How to save your marriage
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How to save your marriage
Then, a few years go by and things change. You stop talking and start to pick on each other. Parental responsibilities, financial stress and perhaps even an affair take their toll. And one day, you ask yourself, "Would I be better off on my own?"
Studies show that January is prime time for breakups. Why? "It's as if people make a resolution, thinking, I can't stay with this person one more year, and it looms over them. They want a fresh start," says Deborah Moskovitch, a Toronto divorce coach, author and founder of TheSmartDivorce.com.
"The holidays are the clincher. Parents don't want to ruin their kids' Christmas, or they want to wait so the holidays aren't forever associated with the divorce," she says. They might even see Christmas as one last chance to play "happy family," since things change after a separation or divorce.
But how do you know whether your relationship is worth saving?
The warning signs
Lack of intimacy. "A lot of people aren't happy because there is a lack of communication and a lack of sex," says Moskovitch. "It's amazing how many couples just stop having sex or being intimate and don't talk about it."
A disconnect. Your partner seems to be out all the time for no good reason—that's a big red flag. When pressed, excuses are vague and evasive: "I had to work late" or "I'm travelling for business." This is a sign that your partner might be having an affair.
Separate lives. You go out with your girlfriends, he plays hockey with his buddies, and date night is a joke. You can't remember the last time the two of you even wanted to go out with each other.
Broken trust. If you're checking your partner's cellphone and reading texts, looking at private Facebook messages or searching pockets, that's another red flag. Think about where this lack of trust is stemming from.
Feelings of unhappiness. You feel as if your partner doesn't understand you anymore. You repeatedly have the same fights and feel sad, irritable, frustrated or hurt.
I think my marriage is in trouble. Now what?
"I give all my clients the same advice: Do everything you can to put your relationship back on track because you don't want any regrets," says Moskovitch. She suggests taking these five steps before throwing in the towel.
1. Consider counselling. Whether it's through one-on-one counselling or couples counselling, you will be amazed at what you find out about yourself and your partner.
2. Pinpoint why you're unhappy. "Is it a financial issue? Is it something you can work on together?" asks Moskovitch. Now is the time to get to the root of the problem.
3. Do some soul-searching. Take responsibility for the role that you've played in the breakdown of your relationship. How have you and your partner contributed to the situation?
4. Ask yourself if you're being influenced by others. "Don't be fooled: Divorce is not the answer to everything," says Moskovitch. "In the media, divorce is portrayed in a fun way and people are out dating all the time, but the reality is that it is hard work to create a life for yourself after divorce, especially if you have young kids."
5. Decide whether you're willing to reconcile. Ask yourself if you're prepared to take the first move toward reconciliation. If you still love your partner enough to do this, then there's a good chance your marriage can be saved.
"People get really angry with their partners, but sometimes it's a wake-up call for people to really think about what they are saying," says Moskovitch. "Many people have said to me, 'If I had realized how hard it is to be divorced, I would have worked harder on my marriage.'"
When is it time to walk away?
When you've done everything you can to mend the cracks in your relationship and still can't, ending things might be the right thing to do.
"If there is any kind of high-conflict situation, violence or domestic abuse, I am not suggesting that anyone do the work to put that back on track," says Moskovitch. In fact, because divorce no longer has the stigma that it once did, Moskovitch says that ending an unhealthy marriage can be a positive thing.