I feel so trapped, moaned Joan as she launched into a lengthy list of all the problems in her marriage. A list all-to-familiar. Joan had been coming for over a year. Once a month. To complain about her marriage.
Joan knew the options. Despite her cries for something different, she refused to take action. She was waiting. And stuck.
Joan isn’t alone. Many couples feel stuck. Disappointed in their marriage. Scared of divorce. Confused about how to get anything different.
Fearing how truly angry or disappointed their spouse might be, these couples often refuse to talk to each other. Refusal to talk means more distance. Less intimacy. Fading hope.
If this is you, you don’t have to stay stuck. Three steps can move you forward. Michael Hyatt, speaker, author, and founder of Platform University, offers these as across-the-board, sure-fire steps to move forward from any sticking point. They work even for couples stuck in a struggling marriage.
1. Focus on the hope not the outcome.
Many people refuse to talk to their spouse about the trouble or distance in their marriage because they fear the outcome. They’ve already played the conversation in their head a thousand times. They know, or think they know, what their spouse will say. And then, what they will do.
Rather than face the conversation, they keep silent.
The truth is you don’t know the outcome. You may have good insight. You may see real possibilities. But, rarely can you fully know what someone else will say or do.
Rather than focusing on the outcome, focus on the hope.
You want a better marriage. That’s a great place to begin. To begin visioning what better looks like. To begin examining what you can do to move toward better. To begin a conversation with your spouse that sounds something like, Honey, I want our marriage to bring us more joy. Do you?
Refusing to focus on an outcome opens the door to a variety of possibilities. Somewhere among those may lie the key to the marriage you want.
2. Do something different.
Couples get stuck in ruts. Routines. Patterns that harm intimacy.
Do something different. Anything. Well, anything that matches a definition of healthy marriage. No affairs. No spending sprees. No tirades. Honest, open, even heated discussion about the importance of making a change, yes. Destructive tirades, no.
Buy her flowers. Take him lunch. Write a note affirming her for something you appreciate. Help him with a house chore or work deadline. In short make an effort to reach out and connect in ways you haven’t.
Great resource The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. In his book, Chapman offers insights on how to convey your love for your spouse in ways that mean the most.
3. Do something now.
As you consider the possibilities for doing something different many ideas may emerge. Good.
Do it today.
“Clarity comes when you move toward your destination and correct along the way.” Michael Hyatt. You don’t have to know the whole plan for improving your marriage. Just start. As you pick something to move you toward the marriage you want, you can correct along the way to get there.
But, what if he/she does want out?
What if you start all this only to hear, “I do want out.”
Or, “I don’t want to change anything.”
Well, then, you know.
Rather than drifting along, you proactively make decisions. If your spouse wants out, you begin a process that helps you split in the least destructive ways. The more proactive you are in seeking help early, the better the outcome for everyone. You save money. You save the children. You save your options for a better life.
What if your spouse doesn’t want out, but doesn’t want a change? Knowing this opens the door for you to proactively decide your path. Will you stay in the marriage but seek more connection through excelling at work? Through visiting children? Through mentoring in a sports program? Choosing to stop waiting for a marriage that will never come has its own power.
Or, perhaps you say, “That’s not good enough.” You decide that you want a marriage that connects, that nurtures, and that brings joy. You are then in the position to do something different.
Is divorce the answer to a stuck marriage? Often, no. The answer is getting unstuck. At The Resolution Center we offer Marital Mediation (for a description, click here), to help clients move toward the marriage they want. We also help those who decide it’s time to move on. Call 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com for more information on either path and to set up a free consultation. We look forward to helping you get unstuck.