Who’s The Enemy Of Saving Your Marriage? Save The Marriage Podcast #17

150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

how to save your marriage by knowing the enemy of saving your marriage.Let me ask you one simple question:  who is the enemy of saving your marriage?  Is it your spouse?  Is it someone else?  Is it something else?

The answer is crucial.  Answer it wrong, and you will find yourself constantly struggling to move forward.  More than that, you will only increase the resistance from your spouse.

Don’t assume you know the answer.  Listen and discover.

Then learn how to deal with this enemy.

You can save your marriage, but this one mistake you do not want to make!

Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Dr. Baucom is internationally known for his methods and approaches to saving marriages. For over 25 years, Dr. Baucom has been helping people around the world to save, restore, and create the relationships they desire and deserve. He is the author of the book, How To Save Your Marriage In 3 Simple Steps, and creator of the Save The Marriage System, as well as numerous other resources.

All stories by: Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.
  • Jack

    Lee, I agree so much with your message. Last March I found out my wife of 15 years was having what had been a long emotional affair but had turned the corner into a physical one–later that month she moved out. We haven’t divorced yet, but she continues to see the other guy. We have two young children who have remained with me most of the time. I have struggled emotionally through all of this, making mistakes one moment, doing what you may consider the right thing the next moment, then back to mistakes again. Your message hits home with me. I am cognizant, overall, of what I should be doing, but I find my self fighting that emptiness and wondering what to do nonetheless. Thank you.

  • RR

    Hello Dr. Baucom
    Thanks for a very on point podcast. I have been trying to put myself in my spouse’s shoes and trying to understand his experience. Your perspective regarding the different paradigms/worldviews is very helpful. However there is one place where I get stuck, and don’t really understand the core issue behind my husband’s perspective. I don’t understand what he means when he says:
    -it’s too late
    -the fact that you are learning new skills/changing now just confirms for me that you always had the capacity, so now it’s too late
    -I would be false to myself if I came back
    Does this refer back to what you say in your podcast – that his world view is that “things will never change?” Why then does he say “it’s too late?” I feel that there is something else being said that I don’t understand. I am not sure if this is too specific a question. I apologize if it is, it is just something that came up when I heard your podcast.
    Bless you, and thank you!

  • Allan

    Lee I listened twice to your pod cast with need to answer a question. You say don,t argue and don’t reason with your spouse when in disagreement. What are you to do? Surely harbouring your thoughts that are in disagreement with your spouse is not healthy. It appeared to me that your answer is to say nothing when subjects are in dispute. Am I missing something.

  • Allan, I’m sure you don’t mean what you write: there is arguing/reasoning or there is silence. Perhaps there is also exploration of what your spouse sees and feels?

    Here is the issue: when you argue, you don’t make any movement. You may feel that there was “an honest exchange of ideas,” but nobody makes a shift in an argument — other than to further entrench themselves in what they already believe.
    But if you start with seeking to find out how your spouse sees things, how your spouse understands the world, there is room for a softening of positions.

    Perhaps more important is to stop the arguing before it begins. Continuing to keep the conversation as an exploration of how each of you sees the world means that you do not allow yourself to get sucked into a fight/flight response, which is really what an argument represents.

  • RR, it usually indicates that your spouse feels so disconnected that your spouse cannot see a path back. In that case, you keep working to grow into the person you see you need to become, and you continue to work on building a connection.

  • Allan

    actually I did mean to write these words.
    In my opinion It is inconceivable to think that 2 people in a relationship will not at some stage be diametrically opposed on some issues. My question was how to handle such circumstances when you advise not to reason and or argue. I fully agree that the argument tack is incorrect, however if one cannot reason on these issues then a resolution, which is the aim, is improbable if not imposible. I ask you simply what are your thoughts on this question specifically

  • butterfli

    I listened to your podcast, I get everything you talked about but find myself wishing my spouse could understand it like I do, so that just makes me back to the same place of wanting him to see my way of thinking, exactly what you spoke about. I do feel like there is no hope, he is set on the idea of having an affair is what makes him feel good therefore he is not going to stop, but doesn’t want a
    divorce or separation, just wants me to deal with it and maybe it will stop I keep telling him why would it stop if I’m just dealing with it, I feel he’s got the best of both worlds why would he give up the “fun and exhilarating part” those are his words…….. Please help
    Much thanks


  • momrocks

    I found your podcast helpful and i listened to it twice, as well. My husband does place blame but i like how you explained that in a different way, taking responsibility. I do take some responsilibity but he needs to as well. Marriage is a team effort, a partnership, it takes two to tango. I hope we make it thru this crisis. I do not want to be another statistic, divorced 45 yr old female. Ugh! No thanks!
    Thank you for your podcast info. Please share more!

