âYou actually want to stay married to this guy?â
She didnât hesitate a moment. Yes, she wanted to save her marriage. She and her husband were 40ish, married about twenty years, with a couple of children. One evening he told her he was in love with his assistant, that he already had a lawyer, and suggested she procure one for herself.
At least that last part was different. Often the abandoning spouse tries to convince the other that he will be nicer in the divorce â and they each could save a lot of money â if she would agree to let his lawyer handle everything. Itâs a way to manipulate the outcome and many spouses fall for it, thinking that keeping him (or her) calm provides better opportunities to potentially salvage the marriage.
Making the path to divorce easier may keep the abandoning spouse calmer, but keeping him or her calm shouldnât be the goal. In my work with marriages over nearly twenty years, Iâve learned that rather than making divorce easier, anyone who wishes to salvage a marriage should make it harder. Much harder.
Thatâs what I told Sally.
âIf you really want this marriage to work, Iâll guide you through a step-by-step process to save it. If anything works, this will. Understand me clearly, IF anything works, this will. I canât guarantee success but it works more than 75% of the time.â
Before sharing with you the steps I guided Sally through, Iâll give you the good news; it worked. It wasnât easy and didnât happen overnight, but by doing the right things she created a climate that ultimately led to the saving of her marriage. Her husband abandoned his lover, returned home, and worked on falling in love with his wife again. That was nearly twenty years ago. Theyâre still together and still in love.
For the last dozen years Iâve been teaching the same principles to couples who come to my intensive workshop for marriages in crisis. Iâve seen it work with just about any situation you can imagine, not just adultery but also marriages plagued with anger problems, a controlling spouse, disrespect, disinterest, and more.
So what advice did I give? What works if anything will? Here is the short and simplified version. We provide a much more detailed and customized version in our workshop.
Accept the Person but Not the Actions
Never accept the sinful actions of another, but try to understand and accept what is behind the sin. What led the person to those actions? Was it pain? Feelings of neglect or disrespect? Even if you consider it imaginary, accept what your spouse sees has his/her reality and be very open to the possibility that you played a part in causing your spouse to feel the way he/she feels. That doesnât make you the âbad guyâ or the other person the âgood guy.â It simply makes each of you human beings.
Be Ready to Forgive
I regularly see people who work hard to save their marriage and as soon as the spouse turns, the anger overwhelms the spouse trying to save the marriage. At that point he or she doesnât want to forgive. Iâm warning you, donât try to save your marriage unless you intend to follow through by learning to forgive. That doesnât make the hurt instantly go away; it makes it possible for it to go away. That also doesnât mean that you arenât entitled to know who, what, when and where but that is a delicate matter for each of you that weâve found often needs a third party or at least a constructive plan. This type of conversation needs the right mindset, environment and forethought (maybe even professional help).
There are steps that the other person will need to take in order for you to be able to do this to the level necessary to save your marriage long term. But in the short term, while your spouse still wants to leave, you need to find a way to forgive them using a broad stroke. If your spouse feels he/she is just going to be punished by coming back, itâs very unlikely to happen.
The next steps are about strategy. In some ways, theyâll act as your secret weapon in winning back your spouse. But you must be confident that theyâll work so that youâll stick with them even if you feel the urge to do the things you shouldnât. Like I said at the start of this article, if anything will work, this will.
If you beg, whine, cling, or try to manipulate your mate into staying, you push them away faster.
Give the other person space to breathe. If you donât leave them alone, you arenât allowing him/her the opportunity to miss you. You probably need to take a step back in order to create a vacuum that the other person will see and feel. Donât be rude or mean but donât make them feel that they are all youâve got. Make yourself scarce. Thatâs one of the keys to attraction and that leads us to the next step.
Do the PIES
Make yourself attractive physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Do it for you but it also will affect the other person.
Iâm not telling you that you have to compete with your spouseâs lover. Simply attempt to be as attractive as you can at your stage in life. Get involved with a local gym, go for walks or bike rides, join a book club, and/or sign up for classes at church. Not only will those things help make you more attractive physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, but theyâll give you things to do and new friends to enjoy to help you resist the urge to pursue or be clingy toward the straying spouse.
No seriously. If you mope around and sound like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, your spouse is not going to want to come back to you. Do you want to be around people who are constantly complaining, whining and negative? Do you feel attracted to those types of people? No you donât.
Let your spouse see you having fun. By that I donât mean that you go over the top or fake it. Go out with your friends (preferably of the same gender) and have a good time. Go see a comedy at the movie theater, go to the mall, go to concerts-just have fun. Even if your spouse is not there to see, itâs possible that he/she will hear about it. Or maybe theyâll call about something and youâre too busy having fun to talk (thatâs a good thing because it shows them that you have a life and a world that doesnât revolve around them). At the very least youâll be making yourself a more fun and attractive person.
One final thing to keep in mind on this strategy step is that if youâre having fun, youâre probably doing the other things right too.
Do the Work
It isnât easy to put a marriage back together, but the LovePath works. If you do the things mentioned above to stay on the path, youâll likely pull your spouse back to walking the path with you.
Itâs important to limit your panic. Do your best to stay cool, calm and collected so that you can focus on what you need to do to apply the strategies mentioned in this article. There are other strategies that I might be able to provide in future articles but because of their complexity, I donât have the space or time at the moment. Many couples find a faster route to healing comes from attending one of our three-day workshops for marriages in crisis to obtain specific instructions and strategies. If you wish to save your marriage, wish to heal, and wish to help your spouse heal, get more information by clicking here.
Joe Beam is Founder and Chairman of LovePath International, Inc., a corporation founded to guide people through the processes of love and specializing in saving marriages in crisis. Desiring to change the way couples live and love, he developed the LovePath system, a unique and highly effective methodology that combines a solid knowledge of relationship principles, human behavior, and group dynamics. Joe Beam leads a powerful marriage seminar to help troubled marriages. For more information on getting help for your marriage, click here. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.