HOW TO GO FROM THIS (i hate you)
TO THIS (yay, we're in love again)
In our book The Top Ten Rules to Marriage we stated that we were once on the precipice of divorce. We discussed how at one point we both hated each other and were fine with the concept of moving on with our lives without one another...but then we fixed our marriage and ultimately implemented NEW rules (The Top Ten Rules to Marriage) once we were back on track.
What we never discussed was HOW we fixed things. People from all over started asking us what we did to go from broken to better, hopeless to hopeful and eventually back on track to the point to falling in love all over again.
First and foremost, no matter what, in order for a marriage to work it must first have TWO people in it that WANT it to work, and are willing to put in the time and effort needed. Marriage is difficult and takes commitment to the union and respect for each other. If and when either of those things are missing, you're doomed!
Let me say too that I don't believe that all marriages are worth saving because not everyone is married to someone willing to compromise, learn, grow and change for the better. In that situation, I say "cut your strings" before you regret having lost too much of your life to "hope" that's not real. My wife could write an entire series on trying to make things work with someone that's "not workable" and the regret that sinks in later. Trust me, it's not worth it. If you're with someone that isn't willing to compromise, cut your losses now and start preparing yourself for a parter that's better for you!
And let's be honest here, if someone says "I'm not willing to compromise or work on things" the translation of this means "YOU ARE NOT WORTH IT". So move on.....
For us, the first thing we did in order to get our marriage back on track was we implemented rules for arguing. One of the biggest reasons so many marriages deteriorate is because very few couples have rules for how they deal with issues and disagreements. And let's face it, disagreements and dealing with "issues" is all just part of marriage.
These are the rules we implemented for both fighting and getting things back on track.
1. First things first, we sat down and had an honest conversation about whether or not we both "really", truly wanted to stay together. We even discussed what divorce would look like. We were very honest in this conversation. We discussed what all would need to happen to fix things. We discussed our own individual desires to move on and to stay. We had a very real and very honest conversation, alone and without limitations.
We ultimately came to the conclusion that we loved each other and wanted to spend our lives together IF we could fix it. IF was the operative word here. Ultimately we decided that we were both willing to put in the effort needed! Then...we implemented the following rules!
2. We stopped talking about the past. We made a promise to no longer bring up mistakes either of us made. They were officially off limits (still are).
Once an issue has been resolved, it is no longer up for discussion. MOVE ON.
3. We started finishing our fights and not leaving them open ended.
The truth is that we bring up past issues over and over whenever we fight because those past issues never get resolved. You fight, they get brought up, you both get angry, you both say a bunch of crap, one apologizes, you stop discussing it...and it's left dormant until the next fight. And then the issues pile up and pile up until there's just too much water under the bridge and it seems like working through anything seems impossible.
Before you know it, little things turn into big things ONLY because NOTHING is getting handled and resolved. Next time you get in a fight, even if you need to walk away momentarily, make it a point to resolve the issue. Don't leave the issue open ended. It will not suddenly disappear.
4. We made a pact that when we argued we wouldn't call each other any names or blame...we would just explain and try and understand.
The point to an argument should only be to try and understand each other's points of view. If you're talking for any other reason, it's pointless. Name calling is mean, pointless and childish and will get you nowhere. We made a promise to not call each other any names.
5. We walked away if one of us was "too" upset to talk, compromise or listen.
There's nothing wrong with walking away for a moment, catching your breath, gathering your thoughts...so you can stay on track and focus. It's okay to say "I need a minute, give me some space". And if your spouse needs a little space, give it to them.
But what you don't want to do is come back together and say "let's just not discuss this anymore". THAT is not resolving anything, and is the reason there's so much water under the bridge.
6. We made it a point to say something nice to each other every single day.
Every single day we would give each other a compliment on something, and say "thank you" for something the other did. This came from the heart, it was heartfelt and legitimate. Often times we forget to "thank you" to the ONE person in our life we should be thanking the most, our spouses. We made it a point to do this in front of the kids too. Let the kids see you guys complimenting and loving each other. You're teaching them how to be treated and how to treat their spouses some day. Gratitude is a very important lesson in marriages.
7. We made a point to go out on dates with each other.
We always make it a point to make time for each other. DATE NIGHT is something we encourage ALL parents to do. Life can be exhausting and we can all get lost in the chaos of duties and obligations. It's very important that you make a point to have "alone" time. Sometimes date night includes locking ourselves in our bedroom and having fun and wild sex...sometimes date night is just going to dinner alone and enjoying a glass of wine...and SOMETIMES date night is just going to Target withOUT the kids! :).
Whatever you want to do...just choose to do it alone, just the two of you and make sure you're spending quality time together!
I AM SHOCKED by how many couples do NOT spend any alone time together. Trust me on this...you won't regret it. And if you DO regret it, perhaps you should consider Number 1 again?
8. We fixed our sex life last, NOT first!
Here's the truth. When you're fighting and hating each other and on the edge of divorce the last thing you want to do is have sex with each other. And then not having sex turns into...well, it's been "a while"....and then it's the LAST thing on your mind. Okay, so you're at the point where you need to work on sex...but it shouldn't' be the FIRST thing you work on, it should be the last thing you work on. Why? Because after you fix all of the other issues, wanting to have sex again is a natural desire that will come back to you. We were honest and told you guys before, we would have sex as little as every two/three months for a little bit there. And even then it wasn't "great".
But we once had an amazing, incredible sex life, and we knew we could get back to that if we put an effort into it! We had something to work back towards...and we did!
9. We asked each other for very specific things and made our intentions very known to one another.
Very few couples actually say to one another "what do you ultimately want from me, or this marriage". "What is is that you get (or want to get) out of it all".
Perhaps ultimately you wanted your husband to make you feel safe and secure and his recent gambling addiction and sporadic mood swings are ruining that...and THAT's the issue. TELL HIM. Perhaps you just want a good wife to come home to that's going to make you feel appreciated and the fact that all she does is bitch and bitch incessantly makes you feel "not good enough". GET TO THE ROOT of what you want and TELL THEM!
Tina and I had a very real and very honest conversation with one another.
10. We stopped pretending things were perfect.
OMG girl please. We have a "couple friend" in Cali that acts like their marriage is the marriage above all marriages, and we KNOW that they barely get along, never have sex and are both contemplating divorce. And even though we've been honest with them about "our issues" they always come back with "how perfect they are". Seriously, gag me. Their kids say they fight incessantly and they never say anything but hateful awful things about each other YET if you talk about "marriage" in general...."OMG we're so lucky, we're just perfect for each other"....is what "she" will say...while he's in the background rolling his eyes.
Stop pretending and start being real for god sake. What's the point of faking it? EVER? You know...I mean, with marriage. LOL
You can't fix something you refuse to admit is broken! First step is admission. Hi, I'm Kristy and I needed to seriously get my shit together so my marriage didn't end! BE HONEST! Hi, I'm Tina and I needed to stop being a selfish asshole so my marriage didn't end. BE REAL!
I mean, come on now, if you've taken the time to actually read this blog, somethings up.
GO RIGHT NOW (right after you share this on your Facebook page) and write down the things you two need to discuss and get that shit out on the table so you can start working towards happiness, and wholeness, joy and PEACE!
Ultimately the point is learning how to communicate better. THAT is the key to all successful marriages. It's not that the good ones don't fight...it's that we have learned now HOW TO fight. That's it! It's not about what's happening to us, as much as it is how we are choosing to respond to it all, right?
Life is so much better when it's better!
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