Title: How To Save Your Marriage
Each year in America alone, nearly 1 million marriages end in divorce.This is an incredible number! That would be as if all the citizens of Houston Texas were divorced (each divorce leaves 2 people).
The question is how many of those marriages could be saved. Unfortunately, that is an invisible number. If your marriage stays together, it is hard to find in the statistics. As Marian Wright Edelman wrote, statistics are stories with the tears washed off.
Can your marriage be saved? If I could answer that, I would be a wealthy man. I can tell you that if your marriage is in trouble and you do nothing, the outcome is guaranteed. If you do something, there is a much better chance that your marriage will be saved.
And I can tell you, in four simple steps what you can do to save your marriage. You can start right now. But you must understand that I said "simple." That is not the same as "easy." These steps are not easy. They do, however, give you a path that you must follow if you want to change the destiny of a marriage in trouble.
Here are the 4 steps:
1) Quit the blame game. Stop blaming your spouse and stop blaming yourself. This is the first step because marriages get frozen into a pattern of blame that immobilizes any prospect of progress. Instead, the momentum gets dragged down and down.
Blame is our way of avoiding seeing ourselves clearly. It is much easier to point the finger somewhere and say "It's their fault." But in marriage, you can just as easily turn that pointing finger on yourself and place the blame there, saying "it's all my fault."
Unfortunately, blame feels good in the short-term, but in the long-term, it prevents any shift or change. So, even if you can make a long list of why you or your spouse should be blamed, forget it. Even if that list is factual, it will not help you put your marriage back together. Blame is the fuel of divorces.
2) Take responsibility. Decide you can do something. Change always begins with one person who wants to see a change. Understand that taking responsibility is not the same as taking the blame (see above).
Instead, blame is saying "regardless of who is at fault, there are some things I can do differently, and I am going to do them." What buttons do you allow your spouse to push? What buttons do you push with your spouse? Decide not to allow those buttons to be pushed and stop pushing the buttons.
What amazes me in my counseling is that everyone knows what they should be doing or not doing. But it is difficult to move in that direction. Don't be caught in that. Decide that you will take action.
The difference between blame and responsibility is this: if I am in a burning building, I can stand around trying to figure out who started the blaze, why it has spread so quickly, and who I am going to sue when it is over (blame), or I can get myself and anyone else I can out of that building (taking responsibility). When a marriage is in trouble, the house is on fire. How will you take action to save the marriage?
3) Get resources from experts. If others have been helped, you can be, too. Experts with a great deal more perspective and experience can be a real help in these situations. Do your research and divide the useless from the useful, then take advantage of the useful.
Don't assume that your situation is so different from every other situation. I can tell you that after 20-some years of providing therapy, not too much new comes through my doors. Don't get me wrong; the story changes, but the dynamics are the same.
Remember what Albert Einstein said, "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." In other words, what got you into trouble will not get you out of trouble. That requires a whole new level of thinking. And that is what you get from an outside expert, someone with a fresh perspective.
4) Take action. More damage is done by doing nothing by taking a misstep. It is too easy to get paralyzed by the situation. Therapists often talk about "analysis paralysis." This occurs when people get so caught up in their churning thoughts and attempts to "figure things out" that they never take action.
It is not enough to simply understand what is causing the problem. You must then act! On a daily basis, I find people coming to my office with the belief that if they can just understand their problem, it will resolve itself. That simply does not happen. Resolution of the situation takes action.
Will your marriage be saved? If you follow my suggestions, you have infinitely more opportunity for saving your marriage than if you do nothing. Marriage is one of those places where it takes two to make it work, but only one to really mess things up. You can only do your part, but many times, that is enough. Resolve not to ask the question but to begin to act.
Are you ready to take action? Grab the best-selling resource on the internet for saving marriages: Save The Marriage, Even If Only You Want It! You can find it at http://www.SaveTheMarriage.com
Title: The Myth of Marriage
Part of the difficulty with marriage is that the only training we get is "on the job." Rarely do you say to someone, "I want you to go work with those tools in there. Have fun, get the job done, and don't kill yourself." But, essentially, that is the start of a marriage. We have some rudimentary skills from relating to others, but the real knowledge and skills are hard-earned.d.
