Dr. Howard Chusid
Nobody gets married thinking they are going to want a divorce later. Yet many married couples end up considering a split, and the rate of divorce has more than doubled in 40 years.
But just because you’re thinking about divorce, doesn’t mean it’s an inevitable conclusion. How can you tell if you should call it quits or if your marriage can be saved?
Sometimes a marriage can come back from the brink of divorce. But only if both spouses are willing to put in the sweat, tears and time that it will take to repair any damage and reach a resolution. If only one spouse is willing to make changes and compromise and the other spouse shows no commitment to working on the marriage, there is nothing that can be saved. Marriage counseling has been helpful to millions and saved countless unions, but both partners need to be on board for it to be productive and work.
If your spouse is unwilling to see a counselor or seek assistance, there are a few things you can do by yourself to save your marriage and avoid divorce.
Naturally, whether or not a marriage can be redeemed depends on the conflict between the husband and wife and/or the reasons why it is failing. But as with most things, there are some common threads:
- No Pressure, Now. Almost always, a common thread exists in spouses who split: unmet expectations. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you set unrealistic expectations of your partner and even of yourself. They don’t call it the honeymoon stage for nothing. As a marriage matures, so do people. Things change and personalities evolve. There will be good times and bad times, and sickness and health. You should be able to weather the storm, if you are not “married” to your expectations, are able to grow together, and are willing to compromise.
- Communication is Key. A wise man once said marriage is one part commitment and three parts communication skills. This means more than the ability to speak. Most important in a marriage is the ability to listen and to understand your spouse’s point of view on issues even when you disagree with or, worse, dislike their perspective. “Good communication in a marriage means being able to not only speak the truth but hear the truth, which can be more difficult to do,” said Mediator and Counselor Dr. Howard Chusid. “If a marriage is going to be saved, both partners must feel safe to freely say whatever they feel they must say, without the fear that it will be held against them. It is not okay to become verbally abusive of your spouse, but there does have to be a way to discuss negative feelings without the fear of repercussion or rejection.”
- Learn To Compromise. If you really want to save your marriage, that means that your spouse is still important to you. So it should be easy to make adjustments and compromises to keep the peace. “This is usually harder than it sounds,” says Dr. Chusid, “People instinctively find a need to defend themselves – their positions, their answers, their values – when confronted with an opposing view or thought. But think about it this way: is it more important to be right about where the remote garage door opener was or is it more important to save your marriage? Sometimes you have to learn to let things go.”
- Stand by Me. Conversely, you must know when to hang on. A marriage is probably the most important commitment one makes in life, and that means that you don’t run for the woods at the first sign of trouble. Or the second. Or even the third.
But you probably know that last one. Because here you are, reading an article on how to save your marriage.
If you are both committed to making it work, willing to compromise, able to adjust your expectations, and if you can each promise to speak freely and really, truly listen to what your spouse has to say, your marriage just might make it.
Dr. Howard Chusid is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Counselor, Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Circuit Civil Mediator, Appellate Mediator, Elder Care Mediator, and Parenting Coordinator.
The Helping Place, LLC 954-455-0388