When you know your marriage is on rocky ground and you are desperate to save it, it might seem wise to try to wheedle, coerce or insist that your wife work with you to save your marriage, but it doesn’t work, according to marriage and family therapist Michele Weiner-Davis. She says that such tactics will push your wife away, in her article “Why Should I Be the One to Change?” Your most productive option is to quietly begin work on yourself and let her see the person she fell in love with, inviting her to find that love again.
Consider what you were doing in the early days of your courtship and begin to replicate those activities, such as talking about topics you agree on, complimenting her at any available opportunity and spending companionable time together doing something you both enjoy. If you change your actions, your wife will begin to change hers, advises Weiner-Davis.
Reconnect with your wife as often as possible in small and pleasurable ways until she is attracted to you again, counsels Jack Ito, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a marriage and family coach. You might text her to let her know you are thinking about her or ask her if she would like you to bring home something for dinner. Demonstrate through actions rather than words that you love her and want to preserve the marriage, writes Ito in “Preventing Divorce: Reconnecting With a Separated Spouse.”
Find opportunities to agree with your wife whenever possible, counsels Ito, because agreement builds connection. You might agree with her that her boss is being unfair to require her to work long hours on a project when he isn’t putting in the extra hours. Agree that your kids are driving her crazy and offer to take them for a few hours to give her some recovery time. Avoid disagreeing with her by finding ways to agree with at least one or two things she says, Ito recommends.
Agree to attend counseling with her or by yourself when she agrees that the marriage is worth saving, but that might not come quickly. Begin counseling on your own to get advice on ways to change your responses now. Be her friend and support her in all the ways you can think of without pressing her to work on the marriage. Your efforts to return to that loving and considerate person you were when you agreed to marry can convince her that your marriage deserves a second chance and her efforts are required.
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- As long as she isn't committed to someone else, you have a chance at saving the marriage.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
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