7 Warning Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

I have been doing marriage therapy for nearly three decades.  And one thing is for sure- people experiencing marital difficulties wait a long time before they get help.  In fact, research shows that, on average, people wait six years before seeking marriage therapy.  Furthermore, many, if not most people never receive help; they run right over to a divorce attorney’s office. And when you think about the impact divorce has on their lives and that of their children, I find this to be a devastating finding.

What should people in the throes of marriage problems do instead?  Get help when things start going downhill.  Nip things in the bud. And if you’re wondering how to know when your marriage is headed for trouble, read on.

1. You’re thinking about having an affair

There are many reasons you may be tempted to have an affair. They may want the excitement that comes from a new relationship.  They may want passionate sex with a different partner. They may be longing for attention and appreciation.  They may enjoy risk-taking.  They may be longing to connect with someone who they think is more similar to them.  They might want to escape daily responsibilities and routines. There is no shortage of reasons people stray.

Regardless of the reasons people are unfaithful, affairs signal trouble in marriages.  Going outside the marriage does not solve marital unhappiness.  In fact, affairs often create unintended problems.  Once emotional energy goes outside a marriage, the issues needing to be repaired take a back seat. Problems linger and become worse.  Lies, deceit and the guilt and shame that is often a by-product lead to avoidance and separateness.   Suspicions run high.  Trust corrodes.

If your marriage wasn’t in trouble before the decision to stray, it will be.  And healing from infidelity isn’t for sissies.  It’s extremely hard work.  It takes time, dedication, persistence and personal strength.

Know that if you’re even considering being unfaithful, it often signals something is wrong with your relationship.  There are solutions to those problems, even if you have not been successful in unearthing them so far.  Assume your extra-marital fantasies are merely strong signs you need to do what it takes to get your marriage on track.

2. You fight about the same thing over and over and over

Let’s face it.  Marriage and conflict go hand in hand.  It’s impossible for two people to live under the same roof without arguing from time to time.  That, in and of itself, is not a problem.  And although there are many problems in marriage that can never truly be completely resolved, if you find yourselves having the same argument over and over and over with no appreciation of your partner’s point of view and contempt at the end of the fight, you may be headed for trouble.

Your marriage will become very unpleasant and you will begin to focus on the negatives of your relationship.  Or you will avoid spending time together.  You will begin to feel defeated and hopeless.  You might start to wonder if you are in the wrong relationship.  This, without question, should be a red flag.

3. Escalating fights

In addition to having the same fights, when these arguments grow in intensity over time, you should be wary.  Sometimes, escalating fights can result in either verbal or physical abuse, both of which are unacceptable.  If you notice that your fights are becoming more and more hurtful, there may be deeper underlying causes that are not being addressed.  Or the lack of communication skills might be preventing loving outcomes.  Either way, fights that become increasingly hostile should be taken very seriously.

4. Spending less time together

When my book Divorce Busting was published, countless reporters wanted to know the number one cause for the breakdown in marriages today.  The answer to their question was obvious.  Couples aren’t spending enough time together. Everything is more important than setting aside sacred time for one another. Whether it’s the kids, work, friends, hobbies, relatives, and so on, everything seems to take precedence over the relationship.  When this happens, couples stop being friends and their emotional connection suffers.  They begin leading separate lives.

I have worked with many people who have let their marriages slip away because of “doing their own things.”  Unless they’re willing to reprioritize what’s truly important- time together- their marriage will remain in the danger zone.

5. Focusing more on kids than each other

Our culture has become very kid-centric, meaning we place our children in the center of our lives.  We make them our number one priority.  There are many reasons we do this. Perhaps we felt neglected as children and we want to give our own children better lives. We see everyone else- friends, neighbors, relatives- doing it and we feel compelled to do the same. We are busy with work and feel that all of our free time should be spent with our children, and so on.

Although on the surface of things, these reasons make perfect sense.  However, when we live our lives this way, our marriages suffer.  We become strangers to our spouses.  We feel more connected to our children than our partners.  That explains why empty nesters are still divorcing in droves.  Once the children leave home, the relationship void feels overwhelming.

I always tell couples that the best thing they can do for their children is to make the marriage the most important thing in their lives.  Children benefit enormously when their parents have loving, close relationships.  Plus, it makes marital longevity more likely. But most importantly, it models for children what good marriages are all about.

If you find yourself or your spouse paying more attention to your children than each other, stop, and switch gears.  That will put your marriage on safer ground.

6. Having little or no sex

It’s not uncommon for one spouse to have a lower sex drive than the other.  This, in and of itself, is not a sign that your marriage is in trouble.  When this does become a problem, however, is when the spouse with lower desire refuses to care about the higher desire spouse’s feelings and rejects most, if not all, sexual advances.  This can result in the spouse with the higher desire feeling hurt, rejected, deflated, emotionally disconnected, angry and desperate.

Once someone experiences these feelings, a multitude of things can happen.  The spouses can stop being friends, spending time together, connecting emotionally, and enjoying each other’s company. They can also begin fighting a great deal, sometimes about sex and sometimes about other things.  When they fight about other things, it might be a symptom of the deeper problem- being disconnected sexually.

If your relationship is sex-starved, you or your spouse should re-examine the reasons it’s happening and do whatever it takes to bring back the passion in your marriage.  Even if it’s slow going in the beginning, you have to start somewhere.  Allowing your sexual differences to divide you often puts a marriage at risk of infidelity or divorce.

7. Talking strictly about superficial topics

Although not everybody feels this way, for some, talking is the best way to feel emotionally connected. And if you’re someone who feels connected through words, not just any words will do.  Meaningful, heartfelt conversations hit the mark. When couples don’t make time to talk- find out about each other’s days, discuss important matters about loved ones, dream together about the future, talk about vulnerable feelings- the marriage can seem perfunctory or superficial.

