Couples Training: Conflict Resolution Game Plan

What do you call a disagreement with your spouse?

You know, like when things get out of hand.

Are you having conflict?  Probably.

Are you officially having a fight?  It certainly sounds like it.

With all of the arguing the two of you may be experiencing, should we call it a festering dispute?

How is that different than a spat or squabble?

And how on earth do you bring an end to the mindless fussing and fighting. You do know it can really injure your marriage.  I wrote this post for couples determined to bring an end to their misery:

How To Stop Fighting & Arguing From Ruining Your Marriage

Perhaps you are feuding…that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Now speaking for myself, I like to call those fussy times I have with my wife as bickering.

Though actually as I think about it, it’s really more of a spat, which is a whole heck of a lot better than locking horns.

I don’t want to ever do that.

We have all these words to describe marital discord, but what does it really all mean and how do we stop it?

Who can teach us about such things?

Sometimes I am convinced we make things harder for ourselves.  I talk with young and older married couples every day and the one thing that most of them all have in common is that when it comes to their marriage, they graduated from the School of Hard Knocks.

I mean really, do you ever hear anyone say that attended and graduated from the “Couples Training Academy?”

Or how about the “Husband and Wife Humanities Certificate Program?”

What about majors?

As a couple, can you major in “Temperament Control in Marriages” or “Conflict Resolution in Relationships?”

Nope, there is no such degree programs for such important things.

You can buy a book or attend a workshop or seminar that might cover something that would be helpful to you and the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.

But in most cases, those kind of actions are after thoughts or reactive.  And you cannot even be sure if the book or workshop is really any good.

Take fighting in marriage, for example. Why wait to get help and training on something we are all darn sure will happen.

It’s a shame all these young folks (and older folks too) get married with little preparation on what they really need to do before, during, and after a relationship fight.

You know, there is this famous piece of wisdom that Stephen Covey, author of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, developed which goes like this:

“Begin With The End in Mind”

Realizing that at some point we will engage in the all too familiar human behavior called “fighting”, it seems that we should do something about it.

We should sharpen our fighting skills, but not to win.

Rather we need to learn both how to prevent these fights from occurring and then once they start (and they will), we need to have developed the competencies to manage and resolve the conflict.

Well,  I don’t think you and I are going to overhaul the educational system.  Though it does seem odd to me that there is no degree program for something as important as two people getting married and spending a lifetime together.

It is certainly not something that we all have great expertise in.

I mean, the failure rate of marriages is around 50%.

It seems to me that people could do a lot better if they could attend a 2 year or 4 year institution and learn all about having successful relationships.

If I was to hire someone to help me in my business of assisting boyfriends, girlfriends, and married couples with their relationship needs, I would love to be able to hire somebody with a bachelor’s of arts degree in let’s say, “Coupling” or “Marriage Forever”.

Diploma MMH

Ok, fake diploma aside I think at the very least I can contribute to addressing this huge oversight in how people are prepared as they enter into marriage.

Our marital success should not be left to the relationship school of hard knocks.

That kind of thinking is like playing a doubles match (tennis) without learning which shots work best in certain situations and the rules of the game.

Tools for Marital Bliss

tools

We need tools for couples that are entering into marriage.

Heck, all of us who are married need the same tools to help us stay on the right marital path.

If I was newly married, I would want to understand what I can do to prevent fights from ruining my marriage.

When things get tough (and they will) and a couple starts quarreling, will they have the ability to navigate through the haze and fog of battle without causing lasting damage?

If you have not already, take some time and read this post because it cover a wide gambit of topics that can help you and your spouse get things back on a better track:

How To Save Your Troubled Marriage

What I see first hand, every day, are people hungering for help on bettering their marriage.

There is a great motivation to raise their game.

Husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends are desperate for practical and ACTIONABLE advice so they don’t end up tearing down the relationship.

You spend so much of your time, investing your passions and opening your heart to make for a happy and fulfilling marriage.

But when things start getting tough and problems in the relationship begin to surface with greater frequency, wouldn’t it be useful to have a manual or tool that can help you?

The focus of this lengthy guide is to provide a tool that can specifically help married individuals.

I want you to learn how to fight more fairly.

Make no mistake, reducing marital conflict is just one of many challenges couples face daily.

I encourage you to continue to read the My Marriage Helper guides that I will be publishing weekly on a variety of topics.

They will be filled with practical ideas, tactics, and tools.

But first things first,  you must learn why fighting with your wife or husband can bankrupt your marriage.

It is a slippery slope when a couple allows themselves to routinely fight, fuss, bicker, and argue.

So today,  I am going to narrow the focus on the marital fight game.

And make no mistake, we are truly playing a dangerous and seductive game when we take the bait and get caught up in the fight game with our lover.

I am going to try to help you get out of this mess!

Why is the Marriage Fight Game so Dangerous and Seductive?

fighting

I am a huge fan of the UFC.  The men and women who participate in the Ultimate Fighting Championship matches are among the best trained and conditioned athletes on this planet.

When they walk onto the ring apron, they have spent months of training, learning how to deal with all sorts of situations that can crop up in the bout.

gsp training

And why do they train so hard?

Well, it for the same reasons why you should get some training on what to do in a fight with your spouse.

You see, fighting with your significant other is in your blood.

It beckons back to the very early days of our species existence.  There is something primal in us all that we sometimes have to release.  Our pressure cooker lives can sometimes unleash that animal.  Some call it a beast.

After all, we are the dominant species on the planet and we did not become that way by always being placid.

To survive in nature, we battled and our species emerged as the dominant force on this planet.

So the fighting spirit to survive and sometimes to just take things we think we deserve…. that desire seduces and arouses us to conflict.

evolution

That is what makes fighting such a seductive behavior.

Deep down, we have this need to release pent up frustrations or to win or be first at something.  the anger within us  has to go somewhere, and the beast in us sometimes just takes it out on whoever is around.

Sometimes that person is your wife or husband.

Now, marriages are suppose to be couplings of two individuals dedicated to help and love each other.

But because we are two different people trying to merge into one (spiritually), there will be some degree of friction and hardship.

We know that we need someone in our lives to make us feel more whole, but on other occasions we may feel all we want is to be left alone.

And hundreds of other variables can affect our mind and mood states.

So it’s sort of weird, isn’t.  There is the natural push and pull phenomenon that occurs between couples.

They don’t wish to fight, but they do.

We have evolved to become more civilized.  Over thousands of years, we have learned to live mostly in harmony, but the beast in us all can rise up for any number of reasons.

The whole marital fight game is a messy and emotional  byproduct of many things.  We are drawn to a fight. We can easily participate in a fight.  But we can also be appalled by fighting.

And make no mistake, conflict with the person of your dreams can be a dangerous undertaking.

The damage you cause when you hurl verbal insults or accusations can run deep and be long lasting.

By the way, when I say “you”, please don’t think I am talking specifically  about “you” the person reading this now!  I am just using that word to illustrate a point!

What is the Health of Your Marriage Trust Account?

long time

I have talked a lot in some of my other posts here on My Marriage Helper about how I see a relationship as a sort of “counting machine”.

When we get married, an emotional “trust account” is opened.  Or we can call it our “love bank”.

In real life, a Trust Account is setup for the benefit of an individual.

It is there to help protect the person financially.  It is geared to look out for the person’s welfare.  It is meant to preserve the good things.

You put money or assets into the Trust Account and watch it grow and prosper.  As you draw down on the Trust Account, the balance decreases and some of the capital you invested, is lost.

The Trust Account becomes smaller, less secure.

What happens to your marriage “trust account” when you have a great deal of conflict in your relationship?

You got it, right!

Some of the trust and love you built up in your account is lost….not all of it…but damage is being done.

And that is what I see everyday when I speak with couples or individuals dealing with conflict or relationship dramas.

Like a thousand pin pricks, all of these little skirmishes, insults, accusations, and other relationship damaging behaviors can slowly drain the Marriage Trust Account.

When we ramp up the conflict, such that it develops into arguments and full fledged, knock down, drag out, fights….guess what happens to your marriage love account?

I think you know.

These larger withdrawals can cause immediate and serious damage.

Our Relationship Ladder of Trust and Love

ladders invented

I think you are familiar with how long it can take to build trust.  Like climbing a ladder, rung by rung, trust and love usually builds in a slow fashion.

Sure, sometimes we get bit by the love bug and go head over heals with our feelings toward another.

But mature and lasting love as well as real trust takes a longer time to fully develop.

Like building a beautiful house, before it’s fully erected, a foundation must be poured…. a scaffolding system must be in place….. and the structures of the home (walls, roof, plumbing, electrical, etc) must come together before we can truly call it a home.

Well, it’s very similar for those of you building a relationship.  It takes time to really get to know someone and develop the chemistry.

As you become a couple, prior to marriage, you are erecting something.

You are building toward a bigger thing.

None of this is accomplished overnight.

The trust you have in each other grows and strengthens.over time.

Now, let’s go back to my “ladder climbing” analogy!

You have invested all of your time and good efforts to climb the ladder of trust.  Then suddenly, you do something really stupid, like perhaps have an affair and it is discovered.  (Again, I am not referring to you the reader personally.  Just using an example!).

The ladder (of trust) wobbles and quickly down you go, slipping and sliding down several rungs of the ladder.

Possibly, you fall completely off the ladder.

Now the trust has eroded or may be completely broken.

This is the sensitive nature of trust.

It takes a lot of effort to build it up.  But relationship trust can take a huge tumble if we do stupid things and fall prey to the beast in us…..like endless fighting, backbiting, and highly emotional outbursts..

So we all need some help to overcome our fighting ways.  Why continue to jeopardize your relationship trust account?

Well, let’s do something about it.  What I like to do is provide my clients with advice that is “actionable”.

What does that mean?

Simply, if the ideas I promote can’t  be put to use in the real world and actually help you, then I serve you not.

This Guide is not meant to be an academic paper.

It is aimed at giving you some actionable ideas and tactics you can put to use immediately in your relationship.

The tool (see below) that I have created can be used in multiple ways.

First and foremost, it is an actionable game plan that will help you and your spouse improve your marriage.

You can also use this tool as a means of assessing where you stand with your conflict resolution skill levels.

And that is important.

First, you need to learn what you don’t know or have not tried.

Then armed with that information, you can act proactively to better your marriage.

Let’s get started.

Conflict Resolution Skills Assessment Tool

(Instructions: Check off each skill or tactic you have made use of during a fight with your spouse.  Then tally your results to arrive at a total number to see how skillful your are in avoiding or resolving fights with your husband or wife. Utilize the Rating Scale found below.  Remember, the best results from using this Tool is to discuss it with your spouse BEFORE a fight breaks out.  Consider this as the most sophisticated Do It Yourself relationship training module you have ever participated in.  Just the process of discussing this Skills Assessment Tool and all of its tactics and ideas with your husband or wife will benefit your marriage in multiple ways.  Each of you will raise your awareness of how destructive marital disputes can be and learn how to fight fair (if you must fight).  )

1 _____Start with the End in Mind:  At the very beginning of the fight, just as it is becoming clear that serious conflict is emerging, vocally raise the question, “Do we really want to make withdrawals to our trust bank?”  Give yourselves an out.  Just maybe you will both realize in that moment that fighting is a zero sum game.

  1. _____Admit to Your Wrongdoing:  I have made it very clear in my writings that there are no winners when spouses fight.  Both of you are losers when you dig in your heels and go at one another.  But do you know who the biggest loser really is?  It’s the very thing both you and your hubby or wife have created….Your Marriage.  My experience with couples is that usually one or both of them know in their hearts when they are wrong.  So admit it. That will help cools things down and go a long ways in diffusing the heated atmosphere.

3._____Utilize the Cool Down Principle:  You know how it feels, right!  When a fight breaks out, we can sort of lose our minds.  Some people actually see red.  It’s true…. it actually happens.  I am going to bring in an ophthalmologist to comment on this phenomenon some day!  So let’s say you and your honey are getting all worked up. Well, when you get all emotional, you might as well toss out any chance of having a nice and rational conversation.  So I say to you, when you feel the steam coming out your ears, please call a time-out.  It’s time to cool down.  Take a break.  If you are arguing in the bedroom, then announce that a break is needed, and walk to another room.  How long should you cool off before you try to resume discussions of any kind with your spouse?  It depends on the severity of the problem and the intensity of the emotions flying around.  It could be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or an hour.  Sometimes longer.  But don’t resume dialogue with your significant other until you both have your act together. Rarely does anything good come from talking to each other when you are both still very upset..

4._____Show You Care By Not Fighting: Once a dispute or fuss of some kind is underway, you need to stop thinking about why you are right about this or that.  You should avoid any notions you have about launching a counter attack as a defensive measure.  Believe me, I understand.  We all have our pride and no one wants to be bullied.  We are conditioned to defend ourselves and fight back.   But let me tell you, that is a long term losing strategy.  As soon as you become aware you are in a fight, take the “Holy Jesus” approach. By the way, I don’t mean to offend anyone with my reference to Jesus.  It’s just the best illustration I can think of that makes a powerful point.  When the discussion morphs into a fighting situation, then turn the other cheek.  Show empathy for what your husband or wife is saying.  Prove to them that you are really listening.  Become a pacifist.  These tactics can be powerful ways to defang the tiger that has temporarily taken over your spouse.

  1. _____Humor Can Be Your Friend:  You are probably noticing that some of these tactics have to do with diffusing the fight.  Why is that?  Well, I have found that often, though not always, that fighting can erupt quickly.  But it can get stomped out pretty fast too if you have developed some counter measures.  I don’t want the couples I work with fighting.  So I teach them counter measures.  Think of a jet fighter engaged in air combat.  When the enemy swoops down to try and take them out, what does the pilot do first?  They make a maneuver and launch counter measures.  Well, the use of well placed humor is a counter measure.  It can’t be sarcastic humor or humor in which the couple takes turns belittling each other.  But a humorous line or two that puts the entire absurd spectacle in its proper place, can be very effective.  I mean really!  The spectacle of you and your lover fussing and fighting and choosing to make withdrawals from your Marriage Trust Account is truly absurd.

6._____ Touch Gently:  So I bet you are looking for another counter measure that can stop a fight in its tracks.  When I am having conflict with my wife…and I am really proud it rarely happens….she always understands how to tame the beast in me.  A gentle touch…even an embrace can cause my heart to melt and any thoughts I had about being upset just dissipate.  Afterwords, whatever we need to discuss is so much easier.  So sometimes it just best to zip the lip and make eye contact and reach out and touch your lover gently telling them, “I am so sorry for my part in this fight”.

7._____ Don’t be a “But” Mouth:  Yep, you read that right.  Now I am not talking about someone’s butt (i.e. their bottom).  Nor am I talking about, “don’t be a butt head”.  Though clearly, I don’t want either you or your better half to act like a butt head or jerk.  Those are fight starters.  We are all about fight stoppers.  What I meant is I want each of you to learn that using the word “but” is a withdrawal from your marriage trust account.  Just don’t use it.  I counsel couples and when I hear them talking to each other in a nice way, I think, “good, they are making some deposits into their love account”.  Then something awful happens….one or both of the married partners will blow it by inserting the word, “but” followed by some kind of backhanded complaint.  If I am keeping score….and I am…the use of the “but” word results in a net loss.

8._____ The Quiet Rule: Don’t you just love it when things are really quiet.  We live in a noisy world.  Too much noise is actually unhealthy physically and emotionally.  And when all that yelling and screaming starts kicking in when the two of you go at it….chaos is not far behind.  So try this!  Utilize what I call the Quiet Rule.  How does it work?  Its simple and can be extremely effective.  When tensions are mounting and the voices are getting louder and reasoning seems to have lost its way, it’s time to invoke the 10 second rule (5 seconds works for some).  Ideally, you and your spouse would have already discussed this tactic (and all the others here) before hand, so one of you just needs to call out, “Quiet Rule”.  Once silence fills the room, take a couple of deep breaths and try to relax a bit.  Then gather up every good angel in your heart and bring the fight to its end. As you have learned, no good comes from fighting.  So use the Quiet Rule to get past all of the crazy emotions running amok.  I had a client that once asked me, “Chris, are you sure 5 or 10 seconds of quiet will work…it seems so short”.  It’s a fair question.  Of course, none of these tactics I am discussing are guaranteed to work. But when you and your spouse are in each other’s faces, with anger spilling over in all directions, you will be amazed at how long 10 seconds will feel like during that time.  It will be like an eternity has passed.  Imagine the scenario of a real fight.  You are arguing with your married partner.  Each of you are chomping on the bit to get your words in…to make your points as forcefully as possible.  It will take a lot of willpower for both of you to shut all this down for 10 seconds.  But when you do, you will have dramatically increased your chances of ending the fight and talking like normal adults.

