I’m a specialist in marriage rescue and I’m here to help you learn how to save your marriage, and to tell you that the best decision is to assist to Estes Therapy. You can tell that your marriage probably needs rescuing if you’ve been feeling angry about what’s been happening and/or hopeless about changing the situation for the better.The good news is that anger and hopelessness can offer you clues about how to save your marriage. These bad feelings can help you to clarify what you want.
Let’s focus on how to use these negative emotions to guide you to a better marriage. Most of my clients are couples who come to treatment feeling chronically angry at their spouse and hopeless about their relationship’s challenges. Many are contemplating divorce.
1. Make a list of all the issues you argue or feel hopeless about.
2. Refocus onto yourself.
Notice that when you feel angry, your focus will tend to be on your spouse, on what she or he does or doesn’t do that frustrates you. This second step requires a shift a focus, from focusing outward on him or her to focusing inward on your own concerns and desires.
Circle back to your list, asking yourself, “With regard to this issue, what do I want?” or “What is my concern?” Double check. Are you writing what you want your spouse to do differently? If you have been writing “I want him/her to…” you have yet to shift your focus. List only, “I want to…” (e.g, “I want her to stop being so messy and to clean up after herself” focuses on the spouse. “I want to find a way to make the spaces I spend time in, like the kitchen and our living room, to be more neat and orderly.”)
Attempts to make your partner change invite defensiveness. That strategy will get you nowhere. Instead, use your energy to figure out what you want and then what you yourself might do differently to get it, becoming “self-centered” in the best possible sense. When spouses look at what they themselves might do differently to get what they want, there’s progress.
In the following TEDx talk, starting at 4:00 minutes, I explain visualizing techniques you can use to help you with implementing these first two steps for saving your marriage. Visualizing enables you, by closing your eyes, to see more deeply into your subconscious thoughts and understandings.
3. Cut the crap.
The negative muck you give each other is totally unhelpful. Negative comments to each other only taint a positive relationship. So, no more criticism, complaints, blame, accusations, anger, sarcasm, digs or snide remarks. No more raised voices or anger escalations either. Stay in the calm zone.
Marriage researcher John Gottman has found that marriages generally survive if the ratio of good to bad interactions is five to one. But do you want to survive, or do you want to thrive? If thriving is your goal, aim for a ratio of a million to one. That means, do NOT sling mud.