When partners have different “talk” needs, the person who has less of a need to talk usually has the greatest influence on what happens in that marriage. The “talker” feels hurt, frustrated and alone.  Sometimes, in order to “fix” things, the talker talks about his or her unhappiness, which is the last thing the other spouse wants to discuss.  So, they become at odds with one another.  This often causes spouses to shut down and go into separate corners, which leads to loneliness and unhappiness.

If you or your spouse needs to have open, meaningful conversation on a regular basis, it behooves you both to set aside time to engage in frequent heartfelt discussions.  Reluctance to do so is risky for your relationship.

Do you recognize yourself, your spouse or your marriage when you read through the seven warning signs? Don’t despair.  There is a great deal that you can do to bolster your relationship.  But don’t be complacent.  Heed these warnings.  And when you do, your marriage will be a healthier and happier place to be.

Save your marriage!

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Emotional Affairs and Infidelity

Emotional Affairs and Infidelity
“We’re just friends.” “We don’t talk about anything personal.” “What’s wrong with my wanting to have friends of the opposite sex?” “No matter what you think, it’s not sexual, so stop hassling me.” “What am I supposed to do? Stop talking to him? I work with him.” “I can’t fire her. She hasn’t doesn’t anything wrong.” “You’re too suspicious.”

Does any of this sound familiar? Are you thinking that your spouse or partner has a relationship with someone that makes you feel uncomfortable? Your spouse flatly denies any inappropriate interactions. Sometimes you wonder whether the relationship is physical and it drives you crazy. Other times you are not convinced that sex, touching or kissing is part of what they do together, but your instincts are telling you something is wrong.

In your dark moments, you feel anxious, depressed, and angry but most of all deceived. You may start doing things you never dreamed of- snooping, accessing private emails, phone records and credit card bills. You search your spouse’s computer or phone for any telltale signs that something is amiss.

Occasionally, you discover emails that are personal in nature. Or perhaps there are late night calls. Maybe the person’s name is one of the few names that appears on your spouse’s buddy list. And although some of the exchanges are work-related, there’s more than a tinge of familiarity that is concerning.

So, you begin grilling your spouse. She or he swears that nothing physical is going on and after much convincing, you start to believe this is true. Yet, what is also true is that there are lunches, after-hour meetings, conversations about the person’s marital unhappiness, and other topics you consider private and should occur only between you and your spouse. You remember something you read about “emotional affairs” and you now feel certain that your spouse is right smack dab in the middle of one.

So, you state your case. You are extremely unhappy about the nature of the relationship. You don’t like it one bit. “It might not be physical,” you tell your spouse, but it threatens you and your marriage. You don’t want your spouse being intimate with another person in any way, shape or form. It hurts and you consider it betrayal.

Hearing this, your spouse becomes defensive and insists that nothing inappropriate is going on. “I know my boundaries. I am not having an affair, so you’re wrong and I want you to stop nagging me about this. You’re over-reacting.”

But are you?

In the three decades I have been working with couples, I have watched the destruction caused by emotional affairs. Even if two people are not engaged in a physical relationship, the emotional attachment can threaten the very foundation and fabric of the marriage. Here are a few reasons why:

• Betrayal is in the eye of the beholder
Often, people who have close extramarital relationships feel perfectly justified as long as sex is not involved. They don’t consider their actions to be a betrayal of the marriage. However, if their spouses think otherwise and feel hurt, threatened or emotionally abandoned, it then becomes a marital problem. And as with any marital problem, partners need to protect each other’s feelings. This means that the emotionally involved partner should honor the feelings of his or her spouse whether he or she agrees with or understands it completely. That is irrelevant. Mutual caretaking is what loving relationships are all about. It’s essential to remember that, at bottom, betrayal is unquestionably in the eye of the beholder.

• Having close “friends” can be a slippery slope
Here’s an example:
A completely innocent meeting after work with co-workers may result in two people becoming excited about a project they will work on together. They end up spending a great deal of time together at work and the relationship becomes increasingly comfortable and familiar. Soon, they start having lunches together and when the work load increases, there are more demands on their time and efforts to complete the project. They stay later at work and go out to dinner.

Eventually, conversations shift from business to life outside work. Over time, these talks get more and more personal. Occasionally, people discover that they can talk about certain subjects with their co-worker that they cannot talk about with their spouses. An intimate bond begins to form.

It’s not long after that conversations become even more intimate. Frequently, dissatisfaction about one’s own marriage gets discussed. They commiserate and validate each others’ feelings and they become confidantes. Their communication defines their relationship as special and separate from each other’s marriage.

The relationship may get physical at this point. But even if it doesn’t, the real nature of the relationship is kept secret. Secrets place marriages at risk of divorce.

As you can see by this example, the relationship started out completely innocent. But the small daily choices people made, though on the surface might have also seemed benign, lead to a connection that threatens their marriages. Friends without benefits are not marriage-friendly.

• An emotional affair takes energy away from marriage
Let’s face it. There is just so much time in a day. And people have finite energy in their lives. If the focus in one’s life is the “the other person,” time and energy are being drained from the marriage. Plus, if a partner is getting emotional needs met outside the marriage, there is little need to connect at home. This leads to emotional distance and growing apart. Marriages are living things and they require attention and nurturance.

• Emotional affairs may be misconstrued
Sometimes one person is more emotionally involved in the relationship than the other. Perhaps he or she is hoping that the emotional relationship will flourish into something even more meaningful. That person might even be hoping that the other will eventually leave his or her marriage and become involved on a very deep level.

This can happen without the other person’s awareness. Their intentions might be pure- to help out a person in distress, to be a loyal friend, or to simply have a fulfilling platonic, appropriate relationship. But one can never predict how the other person interprets interactions and exchanges. To avoid misunderstandings of any sort, it is essential to have boundaries in relationships outside marriage. This way, no one will be hurt or misled.

