3 Tips To Save You From Divorcing Your Husband

I ran out the door of our house and down the stairs.  I was getting out of here.  I didn’t know where I would go, but I knew I could not stay here-not  with him for one. more. second!  I sank into the seat in my car and struggled to put the key in the ignition.  My hands were shaking and I was crying so hard that the tears were blurring my vision.

I’m done!

How could someone be so mean?

How could someone be so selfish?

We had gotten into another argument.  He said hurtful things that he should not have said.  I said hurtful things back.  It was a mess again.

This had started early on in our marriage and had continued on for  2 years. I was at the end of my rope.

We  tried marriage books and marriage devotionals.

We tried a weekend marriage seminar.

None of it was working. Things were worse than they had ever been.  If I was to be completely honest; I couldn’t stand him.

This marriage was a mistake.

No-one really knew.  In fact, it was quite the opposite. It looked from the outside world like we had the picture perfect marriage.

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The fact is: marriage is hard.  Sometimes it’s really really hard.  One of the things I love about blogging is the strong sense of community that comes with it!  I would love to share about some things we’ve worked through (and are still working through) in our marriage because I really believe that life is better when we live it together!   We all share so many of the same struggles!  There is no reason to struggle alone!  There is no shame in trying to work through our “stuff”.  You don’t have to pretend you have it all together here! 🙂 My husband has read and approved everything I will be sharing in this post and the posts to come!

While endeavouring to have a healthy marriage is a complex formula of care, commitment and love for one another, we truly believe that one of the MOST PRACTICAL steps you can take to improve your marriage is:

Regular visits with a good marriage counsellor.

Hey!  I saw that eye roll!  Just hear me out! 🙂

Now, this was by no means an immediate or even relatively “quick fix”. Actually, it took years, oh yes, you read that right, I said YEARS to start seeing significant improvement. I’m guessing that many couples don’t last long enough to get there (we almost didn’t). Also, I’m sure the deeper and more dysfunctional your issues, the longer it takes to see improvement- and we had A LOT of issues going on!

Here is our list of 3 “absolutes” that both partners MUST agree to in order for the counselling to work.  If even one of these “absolutes” is missing, it will drastically alter the rate of success in your marriage counselling.  (Trust me, we’ve learned this the hard way.)

 

#1- BOTH PARTNERS MUST BE WILLING PARTICIPANTS.

If one person is “dragging” the other to the appointment and he/she sits there with arms folded, without an open mind- that’s going to be tough!  Remember that marriage is a partnership!  You are a team!  (even if that’s the opposite of what you feel right now) You got into this mess together and you have to get out of it TOGETHER.  There is no one hero here!  One person cannot swoop in and “save” the other. (that’s just in the movies ladies) Usually by the time you are sitting on a leather chair in the counsellors office you can barely stand being in the same room as your spouse.  I get it.  When you said “for better or for worse” this is worse than the worst-iest worse you thought possible!  Try your best to trust the counsellor and put into practice his/her advice.  (even if you don’t like it- or agree with it at first)

 

#2- ADMIT WHEN YOU ARE WRONG.

I know.  This one’s brutal!  Although you probably have a laundry list of offences your spouse has committed against you (even if they are legitimate) refrain from getting trapped in the “blame game”.   “Yes”, he/she has done inappropriate things in your marriage.  That is why you are here.  Counselling works best when each person focusses most of their energy on what they can personally work on about THEMSELVES.

You cannot change your spouse.

If you could, you wouldn’t be in this mess.

Oh man, this was hardest part for me.  I can get pretty wrapped up in all of the things my husband does wrong.  It’s so much easier to point out the mistakes he has made!  It’s hard to push through all of the hurt and anger you feel the other person has caused and look at yourself.  Even if you feel that your offences are the lesser problem- they are still YOUR offences and therefore YOUR responsibility.  It could even be as simple as  working on the way you respond to your spouse when they do something that is hurtful toward you.   It’s hard to sit in an office and have a counsellor give you tips on things that you need to change.

