Having a marital or relationship problem?Expert tips and advice to prevent a divorce
Do you suspect that your marital or relationship problems have made your husband or wife fall out of love with you? Have you seen the signs, or even been told point blank? If so, you're probably feeling shocked to the core, and can barely think straight or sleep at night. You might cry, or want to shout and bang your fist on the table. Perhaps you’re doing all you can to convince your partner that they've got it wrong. Surely, deep down, he or she does still love you? "They're just confused", you might think.
Under these circumstances, I totally understand if you're looking for an easy way to 'make' him or her see that they do still love you.
However, for various reasons, this may be the wake-up call you needed. The pain of the loss of security offers the opportunity to learn from what's happened. It's a chance to grow, move on and become stronger and wiser - whether that’s together or separately. Yes, I totally understand that can hurt, but facing the facts full on really can reduce your anxiety.
For now, though, I’m going to assume that your relationship does have a fighting chance, and that you’re willing to do whatever’s necessary to save it. (Within reason!)
So let's get started with the best relationship advice I can possibly give you.
(See also: Common relationship problems)
But first, a note of warning...
In your present state of mind, you may be tempted to dismiss much of what I say. This won’t help you! So be on the look-out for any defensive thoughts and behaviours, for example:
- Telling yourself that it's perhaps not as bad as you thought after all
- Finding reasons why this can't be happening, and withdrawing from the truth
- Blaming everyone else (we discussed this in Part 1)
- Pretending to yourself that you're actually not that bothered if you do split up (because even if you were prepared for the ending and could see the benefits of a breakup, it’ll still affect you emotionally!)
So, since you only have control over yourself (and not your partner), let's look at what's going on for you. There’s no shame, guilt or prejudice of any kind here. See me as your very best friend, with the courage to lovingly tell you how it really is - because nobody else will.
It's not going to be easy and I suspect what I say won’t really be what you want to hear. But hey... you've probably hit rock bottom already - so the only way is up! And taking stock right now is fundamental to you being able to climb out of that pit.
First of all, let's do a reality check...
Can your relationship ever be the same again?
You may well remember how it felt when you first fell in love. You were probably utterly infatuated by your boy/girlfriend, and passionately in love. Everything you did, thought about, wanted to have, felt you needed and even craved would have involved your partner. (Obsession and addiction come to mind!)
Watch this TED talk to learn more…
That heady mixture of emotions is intoxicating (almost literally!) - while it lasts. Let's face it, though - it's not necessarily conducive to a healthy, long-term relationship. Whilst in the grip of this 'condition', your emotional brain is in charge. Decisions, on which the longevity of the relationship depends, are made by your emotional brain whilst the logical part is almost as good as switched off.
For some fortunate couples, much of the euphoria remains. For most, though, it wears off over time. And in its place there will be little niggles that can build up gradually to create a major marital or relationship problem.
So, can you ever fall in love with each other the same way again? I’m afraid the answer is: most probably not. This is in part due to the absence of that initial intoxicating euphoria. But it’s also because this current crisis - where you feel your husband or wife doesn’t love you anymore - will have changed everything. Your feelings of trust, the way you see your partner and your relationship, and your expectations… all of these will be different now. So, to put it bluntly, you will have to move on from this current situation, in one way or another.
If you're taking this as a learning opportunity (which I strongly encourage you to do) - the benefits are huge! In the future, you’ll probably be:
- More cautious
- Less likely to take things for granted
- More aware of what’s needed to keep a relationship healthy
- More grateful for what you do have
- More attentive to your partner's needs
Whilst none of these can guarantee you a fairy tale happy-ever-after, they certainly can make you a better partner.
As we know, you can’t control your partner or make him or her do anything. So instead, let's now look at what you do have control over.
Great things can happen when you focus on what you do want for yourself, instead of focusing on what you don't want. This is particularly true if you actively make the decision to go for it.
To do this, we need to know what your role in the decline of your relationship has been. We need to discover if perhaps you've been undermining yourself - whether you were consciously aware of it or not - and how that might have impacted on the relationship.
Take a couple of deep breaths, read the following list and really take note of your immediate reaction to the points raised.
I'm going to come back to each point separately. So dare to be honest with yourself - there's nobody watching over your shoulder....
Oh, and this is all assuming that you haven't (or your partner hasn’t) been unfaithful!
Again, I'm not judging you, and I don't want you to judge yourself. Just be honest with yourself. When you are, you give yourself the opportunity to learn and move forward. You also stand a much better chance of figuring out the best way to solve this current marital or relationship problem too.
If you do only one thing right now, promise me you’ll stop blaming yourself or your partner. And that you've made up your mind to go all out to save the relationship - if you still love your partner AND you’re not in an abusive relationship.
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