I often hear from frustrated wives (and sometimes husbands too) who are at their wit's end or at a crossroads in their marriage. Typically, the marriage is in real trouble and the wife has done seemingly everything in her power to save it, but nothing seems to be working. I'll often get comments like "when is it really time to give up on a marriage?" or "I think it may be time to throw in the towel because I've tried everything to save this marriage and nothing works. I just can't live like this anymore."

I understand the frustration. I've been in the same situation myself and I know how immediate and bleak everything can seem. However, I also know that if you're researching are asking if it's time to give up on your marriage, then deep down you're likely not at all sure about the answer. I suspect that at least 99% of the folks who email me don't want to give up on their marriages at all. They just want support and advice on how to turn things around. So, I'll tell you a dead giveaway that it's time to give up on the marriage (hint: you probably haven't reached it yet.) And, I'll also offer you some tips that may help to make things much better.

When Your Marriage Is Definitely Over: (Have You Reached This Point Yet?): Often, people will throw all sorts of bad scenarios at me and are surprised when I say that I don't think that things have come to their natural end. It may seem weird when I say this, but even if you and your spouse are at each other's throats, can't stand to be in the same room together, or are clashing all the time, these things can actually be sort of a positive sign. Because, as long as one or both of you are still feeling strong emotions (even if they are negative right now), then there is still a chance.

Frustration, aggression, and anger are all signals that you care enough to feel these things. And, these negative feelings are not so far removed from the positive ones that you used to experience. Honestly, I'm often much more worried if someone tells me that they (or their spouse) are feeling nothing at all.

Because, at the end of the day, the number one indicator that a marriage is truly over is indifference. If both you and your spouse can look at each other or interact with absolutely no emotions (either positive or negative), then this is likely a signal that nothing is left. Typically, in this scenario, you've put all of your cards on the table. You've left nothing unsaid. You've tried everything that might work and then some. Both partners have given every effort, met in the middle, and have still come up short and both parties are fine and at peace with this. As I indicated before, this scenario is rare (at least for my readers.)

But, if you're at this place, then it may be time to move on. If you can look at the situation without any sort of doubt, remorse, or hesitation, then you may really be at the end. However, I suspect if you've found this article, this is not your case. So, I'll move on.

What To Do If You Don't Want To Give Up On You Marriage: Hopefully by now, I've shown you that deep down in your heart, you don't want to walk away from your marriage. You may suspect that you've left things unsaid or held back in some way or are at least still feeling strong emotions, but nothing has worked and you just aren't sure what to do.

The first thing that I would say is that you need to change course. If what you've been doing isn't working, then it's time to try something new and unexpected. Usually, this means coming at your spouse in a whole new way that sort of disarms them and changes things up.

The tactics that I very often see work are the ones in which you join sides with your spouse. You don't try to change their mind, tell them that they're wrong, or elicit negative feelings like guilt and shame. Instead, you tell them flat-out that you both deserve to be happy and that you want to help them to get what they want. You very much need to validate them. Make it very clear that although you want to save the marriage, you know that this may not be possible. (Even though you and I both know that you don't believe this.) Tell them that you can control the direction in which the relationship goes. You can focus on creating goodwill between you, as your spouse is too important to you to let things end this way. So, you are going to control what you can - your actions and reactions to what they are doing.

Now, I'm not going to tell you this isn't going to be a challenge. It will be at first because they likely aren't going to believe you or be receptive. That's OK. Just carry on in the same way. Don't engage them. Don't stoop to negative behaviors. Take it one day at a time and just focus on creating positive experiences and interactions. At the end of the day, saving your marriage all boils down to changing what they are perceiving and experiencing. You need to go from the negative to the positive. This sounds simplistic, but it is completely true.

You want to show them the woman that they first fell in love with. You want them to experience the fun, light-hearted things that made them fall in love with you. You want the two of you to be happy when you are together. I know that this likely seems so far away from where things are now. But again, baby steps. One day at a time. One smile at a time. When you are done, you want them to perceive you and the marriage positively. You know the woman who can do this - she's you. She may be buried under the stresses of day to day life, but she's in there somewhere and she's the one who's going to turn this thing around.

There was a time that I thought my marriage was truly at its end. Thankfully, even though I had doubts, I decided to try one last thing and approach it from another angle and this eventually worked. You can read that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/

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