11 Ways How to Save a Marriage on the Brink of Divorce

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Movies can be fun and entertaining. They can be a great night out, and maybe you used to enjoy them with your spouse.

However, as you now know, they can also cause a lot of unnecessary trouble. The concept of “happily ever after” is instilled in our minds far too often. We never see what happens after a couple falls in love. We never see the work and constant mental and emotional upkeep that a marriage requires. If only there were more movies about how to save a marriage on the brink of divorce.

If you are considering divorce, it is not a fun time. It is heartbreaking, harrowing, and sometimes even emotionally numbing. What can you do to save a marriage when all seems lost? How can you stop from falling over the edge? Is it even possible to save your marriage?

The good news is that there are a few things you can still try. You do not want to go to that fateful route without knowing that you tried everything you could. It requires you to take a very honest look at yourself and your spouse. If you are willing to do that, read on.

1) Ask yourself if any part of the marriage is worth saving.

Dig deep and remember those good times. What were the conditions, and how have they changed? It is possible to recreate some of those earlier conditions.

Are you able to still have fun and enjoy your time together, or is it constant bickering or ignoring? If there are no good times left and you cannot imagine having any in the future, you could have a problem.

Enjoying time with your spouse is essential for saving a marriage on the brink of divorce. It builds a feeling of family and security. When you share enjoyment, your serotonin levels are raised, and you bond with each other.

2) Be honest and evaluate if you are being fair to your spouse.

This is a tough one. It requires you to really dig deep and take a cold, hard look at yourself. Do you have a lot of stress in your life? If so, could it be clouding your judgement about your spouse? Sometimes if we have a lot going on, we can be hard on those closest to us without realizing it. This would cause them to be defensive, and a vicious cycle begins.

There is also the possibility that your spouse is having a lot of stress in his or her life. Then the cycle is reversed. You are put on the defensive as your stressed-out spouse is unfairly hard on you. Heaven help the marriage that involves two stressed spouses. If you realize that you are in this situation, now is a good time to consider stress-relieving activities, as they can be a great tool for saving a marriage.

3) Do not compare your marriage.

Comparing your marriage with someone else’s is a recipe for disaster. Just as no two people are the same, no two marriages will be the same. Do not fall for the “grass is always greener on the other side” hook. Appreciate what makes your spouse unique, and you might find ways to appreciate the marriage more.

4) Consider marriage counseling.

An outside mediator is always going to be able to objectively show you things that you cannot see when you are too close to the problem. A counselor can point out weaknesses in communication and help you find better ways of communicating, which is always a big factor. It is a blind spot in a marriage on the brink of divorce.

One reason many men block this idea is that they fear they are being set up to be attacked, but that is usually not the case. Counselors are trained to be objective and to make sure that neither spouse feels attacked. They get each party to see the walls they put up and how they sound to each other. They can get you outside of your own head. It can be a huge way to save marriages.

5) Take better care of yourself.

If you have let yourself go, it could be at the heart of a lot of your issues. Many of us do not like to admit it, but it is a very human urge to want to be attracted to your mate. However, a lot of times, once the relationship has gotten way past the comfortable phase, one or both people in the marriage lose interest in keeping themselves in shape. As much as we want it to be, love does not take away our need for attraction.

But here is the good news: if you are both up for it, starting healthy habits and routines together can do wonders for saving a marriage. Exercise raises the endorphins, and if you find activities you enjoy doing together, it will increase your bonding time. Healthy eating and cooking together will also create bonding, as well as an increase in health and well-being. Before you know it, you will both feel and look better.

6) Do not ignore the problems in your marriage.

Trying to pretend like everything is okay to avoid arguing only builds resentment, which will cause bigger arguments down the road. Acknowledging problems as they happen gives you a better chance at resolving them. Then you can stop that buildup of resentment, possibly pulling you back from the brink of divorce. It takes a lot of patience, work, and practice, but if you are serious about saving your marriage, it can be a powerful way to rebuild your relationship.

7) Open up in a non-defensive way.

Try to find non-accusing words to let your spouse know how you feel. Use feeling words instead of blaming words. For example, if you say “I feel” instead of “you always,” your spouse will be less defensive and more open to listening. The less the other person feels attacked, the more likely they are to listen to you.

8) Make each other a priority.

Ask your spouse if they feel important to you. It is likely you know the answer already. Not feeling valued or appreciated can open a whole host of other problems that are tied up with pent-up resentment, just like with ignoring problems.

Do you feel unimportant to them? Let them know in a non-defensive way. As discussed in the previous point, use feeling words, instead of blaming words. Making each other feel important also means feeling heard and understood. If both spouses make this kind of effort, it can be an incredible tool for saving a marriage.

9) Go back to the beginning, and date each other again.

What made you fall in love in the first place? Do you remember what you liked doing together when everything was good? Go on dates again. See if that spark is still there, and find out if you can cause those butterflies again.

10) Laugh together.

Laughter is one of the biggest causes of endorphins and serotonin, and it is an immediate mood enhancer. Go see a standup-comedy or improv show. Watch a TV show that you both find hilarious. Do something light together. Let yourself be open to laughing together. This tactic can an easy, fun way to find good in each other again, and it can make the fear of being on the brink of divorce seem far away.

11) Forgiveness is worth a shot for both of you.

What is it that your spouse has done that makes you feel the worst? Is it possible to forgive them? If you feel like there is no way you could ever forgive them, it is a big block to saving your marriage. Perhaps it is you who needs to be forgiven?  Is it possible to forgive yourself? These are questions that need to be honestly evaluated before making a final decision.

If you have gone through these things or realize that some of these things are not even an option in your marriage, you may have hit a wall. This is not the time to surrender to emotions, as that is when mistakes are made. You will have plenty of time for those later. Right now, you need to keep a level head, so outside help can be crucial. Otherwise, divorce may be the only answer.

Final thoughts

Have you tried everything, but you still cannot find a way to save your marriage? If so, reach out to somebody who is professionally trained to coach you during your divorce. A neutral third party can stop you from making all the common, costly mistakes. Do not let that be you.

As you lose your spouse and the life you built together, it is a time to grieve, but it is not the time to lose your finances.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.