No Stone Unturned

Having finished reading fellow (gal) blogger, Sharon Wolf’s stunningly honest post entitled, “Do as I Say, Not As I Do,” I must say that I have great respect for her courage. It takes guts to admit defeat when one is supposed to have all the answers. As a marriage therapist and best-selling author, I, too, have been fortunate to have had far more than my share of 15 minutes of fame. I brush shoulders with the best and brightest in the field. I am not surprised by her confession that one’s marriage-saving wisdom isn’t always easy to implement in one’s own marriage. Some of the most prominent and well-respected marriage experts in the field are on their second and subsequent marriages. Nothing new here. However, as I read her wonderfully written account about what she tried and what didn’t work with her husband, the psychotic optimist in me (I didn’t write the book, Divorce Busting randomly) couldn’t help but notice that perhaps Sharon left several stones unturned when trying to mend her failing relationship.

Marriage-saving Tip # 1- Don’t be complacent about a ho-hum sex life

For starters, having sex only three times in fifteen years hardly constitutes a robust sex life. Nor does having separate bedrooms, though not uncommon, be thought to lead to intimacy and connection. While it’s unclear as to whether Sharon or her ex-husband initiated this sexual anorexia, it barely matters. Chances are, one person longed for sexual contact more than the other. My book, The Sex-Starved Marriage, spells out what happens to marriages where one spouse is yearning for more physical contact and the other, less interested spouse thinks, “What’s the big deal, it’s only sex.” But to the spouse desiring more touch, it’s a huge deal because it isn’t “just sex,” it’s about feeling wanted, appreciated, attractive and important. And when this major disconnect happens in marriage, intimacy on all levels tends to drop out. They stop spending time together, laughing at each other’s jokes, eating meals together and even showing interest in each other’s lives- like reading the other partner’s manuscript or caring about the other partners’ need for cleanliness, for example. If you’re married to someone whose love language is touch and you’re not touching, resentment and distance are the inevitable fallout. Resentful spouses generally don’t have much empathy or desire to please.

But a sexual desire gap isn’t a marital deal breaker. There is much couples can do to bridge the gap. And with more touch, miracles often happen outside the bedroom.

Marriage-Saving Tip # 2- Spend time together

By Sharon’s admission, her focus on work and the resulting success takes time and energy. Could it be that her ex felt like a second fiddle to her career and resented his not being a priority? Could it also be that his bitterness left him feeling disinterested in reading her books. Could her time away from him have led to his feeling cheated as one might if their spouse were having an affair?

When my book, Divorce Busting, was published, reporters asked what I believed to be the number one cause for divorce in our country. Although they expected a sophisticated psychological explanation, mine was simple. Couples need to spend more time together. They seem to prioritize everything but each other. I feel certain that therapists like Sharon and me would be out of work if more couples understood and took this very simple principle to heart. Insist upon sacred alone time, no matter how busy your lives might be, no matter how demanding your children. “The best thing you can do for your kids,” I always say, “is to put your marriage first.”

Marriage-Saving Tip #3- If all else fails, do nothing

And finally, I give Sharon a lot of kudos for all of her hard work in trying to improve her marriage. She sounds like a real trooper. She tells us, “… it took my exhaustive exploration of every marriage counseling trick of the trade and trying them at home to realize that nothing was going to make us work.” However, in my practice, I’ve noticed that sometimes one spouse is doing ALL the work while the other spouse does NOTHING. Relationships are like see saws. The more one person does, the less the other person has to do. So, had Sharon been my client, I would have encouraged her to take a marital sabbatical and stop working so hard to get him to change. Stop asking for things. When a Well-meaning, “fix-it addict,” backs off, it often marks the turning point in marriage. It’s counter-intuitive because we all believe that the harder we work, the better the results. But when it comes to relationships, a more accurate saying is, “Insanity has been defined as doing more of the same and expecting different results.” I couldn’t help but be curious as to how her now-ex husband responded when she finally stopped trying and threw in the towel. Did it paradoxically pique his interest?

