How Can Save My Marriage

This question comes up a lot. It's easy advice to give, but hard advice to receive. I can give you some general thoughts.

  • Obviously, I don't know your personal circumstances, so I can only speak in generalities.

    Let me say first, while I still have your attention, that my book My Husband and I Argue All the Time offers lots of insights into marriage that go beyond just listening better and going out for romantic dinners. .

    There is a profound aspect to humans--we are more than just physical forms, we also have a soul. And the coming together of two humans is a big thing. For one thing, humans are very sensitive creatures. Another thing: people have a history and bring baggage into the marriage.

    Finally, there is something between men and women that began back in the Garden of Eden. Since we are all humans, none of us escape the legacy of Adam and Eve. Marriage is thus a setting in which to work out our differences, learn to be unselfish, and discover the meaning of life.

    There is no way I can even scratch the surface in one blog, let alone one book. But I must say that my book offers some very helpful clues. Plus it is a good read! Let me address myself first to relatively newly weds (people who have been married for less than 5 to 10 year).

    You have been married long enough to discover that every marriage has issues that arise. It's not so much the disagreements, the fights over money, or the jousting for control. It's not so much the differences in goals or viewpoints.

    What is key is first of all: sooner or later every person discovers that s/he is selfish. We discover that we want our needs met and that we become resentful when our needs are not met.

    We also discover that thoughts of escaping, divorcing, separating, or starting anew come to mind. These thoughts either come up through our negative emotions from who knows where, or they come to us from so-called friends, the media, the movies, our peers, and the so-called experts.

    Understand this: most people will cater to your ego (which they will do because they want something from you). And most people will cater to your partner's ego.

    If they are your friends, they want your approval and don't want to offend. Others are supportive because they think they are being nice and good indoing so. Others are supportive because they want you to justify or purchase their services). They will tell you what you want to hear. More often than not, nowadays, what they say favors breaking up or "finding yourself."

    Gone is the match maker, the wise aunt, or the elderly respected lady of the neighborhood who offers good advice and tells you to stay married.

    Nowadays, you and your partner are on your own, or you are at the mercy of peers (who are just as lost as you are), vacant media types who don't have a clue, or so-called experts (whose own lives are often a mess). Then only exception are those who are involved in a church, where there is ongoing support for married people and help available when a marriage is in trouble.

    But many people don't want to got to people in the church because we don't want them to know. So we keep our marriage difficulties secret.

    One nice lady resented her husband after 15 years of marriage. This lady went to a counselor (who was fresh out of graduate school and probably wasn't even married herself), who told her to divorce. The lady divorced her husband, ruined her life, ended up in poverty, and her health fell apart.

    • She lost everything. Incidentally I happen to know that her husband did not drink, take drugs, gamble, or womanize. He had a very successful business and was home every night. The kids were honor students and had no big issues. ...

    • Let me tell you that nothing but misery and suffering were the result of the divorce. No, I'm not saying that if your spouse is violent, a drug user, a multiple offender criminal or adulterer that you have to stay with him or her.

    • Of course not. But I am suggesting that if your spouse is basically decent, it might be a good idea to stand back and count to 10 before contemplating a divorce.

    But like I said, advice from strangers is from people who don't have to suffer the consequences if you follow their advice. Strangers may or may not really know what they are doing, and they may and probably are not blessed with understanding and wisdom.

    For starters, here is what I say. First of all, I am in favor of people staying together (as long as there is no violence, drug use, abuse and so on). I am in favor of two basically good people working it out. I know it can be done. I know also that for those who do stick it out, who do "suffer" for a while, who set aside their needs and stay together for the kids, and who continue to grow and mature--there are great rewards.

    I'm sure you've heard the old expression that nothing comes easy in life. Well, marriage doesn't come easy either. Why? Because we are all selfish. We just are. And then there is another complicating factor--the worst of all--resentment. We start to resent our partner. This is not good.

    So, look at your own selfishness. Just see it and admit it. Then see that you are (unless you are a saint!) resenting your partner. See it and learn to stand back and watch the resentment without indulging it. If you need some help with this, I have a meditation that shows you how to stand back and see the big picture.

    I can tell you that you can learn to let go of resentment. And when you do--there are many positive benefits.

    If you are resentful, it means that you are being stressed by unforgiveness. And the stress has consquences--it has effects on our mental health, our state of being, and our body. Remember, it's not so much what happens to us, but how we react to it. If there was one piece of advice I could give you it would be: Be more forgiving. Let go of resentment.

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