Penny.  They had been married for 17 years when they hit a tough spot.  Both “tried to get things better,” although neither told the other.  Then, both began to truly believe that the problem was the other one.  With fingers pointed at each other, they came into my office, loaded.

They had a list of grievances.  Both were ready to unload, to have me play judge and assign fault.  I think both wanted me to tell him or her that he or she was innocent, and the whole problem with the marriage was the other.

I resisted, knowing that each had been a part of the problems.  Instead, I tried to understand what was happening to the relationship.  I listened as one would start a story, only to have the details either challenged or corrected.  Quickly, we got off-track and derailed.  The bickering was non-stop.  The animosity was far too clear.

Finally, toward the end of a session, Rod turned and said, “I’ve had enough.  It would be easier to just quit.”  The room was silent for a moment.  Then I asked, “is that what you really want?  Is that where you are?  Ready to give up?  Or are you just frustrated and feeling hopeless?”  Rod was silent.

In the midst of pain, we tend to easily confuse what would be easy and what would be useful.  We confuse what we want with wanting to stop the pain.  Caught between seeing more pain and seeing an end to the pain, we tend to want relief.  But our sight is usually a bit clouded.  Our emotions fool us into looking only at the pain, not the possibility.

I must admit, I am not much on giving up  on a marriage.  In fact, I really believe that marriages are way too important to simply quit on.  Not that I think all marriages have to stick it out.  In fact, I am clear that abusive marriages are outside of what I think should be saved.  The danger is too great.

Problem is, we live in a society that is too often looking for the “easy” answer, the less painful way.  Only to learn that it is neither easy nor painless.  In fact, part of the reason I hold so strongly to marriage is because I know the people on the other side.  The ones that threw in the towel, walked away, called it quits.

I have met VERY FEW that say “I am so glad I did that.”  In fact, the vast majority tell me quite the opposite — “why didn’t we fight harder?”

Sometimes, the seemingly easy path is really the most dangerous path.  And what looks like the most painful path is, indeed, the better way.

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