The truth is, Monday morning quarterbacking is an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to someone else’s life. Plus, not all marriages can or should be saved. It’s just that my heart goes out to Sharon to read about her loneliness and missing her ex. However, without knowing her personally, I have a strong sense that regardless of Sharon’s choice to end her relationship, she will unquestionably land on her feet. And I imagine that the countless couples whose marriages have remained intact thanks to her help, will be cheering her on.

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

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How Long Does it Take to Save or Improve Your Marriage?

how long does it take to save your marriage
While it is true that some people do experience immediate changes in their relationships, it’s also true that, in most marriages, change takes much longerHow much longer? It depends on many factors: the severity of the problems, personalities of the spouses, length of time people have been experiencing difficulties, each spouse’s level of motivation to do what it takes to make a marriage work, outside influences from extended family and friends, and the level of both partners’ problem-solving skills.  Every marriage is different.

But the consistent message I’ve gotten from those in the trenches is that patience is not only a virtue, it’s an absolute necessity.  Resign yourself to the fact that improving your marriage might take weeks rather than days, or months rather than weeks.  This will help you avoid becoming disappointed if results aren’t as immediate as you had hoped.  Furthermore, you need to know that you can expect your good days and your bad days, good weeks and bad weeks.  Sometimes, you’ll feel as if you are really out of the woods, and then a day later, you’ll feel as though you are back to square one.  That’s how change happens.  You must expect these hills and valleys and teach yourself not to get despondent.  Resist feeling sorry for yourself.  Just remember that, chances are, tomorrow will be a better day.

You also need to keep in mind that even if you’ve been doing everything right, your spouse is likely to be suspicious if you’ve changed a great deal.  S/he might think that you are just putting on an act to try to win him/her over.  This is natural, and if your spouse expresses this doubt, don’t be reactive.  Just quietly tell your partner that is the new you, and that you plan on remaining this new person no matter what happens to your marriage.  Reassure your spouse that you can fully understand his/her skepticism.  As long as you keep on track, your spouse will eventually see that this is the “new you,” and not some impostor.

The bottom line is that you should take comfort in the fact that you are being proactive about improving your marriage.  Even if you have a ways to go, at least you’ve started the journey, and that’s more than a lot of people can say.

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How to Make Your Spouse Want to Change

how to make your spouse want to change

You can trigger positive change by behaving positively toward your spouse.  What do you need to do that will make your spouse feel more loving toward you and, therefore, want to go out of his/her way to please you?

If you are going about saving your marriage alone, rather than ask your spouse to make the change, ask yourself the following question: “What could I do that would make it more likely that s/he is going to want to make those changes?” Now, start doing that.

Other people tell me that in order to take a baby step forward, they have to continue to change their own behavior.  For example, they tell me, “In order for us to move up a half step on the scale:

  • “I need to keep a better lid on my anger when the kids are noisy.”
  • “I need to appreciate the small things she does.”
  • “I have to be more patient when she’s late.”

Again, if you’ve identified a change that is necessary in you, make sure it’s positively stated, action-oriented, and doable in the next few weeks.  Then, surprise, surprise, become more diligent about doing it.

As with the response above, you might also ask yourself, “What could my spouse do that would make it more likely that I will stick to my plan?”  Once you figure this out, you might discuss this with your spouse if you think s/he might be amenable to it.

Still others tell me that the only thing that must change in order for them to feel better about their marriages is their level of confidence that their improvements are permanent.  They need to feel more certain.  For example, they say, “In order for us to move up a half step on the scale”:

  • “I need to feel more relaxed about the changes.  I still feel that we are walking on eggshells.”
  • “More time has to pass.  This is so new.  I’ll feel better about us when I’m more convinced the changes are going to stick.”

If this is how you responded, you should ask yourself, “How much longer would these positive changes have to stick in order for you to feel that this improvement isn’t a fluke?”

