How do you go about saving marriage in a culture which values throw away relationships?
There was a time, not too long ago, that marriage was considered a lifetime commitment. While there were some downsides to this such as people having to endure a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse, there were also some benefits. Marriage was a serious endeavor. Marriage created stable families. It was the foundation of society.
Now, every state except New York has some form of no fault divorce. If one spouse wants out, all he or she has to do is say the word. In most states, the partners are not even required to get counseling. How do you go about saving marriage in this kind of environment?
First, you need to realize that a marriage can be saved, even if only one partner wants it. However, if you are the one who wants to save the marriage, you need to realize that you are going to have to do most of the work.
I liken this to house cleaning. Single women do more house work than single men. That's probably because women, in general, have a higher aversion to messiness. So, when people get married, the woman is more likely to do the bulk of the house work. That isn't because it is her "job." It's because she has the lower tolerance for the mess.
So, if you are the one who wants to save the marriage, you are going to have to do the heavy lifting. Here's how to go about saving marriage when yours is on the rocks:
1.) Recognize that your spouse had valid concerns when he or she asked for the divorce. Work on addressing those concerns.
2.) Know that your spouse has a lot invested in the relationship. Use that investment to rebuild the marriage. Your spouse will probably have second thoughts about leaving from time to time. Give him or her every reason to stay.
3.) Monitor your reaction. Too many times, the spouse who doesn't want to leave will badger the divorcing spouse to talk about the issues in the relationship. But, sometimes your spouse needs emotional space. If this is the case, respect his or her wishes.
4.) Lower your expectations. Saving marriage requires that you don't look for perfection in everything. If he or she has flaws, now is not the time to point them out. If they do things that get on your nerves, live with it.
5.) Have fun. Saving marriage is a serious business. But, if you make the repair process too intense, you will scare your spouse away. Instead, suggest that you together do the things you both find fun. When you can reconnect in the small ways, the big things will take care of themselves.
Finally, recognize that we live in a culture where saving marriage is not considered sophisticated. But, you know deep down, that your marriage is the most important thing in your life and it is well worth saving.