The other day, I heard from a wife who told me that no matter what she did or said, she couldn’t get her husband on board when it came to working on their marriage. Specifically, she said: “I can’t convince my husband to work with me to improve our marriage. I’m not sure that I will able to do this by myself. How can I get him to change his mind because I’m pretty sure if we don’t do something then we’ll eventually end up divorced?”
This is such a common problem. Rarely do I see situations in which both parties are totally and equally committed to making things work. There is usually one hold out. And, as frustrating as it is, this can be OK. You actually can do a great deal to save your marriage all on your own. If you play your cards right, your husband will likely come around eventually. It’s important not to push too hard as you’re making real changes behind the scenes. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Improving Your Marriage All By Yourself: Many people don’t believe me when I say that you can actually transform your marriage without needing your husband’s cooperation, especially at first. I often meet a lot of resistance to this and hear comments like “I can’t force him to want to work with me and if he’s not working with me, then nothing is going to change in our marriage. I can’t do this all by myself.” While you will likely eventually need at least some cooperation on his part, you can certainly start the process solo. Even small successful changes that you are able to implement will usually eventually inspire him to take some action.
Often men don’t automatically agree to work on the marriage because of a few things. The first is plain semantics. It’s human nature to turn away from things that we think aren’t going to be desirable or a whole lot of fun. And hearing phrases like “working on our marriage,” often implies hard labor to a guy and he’s going to want to avoid this. Another reason that we sometimes don’t get a husband ‘s cooperation is because the husband thinks this is all a waste of time as nothing ever changes. Over time, he’s become tired of and immune to trying things that just don’t work or make any real difference.
Your job now is to show him that he’s wrong in these assumptions. You want to begin to show him real and lasting change which is actually going to benefit him and provide positive feelings that come easily rather than negative feelings which read as being a lot of work and not really lasting anyway.
How To Start Saving Your Marriage Single Handedly: There are many ways that you can get started. I recommend that the first step be taking a hard look at your marriage and identifying where you (by yourself) could begin to improve it. What part do you play in the issues at hand? Here’s a good place to start. Most people neglect their marriage in terms of both time and effort. So, if you’re now willing to make your marriage and it’s improvement a top priority, you will already be ahead of the game. Giving your husband more of your time and attention is going to be one of those things that reads positively and he hasn’t had to do a thing.
Next, you’ll want to identify what it is that you want from your husband. If you could have him change in any way, what would this be. For example, if you want more affection from him, then you need to model this by giving him more of your affection. If you want him to listen to you more, become a good listener yourself. Often when I tell people these things, I get a bit of resistance. I hear comments like “this seems backwards. How is my giving him what I want going to benefit me?” Trust me when I say that it does and if you make a sincere effort, you’ll see that I’m right. By modeling the behaviors that you’re wanting to see, your showing and not just telling him how you want the marriage to look. He’s not going to resist this because you are the one doing all the work and he’s the one who is benefiting.
And, once he becomes more fulfilled and satisfied and begins to see that things actually can change without the process being too terribly painful, he will start to come around. Because a spouse who is happy is going to reflect this back to you. An example of this is when you first begin dating. The two of you couldn’t do enough for each other and as a result, both of you were happy without feeling that either of you were making overwhelming sacrifices. The key is to really be honest about what you want and then to just show him (and yourself) that more of this can exist in the marriage without too much difficulty.
Delaying The Serious Talks About Your Marriage: A common mistake that many people who are trying to improve their marriages alone is that they will telegraph what they are doing. They will come right out and tell their husband or wife that they are going on a solo journey down save our marriage lane. This will often make the spouse who is on the fence defensive or uncooperative. You don’t need any additional resistance, so just begin all on our own without giving them any heads up. You can explain more later once things are much better.
And, you shouldn’t try to have long, drawn out talks about why the marriage isn’t working or to try to convince him to air out your dirty laundry or to share your deep feelings. Men are extremely resistant to these types of talks anyway and you want to focus on making positive changes in your marriage, not drawing attention to what is wrong. Of course there will come a time when this will need to happen so that you can fix the problems, but wait until he is on board before you attempt this.