To Save Your Marriage
To Save Your Marriage
By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
Michelle Weiner-Davis, a marital therapist in Chicago, doesn’t like divorce.
Her own parents divorced when she was child, which had a traumatic effect upon
her, so she has devoted her professional career to preventing divorce if possible.
In her latest book, “The Divorce Remedy” (Simon and Schuster, 2001),
Weiner-Davis lays out a step by step plan by which an individual can attempt
to save her marriage that is on the brink of divorce.
One of the assumptions that Weiner-Davis makes,
which I have found to be true, is divorce often creates more problems than it
solves. At times, it is easier to fix up a failing marriage than to go through
the pain of a divorce, single parenthood, and remarriage that often follows
people who divorce.
The first thing Weiner-Davis recommends is that
a person trying to save his marriage giveS up some basic assumptions. One assumption
is that it takes two to save the marriage, whereas she believes that a person
can do so by himself. A second erroneous assumption is that conflict and anger
means a marriage has failed. On the contrary, all marriages will have conflict.
A third erroneous assumption is that people need to have common interests, tastes
and backgrounds to have a happy marriage. Research shows this not to be the
case. A fourth erroneous assumption is that love is a feeling. Love is a commitment,
a decision. The feelings of love will wax and wan but as long as the commitment
is made, the marriage will be stable. Another erroneous assumption is that second
marriages are always happier. In fact, the divorce rate is higher for second
marriages. Finally, the assumption that insight is needed for change is also
erroneous. Weiner-Davis is a pure behaviorist who does not see insight as necessary
to bring about change.
If you want to try to save your marriage that may
be on the brink of divorce, the first thing you need to do is decide what you
want. Specify two or three changes only that you would like your spouse to make
in the marriage. The changes should be small and positively put. In other words,
there is a difference between saying to your spouse, “I don’t want
you to ignore me so often” versus, “I would like us to spend more
In doing this, focus on goals in the future, not
complaints in the past. Bringing up the past is not productive whereas focusing
on the future can be.
Having decided what you want, simply ask for it
then monitor the results and reinforce any change that your spouse makes.
Weiner-Davis has some interesting ideas which may
seem somewhat radical to save a failing marriage. One is to act as if the marriage
is going well. Another is to communicate with your spouse through letters, emails,
or cards. When writing what you want from your spouse you can be much clearer
and calmer than when talking directly to her. Sometimes the best thing to do
to or save a marriage is to do nothing, especially if you have been co-dependent
and controlling of your spouse. At other times, reverse your behavior 180 degrees
and do the opposite of what you have been doing. For example, if you have been
pursuing or nagging your spouse, back off and leave him alone.
As a last resort, stop chasing your spouse. Pressure
on a spouse who is on the verge of a divorce is counter-productive. Find a life
for yourself and wait and watch to see what happens.
In effect, Weiner-Davis’ advice to those
of you who want to save your marriage, even if your spouse is not willing to
work on it, is to quit doing things that are not effective and to start doing
things that may be effective. Try something - anything - new to improve your
marriage and reinforce any positive results.
Her book, “The Divorce Remedy,” can
be found at the Lewis and Clark Library for those of you who may want to read
About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist
with Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a
Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available
directly from Selfhelpbooks.com.
Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com, all rights reserved.
This article may be reprinted but must include authors copyright and website
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