“A divorce lawyer talking about saving my marriage? Seems odd,” you may say.
Well, I see a lot of divorcing people. So I definitely know the factors that cause a breakdown to be “irretrievable.” And, believe it or not, I have people who come to me who are on the fence. They really don’t want to get divorced but they don’t know what else to do. My rolodex is filled with great therapists who get a lot of referrals from me. Also, some times a person hires me and we start a collaborative process and things change mid-stream. They reconcile.
Add that to my metaphysical studies and – like everyone else on the internet – I have formulated my opinions. I offer these and would love to here what you think. But before I start the list, here is an important caveat:
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Start with yourself. If your spouse agrees that there are problems and is open to change, by all means share this with him/her. If you both want to save the marriage, great. If your spouse is not open, do not share this. Work on yourself first. Each of these ideas can be applied to you as an individual. Do not expect your spouse to change. You are the one who wants things to improve, so improve yourself first. After you develop new habits using these principles, your spouse will notice. He/she may comment on the changes and/or respond to you in new ways. After observing positive responses, you can share these principles and ask your spouse to join you in applying them.[/quote]
1. Express Appreciation
Everyone needs acknowledgement and appreciation. No one likes to be taken for granted. Start this right away. Catch your spouse doing something right. We have heard this before in the context of parenting, and it applies to all our relationships.
When you first started dating, you appreciated all sorts of things about your spouse. Write them down. Find ways that those things still apply. Tell him/her that you like the way he/she always puts the cap on the toothpaste tube. Maybe the smiles don’t come as often but when they do – comment on how pretty her eyes are when she smiles.
Don’t forget the big things – “Thank you for being such a good mom/dad.” If your marriage is in trouble, notice what is working. Is your spouse employed? Acknowledge that. Do you appreciate a home-cooked meal? Let the cook know it.
2. Allow Forgiveness
Things happen. Careless words. A hurtful action. Your spouse got angry. You felt hurt. Maybe it was a big thing. Perhaps a bunch of little things. Now is the time to get over it. You need to allow Forgiveness.
Notice that I did not say, “Forgive your spouse.” If you can do that, great. If not – and most people can’t – you need to go deeper. Sit long enough with the pain in any situation and you will find that you played a part in creating that pain. This means that you need to essentially split yourself in two – one part that does the forgiving and one part that gets forgiven. This can feel rather confusing.
Years ago, I learned to call on a force greater than myself, Forgiveness. Once I did that, I no longer felt responsible for how things worked out. I could surrender the situation to Forgiveness and let It do the work. If the other person’s behavior was so egregious, it wasn’t too much for the larger force of Forgiveness. I didn’t need to accept it or see it as okay. I was no longer responsible for how the other person acted. As for my own transgressions, it was then easier to take responsibility for the clean up. What was Forgiveness asking me to do next? If I caught myself beating myself up, I would say the words, “I allow Forgiveness” to put things back in perspective. I felt lighter because I was no longer responsible for the outcome. I took back my power.
So next time you or your spouse misses the mark, call on Forgiveness. Let It guide the healing process. This is actually easier than “doing” the forgiving yourself. You don’t need to understand it. Egos get in the way. Surrendering the whole situation to Forgiveness allows for a resolution that includes everyone. It harmonizes the situation.