She told him the marriage was over, she had lost all feelings for him. He knew there were problems, but was totally shocked at her sudden desire to want to end the marriage.
They had a child together, and were torn with what to do; they sought help. She was convinced the marriage was over, but driven by guilt she felt she owed it to her son to try one last time. Her efforts, however, seemed half-hearted as she shifted between, resigned, cold and sad almost at the same time.
He came to me on his own initially, he wanted the very best service I could offer to help them. He didn’t believe the marriage was over and he told me he would throw all he could at saving his family.
I explained to him that I do run intensive programs for Marriages in Crisis.
I evaluated the couple before I decided to invite them in. I knew he was committed, but I had to be convinced that she wanted to discover what had happened to them.
I believed even though she thought the marriage was over I felt she still loved him, but couldn’t work out how they could live together, so had detached from him to protect herself.
Their son was also being affected by their problems and was having problems at school. The couple were shocked to discover how much their son was being affected.
I told them I was happy for them to enter my Marriage Program, but the focus was on the understanding that we were not just trying to fix a broken marriage.
The goal was to discover if the marriage could work long-term? This meant both people happy not one happy at the cost of the other.
I was aware of her concerns that any changes would be a short-term act on his part due to his passion to save the marriage at all cost. She was also concerned that even if I did get them back together, what would stop their problems from happening all over again.
Her biggest block was that her feelings had gone for her husband and she didn’t feel she loved him anymore. She was crystal clear that she would not live in a loveless marriage – I totally agreed.
Respecting both peoples emotional position I started gathering information, specifically looking for the key to how did two people who fell in love become successful at destroyed their marriage.
We discovered that both people had very little understanding of each other core needs and what had to happen for them to be happy.
So they had made assumptions, guesses at how to help each other to be happy. This resulted in many failures and disappointments.
They had quickly created fear in each other which resulted in arguments that went around in circles both blaming the other.
She quickly realised that if she argued or complained at him he would just become more aggressive. So she stopped, not because she was happy again, but because when she was honest about how she felt he attacked her.
He assumed she was happier now the world was calmer, the reality was she was shutting down and her feelings for him were dying.
He felt she had become someone that was negative and impossible to please to someone who was now calmer if not slightly distant.
This was better for him than the arguments, what he hadn’t realised was she had given up on him because she knew she had to protect herself.
This shift in her had two effects, she stopped her feelings and expectations of him, but she also became depressed.
She no longer felt herself, and he just threw himself into his work.
The marriage was no longer meeting the couple’s needs, and she had lost all faith in a happy future with him.
The trust had died in both of them and without trust, the relationship can’t function.
We discovered she had trust challenges from her past, and he feared rejection and reacted badly to it.
Over the next 90 days, the couple visited me weekly to learn why their relationship had stopped working, and each week they were given new levels of understanding and tools, they could use and practice which would make a significant difference to how they felt about each other and the relationship.
Over the weeks, the stress started to reduce, and the couple started to understand each other differently.
They discovered each other’s strengths and used those to support each other and encourage their partner when they struggled.
They learnt why they had lost their intimacy and what had to happen for it to return.
They learnt how they had, over time turned into different versions of themselves and fear was driving their behaviours.
They learnt how to grow through their conflict through honesty, and patience. A simple shift in understanding what was really happening when they fought helped them support each other.
They also learnt how to plan their future and how to maintain their marriage through daily, weekly, and monthly practices.
They both also discovered the myths that surround relationships and how destructive those myths can be.
The shift in focus was significant and kept this family together. More importantly, this couple now has the tools needed to help their son avoid the problems they faced.
I hope that if you are experiencing challenges, you can see that no matter how bad it seems, with the right resources and focus, many marriages can be saved from divorce.