Dear Stephen: My wife and I are having terrible marriage problems, I cannot get her to come for help, she thinks it will be a waste of time.
We went for help two years ago and it made things worse can you help me?
This is a typical email I will receive from men and women who are understandably stuck needing direction.
I wanted to share the concept of saving a marriage on your own because in most cases relationship problems don’t heal themselves so doing nothing isn’t a good idea.
Many people do try to bury their problems, but they are always there buried ready to be dug up when something goes wrong.
So firstly is it possible to save a marriage alone?
The simple answer is yes, I’ve help many achieve this, but I’ll start with the problem before I give you how and why it can work for many people.
Many are resistant to seeking marital help on their own because…
The biggest problem is how people think about the process of getting the help.
The usual thinking is this: I think my partner is the problem so if they don’t attend how can we fix the problems we have?
I understand this logic, but successful relationship building today doesn’t work this way.
The model of helping people had to change to become educational for the individual so they could be an effective pattern interrupt for the destructive marital patterns.
Traditional couple’s work has always struggled, but it’s the model most people think of when they seek couple’s help.
- The typical scenario is people come looking for help essentially wanting the help to fix their partners’ problems and bad behaviours.
- Some people want the help to agree with them about how awful their partner is hoping this alignment will make their partner see how wrong they are.
The problem is none of this process works even if they come together.
If someone does have to change for the other person their changes will usually be short-lived and so a waste of time.
This process of changing to please a partner is usually an uncomfortable compromise and these changes are not lasting.
Plus getting one person to change for the other especially whilst full of resentment is not very likely because trust has to be present for needs to be met.
You simply cannot force a change or expect your partner to change because it’s good for you and in their mind potentially bad for them.
This old model of trying to get your partner to change to please you is only going to frustrate you further so we need to direct your energy to what does work.
So what does work?
The only process that works is when the person(s) looking for help are committed to becoming a highly valuable partner that has the new skills to positively trigger their partner to also want to be better too but naturally.
I know many people feel they have done this, but the chances of them really understanding how to do this are not high at all.
IMPORTANT: If you are not looking to become highly valuable yourself then you will fail.
Sitting back and blaming others also puts them in the driving seat because you now have to wait for them to change or not change and that’s a long painful wait.
My clients like to take charge positively.
Any person looking to become a significantly better partner stands a far greater chance of successfully rebuilding their marriage whether it’s done alone or together.
If I look back at my relationship journey I made an important decision, a commitment to myself.
If I wanted an amazing marriage the only way to achieve that was to change the only thing I could control and that was ME!
I didn’t meet Cloe and give her the how to be a good wife for Stephen manual, that of course would be ludicrous.
I chose to become massively valuable to her and as a result, she wants the very best life for me naturally.
Essentially the best of me is encouraging the best in her and vice versa this is the flow of energy that builds almost effortless deeper connections.
It’s the foundation for a bullet-proof connection that so many long for.
They bring out the worst in each other
Most couples do the opposite they bring out the worst in each other, because when things go wrong they use punishment and blame as the model.
My clients learn they are only qualified to judge themselves.
I know many have the mindset, So I have to be nice to them after all the s*@t they put me through, I’m not rewarding that bad behavior.
All that mindset creates is more disconnect and two people disconnected from themselves looking for freedom – from their suffering for many that means separation/divorce.
The problem is any form of punishment never ever works at best someone will submit to the demands of their partner with a side order of resentment.
Plus your changes are not about them at all, it’s about you reclaiming yourself to being an amazing partner for you not them.
These changes are your gift to yourself because it’s where your own happiness sits.
The route of blame so many take only hurts themselves and makes them powerless.
Punishment and revenge doesn’t help anyone least of all you. It’s like drinking the poison and hoping others will die.
Plus you can’t become a partner of influence if you are resentful, vengeful, looking to punish.
All this achieves is tearing a marriage apart and if you are looking for help then isn’t the help is supposed to make things better not join in to make one person feel awful so you both lose?
Yes, your partner will benefit from this change in you of course, but it’s about you learning how to positively triggering your partner to become a better happier partner too.
You can’t do that with punishment and blame.
We are looking for natural reciprocity by bringing out the best in them through you being the best in you.
You’ll need help to do all this of course as this understanding is a learnt life skill.
All you have to know is how positively change the destructive patterns into constructive patterns.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Getting the best out of life really is about becoming the change you want to see. All resentment and revenge brings is a mirror.