#1 You no longer care to finish arguments.
When you have reached a point in the relationship when, “right or wrong”, you actually just don’t even care to discuss it any longer. It’s a huge sign that you’ve checked out. Apathy is an obvious indication of a relationship being over. It’s not a choice. True apathy isn’t a cognitive decision. It’s a realization that you truly just don’t care. Perhaps your spouse is pissed at something, or accusing you of something, etc. and your visceral reaction is true indifference. Your marriage is over.
#2 When you stop communicating.
Everyone has to talk to someone at some point. If your spouse isn’t communicating with you, chances are, they are communicating with someone else. When you no longer care to even communicate with someone, your marriage is over.
I see couples all of the time sitting at dinner not talking to one another and I constantly think how sad that would be to be in a relationship where you have nothing to say to one another. How lonely. BUT that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the daily communication of life. Where are you? Where are you going? What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? How long will you be gone? Are you safe?
All couples communicate on a very basic level like this and if and when you stop it’s a clear sign your relationship is over.
#3 One spouse is refusing to try.
There’s simply no chance any relationship between two people can work if one of them no longer has a desire to make it work. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is at this point, walk away now and save yourself the trouble. They’re done; it’s over. It’s hard enough when two people are working together, it’s impossible if only one is.
#4 The respect is gone.
When you no longer respect your partner the relationship is over. You can’t build a life with someone you don’t respect. Once you realize you no longer have respect for your spouse you must choose whether or not it is something you could regain. Can you rebuild the lost respect? Will your spouse do what’s necessary to help make that happen? (see rule #3). If not, it’s over. Move on. Respect is paramount and key to a healthy relationship.
#5 No one wants to compromise.
Even in the best of relationships all couples compromise at some point. When you’re with someone who is no longer willing to compromise it is a sign that your relationship is over. No one who truly loved someone would refuse to compromise in a relationship. Compromise is a part of all relationships.
When someone says they’re no longer willing to compromise what they’re actually saying is “I don’t care if you leave me over this”. So you should consider whether or not the uncompromised issue is worthy of walking away for.
#6 When your long-term goals (or dreams) are no longer supported by your partner.
When you have specific goals in life that your partner doesn’t support, whether you realize it in the moment or not, your marriage (or your dream) is over. IF your spouse doesn’t support your dreams you must eventually choose one over the other because you can’t have someone in your corner who isn’t actually IN YOUR CORNER. And you will eventually resent them for not supporting you…IF you do or DON’T “make it”.
#7 When you start talking shit about your spouse.
Every couple on this planet has problems and issues they need to work through, and sometimes we need to vent when we’re frustrated. However there is a huge difference between “venting” and “talking shit”.
I recently spoke to a woman who told me she thinks her husband is a dumbass and he’s never going to do shit with his life. That’s not venting. She went on to tell me about he could never keep a job for more than a year. How he’s such a disappointment and failure in life. This isn’t venting. This relationship is over. No one who truly loved, cared for, or respected their spouse would ever speak of them in this way.
Frustrated? Get it out to a close, trustworthy source. But NEVER ever should you speak about them on this type of level that shows a clear indignant feeling of disrespect. If you can truly speak about your spouse like this, your marriage is definitely over.
#8 When your future seems better without them, not worse.
When you can look at your future and see a better, brighter, more promising, happier, healthier, fuller future without your spouse in it then I think it’s safe to say your marriage is over. But fear not…you’ve just determined that you have a better, brighter, more promising, happier, healthier future ahead of you…that’s awesome with or without them! YAY.
#9 When you no longer trust them.
When you get a point where you truly no longer trust your spouse and you are incapable of rebuilding that trust then it’s safe to say your marriage is over. Lots of couples go through issues where trust is lost in relationships. Breaking down and rebuilding, on many levels, IS part of marriage. However, if you get to a point where that trust cannot be rebuilt, your marriage is over. You can’t possibly be in a healthy, long-lasting relationship with anyone you can’t ultimately trust.
#10 When there is no remorse for wrongdoing.
