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 —Married 12 years, age 38, New York


Marriage Guidance to Building
Trust Can Save Your Marriage

By Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.

Have you had this scenario in your marriage? Your spouse gives you an important package to mail and is relying on you to drop it in the mail during the day.

But instead you slip up and forget all about mailing the package until you're about to walk in your front door. "Oh #@$!!" is your first thought. You know your spouse will become unglued.

You frantically look in the car and in your briefcase for the package, but it's not there. It ’s nowhere to be found.

Now what are you going to do? What do you tell your mate when you walk in the door and she (or he) asks if you mailed the package?

Would you say, "I lost it" or would you say, "It got lost”? Your honest answer to this question provides insight into how willing you are in accepting responsibility for your behavior.

Take Responsibility to Save Your Marriage

And when a spouse doesn’t take ownership of his or her behavior, marriage problems become more likely as trust in the relationship declines. In fact couples who seek expert marriage guidance often report that a lack of trust is one of the biggest issues that for which they need marriage advice.

As long as you don’t take responsibility for what you do or you search for reasons to deny that you made a mistake, you are not being truthful with yourself. In contrast, when you can accept responsibility and stop blaming and rationalizing, then you can begin to see what you can change in your own behavior that will give you different results the next time.

This is easier said than done. Especially if you habitually place blame elsewhere. It takes courage to accept responsibility in a marriage, above all when you are at fault. But if you have allowed your relationship to slip, this may be

John, a chronic procrastinator, usually had a slew of reasons why he couldn’t get around to doing maintenance chores around the house. It was too hot or too cold, or he didn't have enough time or the right tools, or he was too tired. He would typically promise to get around to the chores tomorrow. John’s evasions made his wife Mary resentful, but at first she bit her tongue rather than confront him over his frequent excuses.

It wasn't until Mary told him that she was unfulfilled in their relationship and wanted a marriage separation, giving John’s chronic evasion of responsibility as one of the reasons, that John finally looked closely at how his procrastination had created an unhappy marriage and a marriage crisis.

He began to consider what he would need to do to win back his wife .

How Marriage Guidance Can Help

After he agreed to go to marriage counseling, John finally realized that taking responsibility for his part of the events of each day offered him chance to save his marriage. He also learned to be more aware of the words he used in describing his behavior.

John realized that when he said, "I didn’t have time to fix the door," he usually really meant, "I didn't budget enough time to finish the job today." And if he was even more honest, he also was thinking, "I'm putting this off because I don't really want to take the time to do it."

Once John became more aware of his behavior and thinking patterns, he was able to talk honestly with Mary. He admitted that while he really didn't mind doing some of the jobs around the house, he didn't want to take the time that the other repair jobs would require.

John and Mary discussed possible solutions and finally decided to hire a repairman to do the work John knew he would probably never end up doing. He promised not to say he would do something unless he really planned to do it. He also made a conscious decision to honestly share his preferences with Mary upfront rather than procrastinating for months.

Marriage Guidance Was The Key to Save Marriage

Making these changes made a huge difference in John and Mary’s marriage. Mary didn't feel like she was nagging John any longer, and John stopped misleading her by making promises that he didn’t keep.

The result was that Mary felt less inclined to push for marriage separation. They still had work to do on their relationship, but at least now they could see a path to more satisfaction in their marriage. It became easier to focus on what was good in each other and enjoy more happiness and harmony in being together.

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Copyright © Nancy Wasson.  All rights reserved.  Nancy Wasson is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" This is available at http://www.KeepYourMarriage.com, where you can also sign up for the free weekly Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine to get help with your marriage problems.

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