Today we are going to hear from Sally who has been feeling rather hopeless these days. She has been married for eleven years and is now seriously questioning whether her marriage is worth saving.
Being involved in a long term marriage and feeling hopeless and questioning whether your relationship is worth saving can be emotionally debilitating.
You spend many years cultivating what you think is going to be a lifelong commitment to a man you fell in love with. But as the years go by, instead of the love between the two of you growing and blossoming, what if you find your marriage filled with a continuous series of heartaches and disappointments?
Does this kind of life sound familiar to you?
Can Your Hopeless Marriage Be Saved?
Is there some way you and your husband can put things back together?
At the time of this writing you may feel desperately at loss as to what else you can do. You may have tried everything to turn the relationship around. You may have sought out counseling in the spirit of getting your hopeless marriage restored. Perhaps you and your husband have had hundreds of heart to hearts over the years.
So what are you to do if you have invested your heart and soul to make your marriage work, yet you look over the years and realize the two of you have essentially gotten nowhere?
And now you have reach a point after years of trying to making the marriage salvageable that you are ready to throw in the towel. You might even wake up almost every morning wondering when is a marriage really over and whether you should continue to invest in this man who you once found irresistable.
You might even turn to the Lord to help you through these troubled times in the form of a restoring marriage prayer, but to no avail.
You may have even tried meditation as you sought relief and even turned to fasting for marriage reconciliation (note: Honestly, I am not quite sure how that works, but it has to do with you both committing to and experiencing something difficult to inspire you to join closer together)
But despite all your best efforts, it just seems impossible for the marriage to be restored to those earlier years when things were almost always more light-hearted and conversation was easy and free-flowing.
As you think about the many years you and your husband have been joined together, you can’t help but hold on to a thread of hope that there must be some way to solve the puzzle of how to restore your marriage and fall in love again.
You may have even heard of testimonies from people who have restored their marriages after adultery and that has given you hope.
The Story of One Women’s Marital Woes
You see, that is what happened to Sally.
She has been having a rough time of it.
For years, her marriage has deteriorated for all the common reasons like lack of communications, increased conflict, and a poor sexual connection.
Sally was also disturbed by her husband’s unwillingness to make her feel loved, valued and important. There was little time spent together or talking about shared values and interests.
The years seemed to have just ticked on by and he acted like he had either tired of her or just did not want to invest any of his time with her.
He had gotten all wrapped up into his work and his other commitments and now it seemed like she was living with a ghost of the man she once met.
Are You Married To A Man Who Treats You As the Forgotten Wife?
Sally’s man wasn’t all bad. There were redeeming values. He was a good provider and great father. In the past, he would occasionally make efforts to listen to her complaints. He would promise her he too wanted things to get better between them. But she said it was all a pipe dream. She complained he was all talk and just said that to put her off.
She admitted that sometimes, the connection between the two of them would actually improve for a few weeks. He would demonstrate he cared about doing little things she appreciated. But eventually, his regular routines would resume and she would yet again become the forgotten wife.
When Sally first told me that “my husband is giving up on our marriage” I could see she was not ready for it to end. But she was intensely frustrated. She said he no longer was even trying to go through the motions. He was not even trying to meet her halfway on working out their problems.
So for many months she has been plagued with the question of how to know when it would be time to leave their marriage. She certainly wasn’t feeling the love.
She sensed she was just clinging to the habit of being married to a man who no longer loved her.
A New Lover Enters the Picture
She had met Bill, her new lover, by happenstance at a party she had attended at work. He too was married and was going through a really rough patch. He had confided in her that “my wife is giving up on our marriage and I really don’t know what I want to do”. She immediately felt connected with Bill. His predicament mirrored her own awful marriage situation.
Being with Bill was like being in love again, she said. He was good to her and she felt fulfillment. But she was confused because she still loved her husband.
So with my help, Sally came up with a plan because she was determined to make on last ditched effort to save her marriage. She still loved her husband and feared that she was losing him. As we worked through her true feelings she acknowledged that all this talk of her marriage being hopeless and not worth saving or fighting for stemmed from her sense of futility.
She knew she was acting out partly because she was angry and sad and disappointed with her circumstance. Not to mention that being in love with two men was confusing. But she also came to understand that nothing good would come from living in a world trapped between two men.
For something to change, action must precipitate it. So together we came up with an action plan that she could turn to help her navigate what to do next.
If your situation is anything like Sally’s, then this plan will likely hold some merit for you as well. Give it some consideration.
The 5 Steps To Saving Your Hopeless Marriage
1. Clean Up Your Attitude: How can you be sure your marriage is over? You can’t be. So the first step is to clean up your attitude. Now I realize that you are probably going through some really tough times and I am sure it is taking a toll on you in all sorts of ways. That certainly could explain a depressed emotional demeanor. But one central element in overcoming any negativity that may surround you is to remind yourself of all the positive things you have going for you. Leading with a positive attitude is key to the next steps you should consider taking.
