Divorce irrevocably changes the course of your life and your children’s. If you are at all ambivalent about ending your marriage, now is the time to make a concerted effort to see if it’s worth saving. Use these 5 tips to help you and your spouse reconcile your differences and stay (happily) together…
1. Think back to a time when your marriage was more good than bad. What were you doing then that made things better than they are now? What were the qualities about your spouse that drew you to him or her? What shared values did you have and which of those remain? Life gets more complicated as we age; careers, children, caring for aging parents, and health issues all take a toll on even the happiest union. Make sure the frustration you feel towards your spouse is really about your spouse and not life’s challenges that you dream of escaping. What external circumstances can you change? What can you do to focus on what’s good instead of what’s not? Even if you’re the only one taking action at first, you may find that changing yourself invites positive change from your spouse.
2. Take your own inventory, not your spouse’s. Are you convinced you would be happy if only your spouse was…well, exactly the way you wanted him to be? Placing your happiness on external circumstances that you can’t control is like taking the Express Train to Miseryville. Instead of spending all your energy trying to manufacture your dream spouse, get honest: what do you need to change about yourself? Do you have substance abuse issues? An anger management problem? An identity crisis? Do whatever it takes to solve your own problems: therapy, 12-step groups, a career counselor. If you like yourself better, you may find you like your spouse better. And even if you don’t, doing your own self-improvement project will serve you in your post-divorce life.
3. Stop focusing on the past (because it’s past). We’ve all been hurt, but if you continue to remind your spouse of the many ways he has failed you, your marriage is doomed to end, or at least make you both profoundly miserable. If your spouse has made amends for the hurt he caused you and you still can’t get over it, or he hasn’t demonstrated sufficient accountability and you shouldn’t get over it, — then you need to move on. If, however, your spouse is committed to repairing your marriage and you’re not ready to leave, you must also commit to living in the present. Because at the end of the day, the present is all we have.
4. Date each other. Remember when you first met and there was all that spark and anticipation and great sex? The reason you had it then and not now is because jobs and domesticity and ailing in-laws wore you down. People need emotional and physical intimacy in order to stay connected. Make regular date nights, hire a sitter so you can have a weekend away, tell your spouse she’s beautiful or he’s sexy.
5. Express gratitude for your spouse. Resentment builds up because spouses feel taken for granted. The good news is, it’s relatively easy to make the other person feel appreciated. Send a daily e-mail or text thanking your spouse for picking up the laundry or watching the kids so you could have a nap. Ask them about their day and listen. Tell them how great they look in their new suit or new haircut. These things might seem small, but that’s precisely why they’re meaningful. Everyone wants to feel that what they do matters.
People remain in marriages where there are more good feelings than bad. If, after trying these tips, the bad still outweighs the good, consider contacting us to schedule your initial attorney consultation and discuss your options.