  • Rsquared

    Is it possible to build connection when my spouse is currently involved with someone else? Divorce papers have been filed, court date is in February. I am trying to understand whether I CAN still stay in the space of CAN, even though my spouse is shutting all doors. In fact I can relate to Jack above. I have been married 6 years, my first and my spouse’s 4th. Is connection possible? I CAN still try, but is this a lost cause? We are still in conversation about working through parenting issues, but we are currently in two different states, and it is hard to maintain connection, when I am not welcome in his house. Our child is with him, he has all the legal rights and I do not (bc she is not my child biologically although I brought her up)

  • Rsquared

    Dear Lee
    I posted another comment, and it disappeared – so here is the short version….. It is hard to imagine re-establishing connection with my spouse, because he is currently involved with someone else, and so is having his connection needs satisfied elsewhere. He has been married 4 times previously.
    I wonder if you could do a podcast on how to approach the situation, if one’s spouse is currently involved with someone else. I see that some others who have posted above and below me also have a similar situation, so it may be helpful for several of us.
    I forgive on an ongoing basis, but it is difficult to continue to expose oneself to hurt.

  • momrocks

    Similar situation mrs butterfli. Dredged up highschool sweetheart that cheated on him when he went to college 30 yrs ago. Now midlife crisis wondering if he chose right path with me. Ive been busy raising kids and yes, i put him on the back burner. Seems like he wants to save our marriage but yes, having an affair. Sees her twice a week, but always comes home. Sleeps on sofa when he can sleep, suffers from insomnia and guilt.. U r not alone butterfli. Hope u see this. Hang in there, we are already married, stay that way! Watch the movie “sweet home al
    abama” love it! Write back!

  • Rsquared, I am planning on doing a special edition podcast on dealing with affairs. In the future, I will try to provide even more on relating to someone that is continuing another relationship. That said, it is quite difficult to maintain the emotional energy to do it, so good for you in trying!

  • Allan, I find that the vast majority of arguments are of things that are entirely inconsequential — no decision really is necessary, but there is a difference of opinion. In those circumstances, there is really no reason to get trapped in the “who’s right” position of an argument.
    When there is a decision to be made, it is a good starting point to make sure you at least understand the other person’s perspective. So, I still suggest maintaining the “can you help me understand how you see it that way” frame until you truly do understand (and more importantly, your spouse feels understood). At that point, when the other person feels understood and a decision has to be made, it is okay to ask “can I try to explain my perspective?”
    We seem to have the notion that arguments somehow represent some useful conversation. 99% of the time, that is a mistaken notion.

  • Momrocks, be careful of getting stuck on “he needs to take responsibility, as well.” Philosophically, I am in agreement. Realistically, until he is ready, you are only going to be pushing for him to take responsibility — and he will be pulling to avoid. Tug-of-war in a relationship has no winners. Take YOUR responsibility (meaning only yours, not his), and wait for him to grow a bit more.

  • Allan

    thank you so much for responding to my comments. I am still confused with your comments. Your initial comments were that disagreements were not solvable by arguing or reasoning . Arguing I certainly agree with is no way to reach some resolution, however now I see that your thoughts are that one should be using tools such as “can you help me understand how you see it that way” and “can I try to explain my perspective?” Is this not reasoning or am I missing something. I revert back to my original question.”” If there is a disagreement “” How does one solve it. Please be a little more black and white.

  • Allan, I am sorry. I thought I was pretty clear. I apologize for a lack of clarity. As I noted above, the vast majority of disagreements do not have anything to be decided or solved. They are disagreements in outlook and perspective. I am assuming you have read my Save The Marriage System. If you have not, you would find my information on the fact that your perceptions of each other are the real issue.

    So if you can cut down on those arguments that have nothing to be decided, but are really pleas to be understood, then you are left with more resources to deal with the disagreements that actually need to be solved.
    Let’s be clear that an argument is essentially 2 different people with 2 different opinions, trying to convince the other to change opinions. Arguments are not just discussions of viewpoints, but when the discussion is locked into an attempt to change opinions.
    My suggestion is that you start with trying to understand the other person’s viewpoint, their perspective.
    Then, when a decision needs to be made, you ask the central question: “What would be best for the WE?” That shifts away from what is best for “me” or “you.”

