Saving a marriage starts with getting back to basics – The structure of your relationship needs to change. That structure starts with leadership. Often when a marriage is on the rocks it’s due in large part to both spouses in competition for who’s “right” and who’s “in charge”. These competitions spark constant argument and debate, and often end up in divorce court simply because the two people are confused about the roles that tend to work best.
A team always has a leader. It’s the nature of most things to have leadership – someone who is ultimately responsible for the welfare of the group… whether it’s a CEO in a company, the doctor in an operating room, a teacher in a classroom, a general in an army, the alpha dog in the pack, or simply the president of the church social committee, someone is the leader virtually everywhere you look….except in marriages. For some odd reason, there, it seems people get distracted with a weak and ineffective “50-50” leadership (which never works) or often the wife gets control and becomes the de-facto leader because the husband just wants to avoid arguments. If the basic structure of a relationship is off, it makes everything more difficult.
“The art of leadership is saying ‘no’. It is very easy to say ‘yes’. Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister
The second basic to get back to is the agreement you made in your marriage ceremony to become a team. Most people don’t know how to mature into being a good team, and they end up spending huge effort, time and even money proving how independent and autonomous they are. Having the skills of independence is for single people. Having the skills of a team player is required for successful marriage. Are you asking “how do I help my marriage?” Answer that by pointing the finger toward the only person you can change…you! Do you have team skills? Do you value being an important and integral part of the puzzle or do you want to be the star of the show? To borrow (and modify) a brilliant description of the right attitude from former President John Kennedy: “Ask NOT what your marriage can do for you. Ask what you can do for your marriage.”
“A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way.” Swahili Proverb
The third element to consider when you’re asking “should I give up on my marriage” or, “can I save my marriage?”, notice those are two very different directions. You can only go in one direction at a time. You have to pick one. That means commit. Commit to fixing it, repairing it, and chasing a result that you both want. The thing that’s hard about fixing isn’t that you choose what you want and go after it. It’s actually much harder when you make that plan, make that commitment, but then say things or take action that go in the other direction – quitting or giving up on your marriage. So you’re always back and forth, in and out, going forward then backward… that’s exhausting. And it doesn’t work.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.” Abraham Lincoln