9._____ Fight like Zombies: Ok, so now you must be thinking I have fallen off into the deep end of insanity.  Sorry to disappoint you, but there is a method to my marital advice madness.  Have you ever watched those Zombie movies and shows?  Did you notice how slow they move.  Well, that is what I want from you and your husband or wife. Keep your gestures and movements toned down. Quick movements lead to the ramping up of a conflict. Remember, we all use to be beasts in the wild.  Quick movements meant danger and fright.  Some of that still resides within us.  What you want to do is bring calm to the situation..  A great deal of our communication with our relationship partner is through our body language.  If you (and/or your partner) are making lots of quick, jabbing motions with your hands or pacing around like the floor is on fire, guess what?  Your temperament will mirror you motions.  Not only will you get yourself all worked up, but your wife or husband will subconsciously mirror what you are doing.  So do the opposite of what couples normally do when they fight.  Move slowly and calmly.  Take away any notions that your body language poses a threat.

10_____Quiet Speak: Ok!  We are on a roll here.  I think you know what this is about.  If I advocate that I want my warring couples to move more slowly, it follows that each of you should talk more slowly.  Dial down the loud volume of your voices because if you don’t, guess what?  The voices will get louder and louder.  The tones will get meaner and nastier.  And when I say, “quiet speak”, what I mean is that the volume of your voices should be slighty less than your normal voice levels.   Remember, we are all sort like animals in our core.  So don’t feed the “demon”.  Call upon the better angels that reside in your hearts and learn to talk more gently, quieter.  Take turns to hear each other out.  The problem that led to the fight won’t be solved if your voices are loud and ugly.

11._____Relationship Reality Check:  It is so easy to fall prey to the seductiveness of fighting.  I mean, sure, we all understand fighting with our lover is a bad thing and we really don’t want to do it.  But sometimes, things are happening in our lives or something happens in the “moment” and then suddenly we get this intense desire to launch an attack. So when a fight is in its “brewing cycle”, both husband and wife need to learn techniques on how to keep things in perspective.  Every second you fight….every moment you wage a war of words…. you are making harmful withdrawals from the marriage trust bank.  So please, when the fight is in its early, brewing stage, call it out.  Just say something like, “Honey, I feel like we are about to go nuclear over this and bankrupt our trust account”.  Or how about this one…. “Sweetheart, let’s do a reality check, is it really worth fighting over this”?

12_____Turn the Other Cheek:  Many of us are partially brainwashed by things we have been told about “strength”.  We watch movies that presumably show us the characteristics of tough, courageous and strong people.  They are usually depicted as physically strong and a person who will not take anything from anyone.  They will fight back and by golly they will win the fight. But these notions are almost always wrong.  In my view, the truly strong ones are those who may be mistaken as meek.  By the way, I heard somewhere that the meek shall inherit the earth….but I digress…..let’s move on.  Look at Rocky Balboa.  Sure, in the ring fight, he stood his ground.  But in the movie, when confronted with conflict or if his girlfriend, “Adrian”, was all upset with him….how did he respond?  Rocky turned the other cheek.  He understood how to take it on the chin and let the other person unwind all of their pent up emotions.  The toughest people in the world are often those who avoid a fight.  Look at Gandhi for example.  He understood the long term wisdom of being patient and non violent.  Eventually those who wronged him came to see the error of their ways.  As I have argued thoughout My Marriage Helper, fighting with your spouse is alway a losing proposition.  It takes two to tango.  Sometimes, it’s best to just be the quite (strong) one.  Eventually, the feelings of wanting to fight will subside and then a time to “really” talk will reveal itself.

13_____Drive Out the Crazy:  Do you ever feel an imposter has temporarily taken over your mind and body?  Just out of nowhere, you feel overwhelmed by stress,anger, even hateful feelings. Well, guess what?  You and millions of other suffer from what I call “the crazies”.  Don’t worry too much, it happens to the best of us.  Events in our lives and a negative mindset can conspire to temporarily hijack your usual normal self.  Now, if it happens all the time and this is getting in the way of having peaceful and constructive dialogue, then the person needs to get some help….maybe therapy.  When you are in the midst of a fight, I want you to try your hardest to get in touch with your “real” feelings.  How do you do this?  First you have to recognize that you may be suffering from the “crazies”.  Don’t worry, the signs will be there.  Your head will spin around like 1000 revolutions a second. You might drool.  Ok, well, maybe those things won’t happen.  But I think you get the picture!  Once you suspect your are not quite right in the mind, you need to tell your spouse, “Look, I am feeling just crazy out of my mind, so let’s me cool down for awhile”.  When you feel out of control or out of your mind, you are in no condition to discuss anything.  Likewise, when you see that your spouse is suffering from the “crazies”, bring an immediate end to the conflict, even if nothing has been resolved.  There will always be another time and another place.

14_____Create a clear moment:  At some point during or after a fight, the couple needs to salvage all of this mess they made for themselves.  What you want to do, once all the smoke clears, is create a CLEAR moment where you both realize and agree, you just “blew it”.  It sounds awful, but it is actually a positive thing.  If you both can arrive at a place where you realize you are both “losers” for participating in a fight, it will help you the next time around when a fight is brewing.  Remember, no one can be declared a winner.  Even if one of the married partners was wrong about something and admits it, don’t take digs at them.  Rather, allow them to save face and self respect in that moment.

15_____Location, Location:  I am sure you have heard that a key thing to consider about a home you are about to buy is “location”.  We all want to reside in a nice area, surrounded by things that make us feel secure.  Well, let’s learn to apply this simple truth to our situation.  Often when a fight breaks out, we get mired down in the same arguments and they often take place in the same room.  It’s as if certain rooms are haunted by memories of old skirmishes.  Well, sometimes you just need to shake things up by changing the environment.  Move to another room to change the vibe. Or go on a walk together. Don’t keep digging a hole for yourselves.  If necessary, call a timeout…cool down…and then agree on where you want to meet up to finish discussing the problem.  Find a setting that is friendly and comfortable and has a positive vibe.

16._____Avoid the Full Court Press:  I love sports and basketball is one of them.  Sometimes, the opposing team will launch into what is called a full court press.  It’s kinda like ganging up on the ball handler. Whoever has the ball is surrounded by several of the opposing team’s players.  Fighting with your spouse can turn into a gang like attack if one of you launch into multiple attacks, bringing up old, worn out topics to bicker about.  Look….I just hate the idea that couples fight.  And I want you to use every tactic on this checklist to avoid and/or stop the battle between the sexes.  I know that can be hard to do, so if you find yourself squabbling, please stick to one fight topic at a time.

17_____Don’t Talk Over Each Other:  What a mess of things a couple will make if they constantly talk over each other.  All that does is heighten the tension.  Take turns making your points.  When it’s your turn to offer your thoughts, discuss them clearly and honestly.  One of the things that seems to be a common complaint among the couples I coach is the “listening problem”.  I think I will need to write an entire post on this topic because it crops up so often when I talk to people who are having problems with their relationship.  One more thing!   When you become aware that you are fighting with your spouse, avoid the temptation to make blanket statements or over generalizations.  If your spouse falls into this trap, just state the obvious, “Honey, please don’t make these blanket statements about me as it is hurtful”.   I call this technique, “Naming the Objection”.  If you have an objection to the way you are being spoken to, then give it a face….call it out in a calm way.

18_____ Don’t Wear Your Camouflage:  Normally, when you go into combat situation, you don your camouflage to hide behind your true intentions.  Well, guess what!  If a fight is coming on with your spouse, your mindset should not be that you are going to wage war and win.  Nope, that is the wrong mindset.  Remember, there are no winners when marital bliss is interrupted by conflict.  Avoid speaking in riddles or hiding behind the truth of what you really are feeling or thinking.  Your spouse is not a mind reader.  Talk calmly and plainly.

19._____ Stay out of the Penalty Box:   Look, if you are like me, you want to win and sometimes you play hard.  Well in the marital fight game, the harder you play, the faster your lose. And when the argument turns heated, never ever hit below the belt.  If you turn to tactics like yelling, aggressive body language, mean spirited accusations, or re-hashing prior arguments, you might as well throw in the towel, because you blew it big time.  I had a client that asked me what was wrong with telling his wife that she was “crazy, neurotic, and boring”.  He argued it was mostly true and that he was trying to toughen her up because sometimes she just got too weepy.  I asked him what would he think if she called him a “self centered, insensitive, @ss”, because that too was mostly true.  I don’t think he understood my point very well as he got a little fussy with me…. so I gave him a refund.  Thankfully, his wife is also seeking coaching advice from me, so I will do my best to help her, help him to stay out of the penalty box.

20_____ Finding Balance: One of the other common complaints I hear about from couples struggling with conflict is that their communications are one sided.  Please go read my lengthy Guide I wrote about “Balanced and Transformative Communications”.  Any time one person is doing all of the talking….that is bad news.  Now, sometimes we have a lot to say.  But if you or your spouse is dominating the discourse, then resentment will grow.  If this is happening to you…meaning you have the short end of the conversation stick….then there are a couple things you can do.  Either you just “call out” the problem, such as, “Bill, you are doing all of the talking”.  Or, another tactic is to enter into the Marriage Cone of Silence. Simply walk slightly away…..look away and say nothing. Let your silence do the talking for a spell.  At some point, the individual will ask why you are not listening and “what is wrong”.   You simply explain that you are not a fan of one sided conversations.

21_____Utilize Communication Feedback Loops:  Don’t you just love these fancy phrases psychologists come up with.  Let me break it down to its essence.  Remember, once you have entered the Fight Zone, your objective is not to win, but to diffuse the heated engagement.  Once tempers have subsided and normalcy has returned, then you should discuss the issue. To eliminate the chaos and slow down the anger, you need to listen carefully to what the person is saying.  Then you repeat it to show you understand.  You are not necessarily agreeing with their statement, you are just showing empathy and understanding.  For this to work properly, both you and your spouse should adopt this communication approach.  When your spouse believes that they are being heard and understood, you are halfway there to bringing an end to the fight. This technique also has the added effect of slowing down the conversation such that neither of your are throwing zingers at each other.  Seek first to understand, so says the wise man.

22_____Create a No Fight List:  This is one of my favorite techniques I encourage married folks to use. If the two of your are truly committed to eliminating fighting from your marriage, then you need to create a No Fight List.  Once the skirmish is over….and hopefully each of you utilized some of the skills discussed here…what you want to do is find a path forward.  You are looking for a solution to whatever brought you to a place where conflict intervened.  Then with that solution or agreement in hand, I want each of you to vow that this “matter” will never again result in a fight.  Write down the topic that was the cause of discord and post it on your bedroom closet door.  That area is private enough where other won’t see it, but visible enough where the two of you can.  Let it stand as a reminder that each of you are committed to getting out of the fight game.

23_____Zip the Lip About Your Fighting Ways: There is not a lot of explanation needed here, though I say that and I recall a case in which one of my clients literally told the world (i.e. Facebook) about her fight with her Ex.  That turned into a disaster.  Please avoid discussing with others any conflict you and your husband or wife may be having.  More often than not, it gets back to the other spouse.  If you really need some emotional support, I understand the temptation to lay it all out there for a friend.  But consider the risk.  And whose to say that your friend knows best.  I am just saying it’s a slippery slope.  I know some folks will still confide in a close friend.  Just make sure they are very close and be careful about acting on someone’s advice until you have researched and thoroughly thought about the matter.  And whatever you do, don’t post it on Facebook or put out a tweet to share with the world.

24._____Don’t Drink and Fight: Well, you have heard about the risks of drinking and driving, right?  Fighting when you have been drinking alcohol is also a terrible idea.  You simply need to observe a strict marital fighting policy of ceasing all communications that have a hint of conflict.  I know…it’s not easy to do that.  The reason why things have gotten out of hand in the first place may be because one or both of you are intoxicated or under the influence.   Somebody has to be the strong one.  It is really hard for a fight to get any traction if one of the marriage partners is sitting on the sideline.  Just don’t engage.  Soon enough, the conflict will lose its legs. Unless you are totally blitzed, just walk way.  Literally take a walk around the block.  Put distance between you and your partner as neither of you are in good shape to have a rational discussion.

_____25. Don’t Succumb to Physical Violence: If you feel threatened in any way or the urge to strike back and become violent is quickly taking grip of your better self, then leave the area of conflict immediately.   If anger is rising inside of you, find a healthy outlet. Just as I suggested above, go for a walk…a long walk.  The same applies if you feel unsafe.  Leave.

_____26. Cry It Out: . Some experts say that crying is for babies and we should deal with our problems like adults.  Well, guess what?  Those that advocate such nonsense must be suffering what I call the “idiot syndrome”. Ok, I totally made that up, but you get the point!  Our emotions can be messy.  When we get upset and a fight breaks out with the one we love, we are dancing on a razor’s edge of emotional turmoil.  Stress is building fast.  We often feel helpless and frustrated and seem powerless to stop the emotional forces at work.  Well, the most mature and honest thing you can do is to allow these emotions to come out.  They certainly want to.  Why are you holding them in?.  And crying is a heck of a lot better than shouting or hitting or throwing things.  Now, I am not in favor of fake crying as a means of manipulation.  Seldom does that work and it’s dishonest and results in a withdrawal from the marital trust account. Crying is a truthful way of telling your spouse your care and you are in pain.

Relationship Fighting Resolution Rating Scale

(Note: This Assessment Scale is only an approximation of how your marriage might stack up in terms of the two of you keeping conflict out of the relationship).  

  • 19 to 26 Items Checked Off:  Congratulations, you must have a pretty darn good marriage because you have learned how to avoid and stop the vast majority of fights in their tracks.  Keep the momentum going and talk about some of the other skills you can still employ.
  • 14 to 18 Items Checked Off:  Good job!  You and your better half are on solid ground. While far from the perfect couple, most others would envy some of the things you do to keep the lid on conflict!
  • 10 to 13 Items Checked Off:  While your marriage is far from falling apart, there is clearly some skills each of you need to master so that you can avoid some of those withdrawals being made to your relationship trust account.
  • Less than 10 Items Checked Off:  Alright!  Help is on its way.  I encourage you and your spouse to make use of this Assessment Tool to realize some significant progress.

How To Avoid Fighting And Conflict In Your Marriage

Can you ever avoid conflict and fights from breaking out in your marriage?

Do you and your husband or wife have ground rules in place to minimize or eliminate the damage fighting can cause your relationship?

Why do fights happen and who is often to blame?

Once a fight has started, what can a couple do to turn a negative event into a positive one?

I plan on discussing all of these topics and more in the following guide about conflict in marriages.

You see, learning how to avoid fighting in your marriage is a big part of a fulfilling marriage, but what I also want you to walk away with after reading this article is what should you do when a fight breaks out.

Make no mistake, all couples will engage in some kind of argument during the course of their marriage.  Sometimes the question you might need to ask is what is needed to help you and your souse get the marriage back on track.  In the post below, I get into some advice for those couples looking to put an end to their conflict and jump start their marriage.

What Does My Relationship Need To Get Back on Track

Those who contend that fighting can be completely avoided are living in fantasy land.

I appreciate you visiting me here at My Marriage Helper to learn about how to successfully avoid fighting and conflict in your marriage.

So when this extensive Guide is completed, I hope you will check back to review often as it is probably one of the most comprehensive training modules on this topic.

Indeed, you will walk away with an awesome resource that my clients have raved about when I help them with the conflict they are experiencing in their relationships.

I call it the Conflict Resolution Skills List.  

I will get into all of the skills and competencies you need to have a bit later in this Guide, but first let’s go looking for the monsters!

Our Inner Monster

monster

All of us are subject to what I describe as the principle of the inner monster.

It is in our nature to engage in conflict at times.

I know, it sucks!

But it is what it is.

Where do we inherit this human condition?

Is it a survival mechanism?  Is it a deeply rooted flaw we all have?

Is it a natural product of our need to release jumbled up emotions?

Does conflict serve a constructive purpose?