If you ever get to a point where an obvious “wrong doing” or breach in your relationship isn’t met with remorse your marriage is over. This is the classic “I’m glad I cheated” syndrome. When you’re glad you did something that broke apart your marriage I think it’s safe to say it’s time to pack your bags.
Have anything to add to this blog? Let me know. Have any comments? Let me hear them! ;)
I can't think of anything more ridiculous (and antiquated) than promising to "obey" someone until you die. Kill me now! I also think it's just completely unrealistic to "promise" that through it all, no matter WHAT, you will remain true and faithful forever and ever and ever...
What if your spouse had a sex change? What if your spouse couldn't stop cheating on you? What if your spouse was found molesting children or beating up old people? Would you truly, through thick and thin, stay faithful and committed? No chance! Why would you promise that "no matter what" you'll forever be married to someone! Come on now...those old "vows" are nothing more than a bunch of horse shirt clouded by a lack of judgment and inexperience on that "special day".
As a relationship blogger and author (and someone whose been married for over 7 years) I can assure you there are some "real" vows that will help keep your marriage together, and strong!
1. Vow to listen and understand instead of attempting to “prove a point” or simply win the argument. The truth is that everyone just wants to feel heard. They need to feel as though their feelings are important. Showing your spouse that their words and feelings mean something to you, even if you don't truly understand them, is paramount in all successful relationships.
Here's a fun fact about your relationship you may not realize. IF your spouse keeps bringing up the same argument over and over (and over and over) IT IS ONLY because he/she doesn't feel as though you've "heard" them on the issue.
Want to end the argument? Ask them to explain their feelings and then repeat back what you heard, and then put yourself in their position and empathize with them on an emotional level they will understand.
In 99% of the cases, the argument will end there. Everyone wants to feel "heard"! You don't always have to understand but you must always let them know you care enough to listen!
2. Vow to say "thank you" as often as you can! Remember to truly appreciate your spouse for all of the little things he/she does, not just the big things. It's actually the #1 reason why most people cheat...NOT because they found someone more attractive...NOT because they found someone that makes their heart pitter patter...but because they found someone that appreciates something about them (that you do not acknowledge)! Everyone wants to feel appreciated!!
Never forget to say thank you and appreciate your spouse for all of the little things. It’s the little things that keep our lives together, but more often than not it’s also those little things, when unacknowledged, that also break couples up.
3. Vow to remain friends and have fun together! Always stop in the chaotic moments of life and remember that at the core of it all are two people that fell in love. Most couples forget to spend time together because life happens, kids happen, work happens, obligations happen. Vow to always remember that at the core of it all are two people that fell in love and must remain committed to their love in order to make it all work.
4. Vow to give each other some room to grow. I think one of the number one reasons all couples split up is because they grow apart. Growing TOGETHER is essential in any healthy relationship, and this requires you to allow your partner to grow individually as well.
Usually what happens is one person grows and the other stays stagnant and then the person that grew ends up with someone more on their “level”. Grow individually. Grow together. Just make sure you’re both growing through life, not just “going” through life.
5. Vow to never allow one another to be complacent in life. This is where most couples go wrong. It reminds me of the movie "The Family Man" (with Nick Cage) where he goes back and lives a "family life" instead of a career life and he looks at his wife and says "WHY DID YOU LET ME DO THIS TO MYSELF, I COULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING".
Here's the trick...never let your spouse stop being amazing! Encourage them, push them, refuse to accept their BS excuses as to why they're not bigger or better than before...and always be their #1 supporter!
TRUST ME on this one: IF YOU DO NOT PUSH YOUR SPOUSE and challenge them to be the best human being they can be, they will be extremely vulnerable to the first person that comes into their lives that does this! It's the classic Brad/Jennifer and Brad/Angelina case here.
Brad Pitt left his beautiful wife for someone who challenged him in life.
So many women get stuck on this idea that their husbands only care about how they look. Your husband wants you to push him and challenge him. He wants you to believe in him and expect more from his life!
Do not let your husband or your wife ever become less than their fullest potential! It is probably the most important vow you can make to another human being!
You don't have to love them more than you love yourself....but love them more than you love your insecurities and fears!