2. Consider a Relationship Wake Up Call: If you feel “my husband has checked out of our marriage” and is just not taking any of your concerns seriously, then you should consider a wake up call. Now what do I mean by that exactly? Well, it depends. Let’s say you suspect your man is cheating on you. Is there a time when you should give up on a marriage after infidelity? If the affair is still active and he has yet to own up to it, then perhaps it is time for an intervention. What do I mean by that? Sometimes to bring things to a head, you need to employ some creative ways to save your marriage. Or maybe it’s not an affair that is triggering your despair. Maybe the two of you are prisoners of a broken marriage filled with negative habits and routines. If that is the case, then consider breaking the rotten marriage mold.
Consider telling your husband that you are taking a mini vacation for a few days. Pack your stuff and get out and away from what you think are his lies or his lack of commitment to work on the marital problems. Tell him you are seriously questioning the viability of your marriage and need “alone time” to process how you feel about things and what might be next. Leave it vague. Let him chew on it. What you are also doing though is taking some time for you self to heal and to think. Chances are that he may soon start talking and taking your concerns a lot more serious.
3. You Need To Get Centered: How can you know when your marriage is really over? Are there signs your marriage cannot be saved? Is the uncertainty of what you should do driving you crazy? Are you paralyzed with indecision as to when to throw in the towel on a broken marriage?
If you are thinking all these things and more, then it is time to get an accounting of where things stand. Chances are your view of the whole marriage situation is clouded. You have heard of the saying, “you cannot see the forest for the trees“, right? Well, you need some alone time to air out your thoughts.
Go some place that allows you a real opportunity to be introspective about what has been transpiring for all this time. Is it really as bad as you think? Is your feelings of hopelessness, triggered by depression or an unrealistic expectation for how your husband should be acting? The short answer is your husband is probably a far cry from what you need to complete you. But right now, you are likely trapped in a web of emotions. So get away. Go somewhere that allows you to find yourself again. Think of it as a retreat for yourself. But you are not retreating or quitting your marriage. What you want to do is get away from all the chaos so you can objectively think about the strengths and weaknesses your husband brings to this marriage equation.
4. Weigh Your Husband’s Strengths and Weaknesses: So while you are on your personal retreat and getting your emotions centered again, take advantage of this period where you are seeking some emotional balance.
It’s time to take a hard look at the course of action you wish to take. But you can’t do that unless you know if your husband is going to be an ongoing catalyst of your marital woes or if he has the capacity to bring about change and work with you to discuss and solve the problems.
So what you are going to do is a Spousal Plus/Delta. While this exercise may sound fancy, it is actually a common sense way of figuring out what you really want and if your current marriage partner can help you get there.
I don’t mean for this to sound so clinical. Obviously we are talking about your life and your future. But if you are confused about whether your marriage is worth saving, then you need a process to help you see the bigger picture.
Write down on a sheet of paper or flip chart what it is you want from your marriage. Think of what you want your marriage to look like in the future. Imagine an ideal future state of what you marriage would look and feel like if all the right pieces came together. Then ask yourself honestly what strengths, skills, and competencies your husband offers that can help you arrive at that future state. On one side of the chart list out all of the Positives. On the other side of the chart list out the Negatives.
5. Act With Conviction: Now that you have gotten away and found a little internal peace, you should have arrived at some conclusions as to whether you want to stay on the marriage track you find yourself on.
At this stage, you will have thought through carefully what has transpired between you and your man in the past. You will have taken the opportunity to assess realistically if your husband’s weaknesses outweigh his good points. You will have evaluated objectively what you believe to be your husband’s capacity to change based on past events and his expressed level of desire to acknowledge the problems and work with you. Taking all this into consideration, it is time for you to make a decision about your future.
Summing It All Up
Let’s clarify one thing to make sure we are on the same page.
At this juncture of your marriage where things seem hopeless and you are seriously questioning if you want to invest any more time in the relationship, you should have already exhausted efforts to get marriage counseling.
Hopefully your husband agreed to work with you and a Marriage Coach to try to right the ship. If he chose not to, then obviously that was probably one of the items you listed on your Plus/Delta chart.
Let’s assume he was not open to counseling. Not all guys are open to this sort of thing.
Then hopefully your husband was open to sitting down with you in the past to work with you on improving the marriage, whatever the problems. That would have been a “Plus” on your chart.
My point is that don’t take the drastic step of separating or divorcing unless the two of you have made multiple good faith efforts to find a remedy to your marriage problems.
But don’t be afraid to pursue separation if the differences between the two of you have gone unresolved for a long period of time. Separation, while sometimes emotionally painful, can be part of the solution.
So if your marriage life feels utterly hopeless, then recognize that is a sign for you to begin a process such as I described above. Then act on your own findings and the best advice you can obtain from trusted friends and relationship authorities.