If your spouse is having an emotional affair, stop nagging, spying or haranguing. I wrote this article for you to give to your partner. It may or may not alter your spouse’s behavior, but it least it will be food for thought.

And if you are someone whose spouse is complaining about a relationship you may be having, taking your spouse’s feelings into account will make life much more pleasant for you and it just might save your marriage!

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Defending Marriage

Defending those who don't defend divorce

As a liberal, card-carrying Democrat, I am nonetheless appalled by the Pamela White’s article “Defending Divorce.” When nearly one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, divorce hardly needs defending. Beside that, the article is filled with erroneous assumptions and information, which I would like to debunk.

To consider it to be “meddling” that a proposed law requiring couples with children to take a class about the impact of divorce and to have a “cooling off” period prior to divorcing, demonstrates no appreciation for the havoc divorce leaves in its wake. Children have no veto power in a decision that will forever alter their lives. Minimally, parents should learn about the insidious ways divorce effects their children.

In regards to the proposed waiting period, the author writes, “Once two people have decided they can’t stand the sight of each other, there’s really no place to go.” As a therapist specializing in work with couples on the brink for nearly three decades, I know that divorce is almost always a unilateral decision, leaving the desperate spouse in the dust. “Left-behind” spouses will jump at the opportunity to slow things down.

Additionally, though there are many unhealthy marriages, the author assumes there are only two ways to handle this dilemma- get out or stay miserable. But there’s another way- improve relationships so people feel happier and more connected. There is marriage-friendly therapy and evidenced-based marriage education classes that truly change the dynamics of failing relationships.

Should this legislation pass, the author worries that women will get stuck in psychologically abusive relationships with alcoholic, controlling husbands. Research suggests that severe problems account for only 10 to 15% of all divorces. Other divorces are due to garden variety problems- poor communication, growing apart or an inability to manage conflict- all of which are solvable.

The author also refers to a valid statistic that more women than men file for divorce, but her hypothesis about why this happens- women’s unfair share of housework and childcare, infidelity, money problems-is off base. Most women leave because they feel emotionally neglected despite years of trying to get their husbands to be more responsive. Again, with help, these problems are resolvable.

Divorce should not be looked at as a jailbreak from prison. Research tells us that, contrary to popular belief, people in long-term healthy marriages live longer, are healthier, happier and do significantly better financially. Their children do better across countless dimensions.

So before jumping to the conclusion that putting a beat between the decision to divorce and moving out is Big Brother in action, consider the benefits of spouses working things out, keeping their families intact and tucking kids in at night…together.

Michele Weiner-Davis is a best selling author, internationally renowned marriage therapist, and award winning speaker who has dedicated the last 30+ years of her life to preventing unnecessary divorces.  Get her latest advice on Facebook, Twitter, and join the Divorce Busting e-mail list.

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New Year’s Resolutions For A Rocky Marriage

When your marriage is on the rocks, you start to wonder how relationship goals that require two people’s active participation apply to you. You read articles about setting goals for the new year and you feel downtrodden and left out.  In fact, even thinking about the new year can be emotional for you. After all, this is the time we think about starting new things, not ending them.

But don’t despair.  Here at the Divorce Busting Center, I’ve developed a method that truly helps individuals to improve relationships single-handedly.  It also is designed to help you feel better so that you can apply principles that work instead of giving up.  That’s why I decided to write Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Divorce Busters, those people who don’t have the luxury of their partner’s support. Here are ten goals that you can accomplish yourself in 2012.

1. Envision positive outcomes

There is no way that you can begin to accomplish positive change your marriage if you don’t believe it is possible. Start by imagining what your life will be like when your marriage truly turns a corner. The more you can picture every detail, the easier it will be to eventually step into this picture at some later date.

2. Act as if you expect miracles to occur

Once you can imagine positive outcomes, reflect on how you will be behaving differently when they happen. Then start doing that right now!

3. Be kind, even if you think your spouse doesn’t deserve it

You may be angry, disappointed, or even devastated by your spouse’s choices and actions. However, rather than react to unsettling behavior, assume your spouse is lost and confused. Be patient, kind and steady and your efforts will pay off.

4. Focus on small, positive changes

Don’t expect big changes overnight or you will be disappointed and it will make it hard to stay on track. Imagine the smallest change possible that would signal a shift in how things have been going. Then focus on that.

5. Promise yourself this will be a great year, no matter what

You can not control what your spouse does, but you can control what you decide to do with yourself and your children , if you have them. Take a deep breath and envision how you are going to make this a good year regardless of your spouse’s choices.

6. Exercise your worry away

The most popular New Year’s Resolution is to join a health club and exercise to become more fit. That is well and good. For you, exercise will be a lifesaver. It will help to assuage worries, feel good about yourself and increase feel-good hormones like endorphins. Go for it!

7. Do one new thing you enjoy

Don’t become stale just because you are having a shaky time in your marriage. Novelty will stimulate your brain and maybe even your heart and help you have a more positive outlook about the future.

8. Make sure you have quality time with your children or other loved ones.  Be present.

Many times, when people are teetering on the brink of divorce, their pain makes them become self-absorbed and staying the moment becomes and challenging task. You will never be able to do your children’s childhood again, so do your best to be with them mentally when you’re with them.

9. If you get off track, get back on quickly without self-blame

What separates the winners from the losers is not whether or how many times you get off track, it’s how rapidly you get back on track. If you’ve veered from the Divorce Busting plan, hop right back on track without self-recrimination.

10. Do activities that help you rediscover serenity

Meditate, pray, hike in the mountains or watch a sky full of shooting stars. On a regular basis, do whatever it takes to bring you back to yourself. You and everyone around will benefit from your peacefulness.

Michele Weiner-Davis is the founder of the Divorce Busting Center and best selling author of “Divoce Busting”, “The Divorce Remedy”, and “The Sex-Starved Marriage”Subscribe to the Divorce Busting Newsletter to get exclusive marriage saving offers and first access to Michele’s latest work.