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These are the hardcore rules that I learned in my previous marriage...(the hard way)
These rules started as a lesson, which eventually turned into a blog....a blog that turned into a book...a book that turned into a radio show...a show that turned into a house hold discussion...
Here are the TOP TEN RULES TO MARRIAGE that I believe every single couple on the planet should live by.
Rule 1: Never say the “D” word.
One of the biggest mistakes that most couples make is they threaten to leave each other, each and every time a problem arises. “Let’s just get divorced” is said way too often in marriages. The issue is that each and every time you threaten to leave, you cheapen the union you have. Each time you threaten to kick someone out, or walk out the door yourself, you lessen the commitment you have made to your marriage.
The truth is that usually when people threaten divorce they don’t actually mean it. The translation of “let’s just get divorced” usually means “what we are dealing with is a serious issue to me, and I don’t feel like you’re doing what’s necessary to fix it and I’m so frustrated I don’t know what else to say”. “LETS JUST GET DIVORCED” is usually just a verbal warning of complete and total frustration.
The trick is to learn how to just say that you’re frustrated, because whether or not either of you ever leave, each time you threaten to leave, you’re leaving the marriage little by little.
Threatening to leave will cause the exact opposite reaction most couples are truly looking for. Let’s be honest, if the crime were truly egregious enough TO leave, you just WOULD leave. You wouldn’t threaten. So stop being so childish about your arguments.
Rule 2: Discuss and Respect Your “Deal Breakers”
Okay. The only way you can abide by rule #1 is by also adhering and understanding rule #2. Know, discuss and respect each other’s deal breakers.
A “deal breaker” isn’t just something random that pisses you off, or really upsets you. A “deal breaker” isn’t a curve ball. It’s the exact opposite actually. A “deal breaker” is a rule that you have put up on the table and said “IF THIS HAPPENS, it will change how I feel about you and this marriage” and “IF THIS HAPPENS, I’m out”.
For example: “If you ever decide you want to have a sex change and become a woman I am out of here. I may still love you, and we can maybe even continue to be friends, but I will not remain in this romantic relationship”. Or, another more relatable example would be “if you ever cheat on me and have sex with another person, I am out” (although very few couple actually divorce over sexual infidelity, FTW).
If you and your spouse KNOW and RESPECT each other’s “deal breakers” than you can also adhere to Rule #1. There will never be a reason to “threaten to leave” because, unless there’s a “deal breaker” that’s been broken, it’s all fixable.
Do you know your spouses deal breakers? Do they know yours? Spend some time and talk about these. Write them down. KNOW THEM before you go into a marriage and if you’re already in, it’s never too late to establish them now.
It’s like your marriage code of honor. There are no questions on how to handle things when “deal breakers” are set in place. Just follow the code. If it’s a deal breaker, leave, if not, work it out.
Rule 3: Eliminate the Urge to Merge
It sounds sweet at first…to want to do absolutely everything together. Wake up, have coffee, go work out, come home, make dinner, watch a little TV, go see the same friends, do the same thing, go to the same places…a life where you eventually just merge into the same person? Listen. It’s NOT sweet actually. It’s weird! It’s unhealthy, and it’s super annoying to everyone that knows you!
Not having autonomy in a relationship isn’t healthy. It’s okay to miss your spouse every now and then. If fact, it’s one of the things that will keep your marriage alive, and happy, and healthy. Eliminate the urge to merge into one human being. If you were supposed to be ONE person, you’d have been born as identical twins, not spouses.
PS. Most people that are joined at the hip have trust issues…so if you can’t seem to break off from this, you may want to figure out why!
Rule 4: Check Your Anger At The Door, It’s Not A Public Marriage
When I was a little girl my aunt and uncle decided to separate. During their “separation period” (and during an obvious moment of vulnerability) my aunt yelled out across the dinner table (during Thanksgiving dinner) “Ralph likes to wear my panties when we have sex, and I don’t like it”.
Um. What? WTF?
I was 10.
My mom and my grandma had a look of absolute shock, dismay and a little hint of disgust on their faces at this inappropriately timed confession. I didn’t understand why Uncle Ralph wanted to wear my Aunties panties during sex? And, oh yeah, by the way, “what’s sex exactly”?