Well, I suppose we could probe deeper into the fields of anthropology, psychology, evolution, and all the rest of the sciences that teach us about the human condition.

I could spend hours examining each of these questions.  But that is not what you are really here for.  This guide is not intended to be a tutorial on the history of human psychology or the underpinnings of conflict in the human species.

Wouldn’t that be boring??

OK – OK!…. so maybe we will touch on some of these things.  I do want you to know about how to avoid conflict.  I would like to teach you about the kind of adversarial situations that can crop up in your relationship.

For example, what if your husband seems to be always angry with you.  What can you do to turn that around.  I explore some ideas on that topic in the post below:

My Ex Husband is Angry at Me – What Should I Do?

Let’s just agree that throughout the course of human history, these exceptionally complex creatures that are “us” can and will engage in many forms of conflict ranging from flare-ups, skirmishes, fights, battles, and all out wars.

And yea…I am talking about our marriages!

Is a Fight Free Marriage Possible?

fighting

Yes, we can do something about it.

We can shape our emotions and our relationship such that the occurrences of fights are greatly reduced.

And we can learn to manage and tame the “monster” within us when fighting does break out.  But what I can’t teach you is how to totally eliminate conflict in your married life.

So if you come across some other relationship expert that is trying to convince you that can achieve a fight free marriage or adopt a zero fighting policy, don’t believe it.

Don’t buy into their flawed thinking.

Rather, I would encourage you to master the principles that can help you with minimizing fights.

While we can’t stop conflict from occurring entirely, we sure as heck can learn how to prevent much of it.  And once it has arrived at the doorstep of your marriage, you can learn to slam the door on its face.

Like any good survivalist trainer, I want to teach you about the things you can do once you are in a fight with your husband or wife.  Because after all, survival is what we are really talking about.

The core of this discussion is helping you develop the competences to ensure your marriage will survive and prosper in an environment in which various forces, some which you may never fully understand, can lead to conflict and fights.  So let’s get to work!

Fights and Conflict – Are They the Same?

war

It funny to me when I get this question from clients or visitors of my websites.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is actually a very interesting question.

It actually makes me laugh, but not at the people asking the question, but rather the so called relationship experts that dispense advice.

People want to know if they can have a relationship that is free from fighting.  No one really wants to fight with their spouse.

It it exhausting.

It is painful.

And it is almost always hurtful and destructive to some degree.

So it makes sense that couples will seek out help books or training courses that can presumably rid them of this most terrible behavior

It’s as if the couple is possessed, so if the demon can be cast out, all will be well in marriage land.  So these books and workshops, I suppose, are designed to exercise the the “fighting devil”.

These authors conjure up the spirit of their infinite wisdom and call upon the monster in our marriages to be exercised.

I can hear them now……

“Let the devil in your marriage be gone! Rise up satan and leave this loving relationship.  Be scattered to the wind”.

Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating just bit!

But you get the idea.

There are many thousands of loving couples desperately seeking help to end the fighting that tears at the fabric of their relationship.

So these folks are very motivated.

And when they walk by the bookstore or search the internet and discover books or workshops with titles like:

“Discover Marital Bliss:  Be Rid of Fighting Forever”

or

“A 7 Step Method To Stop Fighting With Your Spouse”

or

“A Foolproof Plan to Eliminate the Conflict that Tears at Your Marriage”

or my personal favorite…

“A Proven 17 Module Marriage Workshop – Zero Fights”

So as these good hearted married couples come across such titles, they naturally are attracted to the prospect that they too could have a fight free marriage.

They become overwhelmed with the desire to shell out hundreds of dollars in the hope that their marriage can be saved, permanently.

What often happens it what I call the old bait and switch.

These books and workshops make very bold assertions, but upon closer examination after one peels back the layers of what is really being said, it is discovered we are dealing with word play.

You ask, “what is do you mean by word play”.

Well, this what I meant earlier when I pointed out that I often get questions about whether fighting and conflict are the same things.

So, are they?  Of course they are!

A fight is a form of conflict.

A conflict, for all practical purposes, is a type of fight.

Remember, words are inventions of man.

They are in reality “mental constructs” and can be turned and twisted to mean a lot of different things for different people.

Unfortunately, given the slippery nature of words, they can be turned into weapons of deception.

So please be careful about what you read and what is promised.

If you come across a relationship expert or some kind of book or workshop that promises you that your relationship can be fight free.

Don’t believe it.

They will argue on one hand that they can teach you how to never fight with your spouse, but what they are really doing is splitting hairs in their use of semantics (i.e. words).

When you peel back the layers, what they are really saying is that your “dreadful fighting ways”  can be cured….maybe….sort of…. but you will still have conflict at times.

Look, I understand.

None of us like fighting with our spouse.

But would you rather cling to a pipe dream or going forward, look at your relationship in a pragmatic and realistic way?

So why did I tell you all of this?

Because it is important that you come into this discussion understanding that if you and your spouse are fighting, you are not unlike millions of other couples.

What I want to do is first help you with understanding the causes and effects of marital discord.

Understanding the cause and effects of something is the first step in helping you deal with it better.

Then I want to show you how to best deal with conflict once you find yourself within its grip.

Be assured, once you soak up some of these learnings, you will come out the other side a much stronger and informed person.

The 5 States of Mind We all Experience

loses their minds

Do you ever feel you are losing your mind?

I hope so!  I certainly lost my mind ages ago!

But in a good way…..a normal way.

Science has shown us to be a species whose mind is frequently shifting from various states.  If you and your spouse were always of the same mind, then I suppose you would be like a drone.

And that would be terribly boring.

Thinking and doing the same thing is certainly a path to a boring existence.

Fortunately, we all experience different states of mind.

Depending on the state of mind we occupy at any given time, we may be open to welcoming new ideas and ways of looking at things.

Or, we may be very closed minded and disagreeable. Then there are occassions such that if both you and your spouse are occupying a certain similar state of mind, the fighting spirit can rise up and lo and behold, you guys are fussing at each other again.

So what are these states of mind?

How do they influence our ability to cooperate and find resolution versus becoming angry and disagreeable?

Well, the science of the mind tells us there are five of them.  I took the liberty of creating a fun little infographic for you to illustrate the five states,

5 states of mind

What I am going to do now is go down the five stages one by one so you can get a better idea of how this works.

Sound good?

Ok, lets hop to it!

STATE ONE: Beta

beta

The first one is referred to as Beta (15 to 40 hz brain wave cycles per second).

This mind state is our most predominant way at experiencing the world around us.  Our brain wave cycle is  percolating at around 15 to 40 hz per seconds throughout the day.

So we are pretty alert. It is in this state that our logical and critical reasoning takes hold.

At higher brain wave cycles (e.g. 35 to 40 hz wave cycles per second), that part inside you which we will call your “self”….well, that part can become your nagging voice and stress or anxiousness can rule the day.

So do you see how we can sort of lose our minds.

In one moment we are logically thinking through a problem, then in the next moment our brain wave cycle can speed up and suddenly we are overcome with anxiousness.

The cause of this could be external in that something happened.  It could be something we saw or heard or smelled that triggered a reaction.

Or the change in the brain wave cycle could have been triggered by the propensity of our mind to sometimes just switch gears.

It’s like when you suddenly or even slowly become aware you are in a bad mood.  Your are not sure why or how you quite got there, but it’s like something deep at the subconscious level has taken control of your mental steering wheel.

I know, it’s all pretty weird if you think about it for a spell.

Yep, I am pretty sure we all are losing our minds now and again.

Are you starting to see how this can impact relationships?  Y

es, maybe, or not sure?

Well, hang on, we will dive a bit deeper.

STATE TWO: Alpha

alpha

We also have another mind state referred to as Alpha (8 to 13 hz).  This is my favorite place to be.

You might be thinking, “well, you are a guy, so of course you enjoy going alpha male”.

But it’s not what you are thinking.

We are talking about something different here.

You are probably in an alpha state of mind right now, with some Beta mixed in!  Alpha is described as a restful and peaceful mind state.

You are fully wake, but quite relaxed.

You may be reading, fantasizing or daydreaming.

Maybe your are working in the garden or getting in a favorite yoga position.

This is a mind state where creativity reigns supreme and peacefulness remains at your side.

People are usually quite imaginative during this state and experience a  heightened ability for visualization and learning.

Now I don’t know about you, but I rarely ever feel like fighting, fussing, or anything like that when I get lost in my alpha state.

It’s a nice place to be and this is where you and your your marriage partner can make some great inroads within your relationship.

This is where calm, collaborative dialogue takes place.

It is this state of mind that your marriage bonds can grow tighter as both of your are primed to accept and love many things about each other.

STATE THREE: Theta

theta

Now as we drop down to lower brainwave activity, we find ourselves in what is described as the Theta state.

The brain waves are cycling at about 5 to 8 hz per second.  You have now entered the world of deep relaxation.

It’s a very restful period and is comparable to meditative activities and possibly a very light sleep.

If conflict with your hubby or wife has created undue stress, then by golly take a trip to the world of Theta and you will be most obliged by my advice!

It is a powerful, personal and relationship building place to reside.

I should point out  that sliding down the brain wave activity scale such that you arrive at this serene place is not an entirely easy thing to accomplish.

It takes practice and discipline.  Those with experiences with Yoga or meditation can achieve this state of mind more readily.

If there ever existed a conflict or fight buster, then a Theta state of mind is pretty darn close.  Not only is it useful as a conflict preventative measure, but even after a fight, it can be extremely therapeutic to visit your Theta self.

Like I said, we can all get lost in different states of mind.

Learning to recognize them and guide ourselves to more healthy and enriching emotional states is the perfect medicine for warding off those ugly and disagreeable feelings that sometimes overcome us.

Of course, it takes two to tango. You can have your act and mind state fully together, but your spouse may not be in the same place.  He or she could be wanting to get it on.

Despite your reasonable and calm demeanor, your spouse may just default to that “not so nice place” and be dying to pick a fight.

I will be offering you some really helpful skills training and other techniques you both can employ to dampen that fighting spirit.

But let’s finish this discussion about our many mind states.

STATE FOUR: Delta

delta

Delta is yet another state of consciousness.

It operates at the 1-4 hz brain wave cycles per second range.

This is where you enter into deep, dreamless sleep or an extremely deep, meditative trance.

There is an interesting theory out there about fighting and sleeping.

Some believe that the best cure for an unresolved fight is to just sleep on it.

That’s right, just go to bed…. so say some advocates.

I am neutral on this tactic as I really can’t point to any overwhelming evidence that supports the notion or argues against.

It seems that the idea revolves around the concept that instead of arguing into the night, it is better to just turn off the lights and get a great sleep.

There is indeed a restorative power to sleeping.

Also, by putting some “time” between when you last argued and when you decide to take up the discussion again….the idea is you will both be in a better place….more calm…perhaps with more perspective.

Then there is the other possible benefit that by going to bed, the two of you will transfer your unsettled feelings to a healthy sexual encounter, thereby diffusing much of the tension.

The old kiss and make-up strategy!

STATE Five: Gamma

gamma

Ok, so before we leave this discussion of “mind states”, let’s at least finish with the most recent discovery.

It is believed that there is a 5th state of mind and it is called “Gamma” (i.e. over 40 hz).

It was only recently discovered.

Very little is known about this mind state, except that it is thought to be associated with bursts of insights and periods of extremely high information processing.

If only we could all master this sublime state of mind!

So Where is Your Mind at Any Given Time?

thinking

I cannot emphasize enough how complicated people are in the ways  they think about things.

Sometimes there appears to be no rhyme or reason to why we feel they way we do or behave a certain way.

Usually, our actions are a function of our mindset.  A relatively happy couple that ends up in knock down, drag out fight, may have been victims of incompatible mindsets.

And there are a lot of mindsets we can adopt at any given time during the day.

The good news is that a mindset is not permanent.

A mindset changes frequently based a variety of factors, some which we control, others for which we have little or no control.

Thank goodness none of us can read our spouse’s minds. We would be confused, shocked, inspired, humored, freaked out, relieved, worried, and just about everything else.

Heck, it’s even difficult to know our own minds!

I think it’s important to note that unlike robots, that are specifically programmed to act a certain way, we have very complex and highly variable reactions to the environment around as well as the internal workings of our mind.

Conflicts emerge from these places in our minds as we process the world around us.

So let’s drill a little deeper into the Machinery of the Mind in search of root triggers and solutions for conflict.

Our different mindsets can result in all sorts of collisions, some of which we may not be able to anticipate. These mindsets include:

  • Giving:  This is where we feel compelled to offer, selflessly, something to another.  In this mindset, you may freely offer your spouse a backrub without any expectation of getting something in return….except perhaps the loving pleasure you gain from being close to your husband or wife.  When both spouses are “givers” then we are looking at magical moments.  I truly believe giving is much more powerful than receiving because it is a strong component of building a connection and bond between the couple.  If both you and your spouse were of the mindset to spend the majority of your waking hours in the “giving” frame of mind, then would have little need for this Guide.  Indeed, I would be interviewing the two of you to learn how you’re able to spend so much of your time with such a benevolent spirit.

 

  • Taking:  Then we have the other side of the coin, “Taking”.  A “taker” is one who just wants everything his or her way.  These individuals are often controllers or selfish, requiring that everything revolves around them.  A taker will usually take advantage of a “giver”, with little consideration of ever returning the favor. When we are in this frame of mind, we are acting upon primarily selfish or impulsive tendencies.  I hate to admit it, but I am a relationship “taker”.  But so are you and everyone else.  Of course, our degree of “taking” varies from person to person and situation to situation.  Imagine having a married couple whose primary mindset is to be “takers”.  Do you think they will fight?  You bet they they will!  Cooperation is usually at the bottom of their preferred behavior.

 

  • Analyzing:  Again, we all live in the mindset of analyzing things.  Some more than others.  And with most things in life, too much of one mindset can stifle the relationship.  A marriage partner that is overly anal about things, fussing over the smallest of details….well, that is not an optimal mindset, unless both spouses are highly analytical and enjoy the tedious dissection of facts.  Please don’t think though that an “Analyzer” is a bad thing.  It is not.  We all need our analytic skills to make sense of things.  You are using some of those now to decipher the meanings of the things I am talking about in this Guide.  It’s important to understand that analyzing is one of many “mindsets” we can employ at any given time.

 

  • Stressing:  This is where the higher beta brainwave cycles can get us all wound up.  Think of a time when you marital partner came home, already predisposed to be easily annoyed or quick to anger.  It may have been an unusually stressful day in the workplace, so his or her mindset may be filled with tension. Fights often get started when one or both of the spouses are filled with anger, tension, anxiousness or,restlessness.  The most fertile ground for an all out battle of the sexes is to put a stressed out husband together with a stressed out wife…behold, a battle royale is born.

 

  • Withdrawing: Have you ever noticed that your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or husband….whatever the case may be…sometimes will just disappear on you.  I mean they pull away and become emotionally detached.  This mindset of withdrawal is far from a healthy place for a couple. Avoidance is almost always an unhealthy state, though there are situations where short term avoidance can be helpful.  In general, if both husband and wife or withdrawing, retiring into themselves…look out…things are going down a very bad path.  Even when one of the marital partners frequently withdraws, we are dealing with a dysfunction within the marriage.  A relationship where both parties experience emotional withdrawal is a lot like separation under the same roof.  It’s reflective of a couple ready to give up, throw in the towel.  This is state that is sometimes followed by depression.  I see this happening in couples or in an individual spouse that is bone weary of  marital conflict and lack of resolution.  When two people are frequently engaged in an adversarial relationship, they are in dire need for help.

 

  • Creating:  -This is an example of an alpha state and is among my favorites.  This is a state of mind where you and your better half want to spend a lot of time. It works at both the personal level as you seek to become the best version of yourself.  And it is also exceptionally effective in helping marriages become more fun and fulfilling.   What  we are talking about here is imaginative collaboration with your marriage partner.  Marriage couples that make use of their creative juices are thinking out of the box.  They learn the value of experimenting with new things or solve their problems using creative solutions.  Creating is about continuous renewal and learning. This is the mindset where couples can more easily experience transformative problem solving and win-win solutions.