  • Rsquared

    Dear Lee
    Unfortunately, it has recently become too difficult to continue to do so. He has insisted on a 6 week break, after which we reconvene to discuss a parenting plan around our daughter. There doesn’t seem to be any way to save my marriage.
    I just hope I do better next time

  • MB

    Lee, I found this podcast to be very helpful. My husband and I have been married for 21+ years and your podcast really describes our situation. He has filed for divorce (but I haven’t been served yet) and keeps saying he doesn’t see things changing. His reasons include I’m not supportive, the spark is gone, we don’t laugh together like other couples, etc. I am working on myself (loving Sonia Ricotti’s Unsinkable system!) and working on being positive and present. He is still acting pretty distant. My question is, how do I determine how often to try to reconnect? I am trying the 1-way text messages and he does respond sometimes. Should I be sharing what is going on in my life even though he doesn’t do the same? Should I be asking him for details on what is going on in his life when he doesn’t volunteer the information? I don’t want to push him too hard but I am also afraid I’m not doing enough.
    I have read your Save the Marriage system. I really wish I had that available when we first got married! So much of it makes sense. Thanks for all the wonderful information!

  • MB, one-way texts are not meant as a way to share your life details, and they are no longer one-way if you ask for details.
    They are simply ways of letting the other person know that he/she is in your heart and mind. That is all. And once or twice per day is plenty.

  • gh

    Dear sir,

    After 18 years, my husband has moved out, it was a mutual decision because he was just so unhappy.i did not really want him to move out as I want to work on the relationship, and belive it is not over, that it has just hit the final wall, we have been on and off for six year now, I know where the problem started after many weeks of searching, but I want him to also release.he blames me for 90 percent of the problems, which I have now begun to reease is not really so.the first couple of weeks were great he phone, called into my work and sms me daily.he has now become very distance, and does not even wish his children good night, I send him a good night sms, and tell that I still care and I have not given up, but he has stopped replying.
    When I asked him if he has met another he says no but if I have I should go for it, he knows how I feel about him, and that I would love him to come home. When I asked about our spkit I wanted to know if it was a break or a seperation, and he accussed me of seeing someone else, which is quite the opposite, I sit at work or home crying myself to no end because of my pain and empitness.
    Have now started to retreat as I am reacting upon his attitude to me.
    Am not sure were I stand, he has taken his wedding ring off which hurts me so much. He said that he did not want to work on the relationship anymore because he is tired of the same thing happening every year at this time, he loves me and will always love me, but he sees no hope. The thing is he is living on his own and wants to move on, but I am still paying finances ???????

  • MB

    Thanks for the response Lee! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer me! My husband does text me first fairly regularly (and i do as well) and we also do some talking. But how do you know if the reconnecting is working? He seems to want to see me or spend time with me one day and then he pulls away and is distant for a few days. I try to keep most of our conversations “light” and try to bring up better times sometimes too. I’m trying not to get into relationship talk too much but when we do, it just seems like he still wants a divorce, that our interactions are really meant just for us to be friends and to keep our divorce amicable. It is so very confusing!

  • Steve

    Dr. Baucom, as you know I have been a member of your Save The Marriage System since uncovering my wife’s emotional affair back in July 2013. Things have been moving forward slowly but soundly. During my early stages of saving my marriage I mostly followed your advice, but as you know so many people including our Marriage and individual therapists were focused on “convincing” my wife of what a bad relationship and manipulator etc her partner was that she decided to see him one more time for closure. Had everyone just let her make her own decisions and not try to convince her of what they and I knew and felt maybe she would have found her own closure instead of putting herself in what she know feels may have been a dangerous situation, she felt like he may have wanted to get more physical which is not what she wanted at all. Now it seems like they really are done and I have been able to pull back from my obsession over her affair and him. Sometimes after we make love or spend a nice quiet day together I do find myself asking questions. The thing that through her into this situation was my obsessiveness and need for control. The control thing has been the hardest to overcome especially after her emotional affair.

  • MB, I’d suggest you not worry to much on whether the connecting is working. Take a listen to my podcast on fear. That may help you get a little distance from the worry (which is really fear).