Do You Know the Signs Your Marriage Is Over–And When it Is Not?
By far, the the bigger mistake people mistake is thinking that their marriage is over when it is not. This is a false conclusion which comes from not knowing what to try next
For every person who works with me to save their marriage, there are many others who have given up in the very same situation. Too many people think that when their spouse has given up, the marriage is over. So, they try to convince their spouse to give it another try, and when they can’t, they give up. For me, this makes no more sense than giving up on dating someone because they don’t want to marry you the first time you introduce yourself. If your marriage has been badly damaged, then your spouse is not going to be motivated to re-commit to you or work on the relationship. You have to work to do in terms or re-attracting, just as a single person would in terms of attracting. That work has nothing to do with convincing, pleading, and arguing, which are all needy behaviors that will push your spouse further away.
Your marriage is over if…
1 Your spouse will no longer have any contact with you
You can’t build something from nothing. I have helped many people to rebuild from just small amounts of contact like what you might have while communicating about the children or even when your spouse is visiting the dog. New relationships often start that way and old relationships can be re-kindled that way if you don’t get in a hurry to push your agenda onto your spouse. Less contact means longer to reconcile–it doesn’t mean reconciling is impossible.
2 Your spouse is committed to someone else
Many people confuse dating with commitment. If dating equaled commitment, then every time someone had a date, they would end up married to the other person. Most boyfriends and girlfriends are not in committed relationships, no matter how much in love they feel. Most affair partners do NOT become that person’s spouse. If your spouse is having an affair, it does NOT mean your relationship is over. However, if your spouse is divorcing you in order to marry the affair partner, or they are living together, or they are having a baby together, then it is time for you to end the marriage.
Don’t think your marriage is over…
Just because he or she says it is
Decisions about relationships are based on emotion and not reason. When someone is in love, they don’t believe that their relationship will ever end. When they are not in love, they don’t believe they will ever be in love with the other person again. Trying to convince someone to feel something they don’t doesn’t work because feelings don’t work that way. However, just as your spouse initially fell in love with you, it can happen again. The difference is the speed at which it happens. A one-step convincing approach will fail, where a multi-step re-attraction method will succeed.
Just because he or she stops wearing a wedding ring
If your spouse says your marriage is over, it is natural for your spouse to stop wearing his or her ring. That is consistent. You may consider also taking off your wedding ring at this time, as it may help your spouse to relax with you (a necessary first step to reconciling). Until your relationship is rebuilt, your spouse is not going to want to reconcile with you. You need to stop thinking that your spouse has to reconcile before you rebuild. That is like a single person thinking that the other person has to want to marry before they can begin dating. If you take that approach, it is just not going to happen. Not because it can’t, but just because things don’t work that way.
All relationships are built and rebuilt the same way
All relationships go through the four stages of comfort, connection, romance, and intimacy. Commitment may or may not follow. In a new relationship, these four stages are often achieved quickly. With a new relationship there is no negative baggage to deal with (implicit trust). New relationships are also more exciting. To reconcile, the same four stages are involved, but trust has to be rebuilt before your spouse can feel comfortable with you again. Then, connection has to be built. After that you will have some opportunities for uncommitted friendship, followed by romance, and intimacy. Have realistic expectations that it will take longer than when you first met.
Re-attracting and re-building take more time than with new relationships
This takes much longer than new relationships but is the same progression. People who give up on their relationships generally try to skip to connection before trust has been restored, and so get continual rejection. In coaching, my clients learn to help their spouses to relax with no further efforts to build the relationship until this is achieved. This is the most important thing you can do if you want to reconcile with your spouse. Emotional intimacy always comes before physical intimacy. Take your time time to build emotional intimacy and the physical intimacy will be easy.
Stop thinking that your spouse has to want to reconcile from the outset
This thinking throws many people off. This idea has unfortunately been perpetuated by marriage counselors. Marriage counselors will say that there is no way to reconcile a marriage unless both people want to work on it. As a licensed psychologist and previous marriage counselor myself, I know this very well. I was trained the same way. But it is not true. For this reason, I recommend you not try to get your spouse to go to marriage counseling unless he or she really does want to work on it collaboratively. Until then, you need to learn how to help your spouse to relax, trust, and be attracted to you again. That is work that you do. It is not something that you talk your spouse into doing.
A word of warning to stop you from thinking your marriage is over
Many books written to supposedly help you rebuild your relationship will have you take an all loving approach. Some coaches will also sell this idea to you. The idea is that by consistently showing love to your spouse on a daily basis, his or her heart will be won back to you. This idea sells books and sessions, but it doesn’t reconcile relationships.
Being overly loving at this time can make you give up
When your spouse is no longer in love with you, he or she will reject your all loving approach and most likely cut off contact with you. He or she will tell you that they are being smothered and stressed out by your behavior. And, because you have been duped into believing this approach works, you will feel hopeless when it doesn’t. Just keep this simple truth in mind–you can’t turn someone on by stressing them out. Help your spouse relax first and then reconnect using good connection skills, while also using good boundaries to build respect. That is your winning formula. For more than 20 years, I have been helping men and women to improve their marriages, even when their spouse did not want to. Believe me, you can do that too!