 

  • The Subconscious:  Ok, I am going to talk a bit about the subconscious and its role in marital conflict.  The subconscious resides deep inside a place that is off the conscious mental state radar. Freud is probably best known for his ruminations about the subconscious.  There is still quite a debate about this mind state, if we can call it that.  But most experts agree that it is a powerful and influential part of our minds.  It controls and regulates much of our automatic systems, like breathing and blinking and plenty of other bodily functions.  It is sometimes referred to as our automatic pilot.  It is also said to shape and form our actions and mental state.   In my view, the subconscious bridges with the alpha and theta states of mind.  It is in these states of mind that the subconscious can be tapped into and re-programmed, at least that is what many believe.  Tap into your subconscious and create your reality.  Our reality is our thoughts, beliefs, and the mindset is thereby formed.

Putting Your Mind To Work

working dead

So what does it all mean?

Well let me tell ya!

First, I want you to learn to recognize your mindsets, both your own and your spouse’s.

It can be easy to get locked into certain negative or destructive ways of thinking about things.

It can slowly, over time become the norm.

After a while, each of you can retreat into your favored mindsets and that is not always a good thing.

Habits and routines can eventually take over your life.

That is not a problem, unless these habits and routines are unhealthy for the relationship.

So audit your mindsets.

Call them out.

Reward those which are healthy and benefit your marriage.

Do so by simply offering positive reinforcement such as, “I just love your positive and creative attitude.”  Change those that are leading you down the path of conflict.

A little later in this training guide, I will walk you through some skills development that will help you recognize the behaviors you should encourage and those that should stop.

I will provide you with a lot of tactical ideas and tips.

Adverse Effects from Fighting

nerds fighting

There really is not much good that come from fighting.

Now, there are some professed relationship experts out there that I am sure will try to convince you that fighting is a good way of getting things off your chest and releasing tension or whatever.

I just don’t buy into that reasoning.

Sure, some tensions can get released in the process of fighting with your mate, but not always.  Sometimes the tensions and resentments grow larger, particularly if there is no satisfactory resolution.

No, I think fighting is almost always a withdrawal from the relationship “bank”. People who advocate that fighting is a good thing are deluding themselves.

When I think of a healthy marriage, I imagine an emotional bank of goodwill as a measuring stick.  If your emotional balance sheet is healthy, then your marriage is strong.

What goes into your relationship account?

Every day you can deposit many little and large acts of love, trust, kindness, positivity, and appreciation.

When you fight, you are making a withdrawal.

When you fight, the trust between each other erodes.

When you fight, you end up perpetuating negative, unhealthy habits and routines.

The most powerful thing I could ever teach you is that Kindness rules.

Marriages that are filled with kindness are enormously successful.

Common sense reveals this principle to be true.

But it has proven to be validated through numerous studies of successful couples over the past decades.

Couples that fight injure the marriage.

The relationship is backpedaling when tempers rise and words and actions turn nasty and hurtful.  

For every serious fight, it takes 5 positive interactions with your husband or wife to make up the damage.

Bad Behavior Leads to the Worst of Fights

bad behavior

I have learned over the years that couples fight about many things.  But not all fights have the same weight in terms of impact.

Some are worse than others because of the topic.

Most fights stem from small issues that were triggered by someone’s emotional state.

The topic itself may hardly even rise to a level of importance in the scheme of things.

But the fight can grow out of control and still cause damage.

The worst fights are those that usually deal with very serious topics.  The fight itself can get very destructive and in these cases, the resolution may not be easy to come by.

So as you can see, fighting with the person you love is a complicated web of things.

The severity and duration and damage of the fight can be a function of the mental state you or your spouse may possess at the time and it can be affected by the actual topic the two of you are fighting about.

If I had to wrap it up in a nice, tidy little package, I would say that the worst and most destructive of fighting triggers would be the Four A’s

  • Anger
  • Affairs
  • Addictions
  • Acting like an Ass

And what is ironic is that these top four triggers that lead to bad fights or also 4 outcomes from fighting.

Stay away from the 4 A’s.

Fighting Bad – Learn to avoid Love Busters

bad fights

We all get busted now and again.  Ok, now I am not talking about drug busts or things like that!  But sometimes we do or say things and if the Love Doctor was watching us, they would bust us.

Yes, I know, we are all human and so sometimes we say and do really stupid things.  But I think it’s important to call them out.

I mean really, out loud.  If we say and do something stupid, own up to it and tell your wife or husband what you did.

Trust me, they will appreciate your honest, self appraisal much more than they may ever let on.

So what are these love busters that can create conflict.  Well, let’s start with one of the jewels of the conflict crown…selfishness.

If you take a hard look at your marriage and see that selfish behaviors rule, then it should be no surprise that the relationship has turned adversarial.

What I tell my clients who are seeking help with getting their marriage back on track is to participate in the “selfLESS Game”.

For an entire day, do nothing for yourself, but everything you can think of for your spouse.

Then on the following day, it’s your spouse’s turn.

They are to put aside their own wants and desires and genuinely become the selfLESS person you dream for them to be.

It may sound a bit silly, but try it.

Afterwords, sit down with your spouse and each of you talk about your feelings. Discuss what you think you may have learned from the exercise.

You will be surprised at the power of selflessness, particularly as it applies to the person offering it.

Once the two of your are engaged in conflict, what you both need to get away from are the angry outbursts and disrespectful comments that can so easily creep into the fighting dialogue.

Fighting bad equates to love busting.

When you or your spouse succumb to insult rituals or condescending and accusatory tones, guess what….you are a love buster.

Research psychologist, John Gottman, has done some amazing work in what makes great marriages tick.

He is the individual who put a face on what I consider is the long pole in the tent when it comes to the most successful of marital behaviors.

In his research work he came upon a great wisdom…..specifically, kindness and positivity rules.

Relationships that perform very well and survive for the long haul, observe a ratio of good to bad interactions of 5 to 1.

Learn to Negotiate (avoid winner vs loser outcomes)

i won

Another important skill you need to sharpen is the art of negotiation.  What you want to avoid during the course of a fight is the typical winner versus loser outcome.

Trust me, if you are fighting, you both have already lost.  You are both responsible for the withdrawals being made from your “relationship trust bank”.  So follow this simple plan:

  • Call a timeout.  You both need some time to settle down.  When one is emotional, one is seldom logical or cooperative.
  • When you reconvene, look for win-win solution(s)
  • Recognize conflict for what it is….a losing proposition for both of you.
  • Seek to understand the other’s point of view
  • Brainstorm together for a solution. Learn to shift your paradigm to come to a joint agreement

If after the fight, both marriage partners remain upset, angry, bitter, or resentful, then you both are DOUBLE losers.  If you both choose to fight, then you have a responsibility to end the conflict with a clear and equitable resolution.

That does not mean you walk away after the fight, promising not to repeat your mistake.

Both of you need to articulate and understand why the fight occurred and resolve whatever the problem is.

Anything short of that, leaves the fuse in place.

And I bet you know how easy it is for a fuse to be set off again.

Let me let you in on a trick of truth.  You might be wondering, “Gee Chris, it all sounds good, but how do my spouse and I accomplish what you described above”.  Here is the trick.

There is no way you will accomplish what I described, unless you sit down with your husband or wife BEFORE a fight occurs and discuss proactively that these are the things you agree to say and do.

You should also agree on the things neither of you should say or do during a fight.

And remember, a fight can last a little as 15 seconds or as long as many, many minutes…hopefully never for hours.

Now, I have several more ideas for couples to include in this proactive discussion.  So hang on, more help is on its way.

Are Fights Learning Experiences?

no try

You bet they are!

The first thing I hope you learn is how terribly injurious it is when couples fight.  They end up robbing the love bank and those wonderful deposits go missing.

When all the dust settles, husband and wife have an opportunity to take their relationship lemon and turn it into lemonade.

Fights can teach you something about yourself.

It can help you with understanding your state of mind.

It can teach you about your spouse’s state of mind.  You can learn to be more empathetic to the needs of your spouse and vice versa.

As fights occur, you have an opportunity to apply conflict resolution skills to manage them.

As time goes by, you will get better at employing these skills if you are committed.

If the frequency, duration, and severity of fights worsen within a marriage, then both parties are in real need of a conflict skills training.

Learning to Fight Fair – 25 Skills on How to Keep the Peace

not fair

As with all things that require some expertise, you need to invest time to develop your skills.

A marriage couple must learn to be competent in many areas, include how to keep the peace.

This is probably the most complete Conflict Resolution Skills List you will come across.

Like I said earlier, as much as we don’t want it to, conflict will come knocking on the door.

Sometimes it will just bust right on through when you least expect.

So you best be prepared to deal with this unwelcomed intruder.

Here are several skills, ideas, or tactics you can make use of.  Most of them you can implement right away.

Others may require a bit of practice before the couple masters these competencies.

If you and your spouse are committed to doing something about your fussy and fighting ways, then let’s get your mindset right.

It’s time to do some analyzing and learning.

Are you ready?  Well, let’s get on with it!  Oh, by the way, the items on this list are in no particular order.

Oopps….one more thing!

If you want a much more comprehensive discussion of the following skills and tactics that make up this Checklist, then read my upcoming post here on My Marriage Helper, titled, “Couples Training: Conflict Resolution Game Plan”.

Given that this is such an important topic, I have turned this skills checklist into an Assessment Tool that helps couples with understanding where they stand and what they can do to improve.

You are getting a great tool here!

Typically, I charge my coaching clients $400 for a 1 hour session (phone/email).  I provide them with the Assessment tool, answer all of their questions and put together an individualized game plan.

They love it, because it really helps.

I am now making it available to my website visitors at no cost.

Ok, finally, here is the Tool in the checklist format, but I encourage you to also check out the post I referenced above for greater insight.

Remember, these skills are to be employed during the fight.  You don’t have to use all of them to resolve a fight.

Conflict Resolution Skills Checklist for Couples

  1. _____Take a break during the conflict.  It’s time for each of you to cool off.
  2. _____Admit when you are wrong.  It moves you closer to resolution.
  3. _____Show empathy and it better be real!  It shows you are really listening.
  4. _____Find the humor in the situation, without belittling or using sarcasm
  5. _____Just shut up and reach out and embrace your lover.  Touch gently.
  6. _____Outlaw the word “but”.  It’s a non-starter and sets back the conversation
  7. _____Utilize the 5 second Quiet Rule frequently and take a deep breath
  8. _____Keep your gestures slow moving. Slow down the cadence of your voice
  9. _____Dial down the volume of your voice. Make it more quiet than normal
  10. _____Keep things in perspective. Every second you fight, you are making withdrawals from the marriage trust bank.
  11. _____Be the strong, quiet one. Take it on the Chin. Let the person unwind to release anger and emotion. Then talk.
  12. _____Get in touch with your “real” feelings.  An imposter may have temporarily taken you over during the heated discussion.
  13. _____Create a clear moment – when the smoke has cleared, agree you are both losers in the fight. No one can be declared the winner. Even if your spouse is wrong, allow them to salvage self-respect in that moment.
  14. _____Move to another environment to change the vibe – After cooling off, agree on a time and place to discuss problem.  Choose a setting that is comfortable.
  15. _____One fight at a time. Stick to the topic at hand
  16. _____Don’t talk over each other. When it’s your turn to talk, describe the issue honestly and clearly. Generalizations and blanket statements create openings for divisiveness, so avoid them.
  17. _____Don’t speak in riddles or camouflage the real issue.  Your spouse is not a mind reader.
  18. _____No hitting below the belt or fouls. Don’t escalate things by yelling, using aggressive posturing, raising sensitive topics.  Don’t label or make personality based statements about your spouse (eg. “you are awful, depressing, boring, crazy, neurotic, etc)
  19. _____Strive for balance in your discussions. Ensure each person has equal time to make their points and share their feelings.  Don’t dominate the dialogue.
  20. _____Utilize communication feedback loops to slow down chaos, anger, and heated atmosphere.  Both of you should repeat what the other said and show empathy and understanding.
  21. _____Agree to a No Fight List.  After the fight, there must be a solution…a path forward.  Vow you won’t allow the topic that triggered the fight to be a subject of a future fight.  Put it on the No Fight List.  Post on the bedroom closet door and let it be your reminder not to damage the relationship
  22. _____Don’t talk about your fights with others
  23. _____Suspend fighting if alcohol is involved
  24. _____Never, ever succumb to physical violence. If you feel the urge or you are afraid, leave the area immediately.
  25. _____Allow for crying.  It’s an honest and healthy release of emotions and can diffuse conflict. But don’t fake crying.

Click Here To Download The Checklist In PDF Format

How To Save Your Marriage During An Affair

It’s kind of ridiculous isn’t it?

The lack of actionable information you can find online to save your marriage during an affair.

Since cheating/affairs are kind of a hot topic here at My Marriage Helper I figured I would dive in and do some intensive research and you’ll never guess what I found.

NOTHING!

Ok, that’s not actually true. I did find something but nothing that really blew me away.

Instead I found the same old generic articles that you would expect to find. There were the Oprah or Dr. Phil articles swearing that if you follow their advice you have a chance of saving your marriage. And then there were the famous “list articles.”

“List articles” – is a term I coined that is meant to describe the plain jane articles out there that offer no real value.

You know, the articles that are entitled,

10 Ways A Cheating Spouse Can Ruin A Marriage

or

21 Ways That Cheating Can Actually Be a Good Thing

Pshh…

Ya right….

But enough of this nonsense. Lets get to the real reason you are here.

You are most likely here because either you or your spouse has been having an affair and you want to determine how you can save your marriage.

Hmm… perhaps I should be more specific.

You want to determine how you can save your marriage with in-depth details that actually work.  By the way, speaking of a detailed action plan.  If you have not gotten around to reading this lengthy article on how to save your marriage, then please make a note to check it out.

How To Save Your Troubled Marriage

So let’s get back on track with the point is was making earlier. You don’t want to rely on those generic “list articles” that I talked about above.

Well, I have just the thing for you.

15 ways that you can save your marriage if you or your spouse cheated!

Ok, reason number one..

Ha ha ha ha ha…

I am just messing around with you.

I tend to do that a lot so if I get out of hand make sure you slap me and get me back on track.

This page is going to have one sole purpose.

To save your marriage if either you or your spouse cheated on one another. Now, I feel that I should warn you before I get started that trying to save a marriage in this instance is not easy.

In fact, let’s explore this a little bit deeper.

Saving A Marriage If An Affair Occurred Is No Easy Task

Cheating/ Saving Marriage

I am not in the business of lying to you.

That’s what all those other list articles out there are for.

Nope, I am in the business of telling you the truth and the truth is that if you are trying to save your marriage from divorce if cheating is involved you have your work cut out for you.

Oh, and by the way, while I have your attention let me direct you to this post I wrote on how to affair proof your marriage.  While the article you are reading now will help you if your marriage is currently under fire due to an affair, here is some useful information you should consider that can help you and your lover be more proactive.

How To “Affair Proof” Your Marriage

Why Is It Hard To Save Your Marriage In This Instance?

marriage is hard

Cheating is the ultimate betrayal that someone can make in a relationship.

In fact, it’s so scary that it rules some peoples lives.

I don’t know if you know this about me or not but on top of being the founder of My Marriage Helper I also have founded two other very successful relationship websites called Ex Boyfriend Recovery and Ex Girlfriend Recovery.

These websites (yes you guessed it) help men and women with either,

A. Getting back with their exes

or

B. Getting over their exes

Due to the nature of these websites I have heard my fair share of crazy cheating stories.

But none of the stories I have ever heard have topped this one.

There was a girl who THOUGHT her boyfriend was cheating on her. Now, when I asked her what made her think that she said that her boyfriend came home later than usual one night.

That’s it…

He came home late one night and never did it again and she thought he was cheating.

As a result of this fear she went through his things whenever he wasn’t around.

She cracked his Facebook password and read his personal messages.

Oh, and this is the best part.

She started spying on him when he was at work.

Yup, she literally took off from her own job to spy on him.

After she didn’t find anything out of the ordinary she confronted him and demanded that he come clean.

“I didn’t cheat on you” he kept telling her

“YES YOU DID!!’ she kept yelling back

This woman, who had absolutely no proof that her boyfriend was cheating on her let the fear of cheating rule her life and as a result her boyfriend broke up with her.

I mean, we all want to think the best of the people in our lives. We want to think that they would be loyal and never stray but sometimes the fear of being cheated on takes over.

Now, when you work yourself up like that and find out that you were cheated on it can hurt.

Oh, and lets not discount the people out there who were completely blindsided when they found out they were being cheated on.

So, why is it so hard to save your marriage if you or your significant other had an affair?