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Marriage New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

Since close to one out of every two first marriages end in divorce- and generally within 4 to 7 years- with extraordinarily detrimental effects to our health, we should switch our focus from personal to relationship improvement. The health benefits of marital fitness are monumental!

Make New Year’s resolutions that will focus on your relationship instead of making more money, losing weight and other personal goals.  After all is said and done, having loving relationships will make 2012 the best year ever!

If your spouse won’t participate, I will help you come up with resolutions you can achieve alone!  To follow shortly…….

new years resolutions for your marriage 2012

new years resolutions for your marriage 2012

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Why You Haven’t Seen Change in Your Marriage (and What You Can Do to Fix It) pt. 3

Continued from Part 2.  Read Part 1 here.

Your Spouse is Involved with Someone Else

I don’t consider it a marital death sentence if one spouse is having either an emotional or physical affair with someone else.  I have seen countless marriages survive infidelity and even become stronger after the healing begins.  However, it is also true that positive change in marriage is harder to achieve when one spouse is emotionally or physically interested or attached to someone else.  In my practice, when I see couples, who on the surface are saying, “we want our marriage to work,” but as time progresses and nothing changes, it’s often the case that one spouse has a “special friend” waiting in the wings.  There are some key phrases I’ve heard over the years in marriages where this is happening.  See if any of this sounds familiar to you.

“I admit that my spouse is changing, but it doesn’t change how I feel about him/her.”

“it’s not about my spouse, it’s about me.  There’s nothing s/he can do to make things better.  It’s all inside my head.”

“Yes, my spouse is changing, but I think it’s too little, too late.”

“I feel like we’re brother and sister.” (referring to the fact that there are no longer feelings of attraction.)

And last, but not least, the all-time favorite:

“I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”

You are not to blame for the lack of progress in your marriage.  It’s likely that you are doing everything right but you are hitting up against a brick wall.  If your partner’s extramarital interests are secretive, it’s especially difficult because it prevents you from confronting the real issues in your marriage.  And it prevents your spouse from seeing things clearly and from putting his/her soul into making your marriage work.

Your spouse has decided your marriage is over

One of the reasons nothing you do seems to be working is because it isn’t.  As cold and cruel as it seems, when some people announce the death of their marriages, they really mean it.  For them, over means over.  Once this happens there is absolutely nothing anyone can say or do to change that persons mind.  The only thing you can do is make matters worse.

But here’s the problem for someone like you who desperately wants to make things better and keep your marriage thriving.  There is no clear way to tell when “over” means “over” and when it means “over, maybe.”

Sometimes people say, “it’s over,” in the heat of passion and it means nothing.  Sometimes people say, “it’s over” after thinking things out, but the next day they wake up and they aren’t quite as sure about ending their marriages as they were the day before.  Even though they might give an unbending appearance, the divorce is far from etched in stone.  And then there are the diehards, the immovable ones who rarely retract a decision once it’s made.  When these folks say it’s over, only a miracle could change things.

Since it’s hard to know whether your spouse is truly done with your marriage or just needs some more time to come to his/her sense, if I were you, I would err on the side of caution.  Why not assume that this is going to take much longer than you anticipated, but that, in the end, things will work out.  “Act as if” you believe that your marriage sill has possibilities.  Do the things you would do if you envisioned a positive outcome to all of your efforts.  Don’t allow friends, relatives, lawyers, or therapist to tell you that you should move forward in your life if that’s not your heart’s desire.  If you are still hopeful that your spouse will eventually reconsider, keep practicing the techniques I’ve taught you.  Don’t stop until you are absolutely convinced that it’s over.  Surround yourself with people who will support you in this endeavor.

Sometimes people ask me how they will know when to stop trying to save their marriage.  I don’t have a clue.  The only person who knows when you should stop working on your marriage is you.  You are the expert here, not your mother, father, spouse, rabbi, pastor… just you.  Only you, in the privacy of your own thoughts at night, can tell whether you’ve left no stone unturned, whether you still have energy to give.  If you do, then continue.  If after lots of soul-searching, you decide that you can no longer continue feeling the intense hurt and pain that stem from the rejection you are experiencing, then, and only then, should you consider other options.

Start by focusing on your own life.  When you let go, you will go through a mourning period that is natural.  Even if you are at peace with your decision to refocus, you will probably feel intense pain.  In some ways, it’s very much like a death.  It’s the death of a dream that you had for yourself and your family.  It’s the death of a relationship.  Allow yourself to feel the pain.  And at the same time, begin to think about what you can do to fill the void.  Spend time with loved ones.  Do nice things for yourself.  Keep yourself busy.  Although it’s hard to believe when you’re going through it, know that your life will go on.  You will find happiness again.  Many of the people with whom I work who go through a divorce, go on to find new partners and blend families and have new children.  Their lives don’t end just because their marriages do.  They join support groups in their churches or through their mental health centers.  They double their efforts to spend time with their children.  They learn everything they can about co-parenting after a divorce.  They find new interests.  But all of this happens slowly.  Healing takes a lot of time.  You need to reach out to others.  There is life after divorce.

I know that many of my divorce-busting fans might be surprised by my words here.  I’ve never before talked about life after divorce.  I feared that by discussing the D word, I might actually be encouraging people to throw in the towel prematurely.  This is the very last thing I would ever want to do.  I hate divorce.  I believe you must know that by now.  I write about the possibility of letting go for only one reason.  I don’t want people who have been in excruciating pain because of unrequited love to feel judged when they eventually decide to move on with their lives.  In truth, we only have one go-around.  We are all entitled to happiness. If, after you have tried everything humanly possible to win back your spouse’s love to no avail, you can’t torture yourself forever.  Just make darn sure before you move forward with your life that you can honestly say, I’ve given it my all.”  Then make peace with your decision.

