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What to Throw Overboard
When Your Marriage Is In Trouble
by Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.
When you're facing a marriage crisis and you’re fighting to keep from sliding into a marital separation, it’s time to throw anything that isn’t helping you
overboard. You need all your wits about you to be able to tackle the marriage problems and stop divorce. Anything that’s an impediment or
hindrance has to go.
During this time of confusion and stress, you only have a limited amount
of energy and time, and you have to put those resources where they count
the most. You don’t have time or energy to waste if you’re going to be
successful in saving your marriage.
What do you need to consider throwing overboard? The following eight
recommendations can help you to decide what to let go:
- Release your need to be “right.” If you’re intent on winning
arguments or proving that your partner is wrong, you are hurting your
chances of creating a win-win situation in your marriage for you and
your spouse. Does it really matter in the long run who’s “right” or
“wrong”? Or is it more important to create a harmonious marriage where
the opinions of both partners are respected?
- Let go of worrying about what others think or say. No marriage is
perfect, and if others find out or suspect that you’re having marital problems,
don’t let that concern you. If they stay married long enough, they’ll
eventually encounter problems also, if they haven’t already. There’s a
wonderful saying that I find helpful, “What you think of me is none of
- Give up preconceived notions of how you should react in certain
situations. Maybe you’ve always said that if your partner had an affair,
you’d end the marriage. But each situation is different, and there’s not
an across-the-board answer that fits every case. You’ll want to look
carefully at your particular situation and the extenuating circumstances
and then make a careful decision that’s right for you.
- Throw out your demands to be in control. Life has a way of
effectively teaching that you can protest all you want, but many things
are out of your control and always will be. You can’t control what your
spouse chooses to do or if others criticize what you do to save your
marriage. You can only control your own decisions and actions.
- Toss out the temptation to tell others all of the juicy details of
what’s happening or how your spouse has “done you wrong.” Be discrete in
who you talk to and in what you say. Later, if you stay married, it may
be difficult for family and friends to feel comfortable around the two
of you if you’ve painted your partner as a “louse.” You can let others
know that you’re going through a hard time and need their support
without divulging every detail.
- Release your need to handle everything on your own without outside
help. It just makes good sense to use resources that are available, such
as marriage counseling. The objectivity and experience of a professional
marriage guidance expert can help you to explore your options and make a wise decision
that’s right for you and your marriage. And everything will be kept
private and confidential.
- Let go of trying to make everything okay for everyone else. It’s not
possible to please everyone, so that’s a losing battle. You can’t
pretend you’re not facing a marriage separation just so your parents don’t get
upset, and you can’t pretend everything is okay just so you don’t hurt
your spouse. Sometimes the chips just have to fall where they fall and
that’s it. Everyone else has to cope with it and adjust.
- Give up the need to have others agree with your decision. It’s
certainly easier when others agree, but it’s not necessary. Just because
your best friend urges you to divorce due to your spouse’s affair, that
doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the best decision for you. It’s your
life, and you have to live with the consequences of your decisions and
actions, so be sure that whatever you choose to do is what you really
Facing a marriage crisis can actually be an opportunity to learn and
grow from the experience. Making lemonade from lemons starts with your
willingness to change.
* * * * *
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