Because of this very same fear.

I want you to look at the graphic I put together for you below.

face

There are three parts to this infographic.

Part One: Being Cheated On

This isn’t rocket science.

Part one is the actual act of cheating. Either you or your spouse cheated and that’s why both of you are here looking for answers.

Part Two: The Fear Of Having It Happen Again

Lets say that you cheated on your spouse (and I am not saying that you did) just bear with me here.

So, you cheated on your spouse.

Well, as a result of that action your spouse is going to be terrified that it is going to happen again.

Oh, and we all know what fear can do to a person.

Re-read that crazy story I told above about the girlfriend who thought her boyfriend cheated but didn’t if you need proof of that.

Part Three: As A Result Of That Fear The Person Isn’t Able To Reconcile

Let’s stick with this idea that you were the one who cheated on your spouse.

(Again, I am not saying that you did we are just using this as an example.)

So, you cheated on your spouse and as a result of that cheating your spouse has the fear that it is going to happen to them again.

They don’t want that to happen to them again.

The pain…

The betrayal..

All of that stuff is frightening to a person.

So, what do they do? They push the source of all of that pain away YOU.

This makes it very difficult for a reconciliation to occur and is an underlying reason for why a lot of people can’t forgive cheating.

There’s that word…

“Forgive.”

Forgiveness is defined as the ability to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

Forgiveness is kind of a big deal when we are talking about cheating because in order for you and your husband or wife to full reconcile the wronged party/ies is going to have to forgive the wronger.

So, how often does this even happen?

How often do wronged couples stay together?

Lets look at some of the statistics…

Statistics? Why Do We Need To Look At Statistics?

stats are coming

I know…

I know…

I hate citing statistics as much as you hate reading them but they are important because they can teach us a lot so bear with me here.

Oh, and just an FYI when I cite statistics I always like citing the ones that are shocking.

What can I say?

I am a “shock and awe” fan.

Except in this case I suppose it’s more shock than awe.

Alright, are you ready for the first SHOCKING statistic.

You Cheated…. IT’S OVER FOREVER

Well…

Maybe not.

According to an article from YourTango over 50% of marriages actually are able to survive an affair.

So, that’s actually pretty good news when it comes to your chances right?

Absolutely!

However, that doesn’t mean you are out of the woods just yet.

Your marriage can still break up over other issues so make sure you stay on top of the five synergistic principles of a successful marriage.

Cheating Is Common… A Little Too Common

According to Dr. Dana Fillmore 50% of marriages are impacted by some sort of infidelity at some point during the marriage.

In other words, if you look at your marriage and your best friends marriage then statistically either you or him will cheat/be cheated on in their marriage.

Actually, we know the answer to that one already.

Your marriage was the one that was affected and not your friends.

Men Are More Likely To Cheat Than Women… Except In This Case

This isn’t so shocking to hear but I did find it interesting so I decided to include it.

It is statistically proven that men will cheat more than women.

Hmm… perhaps I should change that statement to say that men cheat slightly more than women.

HOWEVER, as women are becoming more and more financially independent they are starting to act more like men and the percentage of cheaters goes up.

You hear that ladies?

You can be just as guilty as us men.

Fantasies… Oh Fantasies…

This one is also pretty interesting.

When I was doing research on cheating I came across a website called “The Truth About Deception.”

It was actually a pretty great resource.

Well, one of the things that they do is survey their readers about cheating.

Through these surveys they learn truths about cheating. Well, in one of the surveys they were trying to determine how often couples thought about someone else sexually.

In other words, if you were a man who was married this survey would measure how often you would fantasize about a woman who wasn’t your wife in a sexual way.

Guess what the results were?

Well, the “Truth About Deception” claimed on their website that “almost everyone fantasizes about someone else” but when I had a closer look at the actual statistics it looks like 65% of people claimed that they had fantasies.

So, while I wouldn’t say that “almost everyone” fantasizes I would say that a really large amount does.

This begs an interesting question.

Is fantasizing about someone else other than who you are married to considered cheating?

My Marriage Helper’s Definition Of Cheating

If there is one thing I have learned about relationships in the past several years it’s the fact that everyone has a very…. unique way of looking at things.

For example, let’s say that you grew up being taught that the sky was purple.

purple sky

And then I came along and insisted that the sky actually wasn’t purpose but it was blue.

blue sky

So, whose right and whose wrong?

Me of course!

(Actually the sky can turn kind of purple during a sunset but lets forget that little tidbit for a second.)

It’s for these type of disagreements that I would like to officially define what an affair is.

Yes, believe it or not but some people’s definition of an affair is different than others.

So, lets take a look at some of the things that we are going to consider “an affair” here at My Marriage Helper.

What We Consider To Be An Affair At MMH

what is an affair

I figured I would be thorough with you so I am going to go down this list one by one of what we consider to be cheating here at My Marriage Helper.

Alright, lets just get this show on the road.

Kissing Another Person Passionately

The keyword here is passionately….

Look, if I caught my wife kissing anyone on the lips I would be absolutely ferocious in my anger.

However, I am not naive to the fact that we have visitors from all over the world coming to this site and believe it or not but in some cultures you say hello by a little kiss on the cheek or on the mouth.

There is definitely a difference between a peck on the mouth or on the cheek to say hello and a passionate kiss that means something.

Here let me give you an example,

Peck to say hello,

italian cheek kiss

Ok, in this case it was a peck to celebrate but you get the idea. Now lets look at a passionate kiss which clearly is cheating.

kiss

You can definitely see the difference right?

How the guy is into her…

How the girl has this little smile on her face…

Heck, I am sure after the camera was off there was tongue involved and the kiss went from passionate to sexual.

In other words, if you or your significant other have kissed someone like the kiss shown in the gif above then you are cheating.

But that’s just the first level.

If things progress beyond just a kiss….

Well, then you are really in trouble.

Having Sex With Another Person

This is what everyone thinks of when they think of affairs or cheating.

I am not going to lie to you.

Out of everything that is listed here this is by far the worst.

I don’t have to spell this out for you do I?

Ok, how can I do this in a family friendly manner?

Hmm…

There isn’t really a great way is there?

I guess I can get super technical with it.

Alright, so a man and a woman have these reproductive parts and when they “smush” these reproductive parts together they do something called “sex.” When you have this “sex” you make babies.

BAM!

I totally explained that in a very family friendly manner 🙂 .

Ok, lets move on to our next offense.

Sexting

This is a fun little fad that’s popped up in recent times with the invention of the cell phone and text messaging.

Alright, so what is sexting?

Sex…

Texting…

Sexting….

Do you see how that works?

Basically people combined sex and texting to form sexting.

The way it works is quite simple. Someone sends an explicit and very sexual picture (through text messages) to someone else and they are engaged in sexting.

Or as I like to call it….

Being engaged in CHEATING.

Emotional Cheating

There are a lot of people who say that emotional cheating isn’t really cheating.

Hmm…

I suppose technically it’s not but we are going to count it as real cheating and if you don’t agree with that decision allow me to defend my position.

I like using role playing to illustrate my points so we are going to pretend that there is a married couple named Julie and Bob.

(Side Note: I use Bob a lot throughout my little role plays and Bob usually does something stupid so I apologize if your name IS actually Bob. Ok, onto the role play lesson.)

So, Bob and Julie have been married for 7 years and things have been pretty solid between the two for most of their marriage except recently they have been growing apart.

As a result of this “growing apart” Bob has decided to turn elsewhere outside of his marriage for emotional support in the form of Jenny.

So, we have Bob, Julie and Jenny and they are in a bit of a love triangle,

triangle

So, right now Bob is getting emotional support support from Jenny which kind of looks like this,

triangle

Now, initially there is nothing wrong with this except the fact that the more that Bob gets emotional support from Jenny the more he begins to develop feelings for her,

1438175688-test

And once those feelings have developed then you know a physical affair is right around the corner. In fact, I would make the case that the type of affairs that are “one night stands” are rare in marriages.

Take this statistic for instance,

60% of affairs start at the workplace.

In other words, that means that more than half of all affairs are committed with someone that you or your spouse knows.

Time has developed this connection and in many cases they spend more time with this person than with you.

(Assuming they were the one who cheated. If you were the one who cheated then you obviously know already who you cheated with.)

So, emotional affairs are dangerous and I would say that most of the time they lead to a physical affair sometime down the road.

But enough of this talk.

I think I did a pretty good job of explaining what we consider to be an affair here at My Marriage Helper.

Lets move on to the interesting part of this article, saving your marriage during an affair.

Something You Need To Understand About Saving Your Marriage After An Affair

you don't understand

People are lazy…

I guess what I am trying to say is that YOU are lazy…

Does that offend you?

NEWSFLASH I am not here to cater to your needs. I am here to save your marriage and sometimes that means telling you the cold hard truth.

Why am I saying that you are lazy. Well, I know that as you have been reading this article there has been a thought that has been gathering in your subconscious.

The Thought = I hope this doesn’t take too long to work.

And therein lies our problem.

If you attack this problem from a position where you are thinking “I hope this doesn’t take too long to fix things” you are going to fail because here’s the thing about affairs,

People don’t just get over them. They take time and work on you and your spouse’s part to get over.

Why?

Well, I am a married man,

married man

And I love my wife very much but even thinking about her having an affair gives me chills (and not the good kind.) It scares me a lot. So, you know that something that scares me that much is a serious deal.

Here’s the thing though.

She hasn’t had an affair on me but either you or your spouse has.

That’s not going to be an easy thing to forgive.

Now, at this point of the article I was going to attach a YouTube video of something I saw years ago from a man who specialized in helping couples who have had affairs.

Unfortunately I looked everywhere and I couldn’t find the video.

Here was the gist of it though.

Being cheated on is probably THE most painful thing that you can experience in a relationship and that horrible feeling of betrayal doesn’t go away in a matter of days, weeks or months.

Did you get that?

This problem isn’t going to go away quickly.

It is going to take time.

How much time?

Well, probably a minimum of a year or two before you and your spouse can fully move on.

Now, I know what your thinking.

“Holy Toledo, it’s going to take THAT long to save my marriage from an affair?”

Yup, I know that it sounds like a lot initially but if you really think about it, it’s not that hard to believe.

Lets go back to our example of Bob, Jenny and Julie above and pretend that Bob has cheated on Julie with Jenny.

Well, Julie isn’t just going to forget about Bob’s affair.

Nope, she will most likely obsess over it…

Worry about it…

Get depressed…

Get angry…

Get depressed again…

Worry about it one more time…

Be disgusted…

You get the idea.

It can take YEARS to pick up the pieces from an affair and even after all the pieces are picked up the person who was cheated on won’t EVER forget about it.

I suppose I can end this section with a quote from Helen Fisher, a Rutgers anthropologist, whose husband had an affair 15 years ago,

You can get over it. You can get over all of the feelings; but in my experience, you never forget it.

How To Save Your Marriage From An Affair

Ok, so rather than set this up I am just going to give you My Marriage Helper’s four part strategy for saving your marriage after an affair,

save a marriage from cheating

Now, I know what your thinking.

“Really… four steps? That’s all? You can’t be serious.”

Nope, I am dead serious.

While it may look like a pretty simple strategy to save your marriage at first glance it’s anything but.

In fact, these four steps will probably take one or two years to fully complete.

However, in order for you to even have a chance of saving your marriage you need to get past part one of this process.

Let’s examine that now.

STEP ONE: Overcome You or Your Partners “Want” To Leave

I want to leave

Have you ever asked yourself why I put together this website?

Why I am so dedicated to saving marriages?

Care to take a guess?

I am sure some of you will guess that I am all about the money and while I won’t deny that I do hope to gain more financial freedom from this site that’s not it.

This site is my attempt at preventing people from making the biggest mistake of their life… divorce.

So, I am from the United States and where I am from the system is completely broken.

Lawyers profiting off of people in pain…

Judges profiting from it…

Alimony payments lasting a life time even when marriages only lasted a year…

Children used as pawns by lawyers and judges to prolong disputes which ultimately end up making them more money.

What’s that old phrase?

You end up paying your lawyer your kids college savings to put HIS kids through college…

There is truth to that statement.

That’s really sad isn’t it?

To be honest, it’s rare to find someone who goes through a divorce unscathed.

In fact, many people end up completely broke and some people are never allowed to see their kids again when they did nothing to warrant that harsh of a punishment.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because either you or your spouse has been cheated on here and pretty soon one of you is going to start to feel this strong pull to leave the relationship. I like to call this the “want.”

So, let’s pretend that you are a man and your wife has cheated on you with Bob.

(That damn Bob…)

Well, after the reality of the betrayal sets in and you can’t get the thought of Bob being skin to skin with your wife out of your head you are going to feel this very strong pull or “want” to say the leave the relationship.

So, lets say that you were to do that.

Let’s say that you and your wife get into a screaming match over the cheating one night and you tell her you are done and you want to file for divorce.

So you do…

You want revenge and you start thinking of the worst way that you can hurt her…

A way that you can make her feel the pain that she made you feel…

“The kids… you think to yourself. I am going to seek full custody of the kids.”

Now, your wife has been an excellent mother and there is no reason that she should get her custody right reprimanded.

So, the two of you battle it out in court.

Now lets throw in a rotten lawyer and a crooked judge that delay the process and the two of you end up broke and in debt just paying fees to cover the expenses of your lawyers.

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.

Despite all of that you are still in love with her.

Why would you do that?

Why not just work on your marriage instead?

Look, I don’t know who I am talking to here. I don’t know if you were the one who cheated or your spouse was the one that cheated.

Whatever the case I want to tell both of you something.

DIVORCE IS NOT THE ANSWER!

You will regret it because it ruins EVERYONE involved including your kids.

So, what’s the best way to overcome this “want” to leave the relationship?

It’s basically explaining the fact that divorce is often a mistake in the United States by making many of the points I made above.

Here’s the thing though, if you were the one who cheated you lost almost all credibility so they need to hear it from someone else other than you.

A parent…

Friend…

Heck, even a stranger.

Now, if you were the one who was cheated on then you are hearing it from me right now.

Divorce is often NOT the answer.

STEP TWO: Kill The Contact With The Cheater

its over

This is a big step and it’s essential that it’s done if you want to have any chance of saving your marriage.

Now, I don’t know your situation exactly so I don’t know who cheated on who but lets just assume that you cheated on your husband or wife.

(Again, I apologize for making what could probably be a false accusation but bear with me here because I promise there is a point to this)

Assuming that in order for you to have any chance to salvage this thing YOU are going to have to take some drastic steps regarding the person you cheated on your significant other with.

Hmm…

I hate to use my own marriage as an example here since it is about as good as it gets but if my wife had cheated on me and I were to give her a second chance I wouldn’t do so without making sure that she is no longer in contact with the person she cheated with.

I mean, it’s beyond me why some people think they can still “be friends” with the person they cheated with while still working on their marriage with their spouse.

What are they thinking?

That their spouse is going to be cool with the idea of them still being around the cheater?

NO WAY!

That’s why I recommend that if you cheated to make sure you kill ALL contact FOREVER with the person that you cheated with.

And if your spouse was the one that cheated on you then you need to make sure that they do the same. In fact, I would say that you really don’t have a great chance of saving your marriage unless they do and while I hate to advise anyone to demand something out of their relationship this would be the right time to do so.

Now, I would like to talk a little bit about what I mean when I say “kill all contact with the cheater.”

What Does “Killing Contact” Really Mean?

Perhaps a better word for this should be “killing existence.” In other words, what we are trying to achieve here is to never talk to them again and to never EVER acknowledge their existence.

Now, if that sounds drastic then you aren’t going to like this next part.

Sometimes that means a job change.

I should have really included this part in the section above about statistics but this is a better place for it.

In her book, Not ‘Just Friends,” Dr. Shirley Glass stated that 50% of women and 62% of men had affairs with people in the workplace.

In other words, it seems like work is one of the top places for an affair.

This could be a little troubling to those of you who need to “KILL the contact” with the person involved in the affair.

I mean, it’s a really tough position to be put in.

On one hand, you could have a flourishing career that helps you put food on the table and a roof on the head. However, your marriage could suffer due to the fact that you still work with the person you cheated with and your spouse is always going to have trust issues with you.

Oh the other hand, you can give up that flourishing career and risk financial hardship for a while (until you find a new job) but you can take a big step in salvaging your marriage by getting away from the person you cheated with.

What do you do?

