Honey, We Need To Talk

How To Save A Failing Marriage


By: Marlene Affeld

Romantic relationships are one of life’s greatest sources of joy, happiness, and satisfaction, yet they can also be a source of incredible pain, sadness, and regret.

Most of us grow up dreaming of a fairytale romance; a memorable white wedding, followed by an “Ozzie and Harriet” life of children, a home, a good job, and stability. Sadly, many are disappointed. Current statistics reflect that 41 percent of first marriages fail and greater than 60 percent of second marriages end in disappointment discord and divorce.

In spite of our best intentions, unrealistic expectations, the stresses of living or lack of support and comfort from our partner in critical moments of need can lead to disappointment and loss of respect.

Often feelings are expressed as anger and rejection, when underneath, what we are feeling is trapped, sad, unappreciated or lonely.

Like everything valued in life; relationships require care and attention. Most relationships get into trouble, not over one single issue, but rather a serious of irritations, disappointments, resentments and unfulfilled needs; an insidious sea change that makes it extremely difficult to know exactly when things went sideways and the tide turned

Unlike the way things are portrayed in the movies, relationships are not all wine and roses. Rather, they are a complex and ever-changing dance. When two individuals come together with different backgrounds, old baggage, family histories, unexpressed needs and current stress, there is bound to be a point when those differences cause friction, disappointment, and pain.

Get Real: Realize That Yes, You Can Lose Your Partner

Many people operate on the misconception of that the day they exchange marriage vows; it’s a “done deal.” Not so! Relationships are vulnerable and require nurturing. Don’t take your partner for granted. It’s the fastest way to erode a friendship. You have to keep winning each other’s affections over again each and every day. The hard part isn’t over when you say, “I do”; it’s just beginning!

"Divorces aren't spontaneous combustions," notes attorney Joseph E. Cordell, cofounder and principal partner of Cordell & Cordell family law firm, which primarily represents men. "Guys act like their wives' decision to leave them came like a bolt out of heaven. But the vast majority of divorces are just a result of inertia."

While it may be tempting to pretend there is nothing wrong, you know in your heart that unless you act to turn the tide in your relationship, things can only get worse. Discord doesn’t have to lead to divorce. Love, empathy, patience and a willingness to change create the healing energy required to repair and rebuild the relationship. When companied by humility, patience, respect and a genuine willingness to change, they are guaranteed to produce positive results.

Do What You Used To Do

During courtship, frequent phone calls, a small gift for no reason, flowers and flattery were used to express intent and affection. Ask yourself, are you unwittingly contributing to your partner feeling neglected, “taken for granted”, unappreciated or unloved? Go back to what you used to do to let your partner know that you are thinking of them and that they are “the object of your heart’s affection.”

If because you are now married, or in a committed relationship, the acts of courtship may have stopped – not because you don’t care but just because now you don’t’ think it is necessary and after all, you are so busy – you are unwitting, by apathy, contributing to the demise of your relationship. If you stopped doing the loving things you used to do while you were courting, your partner might now perceive that you have stopped loving them.

Honestly, Examine Your Feelings

Ask yourself the hard questions of what you can do (or not do) to recapture the magic. Do you want to stay in the relationship or are you just afraid of change? It’s helpful to make a list of all of the reasons of why you fell in love in the first place. Ask yourself if the current problem is an “irrevocable deal breaker”? If not, are you “blowing up” the problem out of proportion? If so, why?

Talk to your partner in a blame-free, positive tone about the emotions you are experiencing; acknowledge the elephant in the room. Share your disappointment, regret, sadness, and frustration in a calm, conversational manner. Open the conversation in a non-combative, consolatory tone that lets your partner know you want to have a discussion motivated by love; an honest talk to bridge the gap you sense growing between the two of you.

Avoid beginning every sentence with “you’ – which will make your partner immediately defensive. Rather, use “I” to express how you are feeling and how those emotions differ from the way you would like the relationship to be.

When it’s your partner’s turn to talk, be present in the moment and listen without interruption. Take down your defenses and open your heart; “listen to learn.” Even though your partner may respond with words of anger or in a clumsy or off-putting manner, what they are saying is information you need to know. You can’t repair your relationship until you determine the problem.