When you respond to this, you should definitely keep in mind that, even in the best of marriages, there are ups and down.  Even if your changes are genuine, lasting changes, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have a bad day or week now and then.  It’s important for you to make a distinction between an occasional bad day and the beginning of a downward spiral.  In fact, while I’m on the subject, you should answer this question.

  • “What would have to happen in order for you to feel that a bad day was just an isolated incident and not the beginning of a downward spiral?” (Be as specific as possible.  I want you to get to the point where you start to believe that your bad days are flukes and your good days are the rule.)

Reevaluate your progress weekly.  Keep doing this until you reach your goals, no matter how long it takes.  Just keep recording your success in a journal as you go, pat yourself on the back for small improvements, and be patient.  You are heading in the right direction, just keep going.

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What To Do After Changing Your Approach?

what to do after changing your approach

Before approaching your spouse with one of the many fight stoppers (all separate links) we’ve equipped you with, you will have a picture in your mind’s eye of the kind of reaction to be expecting from him/her.  If your spouse responds negatively to your new approach, stop what you are doing immediately.  It means you miscalculated the usefulness of the strategy.  Even if you’ve followed my advice to a “T”, if it didn’t work, it didn’t work.  Always remember that the proof is in the pudding.

Having said that, there is one thing you might keep in mind.  Sometimes, an angry reaction is not a bad thing.  For example, if you’ve been extremely cautious and walking on eggshells with your spouse and you’ve noticed that nothing is changing, you might decide to take a stronger stand.  When you change directions, it’s entirely possible that your spouse’s initial reaction might be one of anger.

However, it’s also possible that a day later you might notice some improvement – s/he might be kinder and more considerate to you.  So, occasionally, you have to continue to observe beyond your spouse’s immediate reaction to see if anything you’re doing is beginning to sink in .

The one thing to keep in mind though is that you should proceed cautiously with any new approach until you feel fairly confident that you’ve gotten a green light.  If in doubt, wait.

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How Long Does it Take to Recover From An Affair? [Video]

Today’s video topic is “How Long Does it Take to Recover From An Affair?”

In my practice, couples come to me all the time, frustrated that they haven’t yet gotten past their spouse’s act of infidelity, even if the incident is only a couple of months old.  Recovering from an affair takes time.  Unfortunately, there are no short cuts or magic cures.  By knowing this you can brace for the rocky road ahead and buckle down for the long term.

In the video below, I offer my full advice on how long it should take to recover from infidelity, as well as what you should expect along the way.

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Full Video Transcript: Continue reading

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A Powerful Approach to Stopping Fights: Do a 180

do a 180

We’ve covered many different approaches to doing something different when confronted with challenges in your marriage.  You’ve learned how to act as if, you’ve learned that it’s easier done than said, that the medium is in the message, and you’ve learned that sometimes that the most effective strategy is to just do nothing.   Well today I want to introduce you to a new strategy which takes the above approaches to next level: Do a 180.

Just as its name implied, if what you’re doing doesn’t work, do the exact opposite.  As counter-intuitive as this might be, it often works.

Janice was a woman who liked peace in her house and would get upset each time her husband got angry.  Unfortunately, her husband, Cameron had a low tolerance for frustration and would anger easily.  Every time he started to grumble, she would try to pacify him.  The more she tried to calm him down, the angrier he would become.

One day, Cameron was working in their family room and started to complain loudly about having to complete a computer task for which he had received no training.  Instead of reassuring him, Janice stormed into the family room, banged her fist on the table, and shouted, “What was your boss thinking? You weren’t at the training. How in the world are you supposed to know what to do?  Now you’re going to get angry and our evening will be ruined.  Your boss is really something!

There was a dead silence.  Shortly thereafter, her husband composed himself and said, “Will you settle down, please?  I know I can figure this stuff out if you just give me a little more time.  Relax.”  I’m not certain who was more surprised by this interaction!