It is my hope  the above advice will be the catalyst to help dig your marriage out of it’s current rut.  If you do need additional help, I encourage you to consult with a Divorce Busting Coach to give you the tools and support to reignite the loving flame in your marriage once again.

Michele Weiner-Davis is a best selling author, internationally renowned marriage therapist, and award winning speaker who has dedicated the last 30+ years of her life to preventing unnecessary divorces.  Get her latest advice on Facebook, Twitter, and join the Divorce Busting e-mail list.

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Till Death Do Us Part: What Really Happened to Real Housewives’ Taylor Armstrong’s Estranged Husband, Russell Armstrong?

Russell Armstrong Separation Suicide

I don’t know Russell Armstrong at all.  Truth be told, I don’t even watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But I do have something to say about Russell Armstrong’s unfortunate and untimely death.

Before we chalk up his suicide to mental illness, his abandoned anti-depressant regimen two weeks prior, or his despair due to financial woes, there is one other explanation we should consider.  It’s entirely possible that Russell, like so many divorce-averse men in his shoes, took his own life because of the devastation he felt over his publicly failed marriage.  In short, divorce kills.

Although this statement may sound overly dramatic or simply provocative, consider the following. Justin Denny’s research was published last year in Social Science Quarterly.  It concluded that divorced men are 39% more likely to commit suicide than married men.  Thirty-nine percent!  That is shocking.  Why are men feeling so despondent about the break up of their marriages that they are killing themselves?

It may have something to do with what has been referred to as the Walkaway Wife Syndrome.  Two thirds of divorces in our country are filed for by women.  It is not that women take their decision to leave their marriages lightly, it is just that once they decide that they want out, they mean business.  They leave.  And they leave men no choice. As women prepare to walk out the door, men begin to do real soul searching and it is then that they realize how much their wives and families mean to them.  These men will do anything to get their marriages back on track. But unfortunately, at this point, most women have shut down emotionally.  Their mantra is, “Too little, too late,” or “Where were you when I needed you,” and away they go, leaving their husbands in the dust.

Men become depressed when women walk away. Work becomes meaningless with no family to come home to at night.  Hobbies, partying with friends, working overtime and other outside interests lose their appeal.  Life doesn’t feel worth living.  And even though this insidious pessimism is generally transitory, it’s easy to lose perspective when one is in the throes of pain.  Suicide starts to look like pain relief.

How can suicides such as Russell Armstrong’s be avoided?  Here are some suggestions.  If divorce kills, don’t divorce. Don’t stay together and be miserable either.  Learn the skills it takes to keep marriage vibrant.  When that doesn’t work, find the help you need to breathe new life into an ailing marriage.  Whether it be marriage-friendly couples therapy such as Divorce Busting, or marriage seminars where one can learn concrete relationship skills, there steps anyone can take to bring a marriage back from the brink of divorce.

And one final thought.  When Hollywood comes knocking on your door, resist the temptation to cash in on your fifteen minutes of fame.  For all of its hoopla, it simply isn’t worth it.  Just ask Russell Armstrong.

Michele Weiner-Davis is a best selling author, internationally renowned marriage therapist, and award winning speaker who has dedicated the last 30+ years of her life to preventing unnecessary divorces.  Get her latest advice on Facebook, Twitter, and join the Divorce Busting e-mail list.

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Why You Haven’t Seen Change in Your Marriage (and What You Can Do to Fix It) pt. 2

Continued from Part 1

Your attempts at change were halfhearted

Sometimes when there is a lack of improvement, it is because when you’ve experimented with a technique, you only did halfheartedly.  If your heart isn’t in it when you approach your spouse, your spouse will think you are acting and will immediately see through what you’re trying to do.  S/he might feel manipulated, and therefore, not respond in a positive manner.

If doing things halfheartedly fails to bring about good results, why do people do it?  Sometimes it’s because the technique they choose doesn’t feel right to them.  They’re just doing it because they think they should.  That’ not a good reason to do anything.   You need to feel comfortable with what you’re doing.  It must make sense to you. You have to get behind what you’re doing.  If a particular technique feels artificial, choose something else.

Another reason people do things halfheartedly is that, although they might not be admitting it to themselves, they are still playing the blame game.  They don’t really want to accept responsibility for tipping over the first domino.  They still want their spouses to change first.  So, they go through the motions of change but don’t allow themselves to fully get into their new solution-oriented modes.

If you have been feeling lukewarm about the strategies you’ve been using, I want you to be totally honest and ask yourself, “Am I still holding out hope that my spouse will see the light and change first?”  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are really working on your marriage if that little inner voice is shouting, “S/he’s wrong, let him/her change first.”  You are only wasting time.  You first need to rid yourself of that distraction before you can do anything constructive about your marriage.  Unless you put your heart and soul into changing your marriage and stop keeping score, your marriage will be in exactly the same place five years from now that it is now, or you will have no marriage at all.

You reverted to your old ways

In this case, it is clear that the technique you’re using has some merit, but you accidentally slid back into your old ways, thereby prompting your spouse to do the same.  Then, when you observe both of you doing the same old thing, you incorrectly assume that what you are doing isn’t working and you get discouraged.  In reality, it’s not that the technique you are using isn’t working, it’s just that it doesn’t work when you don’t use it! Here’s an example.

Through using this program, Andrea and Wally figured out that they got along a lot better when they used a budget to guide their financial expenditures.  For a long time they were doing just that.  Their finances improved and they were getting along famously.  As a result, with each passing week, they found themselves becoming more and more lax about doing sticking to their budget.  After all, they told themselves, “How will this one little extravagant purchase hurt?”  So they started splurging a little.  One small purchase turned into another small purchase, and before they knew it, their spending was out of control again.  Their fighting resumed with a vengeance.

Andrea and Wally felt discouraged and assumed that their budget wasn’t working until they realized that the real problem wasn’t that their budget hadn’t worked, but that they had become lax in their efforts to stick to it.  With a little reminder, they were up and running again, and they got back on track.

