When my marriage was in the tank, I got a lot of great advice that made it worse.
Sure, I read books and talked to people. But none of it helped.
Seems like when you’re having a hard time, you’ll find there’s no shortage of people who know exactly what you should do. Everyone’s an expert on how you should fix your marriage.
The result? You grow more disappointed, frustrated and fearful.
Some of that “good” advice is bad. How can you tell the good from the bad? Well, you really can’t until you try it.
Here are four common mistakes people make when trying to fix their marriage. Save yourself some time. Don’t try them. They don’t work.
1. You threaten to leave so he can see how it feels to want you back
This is a dramatic gesture. (I’ve tried it.) It’s a scare tactic. And scare tactics might work but not in the way you want them to.
When you threaten to leave, take the kids or give him the silent treatment, he may actually push you away instead of moving closer to you. Instead of pushing him away, you want to pull him towards you.
When you threaten to take the kids or give him the silent treatment, he’ll become even more distant. And you grow more frustrated. But you’ve made threats or demands and you feel like you need to follow through.
2. You let him know what he’s doing wrong and expect him to fix it
“My wife sat me down and told me all the things that I’m doing wrong, and it really helped,” said no husband ever. You think if you just tell him how he’s screwing up, he’ll change. (I’ve tried this, too.) Makes perfect sense to you. So, you talk and talk, but he doesn’t change. You may try a subtle approach. You leave “How to be a Great Husband” on his nightstand or on the sink. You tell him what you’ve learned from podcasts you’ve listened to. You may ever recommend counseling. None of it changes him and you grow more frustrated.
3. You think it takes two
You’ll commonly hear people say, “It takes two to fix your marriage” or “You can’t do it by yourself.” This is false. (I thought this, too.) The truth is it doesn’t take two. You can work on saving your marriage, whether your husband wants to or not. Make the first move. Let him know you’re in and you’re going to fight for your marriage. You may have to change some of your behaviors to bring him around.
4. You try to fix the symptoms instead of the problemMany times people focus on the symptoms instead of the problem. A symptom might be sex, money, neglect, kids, pornography, or alcohol. All symptoms. Even poor communication is a symptom. Not the problem. He drinks, watches porn or plays video games because he doesn’t want to deal with the real problem. You shop, eat or spend time with your friends, so you don’t have to deal with the problem. Focusing on the symptoms instead of root will never fix the it. When you treat symptoms, problem doesn’t go away. It just morphs into something else.
The more demands or threats you make, the harder he resists. And the more he pulls away from you.
The good news is a hard marriage can get better. You can get unstuck and have the marriage you want.
Sometimes you have to do hard stuff to save your marriage. It’s worth it.
Right now you may not have the skills to build a great relationship, but you can learn. You can learn how to restore tenderness in your marriage.
Need skills to build intimacy in your marriage?
- Apply for private coaching with Sheila.
- Visit my website and join my private Facebook group .
- Get on the waitlist for my next group coaching session to learn great skills–Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage.
- Check out my FREE resources and download How to Be A Wife No Man Will Ever Want to Leave.
Sheila understands how tiring a tough marriage can be.
She went from the brink of divorce to being married to a man who loves and adore her. (And, yes, she’s still married to the same guy!)
During her 33 years of matrimony, Sheila’s learned to translate timeless truths into practical skills, which will help you get the marriage you desire.
She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.
Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network. Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian, Crosswalk.com, Christian Devotions, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.