From Doormat to Demanding

Brett wanted his marriage to work more than anything in the world.  However, Stella, his wife, was fairly certain she wanted out.  Brett was heartbroken.  In an effort to get Stella to change her mind, Brett did everything he could to please her.  He did all the housework, the lion’s share of taking care of their children, encouraged her to go out with her friends, and do other enjoyable activities without him or their family.  When they were home together, he was extremely cautious about how he acted and what he said for fear that he might make her angry.  His lifelong friends were telling him that he’d turned into  doormat.  Although he understood what they were saying and why they were saying it, he felt he had to keep a low profile or Stella would just take off.  Although he didn’t like the man he had become, he felt parlayed by fear.  Stella simply went about her business without paying a whole lot of attention to Brett.  He hoped that if he could be careful about his actions long enough, Stella might appreciate the changes in him.  So far, it hadn’t been working.  The nicer he was, the crueler she seemed to be to him.

One evening Stella told Brett that she was going to work out and that she would be home around 9:30 P.M.  He said, “Fine, see you then.”  Although he would have preferred that she spend the evening with their family, he was trying to be supportive.  Nine-thirty came rolling around and no Stella.  Brett assumed she was running a little late from aerobics class.  But when the clock struck 11P.M ., he found himself growing incredibly angry.  By midnight, he was furious with her.  Stella finally walked through the door at 12:30A.M., at which time, Brett’s emotions got the better of him.

In a loud voice, he insisted that she sit down because they needed to talk.  At first, she resisted, but Brett would not accept “no” for an answer.  He called her on her irresponsible behavior and let her know, in no uncertain terms, that he was tired of being the nice guy and that he couldn’t believe how incredibly inconsiderate she had been for months.  Brett told her that he was through with her shenanigans and that as far as he was concerned, if she wanted out, she should leave.

Stella was stunned by Brett’s reaction. Instead of getting furious and threatening to leave, as Brett had anticipated, Stella sat quietly and listened to everything Brett had to say.  In fact, she asked him if they could talk about this whole thing more calmly.  She apologized for staying out late and said that she should have called him to let him know about her plans.  Brett was so wrapped up in getting things off his chest that he almost didn’t hear the apology.  It was the first time in six months that Stella said anything kind to him.  Instead of being “Mr. Nice Guy” and letting her off the hook, Brett agreed with her saying, “That’s exactly right.  You should have called,” and promptly went to bed.

In the days that followed, Brett realized that over the course of their marriage, Stella had often told him that what she loved about him was his strength, his manliness, and his ability to be decisive.  Brett realized that their crisis had turned him into a different person.  Many of the qualities Stella loved about him were gone.  Although their argument that night was not going to win them the couple of the year award, it sure made an impression in Stella’s mind.  The old Brett was back. Brett decided that from now on, he had to be himself, regardless of what happened with their marriage.  Luckily for him, the real Brett- the less caution, more spontaneous, somewhat fiery and opinionated guy – was much more appealing to Stella than the timid, lonely man who made himself invisible for fear he would alienate the person he loved most.  Although Brett’s 180 was spontaneous rather than planned, the lesson he learned from switching gears had a profound impact on the choices he made about his life from that day forward.

The Takeaway

One important reminder here that bears repeating: when you do a 180, it’s scary.  It feels unnatural.  It flies in the face of what’s logical.  If I had suggested to Brett that he take a strong stand and let Stella know exactly what he was willing to put up with and what he was not, Brett would have told me to go fly a kite.  My suggestions would have sounded downright ludicrous or even dangerous.  But almost all 180s felt that way.

So if you are considering doing a 180, don’t let your fear that it will backfire stop you.  You can always retrace your steps.  The important thing to remember is that the worst thing you can do is to keep doing what hasn’t been working.  And, if you’re considering this technique, I’d venture a guess that your problem-solving strategies thus far haven’t been anything to write home about.  Go slowly, but try doing a 180 and watch what happens.