Let’s look at this logically.

Now-a-days the average time a person spends in a company is 4.6 years but lets round that up to 5 years.

Marriage on the other hand is supposed to last a lifetime.

When you look at things like that it should be a simple decision, right?

Logically… yes.

Emotionally… no.

It’s hard to ask or expect anyone to give up a career that is bringing in good money for anything.

What’s that old phrase,

Money is the root of all evil?

So, I have an idea if you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose between your job or saving your marriage.

Look, the one thing that you have to understand is that if you cheated on your spouse with someone you work with and you continue to work with this person then you are risking a divorce.

But I do understand the need to make money for a family (I have been there.)

So, what if instead of just quitting altogether you shopped around and found a job in the same niche that pays around the same.

This way we can satisfy both needs.

The need to get away from the person you committed an affair with and the need to have money.

STEP THREE: Rebuilding Trust

trusted

This section is going to be controversial…

I am sure of it.

Why?

Probably because of the unconventional advice that I am about to dish out.

BUT before you jump to any conclusions all I want to ask is that you hear me out.

We have already covered the first two steps of saving your marriage from an affair but now it’s time to get to the hard part, rebuilding trust.

Now, I have talked extensively in the past about rebuilding trust in a marriage but rebuilding trust after you or your spouse has had an affair is a little bit different.

It requires a bit more effort.

Why?

Well, in order to explain that I think I am going to have to do another of our favorite role plays.

Lets pretend that you cheated on your spouse and they just found out. For the next few months/years that betrayal from you is all that they are going to think about.

They will think about you kissing that person…

Holding that person in your arms….

Doing “the nasty” with that person…

These type of thoughts will consume them and I have yet to meet a well adjusted human being who is ok with these thoughts.

Do you remember above how I talked about the fear of cheating sometimes being worse than the actual act itself?

How it is extremely difficult for someone to be open to a reconciliation because they are so afraid of having it happen to them again?

Well, this very same fear is going to cause a person to be extra suspicious of everything that you do from this point on.

If they do decide to stay with you and you go out with your friends one night they are going to wonder,

“Is he/she really going out with friends or is he/she really just meeting up with a fu*k buddy?”

Lets say that you leave your phone out one day while you are in the show and you get a text message from a friend named Bob while your significant other is around.

Well, I would bet good money that they would pick up your phone and start looking through it to make sure nothing inappropriate is going on between you and Bob.

Fear is a very powerful motivator… remember that.

What you need to do is be aware of this fear and combat it with trust building strategies.

Now, I have come up with a few unconventional trust strategies that you can employ to make your spouses fear of being cheated on a little… less.

Lets look at those trust building strategies.

Trust Building Strategy One: Phones, Facebook, Emails And More…

Ah, so we have arrived at the first controversial strategy.

Every time your phone goes off your husband or wife is gong to be petrified that it’s some other fling that you are about to embark upon.

So, instead of letting your husband or wife wallow in despair let’s lift them up a bit by giving them full access to your phone.

While I do realize this is a bit elementary I think they will appreciate the idea.

How does this work?

Ok, lets say that you are a man named Gerry who is married to a woman named Ginny.

You have just cheated on Ginny.

(YOUR SO BAD :p .)

Well, after Ginny found out you decide to sit her down and employ this strategy.

“Ginny, I just want you to know I am so sorry for what I did to you. I truly don’t deserve you for sticking by me. BUT to prove that I am committed to you and only you I have something I want to propose. I want to give you full access to my phone, Facebook, email and anything else you can think of. Whenever you want to see it or go through it you can and I won’t have a problem with it. I want to prove to you that you can trust me.”

Now, I realize that this strategy may be a little unconventional and definitely controversial but that’s kind of the point.

You don’t see a repeat cheater offering this kind of solution up now do you?

Oh, and for those of you who are going to give me a speech on how spouses should trust each other.

I think the fact that someone cheated pretty much seals the deal on why one spouse can’t trust the other one right now.

Now, another controversial thing about this strategy will probably revolve around the fact that if you open the floodgates and let this happen when will it end?

Lets say you cheated and you offer this phone solution up to your spouse.

For the rest of your days will you always have to serve up your phone any time your husband or wife gets a feeling that you are being unfaithful again?

No…

Because something interesting happens.

While you may have to use this solution for a few years I will say that eventually when trust does get restored you will find the frequency at which a spouse looks through your personal accounts will become less and less and then eventually it won’t happen anymore.

Trust Strategy Two: Revamp The Rules Of Your Relationship Regarding The Opposite Sex

And herein lies our second controversial strategy.

Most relationships have these unwritten/un-talked about rules regarding the opposite sex.

Take my wife and I for example.

While we have never actually discussed it, it is understood that I am not to spend any of my free time with other women not named Jennifer or Lilly.

(My Wife and Daughter.)

This is an unwritten rule that I understand just like she understand that she isn’t to go on dates with other men.

Again, we haven’t ever talked about this it’s just understood.

Now, I am sure that you and your significant other have similar un-talked about rules in place but after one of your cheats on the other it’s time to talk about those rules.

More specifically, it’s time to revamp the rules.

What I suggest is that you sit down and talk about the rules of your relationship regarding the opposite sex.

Here is the thing though, if you cheated on your spouse then you let him/her make the rules and if your spouse cheated on you then you should have a right to make the rules.

STEP FOUR: Meaningful Acts of Repair

meaningful

Ok, this is the last trick up my sleeve and it is arguably the biggest one.

Have you ever heard that quote on risk?

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

Let’s look at your situation for a minute.

Either you or your significant other cheated.
When you look at cheating in a marriage what is considered an ordinary response to cheating?
And no, I am not talking about the initial reaction to the cheating that involves anger, depression and all that other stuff. I am talking about the big picture stuff.
Do people normally stay after a betrayal like an affair?
No, they usually separate or ask for a divorce, right?
That’s the ordinary thing to do.
And it’s because of most peoples inability to try something unusual that they can’t seem to save their marriage.
Not us though, right?
We are all about the unusual here.
So, what extraordinary thing can you do to get an extraordinary result?
You will have to perform a meaningful act of repair.
What Is A Meaningful Act Of Repair
It’s something HUGE that goes for the shock factor.
More importantly, it’s something meant only for the person who was cheated on. In other words, if you cheated on your spouse then YOU would have to perform the meaningful act of repair.
What’s an example of a MAR (meaningful act of repair?)
Let’s pretend that you have an amazing job that you love.
It pays well…
Ok, saying it pay’s well is a bit of an understatement it pays phenomenally well and you get to feel powerful since everyone is always coming to you for help.
However, it is also at this job that you cheated on your spouse.
So, a meaningful act or repair would doing something drastic like quitting your job to not only satisfy your husband or wife’s need for you to be away from the person you cheated with but to also sacrifice for them.
To remove yourself from the environment so you can spend more time focusing on your relationship with them.
Here is a list of some meaningful acts of repair that you can use,
  • Quitting a job to spend more time with spouse
  • Being open to going to therapy
  • Offering a heartfelt apology (aka the apology of the century)
  • Having OPEN communication

How To Rebuild Trust In Your Broken Marriage

“Breaking Bad” was one of the most popular television shows ever made. It underscored that the erosion of trust in a marriage and within a family is one of the most destructive forces that can act upon a relationship.

bb gif

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist putting a breaking bad gif in 😉 .)

Breaking trust can topple the very best of marriages. The lack of trust is probably the single biggest factor couples point to as ending their relationship.

That is why it is a continuous process to make your marriage work.  Losing your husband or wife is incredibly painful.  I discuss that in the article below:

Why is Breaking Up So Hard and Painful

It is not the straw that breaks the camel’s back, it is a thousand tips of an arrow piercing the heart.

You see, trust is all about the hundreds of little and sometimes big things we do or don’t do that amount to gaining or losing that important connection we need in marriage. Think of a patchwork of a quilt. It consists of numerous squares and as it is assembled over time, its shape takes form, strengthened by the the contributions of each solitary square. Developing trust works in the same way and as a couple creates experiences that reinforce their bond, they become protected by a blanket of trust.

Building a Wall of Trust

wall of trust

The way a successful marriage is suppose to work is they start off with a bond and over time the relationship strengthens. When issues of mistrust arise, the bond being secure from years of loving acts will serve to protect the marriage..

That is how trust should operate over time.

It is like a wall of support we slowly build, a brick at a time, so that when you look back to see what you have constructed, it is strong and sturdy.

One way to grow trust is to work on the key elements in making your marriage successful. Take a look at this post, if you have not already, as it is filled with a great deal of useful advice.

How To Save Your Troubled Marriage

If love is the bonding agent in our marriage, then trust is one of its ingredients. Without a healthy dose of trust, marriages break down and fail.

It is instrumental that couples realize that trust can be fragile.

You do 10 things to build it strong, but one serious act of betrayal can cause it to come tumbling down. And like Humpty Dumpty, putting it back together again can be a difficult and lengthy process.

Now usually, if you have a good amount of this love juice working in your favor, then your marriage can tolerate a good number of misdeeds from one or both of the spouses. It really depends on the severity and frequency of the lies.

Speaking of lies, guess what?

Everybody lies.

Husbands at times will lie to their wives and wives will also feel compelled at times to bend or break the truth completely.

Why is this so?

There are many reasons why people lie just as there are many things people lie about.

Deception in Marriage

deception

So what should we call a liar?

Are they a fabricator?

Well, yes, that is part of the equation. A person, whether it’s a spouse or anyone for that matter, who does not tell the truth, often will fabricate facts to spin their story.

But it’s more than that isn’t it?

A person need not make up things to be a lying.

They can conveniently leave out key facts. So in that case we could call them a deceiver. A person of deceit is one who paints only the picture they want you to see.

For that matter, if we want to get childish about it all, we can call the person a fibber.

We can press the definition further and to biblical and claim the person is bearing false witness.! Perhaps from a legal perspective they are a perjurer.

Ok, enough of all of that! I think we will mostly stick with the term liar.

Types of Lies

throne of lies

Let’s talk about the types of lies that contribute to a breakdown in trust. Now, if you are out there thinking that you and your husband or wife are immune to deception and lies….that you have constructed the most trustworthy of all marriages…think again.

I do not wish to burst your balloon.

It very well may be that your relationship is strong, underpinned by years of trusting each other and seeing that trust is well placed.

But know that even the strongest of couples will encounter issues. Don’t fear it and don’t be surprised by it.

Accept those experiences when deception and lies creep into your conversation as opportunities.

I once had a client whose husband seemed to be a pathological liar.

Now, I certainly am not suggesting this is the norm in most marriages and I don’t want the suggestion that certain people seem very comfortable with lying to color your view of the opposite sex.

I just want you to see the kind of deceptions that exist in some marriages.

In this particular case, the client….

(We will call her Beth…)

Contacted me asking for help.

She said that her husband seemed to have perfected the concept of lies and deceit. If she had to assign him a grade on the trust scale, he was reportedly a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1 through 10 (from the lowest trust to the highest).

trust scale

Beth went on to explain that he seemed to have a compulsive need to lie about things and as a result, she really did not trust him about anything.

She said he told numerous white lies, frequent opportunistic lies, some very hurtful lies, and absurd untruths which I characterize as whoppers.

White Lies Aren’t So Bad, Right?

what lies

So what is a white lie, you may ask?

It is one in which your husband or wife bends the truth in an effort to minimize pain or hurt.

People who are conscientious of how others feel about all sorts of things, will sometimes withhold information or modify the truth so as not to bruise the other individual’s feelings.

So you are thinking, “Well, that is not so bad, right”.

Ok, I agree that an occasional “white lie” given certain situations is not harmful to a relationship. But even while lies, if they accumulate in greater numbers, can create a sense of distrust.

Oftentimes, the person who is the recipient of the little old lie, is aware that their spouse is not really telling them the entire truth. If this happens frequently, the trust for the person telling the “lie” erodes.

Moral of story….don’t make telling white lies a habit.

Yellow Lies For Yellow Bellies

yellow belly

Beth was also the recipient of what I would characterize as yellow lies.

Her husband was constantly dipping into the deception pool in search of ways to promote himself or hide things that might make him look bad.

I think it is cowardly when someone is lying and deceiving another just because it’s convenient and/or self serving. Instead of facing the music, some individuals will persist with telling their fantasy and spinning the truth.

Sometimes, such lies are told to disguise a truth so it won’t be detected.

As Beth explained, the examples of these yellow belly lies ran the gambit from,

“Oh, yea I took care of all of those bills” when in reality the family’s finances were under even greater strain….

To

I am going to work this weekend for a few more hours”, when in reality he went fishing and drinking with his buddies.

When your marriage partner is telling yellow lies with great repetition, it suggests that they are seriously misjudging your intelligence.

In most cases, such lies are partially transparent as they result in the spouse becoming suspicious due to the frequency of occurrences. Beth kept telling me, it was not just the lie that hurt, but it was the comfort and ease her husband had when telling her these fibs.

Ironically, she explained that it would have bothered her little, if he had just told her the truth about what was going on. But with her suspicions aroused and the eventual truths later coming out, she realized that there was something seriously wrong with the relationship.

She further explained that her husband seemed to have a compulsive need to tell lies because even after caught red handed, he would again resort to the same tactics again and again.

Black Lies Create Dark Times

lies

Beth also talked about very serious lies that tore at the fabric of their relationship…. deceptions that could be characterized as betrayals.

Her husband had an Ex that he swore was no longer part of his life. But truth be told, the two of them were frequently seeing each other.

When finally confronted, her husband acknowledged that he and his former Ex saw each other, but argued that it was strictly platonic and that they were just good friends.

As it turned out, the reality was quite the opposite and to make matters worse, the Ex was not even aware he was married.

It is these wicked lies of deceit that when piled up upon each other, turn out to be the most destructive and darkest of lies.

As the dark clouds began forming over the marriage, Beth’s husbands pattern of defense was to deny, deny, deny.

In hiding the affair from his wife, he constructed an elaborate assortment of lies. Such is the slippery slope of all “black lies”.

The more one turns to fabrications to cover up other lies, the deeper they fall into the quicksand of deceit.

It is these kinds of multi layers of lies that invariably create some of the most darkest periods in a marriage. Hence, I refer to them as the black lies.

The Whoppers We Sometimes Tell

whopper

Another type of lies that individuals fall prey to are called “whoppers”. These lies are also often elaborately constructed.

The liar will put their own unique spin on the facts such that it eventually takes the shape of an unbelievable story.

In many cases, the lie is small and has minimal negative impact on the relationship. Often, the person spinning the story seems acutely motivated for personal or other reasons to extend the life of the deception .

Eventually, the whole charade comes comes crashing down, often before the fabricated story is even completed.

I know some couples that just like telling whoppers to each other and they get along quite well. It is almost like a game as the weave in and out of the facts. Provided that such stories are told with a degree of “tongue in cheek”, I have no problem with this form of storytelling. Indeed, it can be quite entertaining and healthy for the marriage.

So not all whoppers are necessarily a bad thing. But if your spouse is frequently making up absurd stories to impress you and it is clear they are not doing it for your amusement, then we are dealing with an unhealthy form of communication.

Unintentional Lies

didnt mean it

Sometimes we are so convinced that our spouse has lied about something that even a swearing on a stack of bibles would not change our view.

But guess what? We all make mistakes with the facts.

We misspeak often.

The things we end up saying may not reflect what we were really thinking. We can get confused about what happened or recall something incorrectly.

As a result of these developments, certain untruths can escape our lips. So even if your husband or wife has said something you believe to be untrue, don’t assume that they are intentionally lying.

They may just not be remembering correctly.

I often see occasions where the communications between the couple is less than ideal and things can get turned around or confused. So while I certainly do not tolerate habitual liars and intentional deceptions, just know that your partner in life may have made an innocent mistake.

Moral of story….do not be too quick to judge. To evaluate the veracity of whatever you are hearing, learn to probe and give your spouse an “out” to revised or modify what they “think” they know.

Lying by Omission

omission

We have all seen this in operation and I bet you have been on both ends of this type of lie. Sometimes a person will feel they are “technically” telling the truth by omitting certain facts.

Their rationale is that they can’t be accused of lying because everything they said is truthful.

The problem is that sometimes what the spouse shares is limited in scope and they purposely leave out details knowing that if they provided the fuller story, it would land them in trouble.

Politicians do this all the time, hoping to shape opinions and gain support.

