WHEN YOUR DISCUSSION TAKES PLACE. . .
•Find an appropriate time and setting to talk. Make sure your spouse is comfortable in this setting and does not feel intimidated or feel like this is a “set up” (a situation that you have manipulated for your own benefit). Your goal is to communicate from the beginning that you want things to work out for both your sakes.
•Start the conversation by asking for permission to talk about your present relationship. This will prevent your spouse from feeling cornered and will make him or her less likely to be defensive.
•Present the positive aspects of your relationship first and then move to the negative. Be careful not to underestimate the gravity of the problems you are experiencing. Even if you feel the good far outweighs the bad, it is important that you validate your spouse’s feelings, especially if he or she believes the obstacles are too great to overcome.
•Encourage your spouse to express his or her feelings and view of the situation. Show respect for your spouse’s feelings, desires, and goals by acknowledging that you must find a solution that will be acceptable to both of you, even if you feel he or she is being unreasonable or unrealistic.
•Re-affirm your desire to work with your spouse to find a solution. Let your spouse know you are willing to change, if necessary, any areas in which you may not be acting with love and respect. As you discuss these areas, accept responsibility for any wrongdoing, but be careful not to accept blame for something that is not your fault. The only way to find a long term solution for your problem is for both of your to accept responsibility for your own actions.
•Finish your conversation by gently asking for a commitment to saving your relationship. If you sense your spouse is hostile toward you and not ready to make this commitment, you may want to ask him or her to take some time to consider what you have discussed in this meeting and set an appointment to talk again.
If your spouse seems hesitant, don’t push for an answer. Thank him or her for the opportunity to talk about your relationship, and end your conversation courteously and as positively as you can. Ending with hostility or nagging may close the door for any future discussions—be careful to avoid doing this, especially toward the end of your discussion.
AFTER YOUR DISCUSSION. . .
•Give your spouse plenty of time and space to think. Don’t press for an answer or leave hints that make him or her feel you are trying to nag or control. One of the best ways to demonstrate your love is by demonstrating self-control.
When you control your own desires to “fix” the problem and give your spouse the freedom to make his or her decision, you are communicating to that person that you value his or her feelings and will in the matter.
•Continue your regular schedule of activities. Depression can often set in when a person is experiencing problems in a relationship, particularly in marriage relationships. Guard against negative thoughts, and involve yourself in activities that focus on helping others in need.
By taking the focus off your problems and working to help someone else who may be having a tough time as well, you can avoid the temptation to wallow in self-pity.
•Don’t nag or beg your spouse to change his or her mind. This will only push the person away by making him or her feel trapped. Be positive about the potential you believe you both have to rebuild your marriage, and continue to express your love by small acts of kindness and words of encouragement.
Even if your spouse is less than lovable, you can still choose to show love and respect. Doing so may surprise your spouse, and may intrigue him or her enough to spark an interest in rebuilding your relationship.
•Continue to confront areas of your life that need improvement. Do this because you want to be a better person rather than simply to win your spouse back. As you take personal responsibility for your faults and work to make the necessary changes in your habits, character, communication skills, and personal appearance, you will gain a sense of confidence that may be very attractive to your spouse.
Even if your spouse is not moved by the changes you have made, you will have the satisfaction that comes from doing what is right and working to become a better person.
If your spouse does decide to opt for divorce, realize that you have done your very best to save the marriage and determine to use the lessons you have learned to help someone else who is struggling or in need. Begin to make new goals for your life and build relationships with those who will help you move forward and keep a positive attitude.
Be careful not to harbor bitterness and anger in your heart as this will destroy any potential you have to help others and will only increase the trauma of your experience. Forgiving is difficult to do, but it is the only way for your emotions and spirit to heal.
If you are struggling with forgiveness, consider support groups that covers this topic or look for material that can help you learn how to let go of the hurt and move forward with your life.