Over the holiday weekend, I got an email from a wife who was asking for my advice on getting her husband's cooperation in helping to improve and save their marriage.  She wrote, in part: "my husband feels that a marriage shouldn't be work -- that if two people are compatible and are a good match for each other, then everything should fall into place.  He keeps saying that marriage should not be hard, that if we were meant to be together, things would click between us without our needing to do anything difficult to ensure this."

Her husband's perception was a very common one, especially amongst men.  Many people don't feel that good marriages require much maintenance.  More, many people remember how easy it was when you were first dating and then they contrast it with how things are now and become very frustrated that they now have to "work" for or on the relationship.  You may completely understand that relationships are like a garden long neglected.  A little bit of tending overtime would've spared you from where you are now.  But, now that you are here, there's really only one alternative - to clear away the damage and begin again.

Still, you're left with their opposing perception.  Is it possible to save the marriage when you're the only one who wants to?  It is, but I believe that you can still get your partner on board if you use different terminology and change your actions somewhat.  I'll explain this more in the following article.

Repackage What You Are Saying About Working On The Marriage Let's face it.  Most men don't get all that excited when you ask them to share their emotions or to unburden their feelings.  They just aren't built this way.  It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with them or that they don't love you.  It just means that they are typical males.

So, you're going to have to slant any message that you may have for him with this in mind.  For example, you probably wouldn't describe in vivid detail the beans that you're going to ask your toddler to eat at dinner time when you know that he doesn't like vegetables.  You're going to hide or camouflage the vegetables or mix them with something else.  Or, you're going to offer an award or incentive.  If he eats his vegetables then he'll get a dessert.

Sure, you're having to dance a little dance to get him to eat them, but at the end of the day, he got the nutrition he needed and both of you could live with the process.  You have to come to this same place where your husband is concerned.  You know that it is in both of your best interests if he works with you rather than against you.  You also know that you're both going to happier so that this will be worth it.  But, you may be going about this the wrong way by trying to "make him see" or to convince him that working on the marriage is a viable option and is not going to be as bad as he thinks.

And that's your mistake.  You're still packaging it and describing it as "work."  Wrap it up and put a bow on top and you'll likely see that he has a completely different reaction and is therefore much less resistant.  Think about what he really wants.  You know him well enough that you should be able to come pretty close to something that will get his cooperation.

Determining What Your Husband Really Wants In Order To Come Up With Your Incentive:  Remember when I talked about offering up the dessert in exchange for getting your child to eat his vegetables?  Well, you have to come up with a viable and similar incentive for your husband.  Frankly, if you give him more of what he wants initially, then you're going to get more cooperation from him when it comes to what he considers hard labor - working on your marriage.

Most men want more attention, more physical intimacy, and they want you to be less distracted and more attentive.  In short, they want more of the fun stuff that goes with the relationship and less of the work stuff.  They want the laughing, happy go lucky, beaming women that they married.  The one who was so happy and full of life before all of the day to day responsibilities set in.  Now, I know that it may well seem unfair that you're the one who's having to make the concessions.  But, like him, you're giving a little to get what you really want too.

And to get started, you have a few options.  You can out and out tell him that you want to restore the intimacy in your marriage so that you're both happy and getting more of what you both need.  (Of course, you will not use the word "work" or any of its implications in your description.)  You need to describe this process as one that is going to be fun, easy, and that directly benefits him without him needing to do things that just don't seem all that appealing.

Or, you can just begin on your own without telling him or describing anything.  You can just begin to make the changes on your own.  You'll laugh more, reach out more, be intimate more, be more attentive, and offer more of yourself and more of your time.  Sure, it may seem like you are the one doing all the giving.  But, as he's happier and sees that he's not having to "work" for this, he will be a lot easier to deal with and he'll start to return some of these gestures to you.

Once the two of you are closely bonded and connected again, it's going to be a lot easier at that point to begin the maintenance phase of the relationship because you've shown him that the process isn't going to be painful as he feared and that the payoff is going to give him more of what he wants so that any effort he has to make is going to be well worth it.

I had this same type of resistance from my own husband who felt that if you had to "work" on your marriage, then you were in a bad one. Because of this, he threatened to end it and he wouldn't lift a finger to help me save it. I decided to repackage the message so that it was one that he would be receptive to. You can read that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/

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