My Spouse Wants a Divorce: Can I Save My Marriage?
"I Want a Divorce."
I have been on the delivering and receiving end of that statement. When I delivered the words, I followed through with separation and divorce. When I heard those words, I was devastated and wanted desperately to save my marriage.
I'm not conceited enough to claim complete success, but over three years later, I am still married and hopeful. For those who want to save what seems to be a hopeless marriage, with a spouse uninterested in trying anymore, I want to share what seemed to work and what didn't work in my situations.
"All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy." -Wayne Dyer
Don't blame yourself or your spouse. Understand that while the left-behind-spouse feels the height of shock, hurt and betrayal at the moment, the spouse who wants to leave has already struggled with his or her decision and experienced their own pain and anguish, even if you didn't notice or don't understand how it happened.
And before you proceed with this article, read that again...the first part...don't blame yourself. You won't be able to follow this advice perfectly. We are human after all. Don't keep saying "if only I did this" or "if I hadn't done that." Let it go, as best you can.
Find Emotional Support Somewhere New
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in. Forget them as soon as you can." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is hard, but now is not the time to look to your spouse for emotional support. Don't beg, plead and cry. If you fall apart in front of your spouse you will not be very attractive (see the next section for more about this). You will only appear needy and pitiful and perhaps add to his stress with a guilt-trip.
And don't make the mistake of unloading everything on your friends and family-and especially not on his friends and family. If things work out, you will end up regretting making your spouse look like the bad guy.
So what do you do with the crazy and perfectly normal feelings you are experiencing? Find someone new, preferably someone who has experience with similar situations, to talk to. You could start with a counselor, but be aware that not all counselors will support trying to stay in a marriage where it appears you are not wanted.
My favorite method for finding support was online, where a degree of anonymity protects your spouse from your rants about private issues, and it gives you more freedom to really open up. The forums at DivorceBusting.com are made up of communities in every stage and circumstance of marriage and divorce that you can imagine. I highly recommend this very supportive online community.
Many other divorce and separation support groups are available, online and in the real world, but just as with choosing a counselor, be careful to connect with people who support your efforts to reconcile. Often members of such support groups are in the "get over it and move on" stage and may inadvertently encourage you to adopt that perspective before it is really necessary.
"Love that has been tested is far more awe inspiring than love that has never known anything but bliss." -Po Bronson
Be Someone Your Spouse Wants!
To reiterate, pitiful is not attractive! And more than likely, as blind-sided as you feel right now, you have changed since your spouse promised to love and cherish you forever and always. Think about the person you were when you fell in love. I'm not saying to compromise who you really are, but take an honest look at whether you are being your own best person. Do this for yourself--not just your spouse.
Pay attention to your grooming, to your physical health, and most importantly to your mental health. I discovered after my husband dropped the bomb that I had been severely depressed for a really long time without realizing it. Rather than taking care of myself, I had been looking to him to ‘make me feel better' and blaming him for my misery. Ironically, this is the same burden I felt my first husband had placed on me. How could I blame my second husband for not wanting a depressed wife when I couldn't stay married to a depressed husband?
Act As If.
Pretend everything is fine, even if it is not. Be careful with this one though. Your spouse may not react well to certain behaviors such as declarations of love and physical affection if you are trying to act as if the two of you are okay. But in general, act as if you are happy. Try not to take it personally if your spouse rejects you. Let them see what a strong person you are and what a wonderful friend and partner you can be. This will get easier with time, and especially if you focus on the next section.
"...selfishly seek your own joy...your joy is the greatest gift you can give to anyone. Because unless you are in your joy, you have nothing to give anyway." -Abraham-Hicks
As you are taking a critical look at who you have become since you married, you may be somewhat saddened by the things you feel you've sacrificed. It may seem like your entire married life has centered around your spouse. All of your friends are mutual friends. You've given up the interests he or she did not share. You've pretended to like his or her interests. It is time to rediscover you.
Michelle Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting and Divorce Remedy, calls this GAL for "get a life". Take some classes. Start or re-start a hobby. Join a new club or community service organization. Do something you've always wanted to do but never got around to. Get busy enjoying yourself!
I found several ways to GAL. First, I joined Meetup, and specifically the Divorce and Separated Support Group in my area. The DSSG was small at the time, and more of a socially-oriented group than a traditional support group. I made wonderful new friends, and most important, we had FUN! Though I no longer feel the threat of separation, I still participate in this group. It gives me a sense of purpose, and a sense of giving back, and allows me to have friends and activities that are not completely centered around my husband.
I also started a new business as an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. While I did not succeeded tremendously at the business aspect, Arbonne introduced me to a whole new level of personal growth training. I became re-acquainted with positive thinking, with the Law of Attraction, with goal-setting, with visualization and meditation. I learned to shed the victim mentality that had held me back from so many previous endeavors.
I worked with a Life Coach, as well, to help me identify my goals and strengths. I started a gratitude journal and surrounded myself with positive messages--a dream board, index cards with inspirational quotes, and sticky notes on my bathroom mirrors to remind me to "Think and Be Grateful, Everyday" and simply to "Smile".
I read uplifting books and encouraging articles online. I learned to ignore the naysayer's gloom and doom and created a positive environment for my personal growth.
"Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other." -source unknown
Many will be quick to tell you that it takes two to save a marriage. I don't agree. Love is not a 50/50 effort. Sometimes one spouse needs more than the other. Ideally, it fluctuates over the course of the marriage. Sometimes you give more, sometimes you take more. If your spouse is telling you that he or she has given up, then it is 100% up to you to decide how much effort you are willing to make to change his or her mind. If you want to save your marriage, you have to be prepared to do all of the work, at least for a while, and to possibly fail. Frankly, it might not work, but these tactics are probably your best shot.
The good news, as Michelle Weiner-Davis points out, if you do not succeed in saving your marriage, these strategies will help you recover and move forward more quickly from the breakup. It is important to realize that doing what is best for yourself is what is best for any relationship, even if that means ultimately the end of the relationship.
Copyright Dineane Whitaker 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url: http://hubpages.com/_ndwcopyright/hub/My-Spouse-Wants-a-Divorce-Now-What
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