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How to Save Your Marriage During an Affair

A question I receive all the time is, “how can I save my marriage after my spouse has found out about my affair?”

First, it’s important for people to understand that infidelity doesn’t have to be a marriage deal breaker.  Although challenging, many of the couples I’ve worked with have built their marriages to be even stronger than before the act of infidelity.

Secondly, and this may come as a shock to many, but it’s important not to be too forceful about your spouse ending his/her affair.  It’s simply human nature that if someone is pushed too hard in one direction, they will react by pulling away in the other.  By backing off a little bit, you give your spouse the space he/she needs to end the affair on their own terms, which usually occurs within the first six months.

If you, or someone you know is going through a similar situation, I highly encourage you to work with one of my Divorce Busting Coaches.  They will help to give you a full play-by-play guide for how to approach this very sensitive situation.

My full advice for how to handle this situation can be seen in the video below.

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Full Video Transcript: Continue reading

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Do Nothing: A Novel Approach to Solving Marriage Problems

do nothing: a novel approach to marriage problems

Some people are fix-it addicts.  Fixing their marriages becomes the main focus of their lives.  The problem with this is that relationships are like see-saws: the more one person does of something, the less the other one will do.  If one person takes out the garbage all the time, the other partner won’t even think about garbage day.  If one person remembers family members’ birthdays all the time, the other partner doesn’t have to think about birthdays.  If one partner is the marriage handyman or woman, the other partner can put the marriage on the back burner.

Sometimes the very best thing a fix-it addict can do is to use an alternative to the do something different approach and do nothing, because by doing so, it gives their partner the opportunity to step in and rise to the problem-solving occasion.  Being a fix-it addict myself, I know about the importance of backing off firsthand.

My most deeply entrenched more of the same behavior had to do with raising of our daughter, Danielle.  I felt Jim was too harsh with her and too rule-bound.  I felt that kids need a lot more TLC.  He, on the other hand, felt that I was a pushover and that I wasn’t doing Danielle any favors by not having clear expectations of her in every aspect of her life.  Because of these basic differences in perspective, we argued a great deal, especially when Danielle was a pre-teenager.

The typical pattern was this: Danielle would do something, I would correct her mildly, and Jim would come down on her harder.  In order to soften the blow, I would step in and reassure her in some way.  This would infuriate Jim and he would lash out verbally at me and then at Danielle as well.  When I asked myself what my goal was, it was twofold: one, to help Danielle feel good about herself and two, for Jim and Danielle to have a more loving relationship.  Although I knew that my actions were bringing about the exact opposite of what I was hoping for, I continued to do more of the same for years.  I had become a fix-it addict.

Then one day I decided to practice what I preach.  I was out of town doing a seminar and I received an SOS call from Danielle.  She said, “Mom, Dad is being mean.  He’s yelling and saying mean things.”  Well, that’s all I really needed to hear.  I told her to go and get her dad because I wanted to talk with him.  In the minute or so that it took for Jim to get on the phone, I realized that if I lectured him about his actions as I had done a thousand times before, he’d get mad at me and even madder at Danielle.  So in an instant, I decided to reverse a marriage-long habit.  I decided to say nothing.  Jim got on the phone expecting a lecture and instead, I told him that I just wanted to say good night to him.  “Good night.,” he told me, and then hung up.

The next day at the airport, on my way home, I called in the late afternoon to see how Danielle was doing.  Surprisingly, Jim answered the phone.  I said, “Jim, it’s only three-thirty in the afternoon, what are you doing home?”  He replied, I felt really bad about what happened between Danielle and me last night so I decided to leave work early, buy a dozen roses [she loves flowers], pick her up at school, and take her out to dinner.”  We were both silent for a moment.  Then he said, “Do you feel better?” to which I replied, “Yes, definitely.  Do you?”  “Yeah, much better,” he said.

