We know what you’re thinking. Why would divorce attorneys want marriages to be saved? Contrary to popular rumor, divorce attorneys are not heartless. We hate to see anyone hurt, sad, depressed, or unfulfilled. A rocky marriage helps nobody, from the couple themselves to their immediate family to the larger community. So, yeah, family lawyers want marriages to be successful. Here’s what to do if yours is not.
A Willing Spouse
Let’s start by assuming you are the only one of the two of you who wants to fight to save the marriage. This is supremely unfair but get over it: your spouse may be exhausted, depressed, or so deeply angry that you are the only one who can manage any action.
Happily Committed recommends this approach so that, even if your spouse rallies and works with you, you have already made inroads into saving the marriage. Try these steps:
- Is your spouse lovable? What qualities were once there to set the spark aflame, and how are those qualities still there?
- Coldly evaluate if you are lovable; do you project the kind of person your spouse could love? Or are you just a heapin’ big mess of tears, fears, and anger?
- Be willing to give more than receive, in all ways: emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally
- Work consciously to understand your spouse on all levels
- Show empathy, even for a momentarily unlovable spouse
- Guard against resentment; you can only control your actions, so your spouse may make little effort at first, an inaction you cannot resent
Look Back on the Memories
Work to recall why you two are married in the first place. It isn’t for the kids, or for the vacation home, or the third vehicle. You married out of love, and as experts writing at Fatherly advise, you need to concentrate on appreciating the person you married. Rekindle the original warmth and vision: you were in love for the long haul, not to stop at the momentary roadblocks.
One good way to let those memories reshape your decisions now, when things are rocky, is to sleep on every choice that may affect your spouse and your kids. Here’s a secret from your own mind and body: if the decision you want to make is the right one, you will sleep well. Trouble sleeping? Your decision is probably the wrong one.
Take a Look in the Mirror
Another technique to stop blaming and start nurturing your partner in marriage is to walk a mile in his sneakers, her combat boots, or their crocs. What has your partner been through, what has your partner seen from you?
We always judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions. Your marriage partner can only judge you on what you do, what you say, how you behave. Never mind what motivated you or you hoped to achieve. Until you step outside yourself and evaluate your own actions the way your spouse sees them, you cannot know what your spouse has been through.
Stop Eating Around the Fly
Communication in all things human is always better than a lack of communication. No matter the pain, say experts at With My Ex Again, you have got to communicate with each other:
- What is the problem?
- What is the problem behind the problem?
- What do I need?
- What does my spouse need?
- What are our goals in this relationship?
Think of a bad meal at a restaurant. Would you rather sit there with a fly in your soup or speak up and get a fresh bowl, even if you risk offending the waiter and chef? Too many of us eat around the fly.
Hard as it may be, that ice-breaking conversation can let loose a lot of pent up issues and clear a lot of misunderstanding. Afraid to talk face to face? Try missives: little notes (handwritten is best, but email will do in a pinch) that lay out in the broadest, least accusatory terms what your concerns and feelings are.
Is it Acute or Chronic?
Triage in the medical field separates conditions into three tiers: chronic, acute, and life-critical. Today’s grievance in your marriage, say experts at Hack Spirit, may be an acute symptom of a chronic, underlying condition. Try to look past the immediate issue to the long-term corrosion of spirit in your relationship:
- An affair (an acute problem) may result from sexual incompatibility (a chronic issue)
- A missed mortgage payment (acute) may emerge from a gambling addiction (chronic)
- Sexual or emotional abuse (acute) may stem from childhood trauma (chronic)
Just as they say with most political problems, “Follow the money,” in marriage you have to follow the superficial bruise all the way down to its (likely extremely) unpleasant origins.
When All Else Fails, Call The Firm For Men
Only in the final throes of the struggle to save your marriage should you enlist the help of family law attorneys. When you do, however, realize the entire outlook changes. You are fighting to save yourself, not the marriage, when you engage with an attorney.
Choose wisely, and once you commit, stay true to your new goal: to survive the separation and divorce, to live again to fight and love and laugh another day.
We at The Firm For Men really do support marriage. Sometimes marriages can be saved; Hallelujah. Sometimes, you need our family law experience to move on with your life. Contact us online, or telephone our office at (757) 383-9184 for every stage of family law, from prenuptial agreements to separation agreements to divorce.