The point of the conversation is not about defending yourself, but rather about attempting to understand your partner and learning to meet each other’s needs. What is your partner feeling and what are their needs that are not being met such as respect, control, understand, companionship or love? The ideal way to soothe an angry partner is to let them know that they are heard and that you accept and understand their unmet needs and are willing to make an effort to change in a way that will help meet them.

If there are unresolved trust issues that prevent you from loving your partner fully and freely, consider what you can do to air these issues and what you require to rebuild trust. 

Get Real: Realize That Yes, You Can Lose Your Partner

Many people operate on the misconception of that the day they exchange marriage vows; it’s a “done deal.” Not so! Relationships are vulnerable and require nurturing. Don’t take your partner for granted. It’s the fastest way to erode a friendship. You have to keep winning each other’s affections over again each and every day. The hard part isn’t over when you say, “I do”; it’s just beginning!

"Divorces aren't spontaneous combustions," notes attorney Joseph E. Cordell, co-founder and principal partner of Cordell & Cordell family law firm, which primarily represents men. "Guys act like their wives' decision to leave them came like a bolt out of heaven. But the vast majority of divorces are just a result of inertia."

While it may be tempting to pretend there is nothing wrong, you know in your heart that unless you act to turn the tide in your relationship, things can only get worse. Discord doesn’t have to lead to divorce. Love, empathy, patience and a willingness to change create the healing energy required to repair and rebuild the relationship. When companied by humility, patience, respect and a genuine willingness to change, they are guaranteed to produce positive results.

Do What You Used To Do

During courtship, frequent phone calls, a small gift for no reason, flowers and flattery were used to express intent and affection. Ask yourself, are you unwittingly contributing to your partner feeling neglected, “taken for granted”, unappreciated or unloved? Go back to what you used to do to let your partner know that you are thinking of them and that they are “the object of your heart’s affection.”

If because you are now married, or in a committed relationship, the acts of courtship may have stopped – not because you don’t care but just because now you don’t’ think it is necessary and after all, you are so busy – you are unwitting, by apathy, contributing to the demise of your relationship. If you stopped doing the loving things you used to do while you were courting, your partner might now perceive that you have stopped loving them.

Honestly, Examine Your Feelings

Ask yourself the hard questions of what you can do (or not do) to recapture the magic. Do you want to stay in the relationship or are you just afraid of change? It’s helpful to make a list of all of the reasons of why you fell in love in the first place. Ask yourself if the current problem is an “irrevocable deal breaker”? If not, are you “blowing up” the problem out of proportion? If so, why?

Talk to your partner in a blame-free, positive tone about the emotions you are experiencing; acknowledge the elephant in the room. Share your disappointment, regret, sadness, and frustration in a calm, conversational manner. Open the conversation in a non-combative, consolatory tone that lets your partner know you want to have a discussion motivated by love; an honest talk to bridge the gap you sense growing between the two of you.

Avoid beginning every sentence with “you’ – which will make your partner immediately defensive. Rather, use “I” to express how you are feeling and how those emotions differ from the way you would like the relationship to be.

When it’s your partner’s turn to talk, be present in the moment and listen without interruption. Take down your defenses and open your heart; “listen to learn.” Even though your partner may respond with words of anger or in a clumsy or off-putting manner, what they are saying is information you need to know. You can’t repair your relationship until you determine the problem.

The point of the conversation is not about defending yourself, but rather about attempting to understand your partner and learning to meet each other’s needs. What is your partner feeling and what are their needs that are not being met such as respect, control, understand, companionship or love? The ideal way to soothe an angry partner is to let them know that they are heard and that you accept and understand their unmet needs and are willing to make an effort to change in a way that will help meet them.

If there are unresolved trust issues that prevent you from loving your partner fully and freely, consider what you can do to air these issues and what you require to rebuild trust. 

Marlene Affeld
Marlene Affeld

“A passionate writer for more than 30 years, Marlene Affeld’s passion for the environment inspires her to write informative articles to assist others in living a green lifestyle.”

Now Reading
Honey, We Need To Talk