I know my first instinct was to  get my back up and  immediately feel defensive…

Then I convinced myself that the counsellor has misunderstood me and didn’t actually “get” whats really going on…

Then, I moved on to mentally discrediting the counsellor: “Maybe we should see someone else.  Clearly “He/She” doesn’t know what they’re doing…

And then finally, after I’d given it some thought I realized that the counsellor was probably right, after all he/she was a professional.  Perhaps I wasn’t perfect afterall…(bubble officially burst) 😉  It’s really hard to hear criticism about yourself.  Even though it’s hard, that is where the REAL change will start.  If each person is focussing on working through their OWN issues like getting to the root problem and developing new coping strategies- significant progress can be made.  Accepting and owning your own issues does not mean that your spouse is “off the hook”.  It does not mean that what he/she has done is “okay”.  Pride can so quickly creep in and keep you from acknowledging your own short comings.

Admitting to your own issues does not lesson your spouses offences against you.

I was disappointed that my marriage wasn’t what I thought it would be.  I had to let go of the unrealistic expectations I had set on my husband and on my marriage.  I had to get real with the situation at hand.  Yes, things had not gone  how I had hoped.  Yes, some unexpected problems had transpired.  But, we were where we were.

Things could not be undone.

Words could not be unspoken.

The past could not be changed.

But the future, now that was still wide open!

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t like conflict.  As a middle child, I am a natural born peace-maker.  I hate feeling as though a person is mad at me, or disappointed in me.  Sometimes in a marriage it can take days, weeks, or longer to fully work through tough issues.  You can get in a rut where you are frustrated with each other for long stretches of time.  In the middle of those times it’s easy to go to a dark place and feel as though “this is it- it’ll never get better”.  It’s hard to see resolution and see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.  One of THE HARDEST things I’ve learned is that

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable sometimes.

 It doesn’t mean you married the wrong person and it doesn’t mean that your marriage is doomed.  When you look at your spouse and feel as though you don’t love them as you once did and you worry that you’ll never be able to get back to that place. You will.

It will take time and hard work, but you always have the capacity to love more.

The moment you are ready to throw in the towel- to call it quits- that is THE defining moment.  Are you going to forgive ONE more time?    Are you willing to sit in this uncomfortable mess for a little while longer?  Even though you are overwhelmed, even though you hate this feeling, can you hang in there just a little bit longer? Are you ready to say “what can I CHANGE to make this situation better?”

We often try to control things that are out of our control, yet we will ingnore the very things that are within our power to change.

#3 MAKE COUNSELLING A PRIORITY.

Yes, counselling is expensive.  Sometimes benefits will cover, or you can apply for subsidy, but bottom line is that it is an unexpected expense.  You may need to make some sacrifices in your budget in order to accommodate the expense.

You may think you cannot afford counselling but the average divorce in Canada costs $12,875.00!

  How many other things are you spending your money on that are less important than your marriage?

You will need to see your cousellor A LOT! Especially at first!  If you are in “crisis mode” it may even be a couple times a week.  As things improve, your visits will be less frequent but it is important to prepare yourself for this.

 I have heard many divorced couples say that they “tried counselling once and it didn’t work”….hmmmm  That’s like saying you exercised once but didn’t lose that extra 50 pounds you were hoping to lose!  You will likely see your counsellor many many times before you see significant changes.

Don’t give up!  Hang in there! You can do this!

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There is no shame in reaching out for help and there is no “magic fix”  Sometimes marriage is just straight up hard work!  Although my husband and I are no longer on the the brink of divorce (Praise the LORD!), we still work at our marriage EVERY. DAY.  Nothing our counsellor said made our problems magically disappear.  They are still there and they still try to rear their ugly heads from time to time.   The difference is now we are both committed to working HARD on our marriage and we have tools and coping strategies to help us work things out.  And sometimes, even with all of the work we’ve done and all of the skills we’ve learned, we STILL get stuck in a rut.  When that happens we call our marriage counsellor and have a chat with him. This year my husband and I will celebrate 10 years together!  And for us, it’s really something BIG to celebrate!

When I reflect on the past 10 years I am so thankful that we didn’t give up.  I am thankful for a man who was willing to humble himself and come to counselling with me.  I’m thankful for a man who was willing to admit when he was wrong and work hard to make changes with me.  And, I am especially thankful for a man who never gave up on our marriage even when I wanted to.    I think about all of the moments and memories we would have missed out on if we had walked away when things were really bad.  Even in our darkest moments I am so thankful that we pushed through.   There have been many days over the past 10 years when I thought there was NO WAY we would ever get here!  10 years seemed like an eternity!  But, we did it and you really CAN do it too!