Here’s what happened next. Apparently my aunt discovered that this is a fetish quite common among men, and doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than “he likes to wear her panties”. So they got back together and worked it out.
Unfortunately, we, as a family, didn’t “work it out” so well. And now all of the sudden my aunt had an army of people NOT supporting her marriage and NOT believing in her relationship and fighting against her, and them.
Listen people. There are always three sides to a story, every story. It’s not fair when you blurt out your side in your childish moments of selfish needs. If you’re going to talk to someone about your relationship, pick an unbiased, fair 3rd party. Never speak to someone that’s emotionally invested in you. You will never get a fair response and they will always retaliate, in their own ways. It’s just human nature.
Your marriage is NOT a public marriage. Keep the stuff that’s supposed to be private, private!
Rule 5: Couples that Play Together Stay Together
I know I said you shouldn’t do “everything” together…but for the love of God that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do “anything” together. I am always shocked at how few couples actually spend any time “playing” or “dating”.
One of the best ways to stay happily married is to never stop dating one another. It helps you remember why you got together in the first place, and it ensures that you not get stuck in the humdrum of daily life.
Remind yourself, as often as you can, why you fell in love to begin with… and date, play, have fun!
The trick to a happy marriage lies in 5 simple words…NEVER. STOP. DATING. EACH. OTHER.
Rule 6: Have Sex, Whether You Want To Or Not
Jesus Christ when I first posted this blog I got so much shit for saying this, as if I was condoning marital rape.
UM NO, I am not. Stop being so dramatic. What I am saying is that I think it is bullshit that you expect your spouse to be monogamous with you, yet you refuse to have sex. Where’s the fairness in that? They can’t have sex with you, and they can’t have sex with other people.
Listen, we get it. Life happens. Kids happen. Work, stress, family, bills, etc…all pull us away from the feeling (especially as woman) to want to have sex at any given moment. Unfortunately weeks of no sex can turn into months of no sex, which can often turn into years of no sex, and before you know it’s just really freaking awkward.
We get it. No one wants to have sex with someone that just disappointed the living shit out of him or her. But you have to work on it.
But sex is a natural human need. You cannot live in a marriage where there is no degree of sex. What do I mean by “degree of sex”? Sex doesn’t always have to be intercourse. It can be other intimate, affectionate acts towards one another. If you’re missing sex in your marriage you can start getting it back by just being more intimate and affectionate. Eventually it will lead you back to where you began!
Have sex, whether you want to or not, simply means remember to take the time to do whatever leads you into being intimate with one another. Even if you don’t always feel like, make the time and get into the mood however you need to and make it a priority.
Rule 7: The Bubble
In my previous marriage we started this thing we called “The Bubble” with our kids. The Bubble is a figurative “place” you can request to go into and say anything you want-free of consequence. It is a “consequence free zone” to say whatever you feel you need to say, or ask whatever you need to ask, without the fear of punishment for having done so”. The purpose is for them to realize that what they’re asking may be “sensitive” and not something you ask in the middle of the grocery store line. It’s also important that they feel safe to say whatever is needed to say. We wanted to teach them, by using The Bubble, that we truly were open parents, and we honestly wanted to have an open-free dialogue in our home. So even the “traditionally taboo” topics were free and welcome in our home.
The response from our blog was “as a parent, that’s a cool idea”. However, apparently, in a marriage most people said they didn’t want to know the truth, the Bubble Truth.
The idea of implementing this in your marriage is apparently a very controversial.
You basically have two choices. You can continue to placate one another, (and scream and yell fake orgasms) OR you can grow up, understand that even in the best of relationships we need to learn to communicate our needs and desires better, and BE HONEST WITH ONE ANOTHER!
Rule 8: Discuss Your Life Goals and Make Sure You’re In Alignment
Very few couples discuss their life goals with one another. When was the last time you turned to your spouse and said, “what do you want in life”? “Where do you want to be in ten years?” “Who do you want to be”?
It’s important that you discuss your life goals as often as you can and make sure that you’re always in alignment with one another.
