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marriage problems… I can't thank you enough for all of
—Married 12 years, age 38, New York
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
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
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
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
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
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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