Less is More

You see, this whole wonderful thing never would have happened if I hadn’t butted out.  If I complained, Jim would have gotten mad at me instead of himself.  Without me pointing fingers, he only had himself to look at in the mirror that night.  And what he saw, he didn’t like a whole lot.  So, he fixed it.  And he did a damn good job, if I do say so myself.

I learned a lot that day.  I realized that by doing nothing, I had really done something, probably the most important something I had ever done in the history of our parenting together.  Call me a slow learner, but I caught on, and rarely intervened again.  Their relationship is so incredibly close now that I wonder why it took me so long to do nothing.

If you’re someone who is always assuming responsibility for making things better in your marriage, it may be time for you to take a sabbatical.  Relax.  Give your spouse the opportunity to notice you’re not fixing things anymore.  Like me, you may be surprised with the way in which your spouse will step up to the plate.

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What is the Average Amount of Sex in Marriage? [Video]

One question I’m asked as much as any other is: “what is the average amount of sex in marriage“  Clearly, the question is asked not with the intent of gathering facts for the sake of fact gathering.  Either the lower or higher sex-drive spouse wants to tell the other spouse that they’re asking for too much or too little sex. Although there is a national average for the amount of sex married couples have (approximately 1.5 times per week), this statistic should not be the deciding force for how much sex you and your spouse have.

Every marriage is unique, and therefore the right amount of sex will be whatever you will compromise on, not based on what your friends are telling you, or what you read in magazines.

In the video below, I give a full explanation on how to determine what the right amount of sex is between you and your partner.

Full Video Transcript: Continue reading

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10 Marriage New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

marriage new years resolutions 2011 (1-5) - 1)  Make relationship goal-setting a priority- before weight loss or cutting back on drinking or smoking.  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!  2. Have several date nights a month  Don’t justify a lack of regular quality couples time for any reason, including the kids. The best thing you can do for your children is put your marriage first. You don't have to spend a lot of money or do something extravagant. You just have to plan alone time that is uninterrupted.  3. Spend at least ten minutes every day checking in with each other  Don’t let a day pass without finding out how your spouse is doing. It’s like putting blood in the blood bank. When the going gets tough, you will be able to draw on your savings! And when you ask how your partner is doing, truly listen to his or her response. Be present. Don't multitask or it won't count!  4. Tell your spouse three things you appreciate about him or her EVERY DAY  Focus on what works in your relationship and what your spouse does well. What you focus on expands. And don't just notice the positive things, tell your spouse about your gratitude!  5. Don't go to sleep angry  Although this is not always easy, especially when you think you’re right, declaring a moratorium before you start sawing zzzz’s will make for a fresh start in the morning. And by the way, you can still be somewhat angry and follow this advice anyway. It will begin to melt the ice.10 new years marriage resolutions for 2011 (6-10) - 6. Touch, flirt and have sex regularly  Remember what your relationship was like in the beginning? If more couples pressed the reset button and pretended they just met, their marriage would continue to sizzle.  7. Brag about your spouse to others in his or her presence  There’s a saying, “Let me see what I (you) say, so I know what I (you) think.” Speaking in glowing terms about your spouse in front of others feels like a public endorsement and that feels good.  8. Speak from the heart frequently  Although one partner is usually more verbal than the other, regular discussions about personal/emotional issues makes people feel closer and more connected.  9. Learn how to fight fairly  In all marriages, conflict in inevitable. However, how you fight can be the difference between lifelong relationship growth and divorce. Learn how to have constructive conversations about heated issues. Take a marriage seminar that focuses on fair fighting skills.  10. Don't take yourselves too seriously. Don't forget to laugh  Remember how you used to laugh at each other’s jokes and life seemed to be more light-hearted? Don’t lose your sense of humor, even when it comes to problem-solving. Laughter is life’s and love’s best medicine.