Fortunately, most people see through these veiled attempts to deceive. People who use this technique intentionally seek to cloud the truth. I think of them as sneaky liars.

Does your spouse sometimes behave like a politician in your marriage?

Hopefully not!

My experience in counseling couples is this type of “bending of the truth” eventually gets called out. Sooner or later, the truth bleeds out.

These efforts of carefully crafting the truth is futile.

By the time the real truth has surfaced, the damage resulting from the lies has grown larger.

This is because the longer the lies exists, the greater its propensity to cause harm to the marriage.

So in this respect, lies can be measured by both the gravity of the deception as well as the length of time the lie has persisted.

What Do Spouses Lie About?

lie

Quite honestly, the kinds of things spouses lie about covers a large swath of topics.

Here is a list of many of the things about which husbands and wives will bend the truth.

Many of these kinds of lies and fabrications cover broad categories such as personal issues, relations, sexual activities, time spent with others, secretive or negative thoughts, and general insecurities.

  • Meetings with Ex
  • Engaging in emotional affairs
  • Participating in extramarital affairs
  • Deception around whereabouts
  • Drinking habits
  • Drug use
  • Financial and Money matters
  • Watching Porn
  • Why they can’t spend time with you
  • Past boyfriends or girlfriends
  • Concealment around flirting behaviors
  • Secret email or phone contact with old flames
  • Sexual fantasies and masturbation
  • Concealment about past sexual history
  • Secret addictions
  • Lies around their true sexual orientation or preferences
  • True feelings about partner’s friends, family, or co-workers
  • The physical appearance of their partner
  • True feelings about their husband’s or wife’s habits and behaviors
  • Religious beliefs
  • Hiding their jealousy and snooping behavior
  • Concealment of their job security or level of contentment
  • Deception about their “true” feelings of love and feelings of attachment to their spouse
  • Hiding the truth about their own insecurities or emotional disorders
  • Lies about discipline or lack of discipline of children

Why Does My Husband (of Wife) Tell So Many Lies?

why

So as you can see, there is quite a number of lies men and women tell each other. The web of lies that are spun can act as a divisive force.

Intimacy suffers.

Without an open and truthful marriage, everyday life becomes an uphill battle.

True intimacy comes from really knowing the truths about a person, particularly those at the deepest levels.

Why do people find it so difficult to tell the truth? Why would a spouse jeopardize their relationship?

Well, those are good questions. It is also a difficult to answer specifically for each person because everyone brings with them their own set of attitudes about truth telling. Again, let me remind you.

Everyone lies.

Obviously, some people lie much more frequently than others. Learning to curb the desire to tell untruthful things to your spouse is critical.

If your marriage is predicated on the notion that you accept and trust each other completely no matter what you tell each other, then the desire to lie is greatly reduced.

If you know that there will be no or little in the way of repercussions for telling hard truths, then the truths you tell each other will ultimately strengthen your relationship.

To learn how to reduce the “Lies” being told in a marriage, it helps to understand why people lie. The reasons why people lie can sometimes be deeply psychological, but generally they fall into these forms of justification:

  • The husband or wife feels they have a right to tell a lie every once in awhile to protect their feelings or those of their spouse. White lies fall into this category as do those lies of convenience. What I would describe as “lazy lies” also fall into this kind of thinking. Sometimes, the truth is more complicated, so people will rattle off a little lie to just tie things up faster. Or, the marriage partner is actually quite lazy and for example, if asked if they took out the trash or paid the bills; they simply reply, “sure, I took care of that”…..when actually they did not.
  • Another reason why a spouse will hide the truth is to avoid embarrassment. They may be trying to “save face” and feel compelled to “color the truth”. By the way, isn’t that an interesting phrase….”color the truth”. It is so appropriate because people find many reasons to modify the truth about things or situations. Just as there are many colors in the spectrum, so too are there many ways in which the truth can be twisted. Forgive me for digressing! The point here is that no one likes the feeling of being embarrassed, so invariably there will be times when your spouse will simply lie to make themselves look better.
  • Another reason why people have difficulty with the truth is that they may be protecting someone else. They could be hiding an affair. Their motivation could be due to sparing any bruised feelings that could occur if the facts were fully known.
  • A marriage partner will often feel secure in their lie because they feel they can get away with it. Their reasoning is flawed of course because they often discount all the times they have gotten caught. Liars also don’t take into account those times when they were suspected of lying, but were not called out. People who frequently lie usually will just remember the times they think they “got away with it”. So they reason, “if there are no repercussions” then why not lie. But as already pointed out, their logic if flawed. Most of the time, a lie is eventually found out. Liars who utilize this form of rationalization, are deluding themselves.
  • Yet another reason why your husband or wife may lie is that they have formed a habit of frequently misleading you. And habits and routines, once established, can be difficult to break. So, some people just lie when it suits them because they have done so often and this behavior is deeply rooted.
  • We also have some individuals, hopefully not your spouse, that lie because they have serious psychological issues. Certain characters out there tell lies in a pathological way. They usually have serious character flaws. Maybe they have little empathy for their marriage partner and care less about the impact their lies have on others.

Why Telling The Truth Is So Important in a Marriage

truth

In many cases, the act of lying is far worse than the actual lie itself. One a constant stream of lying is allowed to exist in your relationship, the very core of the marriage is at risk.

As lies mount up, trust recedes.

A marriage without heavy doses of trust and belief in your spouse is like a car that has run out of fuel. You can stay in the vehicle as long you wish, but it won’t go anywhere.

But don’t throw in the towel if the trust in your marriage is eroding. Time can be your ally.

Think of your marriage as a “Trust Bank”. As you and your spouse make investments into each other with “truths”, your marriage emotional bank grows.

The actual building of trust (i.e. marriage bank) is associated with a secreted hormone called oxytocin which is the cuddling and bonding hormone.

Lies tear away at trust and can bankrupt your marriage trust bank. Telling the truths, particularly those “difficult” truths that may in the short term but painful….

It is this type of behavior that grows the marriage trust bank.

Oxytocin is the same hormone that is secreted when we orgasm.

Truth telling over time is a powerful investment in your relationship bank. Telling the truth is associated with stronger marriages, better health, and longer life so say the researchers…. and I agree as I have seen this in practice.

Building trust is an endeavor every marriage couple should strive for everyday. This is accomplished through small and large moments…. but mostly the small, positive experiences you have together.

If your daily experiences are founded on little lies, the relationship will eventually collapse.

It is through the flow of positive and pure little moments you have with your wife or husband that you will form a tighter connection…. a stronger bond.

There are some practical things you can do to help with growing the trust in your marriage. It starts with being “attuned” to your partner’s needs.

If you can understand their needs, even anticipate them, this can help with building a foundation of trust.

Also be aware of your marital partner’s mood, empathize with their situation, and learn to be open to their viewpoints.

Try to avoid being defensive if they raise topics or issues that make you feel uncomfortable.

By all means, stay away from playing victim or playing the blame game.

The most impactful thing a marriage couple can do to promote truth telling in their relationship is to talk about it.

Discuss with your spouse that there will be times where each of you may feel compelled to hide, conceal, or outright lie about things and talk about how those behaviors almost always get found out and cause injury to the marriage.

Encourage your lover to stay on the straight and narrow path and when they do tell a “difficult truth”, express your genuine appreciation.

Now with all that said…. I have to admit….. I still think it’s appropriate to occasionally tell a white lie, provided the telling of such a lie results in emotional support for another.

Obviously, the telling of a white lie is very subjective and situational. But I think there is room for the smallest of lies if they are for selfless purposes (i.e. not selfish) and you are convinced that the lie, if found out, will not cause harm.

My experience in giving and receiving of “white lies” is that they are not entirely a deception, but rather an exaggeration or partial truth.

Restoring Trust in Your Relationship

trust me

Ok…. I think we have talked enough about the types of lies and the kinds of things people lie about within their marriage.

Let’s turn our attention to doing something about it because after all, if we can’t restore trust in the marriage and break the cycle of deception, then we have some serious issues. Here are the top 10 ways of rebuilding broken trust in your marriage.

Don’t Seek Revenge

revenge

Once the lie or deception becomes apparent, do not double down on the misdeed by seeking revenge.

That only makes things worse.

I once had a client whose husband was lying about his gambling ways. When she found out that he had been lying for months about some of his weekend trips, she decided to get back at him.

Instead of discussing the matter openly, she went to the bank and immediately closed their joint checking account, took out all of the money and decided that she too would go out gambling with her girlfriends.

You can probably guess what happened next. It suffices to say that the relationship between her and the husband turned into a gigantic cluster frack, if you know what I mean.

Seeking revenge is never a sound strategy and in some cases actually increases the chances of more future deceptions as both parties now have even more to conceal.

Don’t Directly Confront Your Spouse About Their Lying

poor ppl

If possible, once you discover your husband or wife is lying about something, try to orchestrate the discussion such that they eventually reveal to you the truth. If you can create an environment where your spouse feels safe in telling you the full truth, then you are moving in the right direction.

Now, this approach in no way excuses them of their misdeed. Nor should your spouse be awarded for their untruthfulness.

They should see that their deception or concealment of the truth has an emotional effect on you, the marriage partner. Indeed, you should tell them how you honestly feel about being lied to.

The pain you feel should be shared with them, so they understand the full effect of their actions. But it is important that they hear that you appreciate them “coming clean”.

Don’t Play Victim

victim

A while back, I had a client that told me a story about her boyfriend and his former Ex girlfriend. It turns out that he had lunch with his Ex and had concealed this event from his girlfriend. She had suspected something was up because she noticed he was behaving differently and was hesitant to talk about his day.

The couple was quite close, so she was particularly well in tune with his behaviors. Eventually, she stumbled upon the fact of her boyfriend’s lunch date when she checked his phone records and saw the confirmation.

Well, like most people would be, she was very unhappy and disappointed that he was concealing the lunch with the ex girlfriend.

So when she confronted him about it and even though he claimed it was all very “platonic”, she turned inward for days, frequently telling her boyfriend how wounded she felt.

I am not a big fan of playing victim.

Some people think it can be an effective way to “guilt trip” somebody to do or not do something. But more often than not, I have seen the “victim play” turn out to be very counterproductive.

For most of us, the pain of a lie, coupled with the feeling of a potential betrayal with a member of the opposite sex is a powerful emotional cocktail. So expect to feel upset and maybe some panic if a situation like this occurs.

But stay away from the idea of playing victim because you can become what you play at. And a victim is not what you want to be in this situation. A victim is perceived as weak.

You want to be the strong willed individual. But you also want to be pragmatic. So your spouse or boyfriend (in this case) needs to know that you are disappointed that he was not more forthcoming.

Unless there is more to the story or situation, then move forward. Living in the past and playing the victim works against you in both the short and long run.

Avoid Being Defensive, Casual, or Righteous

breath

Ok, this piece of advice is for those who lied or deceived their loved one. Accept that you screwed up. You truly did. Do not make matters worse by being defensive or trying to justify your lie. That approach or attitude will most certainly explode in your face.

Nor should you be casual about the whole matter, giving off vibes like, “what’s the big deal”. A lie, even the small ones, can feel like a pretty big deal at the moment of discovery. Finally, by all means, avoid the act of behaving in a righteous manner, like you are entitled to lie or that the lie was not that serious.

When caught in a lie, throw up your hands and offer no resistance to whatever the emotional outburst may be. Don’t launch into a series of justifications or detailed and confusing explanations. Trust me, in most cases, whatever you are saying won’t be heard as the person is still thinking about the lie you told and how it makes “them” feel.

I am fond of saying that “when emotions run high, logic runs low”. Avoid making the situation even more emotional than what it already may be. There will be time, later, to discuss why you had the terrible notion of lying to your spouse. In the moments right after the discovery of the lie, most spouses will not been open to any of your notions or rationalizations.

And don’t forget…the bigger the lie…the greater the negative reaction will likely be. So keep it zipped up, except showing you are sincerely regretful. Be contrite.

Come Clean

clean

It is unbelievable to me how often liars are unable to come to terms with the truth. There seems to be some spouses out there that are in constant denial. It is as if they believe they can talk their way out of the original lie. But what invariably happens, is they end up telling more untruths and the situation just snowballs.

So for us liars (remember, everyone lies), it is best to come clean. Don’t compound the situation by telling more fabrications. It is much better to move the conversation quickly to exactly what you did and why you did it. Constant denials is weak and in most cases your lies are obvious. When couples are able to immediately put the truth out on the table and work through the issues together, then the topic of conversation can move from looking backwards at the deception to moving forward as to next steps. When the married pair are arguing about the past, there are no deposits being made to trust bank.

Remember, it is often the length of time a lie exists that creates the most pain and conflict. The sooner the person comes clean, the faster the healing and forgiveness can unfold

Be an Open Book to Support Your Story

no memory

So now that we have outed the “lie”, let’s talk about the truth. Admitting to a lie is one thing, but then getting the spouse to believe what the individual has to say next about what happened (or didn’t happen) can be a tall mountain to climb. And it’s understandable because credibility is probably in short supply.

What is advisable is for the person to be an open book. Just lay everything out there. This means making the cell phone and email records available. The lying spouse needs to be prepared to expose their vulnerabilities as that might be the price one needs to pay to regain trust.

Now, some people may balk at this advice. They may say, “hold it, I not going give up my privacy just to prove my innocence”. Well, if you have a very understanding wife or husband or have previously built a lot of trust in the “marriage bank”, you may have a point. But I always like to ask the question, “what is more important, your privacy or your marriage”.

Avoid Words and Actions That Can Trigger Conflict

words

When considering serious breaches of trust, a couple can break out into an all out war. Some years ago, a movie came out called, “War of the Roses”, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. This married couple, started off quite blissfully in the beginning, but by the end of the flick they ended up sprawled down on the floor with a chandelier laying on top of them.

Hopefully, if you saw the movie or get around to watching it, you will realize the futility in allowing words and actions to get so out of control that you end up tearing down the relationship.

It is better to avoid all of the ugly talk. I realize this can be difficult for some, particularly the person who has been lied to. Emotions being what they are, it can be hard to hold it together. But realize that no one is perfect.

Even the victim of a lie, has victimized others with untruths. So keep things as civil as possible when discussing whatever the mess is all about. And please, stay away from chandeliers!

Forgive and Decide to Love

forgive

The key to rebuilding broken trust in your marriage is to forgive your spouse. Now, I don’t want you rushing to forgiveness. Let the discussion of why the person felt compelled to lie play out. Explore what the truth really is.

When you see that your marriage partner is truly contrite and regretful, that is the prime time to offer your heartfelt forgiveness. It comes down to whether the couple wants to loosen the bond of marriage or strengthen the marriage.

They each have an act to play in this unfolding drama. The liar has to come clean and express genuine regret. The person lied to has to make the decision to forgive. Together the couple decides to love. Strong marriages don’t allow past mistakes to dominate and grip their lives.

Renew Vows and Set Goals (Message in Bottle)

bottle

I am real big on symbolism and events that underscore commitment. You don’t need to wait around for such things to happen. You can make them happen, just as you made and created the love between yourselves.

One of my favorite ways of rebuilding trust is to re-write your vows and place them in a bottle. Then go out to a beach or lake and watch the sunset, then launch the bottle on its way. Another way to symbolize your trust is to take a padlock, place a special mark or symbol on the back of it, then take it to a popular bridge and secure it in place. Let that lock represent the forever bond between the two of you.

Marriage Recovery Systems

Sometimes the problems of mistrust and broken vows are of such significance that despite what actions the two of you take to reconcile, it just does not work out. In these situations, it can be helpful to seek help in the form of a couple development marriage program.

There are audio and video marriage recovery systems that can prove to be helpful to some couples. You can also seek marital counseling or therapy. Depending on numerous factors, one on one marriage counseling has proven to work. Not always, but if your marriage is on the line, then you should not stop short of trying both traditional and non traditional solutions.

In closing, please take a few minutes to share with me your story or situation. I am happy to offer my input and our readers are often eager to share their experiences which can be of benefit to you.

Every relationship will have its challenges in the trust department. Start building your marriage trust bank account. Make deposits every day. Your future balance will grow to be quite large and will withstand the down cycles all marriages experience.

How To Know If You Should Try To Save Your Marriage

I have to admit something.

I struggled writing this.

Why?

Because most of the people who visit this website are probably trying to save their marriage and while I am a strong believer that every marriage should be saved there are some situations where I do think it’s better for a couple to split.

