In my last post, I started sharing ideas to help a person who wants to save their marriage.
I started with some simple ones. Next come a few that are a little trickier.
3. Deal with Addiction
Addictions are far too common – from alcohol, drugs and gambling to the soft addictions of shopping, eating and television. Chances are you are addicted to something. Maybe your spouse is an addict. If so, you are co-dependent.
Deal with it. Don’t expect the other person to change. Get help. Heal yourself. When you live differently, your spouse will need to adjust. If you want to save your marriage, you must first save yourself. Find a 12-step program. Get a therapist. Give yourself time.
4. Improve Communications
Start with internal communications. How do you talk to yourself? Pay attention and change any negative, destructive internal dialogue into words that support and encourage you. Use affirmations. An affirmation is a positive statement that you consciously state out loud or in writing in order to reprogram the subconscious to produce a desired result. There are plenty of books that explain this process in detail.
The bottom line is clean up the way you are talking to yourself. No self-criticism. If all day long the tapes in your head are playing the words, “I am not lovable,” no matter what your spouse says, it will pass through that filter and whatever he/she says will seem to you to support “unlovable-ness,” not the healthy marriage you seek. Replace that with, “I love myself unconditionally,” and see what happens.
Then, clean up how you communicate with your spouse. Saving your marriage will include learning new ways to communicate with your spouse. There are many different schools of thought. Some are based on therapeutic models, e.g., Imago Relationship Therapy by Harville Hendrix. Others teach research-based behavior modification (The Gottman Institute at gottman.com) and conflict resolution techniques (smartmarriages.com). I even found an online resource that advocates avoiding problems all together (MarriageMax.com). Go to the public library; it is a great place to start. When you look for resources, you will find the support that is right for you.
There are lots of perspectives on this area. What is clear, however, is that your current method of communicating is not working. So get help.
Both of these suggestions ask us to dig deeply. They also show us that we may need help. As a divorce lawyer, I have lots of professionals that I refer folks to. Usually it’s in the context of divorce but many of these folks have extensive experience with all sorts of people. If you would like to talk or get referrals, drop me a note.
Wishing you the best.