Rule 9: Pick and Choose Your Battles
OMG there’s enough real shit to argue about in life. Let me tell you what happens when you argue over stupid shit in life. Eventually “real shit” happens and by this point you’re just tired of arguing, period.
My rule is “is this going to matter one year from now”? If not, let it go. If so, have at it! Life is too hard to battle over stupid, pointless things that will not matter years from now.
You know what I used to argue about constantly in my previous marriage? I used to incessantly argue over our son’s hair. We both disagreed on how it should look, and every single morning it was a battle in our home. And finally one day we both just looked at each other and said, “Why are we fighting about this? Do we really care, and is this really going to matter ten years from now”? Good question! And so we stopped, and never have since.
Rule 10: Never Take Your Spouse For Granted
You know there’s not a single divorced couple out there that looks back and says, “they were always grateful”…”they always said thank you”…”they always made me feel good”.
You know why? Because taking your spouse for granted is one of the things that usually causes most people to divorce! It is an egregious offense that happens every day, all day long, and over time it’s debilitating to you both.
And it’s usually the little things we always forget to say “thank you” for. It’s the things that your spouse does every day for you, and for your family, that you forget to say “hey I really appreciate that you do that”. BUT THOSE are the things that wear on us all. The cleaning, the picking up kids, the cooking, the working, the lawn, the organizing, the taking care of…these are the daily tasks that we always forget to say thank you for.
No divorced couple looks back and remembers feeling an abundance of gratitude. GRATITUDE is one of the biggest ways to keep your marriage alive and healthy. And the rule in life is that the more you say thank you, the more you will always have to say thank you for because life is an echo…and what we give, we get more of ultimately.
These are our Rules of Marriage. Want to add to them? We would love to hear your thoughts and your own rules that have helped keep your own marriage together, alive and happy!
The bottom line is that whenever you choose to marry someone hopefully that means that you take the bonds of matrimony seriously. It means you're ready for a full commitment to work through the hard times and stay strong during the bad times. But it also means that you're willing to "participate" in that marriage and whether you are gay or straight participation is mandatory!
Let's be honest, times are a changing'. Marriage isn't like it used to be where it was also a matter of survival. I didn't inherent my wife's farm and our kids don't plant and hunt to eat. We live in a digital world where the reality of life is that the grass always looks greener and more manicured but the reality is, like all marriages, the lawns that look the best are the ones that are tended to the most!
CHAPTER 2 - Lessons From My Father (November 8, 2013)
Flash forward 35 years, where I am now 40 years old. I had not spoken to my father (James) since I was 18 years old.
He had left the military and was having troubles finding himself in this world…a tortured soul that was bound by responsibility he could not come to terms with, and a family he ultimately did not want, or care for. We were being raised by our mother who was financially supporting us, and the only one physically caring for us. Any time spent with James was forced and awful.
James was angry, all of the time. He was a quintessential bully in life and would bully his way through everything and everyone. About the age of nine he started to become extremely emotionally and physically abusive to myself and my brother. His daily rants seemed like that of someone that had been drinking all day long, however there was never any alcohol needed. The reality of his own life was always enough to get him revved up on his latest angry kick.
He emotionally beat my brother down so bad that my brother turned to drugs as a teenager. I, however, left all resemblance of any life I knew with him and moved as far away from it all as I could, and stayed away.
I grew up angry, sad, lonely, terrified, resentful and with a false idea of life and family. I set out on a spiritual journey in my mid 20's, one that has been consistently revealing truths to me ever since. I learned how to let go of my anger and fear and resentment and learned the all important, "mandatory-for-spiritual-growth", truth that we must not just GO through things in life, we must always GROW through things. If we don't grow and learn we will be forced to repeat all lessons until we "get it". In all things there are lessons. Everyone we meet has something to teach us, and ultimately everything truly does happen for a reason, and it's not always our place to understand that specific reason at the time.
My parents thankfully and eventually divorced when I was 16. I never spoke to my dad after that because I moved far away from home and I heard that he had moved on with his life, happy to be free from any and all responsibility. Over the years we never connected. I heard once that everyone is in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Apparently this concept includes family members too...his reason for being present in my life is glaringly obvious. It was a very specific reason and a very temporary season....