Can you believe I just said that?

Crazy, right?

But more on that later.

For now all you need to grasp is that this page is all about knowing if you should TRY to save your marriage.

Now, I don’t want you to mistake this article for if a marriage can be saved.

Almost any marriage can be saved.

We already know that.

What I am trying to make you realize is whether or not your marriage is worth the time and energy to save.

So, here is how this page is going to work,

How This Page Will Work

work

When it comes to My Marriage Helper I have a tendency to go a bit… overboard.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that I give away a lot of information for free. You see, my theory is that if I write the very best articles/guides/pages in the world then this website will flourish.

That means that this page is going to be no different.

I am going to go way above and beyond for you and attempt to provide you with the best information in the world around whether or not you should try to save your marriage.

So, here is the rundown of what I am going to be talking about today.

  • The Special Situations Where I Think Divorce Is Necessary
  • The Cost Of Divorce And How It Relates To Saving A Marriage
  • My Theory On Saving A Marriage
  • How To Go About Saving Your Marriage If You Decide You Do Want To Save It

 

By the way, if you are also seeking some answers on how to put it all together, consider this post:

How To Save Your Troubled Marriage

Lets just cut all the build up and jump right to it!

The Special Situations Where I Think Divorce Is Necessary.

necessary

This is going to sound really funny coming from a guy who makes his living making sure couples stay together.

Sometimes divorce is necessary…

Yup, I don’t live in the magical fairy la la land where all divorce is never an option that some of the other experts out there live in.

I live in the real world where nothing is ever black or white. Sometimes it’s the shades of grey that you have to pay attention to and that is certainly the case here.

But what are the situations where divorce is necessary?

Hmm…

Perhaps I should put this in a way that you will jive with a bit better.

What are the situations where you shouldn’t try to save your marriage?

Turns out there are quite a few.  Take a look at this post if you find yourself questioning how you can move forward without your lover.

How To Get Over a Breakup With Someone You Love

Below I have compiled a list of the top reasons for why you SHOULDN’T Save your marriage.

(Don’t worry, I will cover the reasons for why you should save your marriage a bit later.)

The Situations Where You Shouldn’t Save Your Marriage

shouldnt

This is weird.

It really goes against my nature to talk about the situations where you probably shouldn’t try to save your marriage but I want you to listen to the following situation and tell me if you personally would advise to save a marriage in this situation.

Lets pretend that you know a married couple named Jim and Janet. The two of them have been your best friends for years and they seemed to have the perfect relationship.

At least, that was your view of them until one fateful night where you run into Janet looking like this,

After some detective work on your part you determine that Jim has been beating Janet pretty brutally.

Now, upon talking to Janet about her current circumstance you learn that Jim has been doing this for years and there is no indication that he is going to stop anytime soon.

Now, here is my question to you.

When you see a situation like this do you think you could advise that Janet try to save her marriage with Jim?

Personally… I can’t.

And this is just one form of abuse, physical.

Generally abuse can be split up into three categories.

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Sexual

I suppose I will take a quick moment to cover what each of these looks like in a marriage using our favorite fake couple Jim and Janet.

Physical Abuse

Not too much left to cover here.

Basically if Jim hits Janet repeatedly on purpose or if Janet does the same to Jim then that will classify as physical abuse in my book.

I think I did a pretty good job of covering what it looks like above though so lets just move on to emotional abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse isn’t cool.

However, the good news here is that it can be worked around. In other words, if your wife or husband is being emotionally abusive then I don’t necessarily think that you should try to give up your marriage.

Like I said, almost every marriage can be saved and no human being walking this earth is going to be perfect.

Do you need proof?

Ok, here is a list of qualities that are common among emotionally abusive relationships,

  • Constant put downs
  • Humiliating you
  • Refusing to communicate with you
  • Jealousy for no reason
  • Needing control at all times
  • Using money to control you
  • Threatening to leave you
  • Threatening to commit suicide if you leave
  • Making everything your fault
  • Constantly calling/texting when you aren’t with them

I am sure that at some point I have committed a few of these sins in my relationships.

Let’s see here…

I definitely have put down an ex girlfriend before but not excessively.

Hmm… what else bad have I done?

I have refused to communicate when I have been mad before as well.

Oh, and I have threatened to leave an ex girlfriend before (ultimately I did and it was the best decision ever but that’s besides the point.)

What I am trying to illustrate here is that committing a few of these sins isn’t that big of a deal. In fact, I would wager that if you look at this list you have committed a few of these sins too.

In regards to marriage and emotional abuse what we are looking for here is an excessive use of the signs above.

For example, lets say that every time you went out just to see friends your spouse texts you and calls you.

Why?

Because they think you are up to something. Now, this fear that you are “up to something” makes them jealous and they certainly act jealous when you get home.

Of course, when you add in the fact that they have to be in control of you at all times you have got yourself a winner.

Oh, and lets not forget that in order for them to feel truly powerful and exert their control over you they threaten to kill themselves if you were to ever think about leaving.

…..

Hmm…

If you are married to someone like that then I would say that before you make a decision on whether or not you want them back you need to ask yourself one question.

What is that question?

Can they change?

Believe it or not change is possible but it will take A LOT of work on their part.

If you ask yourself that question and you are able to answer “yes” then I would say that your marriage is worth saving.

On the other hand, if you ask that question and say “no” then it may be time to invest in a change in your life if you catch my drift.

Sexual Abuse

This is always a hard topic to talk about but…

Sexual abuse CAN happen in marriages.

In fact, it can happen in many different shapes or forms.

I guess I would like to dedicate my time here to talking about a couple of situations regarding sexual abuse.

And like before, I would like to use our favorite fake couple, Jim and Janet.

So, lets talk about the first situation.

Let’s pretend that Jim and Janet are going to bed one night and Jim is “in the mood.”

So, he goes to his tried and true method of begging for sex.

Of course, Janet is tired from her hard day at work and decides that tonight is not the best night to embark on a lovemaking session.

However, being the caring wife she is she decides to tell him that they can do it tomorrow.

Jim doesn’t like this answer and tries to force himself on her.

Janet pushes him away…

Jim get’s angered by this, holds her down and eventually rapes her…

I am sorry but if you have been sexually abused in this way there is no way that I could ever recommend that you try to save your marriage.

But that’s only one situation of sexual abuse.

Let’s talk about the other and more frightening one.

Now, I know what your thinking.

What can be more frightening than getting raped?

Well, lets take a look at Jim and Janet again.

Jim and Janet have been married for ten years and have two children together (a boy and a girl.)

One day Janet comes home early from work and notices that Jim’s car is the the driveway.

“That’s strange?” she thinks to herself.

“He isn’t usually home this early.”

She walks in the house and notices that the kids have been picked up from school when she sees their backpacks near the front door.

“Jim must have picked them up.”

Excited she decides to check on her little girl and walks to her room. When she opens the door she is horrified when she sees Jim sexually abusing her.

Now, let me ask you.

At this point does this sound like a marriage that should be saved?

I don’t care how great of a guy Jim was to Janet in their own relationship there are no words or actions that can be said or performed to make up for sexually abusing a child.

This does not get my stamp of approval for a marriage that deserves to be saved.

The Motto Of Saving Your Marriage That You Need To Live By

best

Lets switch gears for a moment and talk about something more uplifting.

I am a pretty positive guy and that last section totally bummed me out so I want to turn our attention to the marriages worth saving.

Do you remember above when I said,

Almost every marriage can be saved

Well, that “almost” in the phrase above were the situations where you shouldn’t save your marraige.

Other than that just about every marriage out there is worth saving.

Now, I entitled this section “The motto of saving your marriage that you need to live by” for a reason.

There is a motto that I want you to get really used to because  you are going to be hear me say it a lot here at My Marriage Helper.

What Is The Motto?

Are you ready?

Ok, here is the motto!

Leave no stoned left unturned

It’s funny, when I hear this phrase I always picture some guy in a forest of stones kind of like this,

stone forest

And he is just going around turning over every single stone.

Now, while I am sure that little image was interesting to you it really doesn’t capture what the phrase means to us here.

Look, if you want to give up on your marriage that is fine. I am not going to stop you.

HOWEVER, only after you have turned over every stone.

What do you think I mean by that?

Ok, lets say that you are debating on whether or not you should save your marriage. Maybe your husband or wife hasn’t been the best to you in recent years but you haven’t take any actionable steps to improve things.

That means that there are still stones that you haven’t turned over yet.

I mean, at the end of the day you can’t close your eyes and say that you have done absolutely everything in your power to save your marriage.

From what I have seen in my own life most people give up on their marriages without making any effort at all to fix things or “right the ship” so to speak.

I want to dive a little bit deeper into this for you since this motto about “leaving no stone unturned” is kind of a big deal.

The Goodnight Tactic

goodnight

I am going to teach you a little tactic for saving your marriage and it is going to require a bit of work on your part BUT it aligns perfectly with MMH’s (My Marriage Helpers) motto of leaving no stone unturned.

Requirements For “The Goodnight Tactic”

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Discipline
  • Hard Work

What The Goodnight Tactic Is

I want you to take out a pen and paper and write down EVERYTHING you can possibly think of that will save your marriage.

Now, I realize that it’s hard to think of everything to save your marriage in one sitting BUT do your best. If you happen to think of something down the road feel free to add it to the list.

Oh, and if you need a few ideas of what you can do to save your marriage you can read the uber long workshop I wrote about saving marriages.

Once you have your list all written out the easy part is over and it’s time to start actually checking a few items on that list off.

At the end of the day (every day) right before you go to bed I want you to pick up the list and look it over.

If you ended up completing one of the things on the list you can check it off.

If you still have a lot of items that aren’t checked off then don’t sweat it. Just take things one day at a time.

Essentially what you are doing with this list before bed (you see where the goodnight part comes in, right?) is you are listing out all the stones you still have to turn over in order to save your marriage.

If a year or two down the road you found that you have checked off every single item on your list (and yes sometimes checking off the list will take that long) and your marriage still isn’t saved THEN you can give up but only after you have done everything in your power to save it.

Hmm…

Perhaps this would go better if I gave you an example.

The Goodnight Tactic Role Play

Lets take our favorite power couple Jim and Janet and say that Jim wants to save his marriage since he was such a jerk in the examples above :p.

So, he comes onto My Marriage Helper and learns about the goodnight tactic and he decides to implement it.

After a lot of thought he takes out a pen and paper and jots down the following things that he would like to work on in his marriage.

  1. Becoming more positive in the marriage
  2. Spending more quality time together
  3. Go a week without fighting
  4. Become A Better Version Of Himself
  5. Come To Terms With His Wife’s Past

Now, when you look at this list it’s pretty basic, right?

I mean, it’s kind of hard to measure “being more positive” isn’t it.

Well, that’s why you need to come up with specific goals to meet relating to each thing you wrote down.

Let me show you by going down the list of 5 things above.

Becoming More Positive In The Marriage

Like I said above, this is kind of hard to measure.

So, lets make it more measurable.

What is your idea of a perfectly positive person?

Mine would probably have to be Joel Olsteen.

Now, that may be weird for me to say since I am not necessarily the most religious person in the world but I can’t get over how positive this guy is.

He always has a smile on his face and always tries to see the good in people. I like that and I think that is the perfect attitude to bring to a marriage.

So, in order to make “being positive” more measurable I would say that if you can copy this type of behavior for 66 days (the average time it takes to create a new habit) you should be golden,

Spending More Quality Time Together

This one isn’t that hard to make measurable.

What is your idea of quality time?

How much of it do you think is enough?

You are probably thinking,

“Umm… Chris, that is why we came here. YOU need to tell us.”

Truthfully, I think there needs to be quality time every single day. However, that quality time doesn’t have to be that long. Maybe after you put the kids to bed you and your husband or wife can sit by the fireplace and talk about the day you had.

I mean, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be.

Now, with that being said there also needs to be one night a week where the two of you do some type of quality activity (like a date.)

Again, we are going to use that 66 day mark to achieve this goal since that is how long it takes to form a new habit.

Going A Week Without Fighting

This one is very easy to measure so I am not sure that there is much that I can say here.

I guess the only thing I would like to add is the fact that sometimes it is good to have easy goals to achieve to sort of get you on the board.

Lets move on to our next goal.

Become A Better Version Of Yourself

In this article I laid out why it is so important to be happy with yourself before you can have a successful marriage.

I find this is very easy to measure as well.

In a perfect world what would make you more attractive to others?

Would it be a perfect body?

More money?

More awesome stories to tell?

A calmer demeanor?

What I am trying to get at here is that you live in a perfect world and there is nothing stopping you from achieving the perfect version of yourself.

So, go out and achieve it.

Come To Terms With His Wife’s Past

Remember, this is Jim’s list and Jim is a bit.. jealous of his wife’s past. In fact, this jealousy has been the cause of quite a few fights in the past.

Well, the time has finally come for Jim to come to terms with his wife’s past relationships.

Now, how can we measure this?

How can we say that he has successfully gotten over his wife’s past?

To be honest I am not sure he could ever get over his wife’s past 100% BUT he can get to a point where he doesn’t see red every time it’s mentioned.

My advice would be to turn to all the anger and hatred over the past into a positive thing.

You need an outlet to get over a past and the best outlet is to put all that energy into improving yourself (the last list.)

But that still hasn’t answered how we are going to measure this.

Well, lets use our favorite habit rule of 66 days and say that if Jim can go 66 days without starting a fight over his wife’s past then he can consider that a success.

 

The “D” Word

d word

Nope, I am not talking about “damn.”

I am talking about divorce.

In the section above I talked a lot about leaving no stone unturned and doing everything possible to save your marriage but what if you turn over every stone and exhaust every avenue and you haven’t seen any positive change in your marriage?

Are you allowed to give up then?

Hmm…

The first thing I would say to you is,

“Have you really turned over every stone?”

More often than not there is always something more that you can do.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say that Jim (our favorite husband 😉 ) seeks out my help to save his marriage with Janet and he is claiming that he has done everything to save it.

Well, after asking a few basic questions I determine that he actually hasn’t done everything in his power to save his marriage.

He hasn’t sought out marriage counseling from a licensed professional…

He hasn’t tried the goodnight tactic…

Heck, he hasn’t even grasped the core concepts of the synergistic principles that I talk about on this site.

So, he hasn’t done absolutely everything.

Now, it might be a different story if he had tried everything which is what I would like to talk about now.

Look, I am not one of those people that thinks absolutely every marriage should be saved.

I showed you above that clearly there are situations where married couples shouldn’t stay married.

If you have turned over every stone and your marriage still hasn’t improve or if you are in one of the situations that I mentioned above where I don’t recommend saving a marriage I think it might be time to move on.

However, you do deserve to know what you are getting yourself into if you do decide to divorce.

The Risks Of Divorce

risk

I want you to look at this in two ways.

Way One: To prepare you for what divorce is going to feel like

Way Two: My last ditch effort to convince you that most marriages are worth saving.

So, the first thing I am going to tell you is pretty obvious.

There is a link between divorce and depression.

In fact, according to this article by the Huffington Post 60% of people who had a previous history of depression reported another bout of depression after divorce.

I know that is probably common sense to you.

Divorce probably scares the heck out of you which is why you are here trying to save your marriage.

I guess my point in telling you this is that you are more likely to truly become depressed after divorce.

But that’s perhaps just one reason divorce is scary.

What’s the other reason?

Well, it’s a bit more… financial.

The Cost Of Divorce

Lets pretend that you were to divorce your significant other right now.

How much do you think it would cost?

Sure, if the divorce is uncontested you are probably out around $500.

(FYI: uncontested divorces are divorces that are settled out of court.)

But what if you find yourself in the middle of a contested divorce?

Well, that could cost you anywhere between $8,000 to $132,000.

OUCH!

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.

On top of the HUGE cost of divorce from your ex significant other your yearly expenses go up.

How much do they go up?

They can go up by $42,000.

What if you own a home together and still have to pay the mortgage on it?

What if you have children together and have to pay child support?

What if you have to find child care?

At first glance you can scoff at the idea that all these things could cost you that much but these things really add up.

The average mortgage on a home is around $1,061/month which equates to $12,732/year and we all know that, that is just the tip of the iceberg. You still have utilities, water, gas, etc to account for.

All in all paying all of these things can really add up.

Now, when you look at it that way isn’t your marriage worth the investment?