Back to you for a moment.  If at any time during your participating in this program you noticed even slight improvements, it means you were doing something worthwhile.  If the progress has slowed or even halted, it means you’ve probably stopped doing what works.  Force yourself to resume doing what was working and see if that makes a difference.  It probably will.

Need help in your marriage? Don’t leave your future to chance.  Talk to a Divorce Busting Coach today.

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Ten Things You Need to Know About Affairs

10 things you need to know about affairs

I can’t tell you the number of people who tell themselves early in marriage, “If my spouse ever has an affair, I’m outta here.” And then in happens. Their spouse was unfaithful. That’s when reality sets in. It’s easy to think you will leave if your spouse betrays you, but when confronted with the reality of divorce and dissolving your marriage, the stakes are really high. It’s not that overcoming the devastation of infidelity is easy, it isn’t. But it can be done. In fact, believe it or not, most people decide to stay in their marriages after infidelity. The important thing is to address the issues that might have lead to the infidelity and get the necessary help to recover. Divorce isn’t the solution, particularly when the unfaithful spouse is remorseful and devoted to changing. Here are some things you need to know if you are dealing with the fallout of infidelity in your marriage

1) Betrayal is in the eye of the beholder

Many times people want to know the definition of betrayal. To some, it is about having intercourse and other sexual contact with another person. To others, betrayal is more about one’s spouse feeling emotionally connected to someone else- late conversations of a personal nature with a co-worker, or an on-going, intimate friendship with another person. To others, it is secrecy. This may involve secret email accounts, cell phones, Internet behavior, or an unwillingness to share information about whereabouts, spending habits, or life plans.

The fact is, there is no universal definition of betrayal. When two people are married, they must care about each other’s feelings. They don’t always have to agree, but they must behave in ways that make the relationship feel safe. Therefore, if one person feels threatened or betrayed, his or her spouse must do some soul searching and change in ways to accommodate those feelings. In other words, betrayal is in the eye of the beholder. If you or your partner feel betrayed, you need to change what you’re doing to make the marriage work.

2) Infidelity is not a marital deal breaker

Many people think that affairs signal the end of a marriage. This is simply not true. Although healing from infidelity is a challenging endeavor, most marriages not only survive, but they can actually grow from the experience. This is not to say that affairs are good for marriages, they aren’t. Affairs are very, very destructive because the bond of trust has been broken. But after years of working with couples who have experienced betrayal and affairs, I can vouch for the fact that it is possible to get marriages back on track and rediscover trust, caring, friendship and passion.

3) Most affairs end

It’s important to know that, while affairs can be incredibly sexy, compelling, addictive and renewing, most of them end. That’s because after the thrill wears off, most people recognize that everyone, even the affair partner is a package deal. This means that we all have good points and bad points. When two people are in the throes of infatuation, they are only focusing on what’s good. This is short-lived, generally speaking. That’s because reality sets in and infatuation fades. If the betrayed spouse doesn’t run to a divorce attorney prematurely, it’s entirely possible and even like that an affair will die a natural death.

4) Temporary insanity- the only sane response

Because betrayal is so threatening to marriage and so devastating, many people feel they are losing their minds when they learn that their spouses have been cheating. They can’t eat, sleep, work, think, or function in any substantial way. This causes another layer of concern and self-doubt which often leads to depression and anxiety.

It is important to know that finding out that one’s spouse is cheating can be extremely traumatic. In fact, current research suggests that betrayed spouses exhibit symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It is a major loss and as with most losses, betrayal is intensely disorienting and distressing.

5) You are not alone

Although when infidelity occurs, the betrayed spouse feels alone and lonely, it is essential to keep in mind that countless people have experienced the same problem and have felt the same way. This offers little consolation when one first learns about his or her spouse’s affair, but over time, it can take the sting out of feeling so out of sorts. It would be wonderful if everyone upheld their marital vows, but the truth is, that doesn’t happen. It should, but it doesn’t. The good news is that there is a great deal of support available because many people have walked in your shoes and can be empathetic to your feelings.

6) It helps to get help

But beyond talking with those who have experienced infidelity in their own marriages, it helps to get professional help. Feelings that surface after the discovery of an affair are often so overwhelming that it is difficult to know what to do to begin to get one’s marriage back on track. A good marriage therapist or a marriage education class can help lead the way. But be certain to seek help that is “marriage-friendly.” Some therapists believe that infidelity destroys the fabric of a relationship which cannot be repaired. These therapists declare marriages dead on arrival. It is essential that you get a good referral if you want your marriage to recover. Read about choosing a good marital therapist.

7) Healing takes time

Although people naturally want to be pain-free as quickly as possible, when it comes to healing from infidelity, it just isn’t going to happen. In fact, if things are “business as usual” too quickly, it probably just means that intense feelings have been swept under the carpet. This will not help in the long run. In order for a marriage to mend, it takes a great deal of hard work to confront all the necessary issues. This takes time- often years- to truly get things back on track. When couples enter my office and they’ve been dealing with the aftermath of infidelity for a year or so and they are still struggling, they think something is wrong with them. When I hear that, I tell them that nothing is wrong with them because the pain is still fresh and the news of infidelity is hot off the press. Yes, even a year after learning about betrayal isn’t a very long time. Healing from infidelity is a slow process for most people.

8 ) Count on ups and downs

One of the most frustrating and confusing aspects to the healing process is the fact that just when people think things have improved and are resolved, there is another major setback. This is not surprising at all. That’s because the path to recovery is not s straight line. It is jagged and beset with many, many ups and downs. I tell people that it is two steps forward and one step back. Unfortunately, when people have a setback, they believe that they have slid back to square one. This is not the case. Every setback is a bit different. And as long as there is a general upward trend, progress is being made. Maintaining patience is difficult, but it is absolutely necessary. Don’t give up when there has been a relapse. Just get back on track.