And the problem is, sometimes we learn lessons that are incorrect, or at least only partially true. These become the myths of our marriages. They are the stories we tell to ourselves in attempts to understand. Unfortunately, they are only partially right, at best. Often, they are totally wrong. Once we learn the stories, we refuse to give them up.
I've chosen 5 of the most common myths of marriage. You can decide if you tell yourself these stories, and if so, what you might be missing. Because, you see, the stories we tell ourselves determine how we act and what we assume. And that, ultimately, can either teach you to use the tools or allow you to injure yourself.
MYTH: "Marriage shouldn't be this hard." Lie this leads to: "If it is, maybe we shouldn't be married."
This is a powerful story about marriage. People assume that good marriages are easy, and there is no struggle. There is the romantic belief that good relationships "just work." Science has yet to discover a perpetual energy machine, and I doubt relationships are any different.
This summer, I was at a beach that hosts the annual sea turtle nesting. The large mother sea turtle lumbers up the beach, just above the high-tide mark, right at the base of the sand dunes, digs a hole some 18 inches into the ground, and lays a large group of eggs. Those eggs are left to develop and hatch, usually a couple of months later.
Now, here's the interesting thing: those tiny turtles (maybe 3 inches long) have to make the long trek from the nest to the sea. The long trek for the mother turtle is very long for the baby turtle. Some people have felt bad for the turtles in the past, and decided to help them to the surf.
By being picked up and carried to the surf, the "helpers" insured the death of the baby turtles. You see, that long trek to the sea builds the muscles in the flippers of the baby turtle. Those muscles are all that ensure the survival of the babies.
Some struggle (not too much) is necessary for developing the muscles of survival. It is true with relationships, and certainly true with marriage. When we struggle together, we develop the skills necessary to take on other struggles.
The real task is not to have a marriage that is easy. The real task is to learn how to allow the struggle to move you together, not push you apart. The statistics are pretty clear. Almost half of all marriages end in divorce. However, the hidden statistic is that 100% of marriages have difficulties. Staying married is not from a lack of difficulties, it is from using the difficulties to learn and develop.
Title: Marriage: Learning To Love
My daughter was recently in her school's performance of Fiddler On TheRoof. She was one of the daughters. If you don't know the story, it focuses on the changing culture of marriage, from one where the marriage is arrainged by family and community to one based on mutual attraction.
In one of the songs, the main character asks his wife if she loves him. She replies that for 25 years, she has shared his bed, made his meals, tended his house, raised his children -- so what kind of question is that? The point is that in their relationship, love wasn't even a question or consideration. But after some back-and-forth, they decide that, indeed, they love each other.
This led me to think about what I know about marriage. And here is what I think about the question of love and marriage: we fall in love to get together, then spend the rest of our lives learning to love the other.
You see, the initial attraction is really about "I." "I" feel a certain way, so I know I am "in love." But that part of the relationship is driven by my need to feel that way, my need to be with the other person, my need to have my needs met. My needs are fueled by my desire to feel the intense emotion of "being in love."
But in reality, love is a verb, something I do for the other. So, it takes the rest of my life to learn how to attend to my spouse's needs. From my desire to be with my spouse comes my desire to meet my spouse's love needs.
We are "fooled" into commitment by the overwhelming feeling of attraction, and then we have to put forth effort to create a sustained relationship. I say "fooled" because our culture has us believing that this love is the foundation of a relationship. It is not. It is merely a temporary starting point. It is not the destination. It is just a part of the journey to a lifetime relationship.
Those intense feelings will calm over time. The overwhelming need to be with someone that marks the infatuation portion of a relationship is not sustainable on its own. It's like placing a flame in a bottle. Eventually, the flame will burn all the oxygen in the bottle and be extinguished.
