A common theme we have encountered countless times in the past couple of decades is couples who have drifted apart. Often it occurs when a couple reaches the point where their children are leaving home, and it is now just the two of them in the household. While one or the other of the couple has wanted to leave the marriage for a long time, they have hung in there for the sake of the kids. Now that the kids have been launched, the main motivation for staying is gone, and the focus turns squarely on the marriage.
The question is – can we make it work, can we recommit to the marriage or is it time to leave? Neither party is sure they can reconnect and overcome the drift and boredom that has caused them to pull apart.
Another scenario is the situation where couples with children still at home have failed to maintain placing a priority on their relationship and have not protected their “coupleness.” The focus has largely been on the children and careers. As time has passed and the spouses have grown apart from each other, the resentments have built and small differences have become the source of major disagreements. Neither spouse is getting what they need from the marriage.
As a last ditch effort in trying to salvage things, they may seek counseling.
Dr. Debbie McFadden and I have worked with hundreds of couples who fit in one of those two categories. The details of each couple’s situation are unique, but the basic underlying story and source of difficulty have been repeated often.
If you are at the place in life and marriage where you are trying to determine if you can go on in your relationship and make it into something new, here are some steps to follow. To recommit to your marriage is a worthy endeavor, and you must know the following:
- Talk About Expectations. What is it you want that is different from the way it is now. Do you know, and can you describe it? Are there things from the past you want to bring back into the marriage? Do you have a new set of thoughts and ideas about what your marriage looks like? This is an important place to begin in recommitting to your marriage.
The best case scenario is for both of you to think this through and come up with a definite picture of what your relationship will look like and how it will work when you recommit and make it new.
- Listen To Each Other. Chances are you really do not hear much of what your spouse has been saying to you for a long time. There may be good reasons for this due to the hurt and resentment you feel. Once you make the decision to recommit to your marriage, you have to find a way to forgive, deal with the hurts, and put them behind you. This may even be another step in the process.
It is your job to get yourself to the place where you can listen to your spouse so you understand what it is he/she needs from you. You will likely need to seek their forgiveness for ways they have been hurt by you.
- Compile A List Of Things You Can Do For Your Spouse. Both of you need a list of tangible things you can do that would have meaning to your spouse. This needs to be a list of positive actions. When you follow through with these actions, you will say to your spouse; “I love you, I care about you and I want to take care of you.”
The list should not be things like – Don’t yell at me. If you are yelling, find a way to tone it down. The list should be things that help you in life, make things easier and let you know that someone has your back and is watching out for you.
- Follow Through In Doing The Things On Your List. You are recommitting to your marriage. Recommitment means following through with the promise you made at the beginning of your marriage. You are pledging to be the kind of spouse and partner that your wife/husband wants and needs you to be.
The “Golden Rule” comes into play here. The point of the rule is “to do” that is “DO unto others the things you would have them do unto you.” It is a positive statement of taking positive action regardless of what others do. It places the responsibility on you to take action in treating others exactly the way you would like to be treated. This step is where the rubber really meets the road.
- Take Some Time Away As A Couple. You absolutely MUST set aside time to be together. It can be a weekend away, a day or an evening off. It must become a regular part of your life. It is time to begin dating your spouse again. To reconnect and keep connected, it is vital that date nights and time away become a regular part of life. Find the system that works for you, so that it is ALWAYS on the radar and REGULARLY on the calendar.
- Talk About Your Dream And Vision For Your Marriage. It is important to keep the picture in front of you regarding what you want and need from your marriage. This is not only what you want for yourself, but what you want for each other. Keep the goal out in front of the relationship and don’t stop striving for it.
- Continue To Be Intentional. Chances are things got out of control in your lives and marriage because things just got out of control! Life has a way of taking over for us if we do not find a way to keep a sharp focus on particular priorities. There are tons of people who are very willing to plan our time, disrupt our lives and take over the driver’s seat if we don’t assume control ourselves.
Your marriage is important to you and deserves attention to keep it on track, productive and fulfilling for both of you. “Life Happens” and there are times that other priorities supersede our commitment to be together or go on a date. A marriage begins to deteriorate when we allow that to become the rule rather than the exception. Make it the exception. The new rule is to protect your marriage and the time you have together at all costs.
Recommitment to a marriage is work. It takes time and energy. If you want to take the steps to breathe new life into your marriage but need help, call 331-308-0113 for a free 15-20 minute phone/Skype consultation. We will help you figure out how you can recommit to your marriage so a happier, healthier future awaits you AND your spouse!