You’ll want to be very confident in the decision to part. If you think there could be a chance of saving your marriage, there are many approaches available to you. If you have already decided you need to divorce, or the decision has been made for you, you can skip this section. If not, hopefully you’ll find some different approaches to consider. In fact, we would love more than anything to hear that the tools and information on this site actually helped save your marriage so you are both able to move forward happily and fulfilled.
Grab a Book
Below are some of the most popular books and guides either for individuals sorting through if they want to stay or go, or for couples who are on this journey together.
|Book & Author
|The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts,
|This profound, quick read helps you discover what makes you feel loved, and understand what makes your spouse feel loved. They are likely very different approaches, and if you are doing for your spouse what makes YOU feel loved, and it’s not his/her “love language”, then you are unknowingly leaving your spouse feeling alone, abandoned and unloved and vice versa.
|Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples,
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D
| Asking for what you need in a relationship is the only way you will get it. Being aware of what you need is the first step, then loving yourself enough to ask for it has to follow. As you know, men and women have very different ways of thinking and expressing emotion. Don’t wait for your spouse to read your mind and then punish him/her if she doesn’t. Take control and responsibility for getting the love you want and deserve.
|Divorce Busting, A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again,
Michele Weiner-Davis M.S.W.
| Weiner-Davis offers a step-by-step approach designed to get fast results by yourself or together. Her belief is that divorce is not the answer and endeavors to provide couples advice to keep marriages together.
|Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Dr. Sue Johnson
||Based upon Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is touted as having a high rate of success in improving marriages. Johnson focuses on creating 7 conversations to reestablish or deepen emotional connections, thus improving and saving marriages. This technique is successfully used by many therapists.
Work with a Marriage Counselor
Engaging a marriage counselor can be extremely helpful. They may use one of the books above as an approach and guiding philosophy, or do something all their own. They will help you identify root causes of the issues, focus on your relationship dynamics, provide communication strategies and other tools in attempt to solve the current challenges. The counselor may help guide you both in the decision to stay or end the marriage.
Take the Make-It-or-Break-It Vacation
Successful relationships require time and attention. If work, kids, social life and other obligations have replaced quality time with your spouse, is there really any other result you would expect other than relationship failure? Do you even remember what it was about your spouse that you fell in love with? When was the last time you had more than five minutes of uninterrupted time to communicate about things other than kids and work schedules and logistics?
Plan a long weekend or week away, just the two of you. Include activities you both enjoyed doing together before you had children. Remember to be patient with each other during your getaway and allow for the first couple days to be awkward, or even bring up angry, resentful feelings. You can choose to talk about them (utilizing healthy communication techniques), or just start DOING some fun things together (laugh, be childlike and open), and just see how that feels. If sex has fallen out of your marriage, get back on that horse and see how it goes. You may be surprised that the anger and resentment start to dissipate, and you begin to see your spouse as a person again, and the issues you are having as a mutual problem with shared responsibility. Once you can own some part of the relationship problems, you may be able to connect again.
Talk to Your Clergy or Pastor
If you have a close relationship with your church and clergy, make an appointment to talk about the issues you are having in the marriage. If you want to go alone at first, do that and then bring in your spouse. This is a time for self examination and reflection as much as it is about your marriage. Your first goal should be personal growth and awareness. This will enable you to have a more open-minded approach to the process of healing your relationship. Do be cognizant of philosophical differences you and the religious organization may have toward divorce. If you feel that divorce may be a real option for you, yet your religion is against it, a discussion with clergy may not be the best route.
Work With a Life Coach
A life coach is a viable alternative to traditional couples therapy. An experienced life coach can help guide you through a process of self-discovery, as well as assist with action-driven approaches to reconnecting with your spouse, or creating a healthy exit plan. Our Untangle The Knot Life Coach, Jen Wacaser, has had tremendous success breaking down walls with individuals and couples when other methods have failed. Each spouse takes an assessment, and she has a call with the two of you to review the differences in how you see the world. This often brings forth many ah-ha’s in terms of understanding that interactions you two have may be much more about their personality and values than anything having to do with you.
Work With a Relationship Coach
A relationship coach is another great alternative to traditional couples therapy. Our relationship expert is Nancy Hamilton. Her approach is to triage the hot issues to diffuse the tension and then work to align the couple around their vision and a plan to achieve. She doesn’t necessarily work to keep a couple together, rather she gives them tools to communicate better and resolve conflicts and help them come to the right decision for them.
Try a Healing Separation
A Healing Separation is an alternative to a divorce developed by Bruce Fisher, Ph.D., author of Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends. This approach presents an opportunity to go through a structured “trial separation” to allow you to determine the best path moving forward. It requires that both partners are committed to creating healthy relationships with themselves, and each other. If a relationship is in trouble, there are essentially three choices 1) continue as is, 2) end, or 3) carve out a new relationship.
A Healing Separation helps you land on the best path by doing the following:
- Taking the pressure off a troubled relationship
- Enhancing your personal growth
- Transforming your relationship
- Ending your love relationship on a positive note
Does a Healing Separation fit your situation?
- You are experiencing sad and unhappy feelings
- Your partner has refused to take responsibility for the relationship difficulties
- You are feeling rebellious
- You are in the process of healing your childhood abuse and neglect issues
- You have begun an important personal transformation
- You have not been able to gain emotional space
- You are caught in conflict
- You need an understanding of how it feels to be single
- You may need to express your independence from family patterns
- You and your partner are projecting your unhappiness onto each other
If you do move forward into a Healing Separation, there is a contract and guidelines that both parties must honor. These guidelines include commitments to making the Healing Separation work, personal growth, not filing for divorce while in this process, a determined length of time to be physically separated and several others.
If this seems like an approach you’d like to further investigate, check out Exhibits B and C of the Rebuilding book. Healing Separation contracts are also available online — just download and complete.