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How To Tell Your Spouse About Your Affair [video]

If you have had an affair and you decide to tell your spouse about it or your spouse has already discovered some of the facts, you will want to know how to share the information in the least hurtful way.  The video below will help you break the news to your spouse. If you decide to confessing your infidelity, you need to include all of the details, and not let the facts leak out piece meal over time, because when new information is revealed, the wounds reopen, slowing down any real progress.

My full advice is seen in the video below.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce and recover from infidelity. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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How to Approach Your Spouse: Act As If

A Marriage Self fulfilling prophecy - act as if

I’ve discussed a lot of different methods recently suggesting how to approach your spouse.  Whether you try doing something different, altering the medium of your message, or rely on actions instead of words, sometimes nothing is quite as effective as the self-fulfilling prophecy to “Act As If”.  Below I outline exactly how you can implement this in your marriage.

How to Approach Your Spouse – Act As If

Problems often arise in relationships because people think they can predict the future.  ”I just know how my wife will respond when I tell her I’m going out,” or “Blake will undoubtedly fly off the handle when my parents come for dinner.”  The problem with predicting dire outcomes in the future is that, whether we know it or not, we begin acting in certain ways that broadcast our expectations to our partners, and these subtle signals often bring about the very results we fear.

When you expect failure and feel defeated before you approach a challenging sitation, it’s helpful to ask yourself how you woud handle the situation differently if you were expecting a positive outcome.  How might your approach to your partner differ if you thought s/he would respond lovingly?  Once you identify how your actions would differ under these circumstances, “act as if”; pretend you are expecting good things to happen and watch what happens.  I’ll give you an example of a time I used “act as if” technique in my own life.

Years ago, I had been away from home at a conference.  I was gone for about five days.  During that period, I called home every day to check on my husband, Jim, and my children.  By day three, I could tell that Jim was getting tired of playing Mr. Mom.  He grew less than friendly with each passing call.

Upon arriving home, I was sitting next to a friend on the plane and as we pulled into the gate, I told my friend that I had a knot in my stomach.  I assumed Jim – who was picking us up at the airport – wouldn’t be too happy to see me.  Because I was expecting an icy reception, I told my friend I would cautiously allow Jim to set the tone for our greeting.  I would keep a low profile, not be too effervescent, and certainly not let on that I had had a good time with my friends.

My friend, who happens to be a therapist asked, “How would you greet Jim differently if you were expecting him to be happy to see you?”  That was a no-brainer.  I would get off the plane excited to see him, throw my arms aroudn him, kiss him, and start telling him about the conference and what happened there.  I also would want to know about his time at home and how he was feeling.  Now, contrast in your mind’s eye how differently Jim might have felt about these two different receptions!

I decided to “act as if.”  Even though I wasn’t confident that Jim was elated about my homecoming, I acted as if I thought he were.  I greeted him exuberantly.  And happily, within about ten seconds, I was sure I made the right decision.  He was thrilled to see me and we had a great ride home together.

The next time you find yourself thinking negatively about how a situation may turn out, stop for a moment and ask yourself:

  • How was I going to approach this situation given my pessimism?
  • How would I like the situation to turn out instead?
  • How would I handle this situation differently if I were expecting good things to happen?

Then, regardless of how skeptical you might be about the possibilities of good things happening, “act as if.”  Do all the things you would do if you were convinced of a positive outcome.  Then watch the results.

For a more visual explanation of Act as If, the video below is from my Marriage Breakthrough DVD package. Enjoy.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce and recover from infidelity. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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How to Recover from Infidelity or An Affair

how to recover from an affair or infidelity

A very common question in my practice is “what’s the proper way to deal with an affair?” How much time should be dedicated to talking about the infidelity?

The following video provides one method toward recovering from an affair.

Although there’s not one single approach that works for every couple, the most effective strategy is to dedicate certain blocks of time that are appropriate to discuss the infidelity, while leaving other blocks of time as an affair-free talk zone.  Offering clearer boundaries gives your marriage the proper structure to heal.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce and recover from infidelity. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Full Transcript:
The topic for day is recovering from infidelity or affairs.