So, there has to be some "fueling of the fire." This is "love," the verb. When I act in loving ways, I fuel the fire and keep it burning. If I stop tending to the other's needs because I don't feel that infatuation, the relationship will slowly (or not so slowly) die away.
When we continue to believe that "love" (infatuation) is the heart of a relationship, when that feeling is gone, we believe we are no longer in love. That is not the case; we have just failed to fuel the fire.
Reality TV has proven that any two people, given the right circumstances and settings, can fall into love (chemistry of infatuation). But story after story shows that it is harder to make the switch to "true love" that comes from action. Choose action, and don't be fooled by chemistry.
By acting on love, by making love a verb and not an emotion, we keep the emotional fire stoked. And that is the great irony: if we depend on the feeling of being in love to keep us together, it will fail. But if we set that aside and focus on being loving, the feeling of being in love is sustained. Mature love is a verb, not an emotion.
Title: Will Valentine's Day Ruin Your Marriage?
Ah, February! Our minds start turning to thoughts of Valentine's Day.In the middle of winter, romance is suddenly in vogue. The stores are filled with cards, candy, jewelry, and any number of other products touting the opportunity to show your love how you feel.
Are we being set up? Have we bought into the idea of romance so much that we are literally destroying our relationships with expectations? I think we are. In fact, I think we have made a false idol of romance at the expense of true love. We have confused infatuation and erotic love with deep, abiding love that leads to successful marriages.
Let me be clear. I have nothing against romance and romantic gestures. But we have made this the lead, not the result of love. We want to be awash in loving feelings and attraction for our partner. Then we expect those feelings to be the cement, the glue that keeps us together. Hogwash!
I just checked my email. In the last month, I have received 104 pleas for help from people hearing this statement from their spouse, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." The translation is this: "I have a feeling of care for you, but I don't feel erotic emotions toward you." The problem is that this statement is a lie on the front end ("I love you") and a misunderstanding on the back end ("but I'm not in love with you").
The lie, I'll get to in a moment. The misunderstanding is this: being "in love" with someone is based on the nurturing of a relationship. It is not some emotion that is at the whims of Cupid shooting an arrow. Too often I hear, "I can't help how I feel." True, but people can choose how they act. And that is really the crux of the matter.
Love has been confused in our culture. The ancient Greeks were much more clear. They used three words to talk about love: Eros, Phileo, and Agape. Eros was about attraction (erotic love). Phileo was about friendship. And Agape was about commitment. Our society has segregated these three areas. Interestingly, we all want commitment and acceptance from our lover/spouse (Agape love), but too often want to feel attraction (Eros love) toward our spouse.
In other words, we want that attractive, successful, romantic, loving person to accept us, mistakes, shortcomings, failures, and all. We want what we have a hard time offering.
So what is the lie? Love is a commitment. It is an action verb, based on being loving and doing loving actions toward the other person. It is based on making a choice to love the other. Not for a moment, but for a lifetime.
Brain scans show that people who are "in love" (caught up in the infatuation) have very similar patterns to those who are mentally ill. So being "madly in love" is not just a figure of speech. It is a physical reality.
The problem is that this is unsustainable. The love of infatuation has to temper into a choice to being loving toward another person. I love someone because I choose to act lovingly, not because of the constance of a feeling. That moves the whole possibility from being at the whims of Cupid to having a conscious choice over how I participate in a relationship.
Let me be clear here: I am not opposed to visits of Eros. In fact, I think this is a feeling that is important and necessary in a long-term marriage. But I believe the emotion emerges from acting in loving ways. In other words, when I make romance primary, I am lost when it is gone. When I make love a verb, and action I can choose, the romantic feelings will naturally emerge.
Valentine's Day is a threat to your relationship when you make the romantic feelings the goal. To paraphrase a commercial: card, $3.50; candy, $20.00; flowers, $50.00. Acting lovingly toward your spouse: Priceless (and free!). When Valentine's Day rolls around, make it an opportunity to show your love, not a day to judge your erotic feelings.
If you are ready to leave the myths behind and discover the relationship of your dreams, go to http://www.savethemarriage.com