I get a lot of mail from customers, looking for advice about marriage and telling me about their broken marriages and the destructive things their spouses have done to them. Yet despite all the pain and hurt, it’s just not that simple to switch off those feelings of love.
We don’t always choose who we love, and one of the pitfalls of marriage conflicts is that those we love most also possess the greatest ability to hurt you.
But the hurt is the price we pay for love, which is why you look for advice on marriage. It can be fixed.
I had an email from a customer recently, who believed she had the worst husband in the world. Despite this, she loved him. She wants him to change. If he doesn’t, she’s not sure how she’s going to find her utopian place in the sun with him.
He cheated on her three times in the last 5 years. Each time she has forgiven him.
Just recently this customer celebrated her birthday. It was New Years Day, so she decided to host a party for all her friends on New Years Eve, combining the two celebrations. Everything went really well until about three minutes to Midnight when her husband asked to talk to her alone.
He told her he’s been having an affair again, and this time he’d been caught by a friend. She had threatened to tell his wife if he didn’t do it first. He begged her for another chance, saying that this time he will go to counseling, cut off all contact with the other woman, anything to save his marriage.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. It was just on Midnight on New Years Eve. It was also her birthday party. Should she forgive him? Can she forgive him?
My answer to her was this:
Here’s the thing. Ending the relationship right now would be the easy thing to do. He’s hurt you before, he has a history of doing this to you, and from what you’ve described, there has been little in the way of consequences for him each time he has let you (and himself) down.But loving someone and simply switching those feelings off isn’t easy. He’s a bad boy, he’s hurt you and treated you bad, but among that, there are also some pretty good times. Am I correct?So I guess any decision comes down to balancing out the times he makes you feel bad, with the times he lifts your spirits, loves you and supports you, and makes you feel like the princess you deserve to be.Marriage is a funny thing. It teaches us to commit to one another, but nobody ever says how challenging that can be, especially if you’re not completely ready to settle down, or you see so many temptations around you that you’d just like to try.And I’m inclined to think that’s exactly what it is. He’s like a bit of a kid. He likes treats. He likes to try a different flavor occasionally. And no matter how well you treat him or how amazing a wife you are, he’s never going to appreciate you until he’s had a chance to sample a few different flavors and get that craving out of his system.Most of us hope we have that bit worked out BEFORE we get married. And many of us do. But there will be times in every marriage where we are tempted to try something different. Whether we actually do is a different thing.
So what’s my advice for you:
1. Ask your husband what he really wants. Does he want to still be married to you? Are his reasons for staying married the same as they were when you first got married, or is he simply staying because he’s afraid of hurting you? Point out that what he’s currently doing is hurting you, and that if he’s committing to staying, it needs to be followed up with some real changes.2. This is not about YOU. I really don’t want you to spend the next few weeks or months second-guessing yourself and wondering if things would have been different had you done x… or y… The fact that this went on behind your back indicates it was all about him, and not at all about you. His decision. His choice. His actions. His selfish needs fulfilled. You didn’t come into it at all.3. If you are both serious about saving your marriage, serious changes need to take place. If nothing changes in your marriage, you stand a high chance of it happening again. And again. And again.To break the cycle, I would recommend you visit a counselor, at least for a few sessions to see what comes out. It may help reinforce one way or the other if you are both participating in this marriage and what the issues are to overcome.Consider your routines and rituals. When is the last time you made special time for one another? Switched off the television and talked? Went for a walk together? Had a drink at your local wine bar together? Spent a weekend away as a couple?Consider the small things. Do you both go to bed at the same time, or does one of you stay up watching television or surfing the net? Consider going to bed together and spending half an hour together talking, or reading books together. As long as you are in the same place at the same time, it’s a good start.Have you considered a change of lifestyle? Sell the house and move closer to the beach? Downsize and spend less time mowing the lawns? Change of career or change of city? If you wanted to live your dream life, starting today, what changes would you make? What’s stopping you from doing some of those things NOW?Ultimately any decision to save your marriage hinges on the two of you reaching out to each other rather than looking outward. The two of you have to figure this out, and my course gives you those tools, but ultimately you have to put the work in.
You’re not picking up where you left off. You’re committing to a new relationship. A better one. It’s possible if you want it.
What would your advice to this woman be? Has your marriage survived from a bombshell and what worked for you? What advice about marriage do you have? Please submit your thoughts and advice in the comments section below.