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If you have any tips to help sustain a happy marriage I would love to hear them in the comment section below!

XO, Pam

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13 thoughts on “3 Tips To Save You From Divorcing Your Husband

  1. Great post! I almost felt like I was writing it myself. Marriage isn’t easy for sure. It takes continuous work and so many people just give up:( I am so thankful to Pastor Bill for shaking me up with his marriage series 5 years ago or we might not have made it to 40 years in June this year. I wish you and Greg many blessings and that your marriage will last many more wonderful years:)

    1. Yes! It’s scary to think about how tempting it is to give up some times! I love how you said it takes “continuous” work. I think that’s the one thing that shocks many new couples- that the work is never ending! Thank you for sharing your comments! 🙂

  2. What an amazing story, tips, and experiences to share. I appreciate you putting your heart on your sleeve, here. Like any marriage, healthy or not, we argue sometimes. Not to an extent of leaving, but anything can happen and having this as a resource for people is very encouraging. Thanks for posting. Someone will read this RIGHT when they need to.

    1. Thank you Joy for your kind and encouraging words! We have a real soft spot for couples struggling in their marriage and I think that supporting and encouraging one another is key! I truly hope that this blog reaches the right people! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. A great read, Pam! The best advice we received on our wedding day was to always focus on making the other person happy. If each person is focused on the others’ happiness, then you are not trying to fulfil your own selfish desires. It’s not easy, God knows we have failed many times…but it’s a great “mantra for marriage”! Enjoy reading your posts. 🙂

    1. Kara,
      I love that advice! There are times in marriage when we see how selfish we really are eh? ekkk! Thank you for commenting and thank you for reading!! I appreciate it! 🙂

  4. God Bless you both. The first step to getting down to the root of anything is coming out of DENIAL. From there you can only go upward.

    I am divorced, and have been since 1999. Bad relationships since then, until 3 yrs ago I took a program called Freedom Session by Ken Dyck. When I first heard about the program, I thought …this is the ticket for me to get God to make (the then physically and emotionally abusive boyfriend) to treat me better, and everything would be awesome!
    Let me tell you…God had a plan for me…more so a wake up call !
    I do not wear any longer that ‘magnet for abuse’…that is my past, where I have forgiven and moved on in my life. I am single now, but today He is preparing me to be a better bride…
    He brought me out of denial, showed me exactly where my weaknesses were, and with His Word, and Promises, showed me…Who I am in Him …
    The abuse stopped, for I know that has never been His plan for me, I know now who I am in Him, and THAT makes a difference. Everything happened in a positive way after that, like a domino affect …my world started to make sense, I had confidence for the first time in my life…I see things from a whole new perspective, and with much compassion in my heart.
    If I knew what I know now…

    Jeremiah 29:11

    His Whole Being is Love, He needed me to see that so I too can Love…

    The Lord must be the Head of every person, and their marriages.

    God Bless

    Heather

    1. Heather, I’m so sorry to hear that you had such hurtful relationships in the past! It sounds like you’ve come a long way and that God has changed your heart and perspective! Thank you for sharing these encouraging words. 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing such an honest post. Marriage is really hard. Me and my husband have been married almost 7 years, and it’s often a struggle. We started counseling after our twins were born and in the hospital. It really helped, but then we stopped. I’m thinking we should start again, though.

    1. Shann, We have definitely found counselling helpful but you are right- it’s something that you need to keep up! Especially with young kids! This stage of life can be really stressful on a marriage (especially with twins!!) I truly believe that pushing through the hard times will be worth it. 🙂 I admire your humility in taking steps to seek help for your marriage! Good for you!

  6. I love talking with people and reading stories of redemption in marriage. It’s truly such an incredible opportunity for God to grow us and shape us in huge ways. And because of that, you’re absolutely right, many people don’t stick around for the transformation. So excited to wish you a happy TEN year anniversary! I admire you and your husband so much for a) Committing to figure it out with counseling and prayer and everything else, and b) For sharing your story with others so that your worthwhile work is a benefit to others as well!

    1. Thank you Brooke! I think anyone who is married knows that it isn’t always easy! I’ve seen so many friends whose marriages have crumbled in such a sort time and its heartbreaking! There is value in working hard and working through your issues together!! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, for reading, and for sharing! 🙂

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