Your marriage is either struggling mightily, or it’s experiencing the dark season of an affair. You are distraught, wondering if your marriage can survive the damage, and your thoughts remain on the question of ‘how to save my marriage’.
It’s easy to get caught in a vortex of negativity. After all, you are experiencing what is probably one of the most negative time frames of your life – it’s normal to see your relationship and your life through a very dark lens at this time.
But doing so may lead you, and your spouse, to ask the wrong question about your marriage – and this could derail your marriage-saving efforts. In this blog, we’ll look at the wrong, and the right, question – and three steps to help get your marriage back on track. Keep reading…
Marriage Crisis and the Wrong Question
Call it cultural conditioning, or just the way the human brain works: we tend to look at our lives and ask “what’s wrong” that needs to be fixed.
Think about advertising: we hear and see that they’re may be something wrong with our hair, our car, our decorating and paint choices… and the perfect solution can be had with this product, this service, etc.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with fixing what’s wrong. As humans, we strive to create an ever-more perfect image of ourselves and our lives.
But take a marriage in crisis. Your spouse may have cheated on you, or you’ve grown apart in recent years, and you rehash every failure to communicate, every missed opportunity, and every disappointment. You may have asked yourself a hundred times, “What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we get things right?”
Again, there’s nothing wrong with looking for weak areas that could stand much attention and improvement in your life, especially in a failing marriage.
However, focusing on what’s wrong gives you a very shaky foundation for rebuilding your marriage. For one thing, even once you successfully pinpoint the areas that are ‘wrong,’ it’s going to take time to heal the damage, make positive changes and repair your relationship. If you’re not careful, focusing exclusively on “what’s wrong” in your marriage can get you stuck in a rut.
So how do you avoid the negativity rut as you answer for yourself that nagging question ‘how to save my marriage’?
The Key Ingredient to Marriage Repair
New studies in marriage science have uncovered what happy couples do differently than those who divorce.
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Marriage Crisis and the Right Question
It may be obvious by this point, but the right question to ask about your marriage is, “What’s right with our relationship?”
This doesn’t mean you should stick your head in the sand and not acknowledge that there are areas for improvement. But once you’ve honed in on what those problems are and have set up strategies for setting those wrongs to right, you also need to focus on the positives in your relationship.
When you focus on the positive aspects of your marriage, you can begin to feel a foundation beneath you where there was once shaky ground. That’s what negative thinking does: induces an anxious state, where there are more questions than answers, nothing is a given, and you don’t know what to count on. The world becomes an unsure place, because the negative is always there and ready to rip the rug out from under you.
But by looking for the positive in your relationship, you’ll discover those qualities and elements that are solid and not as likely to change significantly.
For example, you may realize a few good things you’ve taken for granted in recent memory:
- the fact that you both have the same quirky sense of humor
- he/she is the only person who knows your deepest fear – because you felt safe enough with him/her to share it
- you both enjoy the same activities – and doing them together
When the ship of your marriage has run aground for a variety of reasons, from benign neglect to severe communication and trust issues, how easy is it to forget what once drew you and your spouse together?
Looking for the positive in your relationship, while in the midst of crisis mode, will be a challenge at first. It’s difficult to break free from a negativity rut, especially if you’re dealing with the post-traumatic stress of an affair when your emotions are reeling and your thoughts are obsessive.
To help you climb out of the negativity rut, try these three steps:
Step #1: Travel Down Memory Lane
You may be struggling through a very difficult period right now, but beneath the pain of today there are surely happy memories of times you and your spouse have shared.
Take time to sit and get in touch with those memories again. Look at mementos from trips, pictures and cards you’ve exchanged. These signify happy times, and show that you both have the capability of being happy in the marriage.
Step #2: Write Out Your Spouse’s – and Marriage’s – Qualities
As a relationship progresses and problems crop up, we can begin to forget all of the qualities that our spouse possesses that once attracted us to them. So, make a list of things that you appreciate about your spouse.
If you’re dealing with a cheating spouse, this may prove to be a very great challenge to think of anything positive about your spouse who has caused you so much pain. But, if you know you’re interested in salvaging your marriage, it’s a place to start.
Another way of doing it is to make a list of the positive qualities of your marriage, similar to what we’ve looked at: what makes you unique as a couple? How do you interact? What similarities do you have?
Step #3: Challenge your thoughts
A negativity rut is simply a loop of thoughts. You are in control of your thoughts, and are highly capable of taking what has become a habit and making a change. The next time you hear your inner dialogue say, “What is wrong with us?” step in and ask, “And what is right with us?”
Do this each time you find yourself drawn to focusing on a negative: just challenge the thought with something positive, drawn from your list of qualities about your spouse and your marriage.
My best to you and your spouse as escape the negativity rut and save your marriage.
Have you been caught in a negativity loop about your marriage?
Is it a challenge for you to think about any of the good in your spouse and in your marriage?
What impact have your thoughts had on your ability to move forward and feel positive about your marriage?
Please share your ideas and personal experiences with other members of the community.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,
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