How to SAVE Your Relationship -- Part 2

Want to Save Your Closest Relationship?

Try This...

Learn that YOUR happiness is YOUR job. So many of the couples we meet truly long for happiness but inevitably they believe and speak these ten fatal words about their partner: "If only they would change, then I could be happy."

Want to REALLY save your marriage and change your life? Stop putting your happiness in the hands of another person. When you believe that your happiness is based upon your partner's changing, you become a victim. Once you place your happiness and contentment outside of your own control you have assumed a powerless position.

It can be very hard to accept that you can really only change yourself. However, there is a fascinating freedom that accompanies people who have stopped trying to change others and choose rather to just accept and enjoy the people around them and work, instead, on changing themselves. Begin to move away from expecting others to "do" the right behaviors in order for you to be happy. Here's the context, it really is possible for you to be happy even if your spouse never changes.

However, to accept others without expecting them to change does not mean you have to tolerate unacceptable behavior. All forms of abuse, violence, illegal activity, neglect, unfaithfulness, addictions and disrespect can and should be addressed within your marriage. Seek the help of trusted friends, clergy, therapists and/or legal counsel to help you determine your next steps.


    If you want to wreck your marriage, withdraw from your family and withhold yourself from these relationships. Be at home, but don't engage the people you live with. Keep them at arm's length. If you do engage with them, do as little as possible. Be just a roommate, and an inconsiderate one at that.

If you regularly block out or ignore your family because of over-working, TV, cell phones, video games, computer time, hobbies, addictions and obsessions, you can kiss your marriage good-bye. Seriously! And this is an all too common problem for the tech saturated world we live in. We know one marriage therapist who wisely says: 

"The role of a husband and wife is not only to protect and provide but to be present, to participate, and to offer partnership to the other."

Ultimately, you should save your best for those you love the most.

2. View and Treat Your Partner With a Spirit of CONTEMPT

This marriage wrecker is alive and active when you hear a spouse say, "I love my husband/wife, I just don't like them." This is what happens when negativity goes unchecked. Intimate partners on the verge of a train wreck often:

  • Speak disrespectfully to and about one another

  • Insult each other

  • Make faces or roll their eyes as the other speaks

  • Call names

  • Use biting sarcasm

  • Physically, emotionally or sexually abuse the other (remember that neglect is also form of abuse)

  • Focus mostly on the negative

To make things worse, very few people outside the home know this is going on. This is called a shame-based relationship.Many very upstanding people are known and loved by their community and co-workers but treat their spouse and family like dirt. Want to know if you are a shame-based person?

  • Do you make a point to keep up appearances so no one will know the truth about your family?

  • Ask yourself if you treat the neighbors, your co-workers and friends better than you treat your spouse?

  • Better yet, ask your spouse!

  • Doesn't it seem reasonable that no one should treat your husband or wife better than you do?

Next time, in How to SAVE Your Marriage -- Part 3: If you ignore this essential but elusive part of yourself, you may end up wrecking your relationships. Hint: It's not what you think!

About the Author: Cindy Finch, LCSW is a clinical therapist, writer and professor who trained at Mayo Clinic. She works closely with those in the margins and is a survivor of an undiagnosed disease that turned out to be cancer while she was pregnant. Treatments for her cancer led to heart, liver and lung failure which she survived. She now lives in Orange County, CA and enjoys her life with her husband Darin and their three children. Along with other young survivors, her story is a part of a new documentary film called Vincible. You can read more about Cindy here.

The information provided in this column should not be used for diagnosing or treating a physical or mental health problem, disease, or condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical or psychological problem, please consult your medical doctor or psychologist or appropriate health care provider. If you think you have a medical or psychological emergency, call 911 immediately.

Copyright Cindy Finch 2019

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