Do you wonder if you can save your marriage by yourself? You might be wondering this especially if it feels like your partner won’t go to counseling or seems unwilling to change or has made it clear that you are the problem in the relationship. Here’s why you absolutely can and should start the process of saving your marriage without your partner’s participation!
It’s a myth that it takes two people to work on a relationship. Yes, of course, it takes two people to be in the relationship and ultimately your partner has to respond to your attempts to connect and improve things. But I can tell you from years of experience, that if you follow these three steps your partner will very likely respond to you even if it's ever so slightly at first. If he or she doesn’t at all, then you are potentially with someone who’s already done with the relationship or is suffering from a significant untreated mental illness or addiction. And even then, taking these steps will likely help you make progress and invite a more positive response.
Here’s WHY you should start to save your marriage by yourself:
1. What do I do that’s damaging to the relationship (regardless of what my partner does)?
What if for the next 30 days you just stopped doing damaging behaviors like yelling, being insulting, avoiding communication, circumventing decisionmaking, withdrawing, complaining, not helping, not being affectionate, etc.? Be honest. Make a list of the behaviors you know in your heart aren't helpful, even if you feel completely justified and unsatisfied. For those of you who avoid conflict, this means that you will have begin confronting and be more clear about what's bothering you. Don't assume your partner really knows or understands what you need and want. This is different than complaining by the way. See free article, 7 Habits of Good Communication for more on that!
In addition to damaging behaviors, how damaging are your thoughts? At this point, negative thoughts about your partner and your relationship may be automatic and toxic. How disrespectful and pessimistic are you in your thoughts? Do you see your partner as a child to be managed? A wet blanket? A nasty bitch or a selfish asshole? Yes, to get to this place in your head, no doubt you've been hurt along the way. But remember, your partner very likely has been too. Begin to shift your thoughts by focusing on something positive every day. Did s/he pick up things you needed from the store? Was s/he really kind to your family or friends? Did s/he make you laugh? Did you admire an interaction s/he had with the kids? You must begin to shift your thoughts for this to work.
What do you notice happens in response? What do you notice are the hardest behaviors or thoughts to change?
2. What has my partner asked me to do for him/her that I haven’t done?
So, what if you not only stopped bad behaviors and shifted negative thoughts, you started doing all or some of those things your partner has asked of you? To do this, it's critical to come from the right mindset. You must be willing to drop the "giving to get" mentality, only changing to get what YOU want. It's not that your needs aren't important. They absolutely are! But, remember this is a person you really love or used to love in the beginning. You used to care about their wants and needs just as much,or even more so, than your own. How strong and giving for the sake of your marriage are you willing to be?
Make a list or start paying closer attention to what your partner complains about or asks of you.
Admittedly some things are hard, like being more sexually responsive when you just can't feel close or get in the mood. But again, what are you willing to be responsible for? Also, is it really true you can’t do something or are you just holding onto resentment? Start where you can. Try taking one small step in the direction of what your partner wants. Invite more vulnerable conversations by being vulnerable yourself. Say things like “I realize I’ve been holding back from you. I don’t want to do that anymore. Here’s where I’d like to start…”
Click here to read two powerful articles: 5 Daily Habits That Would Totally Transform Your Relationship and Appreciating Your Spouse
3. Where in your personal life are you struggling?
Are you exercising like you want to or conquering fitness goals? Doing artistic/creative endeavors? Socializing? Achieving at work? Are you spiritually fulfilled? Take stock and focus on even one small change to make you feel more fulfilled. The happier you are, the chances are you’ll start seeing your life, relationship and circumstances more positively. See my article, Ignore Your Relationship, Focus on Yourself.
In addition, how's your emotional and mental health? What are you really doing about your anger? Are you depressed or suffering from anxiety? Did you have a traumatic experience recently or even in the distant past that still nags at you? Are you drinking or drugging a little too much? Click on the following links to assess yourself:
It may be necessary to work with a a good therapist or coach who can help you start to feel better and/or deal with any addiction issues. We all need help from time to time in our lives. I strongly encourage you to take this step if you need to-- for the sake of your relationship and you!
If you do all this for the next 30 days, what do you imagine the result would be? What’s the worst that can happen if you did all this? Sure you might feel disappointed if it "doesn't work." But what if it does work?
**This article may not be for those of you who have a partner who abuses you physically and/or emotionally or if you’re with someone who’s has significant untreated substance abuse or mental illness. On the other hand, if you follow these steps, it might save YOU and have a surprising effect on your relationship and your partner’s overall health.**
If you want even more help, check out Brad Browning's Mend the Marriage system. I've personally reviewed his material and it's fantastic! He offers ebooks, videos and audiobooks on saving your marriage and on specific marriage topics. I really want you to be supported in saving your marriage.