It has been years. As time has gone on, first the passion and then the friendship began to fade. Now you’re not sure what to do. There’s a part of you that wants save the marriage, while another part is simply tired and thinks that moving on is best.
The problem is, most often, a lack of connection. When you feel closer to your yoga instructor than you do your spouse, the problem isn’t that your spouse is evil; it’s that you’ve lost the connection.
Firstly, if you or your spouse is having an affair, it’s important to know that you might need counseling. That’s a scar that often doesn’t heal on its own.
Secondly, if there is no infidelity, just a lack of connection, you might be able to learn some of the skills that you need to have a great relationship.
I teach a four-step process that helps people connect more easily.
- Trust yourself – Everything that you do requires that you trust yourself enough to be successful. For example, if you decide to look for a new job, you need to have the confidence that you can get it. When it comes to reigniting your marriage, you need to start from a place where you realize that you can succeed. It won’t be easy; if your spouse has grown used to you being distant, your approach to them is going to feel a bit like an ambush.
- Read them – It’s important to read your spouse as you start this conversation. Pay attention to their body language and what they say. In fact, not just what they say, but how they say it. If they are being insincere, they might say that they love you a lot, but not mean it. You need to be prepared to call that out, gently, and wait for the ice to thaw. No matter what you do, try not to ascribe hostility to their tones or body language. In all likelihood, they’re as scared as you are.
- Understand- Ask for more clarity. Draw them out by asking lots of questions. One example of how this can be important is to consider this: What does your spouse do all day at work and who does he or she do it with? Work is a huge part of our lives, but often our spouses have not a clue as to what we do or who our co-workers are. Ask them about this important aspect of their lives. Chances are they would like to share their stresses. Rather than giving advice (ladies!) or looking for ways to fix problems (guys!), ask another question and another until they’ve said all they can on the subject.
- Let them know that you understand – You don’t need to be as overt as some TV therapist, “I hear what you’re saying, John, about how frustrating your department is.” In the real world, “That sucks” or “That would drive me nuts too” is really good! It important that they know that you hear what they’re saying and that you understand. This is doubt important when it’s your relationship they’re talking about. They might tell you that they are really angry with you. Take it in stride, let them know that you understand (say you’re sorry) and promise to work on a solution to the problem.
There are more skills to learn, but this is that basis of reigniting the relationship that leads the two of you to get married. It’s all about actively listening and engaging in your conversation. Don’t just sit and nod. Ask questions that are timely and relevant.
It might be helpful to let them know that you are recommitting to fixing your marriage, especially if they’ve been trying and you’ve been resistant. You might get, “I’ve been trying and I’m not going to try anymore.” Your response to this is simply, “That’s cool. I will come all the way over to you. You don’t need to do anything, but let me try and talk to me.”
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to have a three or four-sided relationship. Bringing in friends, parents, siblings, or anyone else is a bad idea. Your mom is going to side with you, every time. The advice you get from her will be skewed to protecting you. Your spouse is going to know that.
Use your intuition to guide you. Gentlemen, you have intuition too. It’s not just a women’s thing. Intuition is that little voice that tells you to turn right when there don’t seem to be any signs. Listen to that voice. The more you listen to it, the more reliable it becomes. Intuition is the part of your subconscious mind that sees all of the stuff that you don’t and has already figured out what to do. It’s a good thing.
At the very heart of using connection skills to save your marriage is a commitment to succeeding. There is no way to do it half-heartedly. If you’re just going through the motions, you’ve already lost.
Patience is a virtue in the type of effort. Take your time and make sure that you follow your intuition and your heart. The damage that a relationship can suffer from neglect is massive. It won’t get fixed overnight.
Rebuild your connection to each other and you can rebuild your marriage.