How Do I Save My Marriage/Relationship?

You may be someone reading this who’s relationship has become so painful that you are now desperate to find a solution. Sadly many couples wait far too long before seeking help from couples counseling. If this sounds like you, I’d like to give you some hope. With the right therapist, who’s a good fit for you, even a small change in your relationship dynamics can feel like a huge relief.

Ask your partner or spouse if he or she is willing to try couples therapy. That question can be intimidating for many people so do your best to inquire about this, try not to demand it. It may take some time for your partner to adjust to the idea. Do your best to give her/him space to think more about it. Ask if you can check back with her/him in a day or two about what he/she is thinking. As difficult as it may be, respect your partner’s need to have space to consider all this. Your ability to wait and respect this may be the one ingredient that helps her/him agree.

If you both agree to seek help, it’s important to find a therapist you both like. I’ll write more about this in a future post but the most important factor for success is that you both respect the therapist and that you both feel respected by the therapist. I won’t lie to you; this can be a tall order all the way around. Many therapists struggle so much with the painful dynamics in hurting relationships that they just don’t provide couples therapy. So, interview as many therapists as you can by phone, read what they write on their websites, try to find recommendations from friends you trust. And, encourage your partner to do the same. Select 2-3 therapists who are good candidates and meet once with each. Review with your partner what you both experienced.

In the meantime, I hope the following can also provide you with some small sense of relief: Because of who we are as ‘animals’ (and human beings are animals)
intimate relationship goes to the very heart of our individual sense of survival and safety. If you feel desperate right now, that’s not unusual because of our human need for intimacy. And, the most important relationship for you to have with anyone is with yourself. Cultivating loving kindness for yourself, initiating kind actions for yourself, and attending to your own pain through healthy strategies (taking a walk, confiding in a good friend, music, movies, etc.) are all examples of this self-kindness and self-compassion. You do have choice to treat yourself well. --Doug