9) Don’t be quick to tell friends and family

It is important not to be too quick to tell friends and family about the problem of infidelity. If everyone in one’s family is apprised of the infidelity, even if the marriage improves, family members may not support the idea of staying in the marriage. They may pressure the betrayed spouse to leave. So, while emotional support during this rough time is absolutely necessary, it’s important to get professional help or talk to friends or family who will support the marriage and be less judgmental. Those people should have the perspective that no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and as long as the unfaithful spouse takes responsibility to change, marriages can mend.

10) You won’t forget, but forgiveness is a gift you give yourself

When there has been infidelity, people just don’t forget about it. In fact, they don’t ever forget it. What does happen is that memories of the discovery and the pain tend to fade. The thoughts about betrayal become less frequent and less intense over time. And the good news is that people should NOT forget because we all learn from our experiences, both good and bad.

And although people don’t forget betrayal or affairs, forgiveness is still mandatory, not to let the unfaithful person off the hook, but because holding a grudge shackles people to the past. It is bad for one’s health, both emotionally and physically. There is no intimacy when there are grudges. Life is painful because there is a wall separating people. When betrayed spouses allow themselves to have feelings of forgiveness, life lightens up. It is freeing. Love begins to flow again. Letting go of the past begins to make room for happiness in the present. So, forgiveness isn’t meant for the unfaithful, it is a gift betrayed spouses give themselves.

For help in dealing with infidelity, visit the Divorce Busting homepapge.

Don’t give up.

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What would Michele say? Q & A- He says he doesn’t love me.



I really love my husband.  We are on the brink of divorce.  For about 4 years now he has told me that he doesn’t love me 10 times, 4 times just the last year.  I am really hurt by this and can’t get past the fact that he does this.  He says he says it when he is mad, but I feel if that were true then he would show me he loves me when he isn’t being mean.  Most of the time it happens when he is TDY or deployed.  But it happened again last weekend.  I told him I can’t keep hearing it-it hurts me too bad and he keeps promising not to say it and still does. I don’t know what to do, how to get past the hurtful things he says.  On top of it we have had sex two times this year.  He says he doesn’t feel connected to me and no matter what I have tried (positive and unfort. negative) it doesn’t work.  We have twin 6 year old girls, they are great kids, and we are able to get alone time.   Any suggestions :) Thanks.



It is that “Sticks and stone will break my bones but names will never harm me,” and nothing could be further than the truth.  Words do sting.  A lot.  But your husband isn’t taking you seriously.  Your words aren’t getting through to him.  Sometimes, especially with men, and especially with action-oriented men like your military man, you need to take action and stop talking.  He needs to feel that he might lose you if he keeps up this insensitive and unkind behavior.

I wonder if there is a place you can go with your girls if he tells you he doesn’t love you anymore?  Do you have a friend or relative you can visit for a while?  Also, if her pursues you when you are gone- which he might- you can tell him that your asexual relationship isn’t working for you either.  Let him know that you need more intimacy and closeness.

Furthermore,  tell him that you are getting used to being on your own and that you are doing ok without him.  Then watch how he responds.  If he comes closer, make sure that you are tough with him.  Hold the line.  If he pulls away, you can always reverse your position.  But chance are, getting tough will be a better way to approach this situation.  I bet you’re ready to do this anyway!

Look for support offered to you through he military.  Sometimes there are very good resource available to military spouses!

Hang in there,


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What Would Michele Say? Q & A – Should I take him back?


My husband says he wants to come back for the kids but not me. I believe it’s a midlife crisis but it’s been 9 months since he’s been gone and I’ve come too far to accept him without change. I’m a stronger person than I was before. I just filed for divorce April 13 and took my half of the marital assets. He still doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He’s a liar, he wants the money I got, not the kids. Trust was broken and then he moved in with the other woman and her two young kids the 1st of April with a years lease for $1700 a month. I’m better than what he’s done to me. The family deserves better and yes, I’m scared. We have two children, a 16-year old daughter that is getting in trouble and a 13-year old son that is a non-verbal autistic and I know finding someone willing to take on my baggage is going to be hard. I don’t want a divorce but I can’t live like this anymore. He’s a control freak that wants his cake and eat it too. By the time he sees what he’s lost it’s going to be too late to fix it. Move on or give it a chance? My heart says I still love you but my head is screaming run away!

Michele’s answer:

My answer is short. Given how far you’ve come emotionally, if your ex wants to come back- whether it’s for the kids or not- you should insist on intensive counseling first. You and I have no idea whether he will grow, take responsibility for his actions and make real changes, but if you still love him and he’s willing to truly change by working with a professional, it might be worth the risk. But DO NOT LET HIM MOVE BACK WITHOUT GETTING HELP. First things first, even from the Divorce Buster!


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What Would Michele Say? Q & A- How long do affairs last?

Question: How long do affairs last?

What do you do when your spouse gets involved in a romantic affair, and says they’re going to break it off with the affair partner, but doesn’t?

What is the timeline for a romantic affair to “end?” It was exposed to the light of day, but they’re “in love.”

MLC Bystander

Michele’s answer:

By virtue of the fact that your alias is “MLC Bystander” – (midlife crisis), it shows that you understand that your spouse’s mind and body have been temporarily abducted by an alien. Your spouse probably blames you for everything and is totally infatuated with his or her affair partner. Many midlife crises do end eventually as do affairs, but there are no guarantees or guidelines that apply to everyone. It is said that most affairs end within six months when the bloom is off the rose. It usually takes longer for midlife crises to end. The people on the online community on this website say it takes about one month to every year of your marriage. So, you do the math. But in the end, only you can decide the right amount of time to wait for things to turn around,

Hang in there,

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Why You Haven’t Seen Change in Your Marriage (and What You Can Do to Fix It) pt. 1

If you have reached an impasse in your marriage-saving efforts, you will want to read this three-part series because it will help you diagnose the reasons you might be stuck. Don’t despair, just make sure you read this and the next two parts!