Hi I’m Michele Weiner-Davis, founder of

The most common time when couples come to seek my help is when they’ve been working on this issue for a while after the discovery and they get stuck because the person who’s had the affair is so ready to be done talking about it, rehashing the details, going on and on and on. The other person who is still hurting, still trying to get passed that devastation, really needs information, really needs to discuss their feelings. One person thinks, how can we heal if we keep talking about it. The other person thinks if you aren’t willing to talk about it, you can’t understand how much pain I’m in.

Well, here’s the news. You’re both right!

And because you’re both right, here’s what you need to do. You need to set aside some predesignated time where you know you will have the opportunity to discuss whatever comes up about the affair: answering questions, sharing information.

But conversely, you will set aside time where it’s problem free zone. Where you don’t talk about the affair, you plan dinners together, you go out and do something fun, so that you can rebuild that foundation.

All the while knowing if the other person still needs to talk on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings you’ll be able to do that.

So if you follow that formula: time to talk vs. time not to talk, you’ll make it through to the other side. Try that.

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Marriage Advice: Easier Done Than Said

Easier Done Than Said

marriage advice easier done than said

A variation of the “Medium is in the Message” technique, this intervention suggests that you stop using words entirely to get your messages across.  No talking on the phone, no letter writing, no e-mails, you just take action!  Women really benefit from using this technique because we now know that men are less verbally-oriented and more action-oriented than women.  Men sometimes get overloaded with words and they stop listening.  When that happens, it doesn’t matter how their wives say things, they’re not going to be able to get through to their husbands with words.  It’s in one ear and out the other.  Actions, on the other hand, get their attention.

I was once interviewed on the radio by a husband and wife team.  Knowing about my experience in helping couples improve their marriages, the woman jokingly said to me, “If you’re so smart, tell me what I can do to get my husband to repair the steps leading to our back porch.”  Before I could respond, she said, “I know exactly what I need to do.  I need to stop nagging and I need to take action.  If I want him to fix the steps, all I have to do is grab some tools and start doing it myself.  The moment he notices me doing this, he’ll come right over to me, look over my shoulder, grab the tools out of my hand because I’ll be doing it the wrong way, and he’ll take over.  It works that way every time.”  That’s exactly what she did, and guess what…it worked!

Liz spent years talking, even begging her husband, Thomas, to be more adventurous and start doing fun things with her on weekends.  It seemed to her that most of her friends had very active social lives and she felt deprived.  But nothing she said to Thomas about her unhappiness ever seemed to make a difference.  He simply preferred staying home.

Out of complete frustration, Liz decided that she had to begin to do things that were fun either alone or with friends.  After several such outings, her husband became curious about what she was up to.  He realized that he disliked spending weekends alone.  After three weeks of her the following weekend alone.  After three weeks of her becoming more independent, Thomas told her that he would like to join her the following weekend on a trip to the city’s art museum.  Liz practically fell out of her chair.  Nonetheless, she was happy that Thomas wanted to join in.

They had a great time together and instead of returning home after being at the museum, Thomas suggested that they go out for dinner at a new restaurant.  Liz had wondered whether an alien had abducted her husband and exchanged him for this stranger, but she approved of the trade-in.  In the weeks that followed, Liz continued making plans for herself and at least half the time, Thomas asked if she wanted company.

If words have failed to produce positive results in your marriage, if you’ve said to yourself, “I talk until I’m blue in the face,” then stop talking and start doing something different.  It’s easier done than said.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce and recover from infidelity. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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Is Marriage Obsolete? Michele Weiner-Davis Weighs in.

Is Marriage Obsolete

With Time Magazine’s most recent issue, Who Needs Marriage?, there has been a lot of talk in the media about if marriage is becoming obsolete.  I offer my two cents below.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce and recover from infidelity. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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