It had been almost 22 years since we last spoke, almost 24 years since I last saw him. However in a strange twist of events a few months ago he found me on Facebook and explained that he was having heart complications and apologized to me for being the kind of person he was to me as I was growing up.
My response (cut and pasted), “Dad, thanks for your message. I am sorry to hear of your heart complications and certainly hope that in your life you have found love and peace and are surrounded by both during these times. I appreciate the apologetic sentiment but you can die in peace because I forgave you years ago. Your demons were not because of me, I was just in their path-a lesson I learned as a young adult. Forgiveness from me is secondary to the forgiveness you must find for yourself. I hope and pray that some day you do. I have been offered forgiveness and I freely give it, as I believe it is the key to all things in life. I pray you find it, as we all deserve it.”
His response was a very simple, "thank you".
He died six weeks later. It’s a strange feeling to have someone so pivotal in the biggest miracle of my life, turned biggest adversaries and nightmares end up dying.
Feelings come flooding back, rushing in like a storm. I am left feeling grateful with a touch of indifference. However looking back after it’s all said and done I realize that my dad ended up teaching me the most profound lessons in life. For so long I thought of him and only considered the man that refused to admit his mistakes, the man that ruined my brother's life, the man that stole so much of my childhood from me. The man that refused to be a father, the man that hated and resented his responsibilities. The man that always made me feel less than.
The truth is our lessons in life certainly are not learned by someone knocking on our door handing a book of life lessons that we can all just read and adopt. And we certainly do not grow by staying safely within our comfort zones in life. We learn them from all of the experiences of our lives....all the good and all of the bad. It's all there for our benefit to grow. There is often such a thin line between good and evil.
Growth for humans is the same as it is in nature…it through the biggest storms that we grow the most.
When I was a child I thought his existence in my life was pointless. What could I learn from an angry man I was forced to call my father. What could someone like him ever teach me in life?
Yet after his death I started looking back on my life and realized that it was actually my father that taught me some of my most profound lessons. Through him, I learned how to become the woman I am today. Because of my relationship with him I discovered things about myself and life that I never would have otherwise, and thankfully, was able to actually learn these lessons very early on.
He was a violent storm, yet he did not break me.
My dad taught me through his cruelty that there’s a power above my own. He taught me through his distance that being alone is okay. He taught me through his ridicule that I am supposed to be strong. He taught me through his anger that I should always first think before I respond. He taught me through his lack of love how to be a better parent. He taught me through his lack of concern how to be a better spouse. He taught me through his selfishness that life is better the more you consider others. He taught me through his death that forgiveness heals all things. I feel grateful for these lessons.
These are the truths that have made me, me. I am so thankful for the miracles that were brought together, the mountains moved and the oceans parted so that the little girl in that tiny little province in Northern Thailand could be here today!!
Today I get to say that I am freer above all things because of my heartaches and lessons. I am more considerate because I have been broken. I am kinder because I have been ridiculed. I am thoughtful because I have been left. I smile more because I have cried so much. I help more because I have needed so much. I am more giving because I have been without. I am more loving because I have been alone.
The truth is that I wouldn’t change a thing about my life if any of those changes meant I was going to be any different than the woman I am today. There is a power above any power, there is a God above all gods. There is a love above all loves and a purpose above anyone's understanding.
These are the lessons of my father. I meant what I said to him, that I truly hoped he found forgiveness within himself and died with peace in his heart because he was one of the human beings that taught me some of my most profound lessons. I am a better person because of those lessons, as difficult as they were to learn, it is the truth!
Lesson #3: There are no mistakes, no failures, no heartaches, no shipwrecks, no let downs or knockdowns that come without lessons. We grow through hardships and just like nature, the biggest storms bring about the most growth. Usually the bigger the heartache, the bigger the plan!
Lesson #4: If everything in your life is falling in part, more likely than not, it's all actually falling into place.
Lesson #5: We don't learn from everything working out exactly as we want and plan. We don't grow from getting our way or everyone being exactly who we want them to be.
Lesson #6: PEOPLE ARE WHO WE NEED THEM TO BE, not who we WANT them to be. Stop trying to change them and just learn your lesson from them!
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