So, why haven’t you seen change in your marriage yet? Let’s take a look at a few possible reasons.

You Haven’t Given a Method Sufficient Time to Work Before Trying Something Else

It is often the case that, if a technique doesn’t yield immediate results, people jump ship too quickly. Although this is completely understandable, it’s unproductive.  It’s my experience that you should probably stick with something for at least a couple of weeks unless it is clear that you are getting negative results.   Then, of course, you should quit immediately.  But don’t let your impatient get in the way of your being systematic about improving your marriage.  You need to give things a chance to work.

This is especially true if you and your spouse are separated and you don’t have much contact.  In that case, even if the method you’re using is going to be effective, it will definitely take longer to show positive results than it would if the two of you were together.  Your spouse simply doesn’t have enough opportunities to witness you changing.  So, don’t get discouraged and start trying a little of this and a little of that.  If you do, you won’t really get a true reading about the effectiveness of any technique.

The Strategy Chosen Isn’t Different Enough From Your Usual Approach

When people are stuck, I ask them what they’ve tried and they tell me, “I’ve tried everything.”  No one has ever tried everything.  It only feels that way.

But what people have done, is that they’ve tried many, many variations of the same technique.  For example, a woman tried asking her husband nicely to change when that didn’t work, she pleaded, begged, threatened, and cried.  Nothing she said ever made a difference.  So she decided to take a communication class where she learned how to express herself more effectively.  She did well in class and mastered the skills.  But when she went home and tried them out on her husband, he still responded the same old way.  She felt frustrated and at her wit’s end.

If you asked her, this woman would tell you that she tried everything.  But if you look at what she did very carefully, what you’ll notice is that all of her efforts fall under the same general category.  Despite the subtle difference in her approach, her husband knew one thing and one thing only.  “My wife is constantly harping on me when she talks.”  It didn’t matter how she said what she said, or the level of emotion that she said it with- to her husband, words were words.

Although your pet strategy may not be words, I want you to mull over this example and see if you are making the same kind of mistake.  When you try something new is it really new or is it merely a variation of thing you’ve tried that hasn’t worked?  I have equipped you with a series of helpful techniques for bringing about change with your spouse: Do Something Different, Act As If, Easier Done Than Said, The Medium is In The Message, and Do a 180.  Find one that is radically different from what you’ve been doing.  Even if it seems a little odd for you to try it out, do it anyway.  Give yourself permission to be creative.  Ask yourself, “Have I had any zany ideas about what might work but have held myself back from trying them?” What are they?

Don’t hold back a moment longer.  Go for it.  Remember, when I say, “Do something different,” I mean different.

You’re overlooking the small signs of change

One of the reasons you may not be noting any improvement in your marriage is that you are overlooking the small signs of change.  I know how easy this is to do.  You want to feel so much closer to your spouse and you’re looking for those blatant telltale signs that your marriage is headed for higher ground.  You’re hoping for obvious expressions of love and tenderness.  But in your eagerness to feel that your marriage is healed, it’s entirely possible that you have been oblivious to the small positive things that have happened that are really harbingers of things to come.  You fail to notice the less obvious, small acts of kindness, which are really the building blocks for what comes next.

If you’ve failed to notice these mini-steps, it’s like missing a street sign when you’re going to a party.  You won’t realize that you’ve been going in the right direction and you will feel  lost.  Without recognizing and appreciating that you’re moving in the right direction, you wont feel encouraged to keep going.

Or perhaps you have noticed a few small things have improved but you’ve told yourself, “No big deal.”  In other words, since the changes weren’t monumental, they weren’t worth getting excited about.  That kind of attitude will prevent you from moving farther.  Every little step is a big deal and you should think about it that way.  It will help you keep your stamina up.  If you’re guilty of downplaying the significance of small changes, here’s your new mantra: “Little steps are a big deals.”  Got that?  It’s really important that you slow down and be patient.

Finally, you may have been telling yourself not to get too excited about small steps forward because you don’t want to feel a false sense of hope.  If I were in your shoes, I’d probably feel exactly the same way, but it’s unproductive.  Allow yourself to notice and feel encouraged by the small signs.  You need to feel hope.  While it’s true that there are no guarantees about the future, if things don’t work out the way you hope, you’ll deal with it then.  For now, think positively.  Remember the self-fulfilling prophecy is a very powerful phenomenon.

graphic db coaches

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What To Do When Your Husband Is Going Through A Midlife Crisis [video]

what to do when husband going through midlife crisis

In today’s video, I discuss what a wife is to do when her husband is going through a midlife crisis.

Although this is a very trying time for many women, the key to getting through to the other side is to focus your efforts on not taking his changes personally.  Use this time to give him space, unconditional love, and mostly, to focus on yourself.  It’s important to know that this is only a temporary phase your husband is going through, and to retain the faith that you will make it through to the other side.

Join the Divorce Busting Newsletter group to be included on the latest marriage saving videos and articles, exclusive offers, and updates on Michele’s latest speaking engagements.

Full Transcript:

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Spouse Still Has Feelings For Affair Partner [Video]

spouse still has feelings for affair partner [video]

In today’s video, I explain what to do if you’re a spouse who has committed an act of infidelity and you still have feelings for the affair partner.

Although this is a very challenging situation, expecting your feelings to simply die off is unrealistic.  Positive feelings toward your former affair partner is a very normal reaction, even if it’s been quite some time since the act of infidelity.  Having these feelings, however, does not mean that you should act on these feelings.  Recognizing that this is a normal process to go through should better help you to cope with the agony and confusion you’ve been going through.

Join the Divorce Busting Newsletter group to be included on the latest marriage saving videos and articles, exclusive offers, and updates on Michele’s latest speaking engagements.

Full Transcript:

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