Can You Save Your Marriage Alone?
Last week we talked about how avoiding meaningful conversations with your spouse can hinder your marriage in many ways. This week we will be learning ways of fixing some of the obvious problems that have been created by you or your spouse.
As I mentioned in last week’s article, I had been driving in the rain thinking about my marital situation. When I arrived at the parking lot, the rain was coming down in sheets. As I sat in my truck, I stared across the parking lot watching the heavy rain fall along with the orange, red and yellow oak leaves. It was at that point that I realized how much I really missed my wife and daughter. I looked across the practice field and could see the kids racing between in and out of the rain. Something was tugging at my heart. An excitement started to build within me.
That’s when I began to wonder if I could fix my marriage. I knew it would take hard work and I would need to change the behaviors that were destroying my marriage. I thought about the areas I was failing in my marriage and finally saw how self-centered I was. I knew I was a jerk to live with. I was uncaring, uncompassionate, distant, and lived my life as though it was all about me. I rarely shared my life with my wife. I realized my parents were not good role models for me and now I was repeating some of the same devastating patterns that nearly broke my parent’s marriage apart.
When I got home that night, I made a list of the mistakes I was making…not my wife’s, but mine. I spent several days compiling the list and even though there were some ugly items on it, I could see why my wife left me. I didn’t blame her at all. I gave her all the ammunition she needed to file for divorce. Some of my problems were embedded in my upbringing and I knew they were not going to be easy to change. It would take some real work and effort on my part, but as I looked at my list, I was dedicated to working on the glaring issues that caused my wife so much pain.
One of the first things I did was to call my close friends and ask them to be brutally honest with me. I told them to hold nothing back when they shared their thoughts about my character flaws. At first they were unsure of what I was asking for. I explained to them I was trying to fix my marriage and needed their help in looking at what kind of person I was. They were reluctant at first, but realized how important this was to me. They shared what they viewed were my weaknesses and flaws. Next, I called my wife who was very hesitant to say anything. She told me it was too late and that she had moved on. That, my friends, was a huge blow to my ego. I didn’t argue with her. I was working on the new me and would keep making the necessary changes even if it meant walking away from an argument.
The insights that my friends shared with me gave me plenty to work on. Following are a few of the things I learned:
• I was never home to spend time with my family because I was always playing softball or hunting.
• I couldn’t say “NO” to friends but never found time for my wife or daughter.
• I never did things with my wife. My friends commented that they never saw the two of us out together.
• I was always with friends and seldom with her.
I knew my friends were right as painful as it was to hear, I knew all of it was true. These were personal issues and they needed to be addressed. So how was I going to fix these problems? I knew that I would have to spend time with my daughter even though my wife didn’t have any desire to work things out with me. That may be the case for many of my readers. You slowly have to win your spouse back. I did things with my daughter including hikes, planting trees, and shopping. When I asked my daughter what she wanted, she always asked me to read to her, tell her stories, and make popcorn for her. In fact, I had a list that was three pages long. I added items of interest to her list each time we got together. My wife saw the changes and she commented on them. She even noticed I was spending less time with friends and more time with our daughter. I took her to my ball games, then, afterwards we would spend time at the park. I was getting to know my daughter all over again. At times, I felt utterly helpless trying to regain my role as her father, but I persevered.
You can go to Mike’s blog and comment on today’s article at: http://www.applicablecoaching.com/blog/
Dr. Mike also has a new website devoted to those who are considering divorce or are going through a divorce. You can find it at: http://idontwantthisdivorce.com/