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After your wife gets up to use the restroom, you find yourself feeling an unexpected sense of relief. Until that moment, you had not noticed that the time you two were spending together had become so tense.
As you glance around the restaurant, your eyes wander to people at other tables. You see a young couple sitting close to one another, oblivious to the rest of the world. You see a large group of friends, all couples, loudly sharing stories and looking happy.
You don’t need to see any more. The pain sears through you as you realize that you and your wife used to be just like them, and now you’re anything but.
If people were to glance over at the two of you, you know what they would see. They would see the couple the two of you vowed you would never become.
You remember when the two of you were so in love and thought there would never be a time when you could possibly feel any other way about each other. You were convinced that you were special and above any other couple. That your love was so powerful and that the two of you were not going to be like “those other couples” who let their relationship fall apart. No, when the two of you met, it was “different.”
How did you get here? And, now that you are here, what do you do? Here are a few tips to help you get things back on track or determine if the relationship is over:
If the two of you are not talking about what is going on, then you simply will have no idea if she even feels the same way you do. For all you know, she may be fine with the way the relationship is. She may have no idea how unhappy you have become.
Now, I will have to admit that, if this is the case, then the two of you have a lot of things to work out once you start this conversation. If your wife has no idea that you are miserable, then the two of you are very disconnected and need to work on your relationship and getting reconnected.
My guess is, however, that she will have some idea about how you feel and probably be feeling the same. But you cannot be the only one wanting to work on things and make them better. If you bring this up for discussion, and the two of you both agree that your relationship has hit a rough patch and you want to work on things, then that is a great place to start.
It can be the easiest thing in the world to point the finger at your wife about all of the things she has done to make you unhappy or “ruin” the marriage. And I am sure there are things she probably has done.
But, let’s be honest, there are two people in this situation, and the hardest thing in the world to do is to sit back and be completely vulnerable and honest with yourself about what your part has been in getting you here.
The worst thing you can do is to start off by getting her on the defensive by attacking her with all of her wrongdoings. All that will do is get her to attack you back with all of the things you have done. That will only start things off with a lot of hurt, anger, and resentment of the other person.
The best way to start things off would be to own what you may have done, not done, or said over the years to have contributed to your relationship problems. You need to say you would like to work on getting your relationship back on track and to a place where both of you are happy, fulfilled, and getting your needs met.
The hardest part of doing this is that you are putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. But this can be a very effective way to start getting the two of you back on track. If she sees that you are willing to be open and really want to work on things, she will be more likely to reciprocate and also be vulnerable and open with you, too.
By showing you trust her enough to be open and vulnerable to her, you are letting her know that she can equally do so with you. This is where the door starts to open for deeper communication and change.
A word of caution here: If you go into this conversation with the expectation that she will also own her part or meet you halfway at this point, then things could go downhill fast.
You need to be honest with yourself. If you expect her to follow your lead and then say, “Well, I guess I also did some things to hurt you or get us here,” but then she does not, how do you think you will react?
Will you get angry and say, “Well, I told you what I did wrong. Now, what about what you did? You aren’t perfect you know. You did a lot of things to hurt me. You aren’t going to sit there and put this all on me?” And then will you proceed to list off all of the things she has done over the years? You have to realize this may not be the best approach.
You cannot change anyone else. If she is not willing to meet you halfway and is not open to working on the relationship and equally see her part, then there are bigger things to work on that the two of you may need to address directly with the help of a professional counselor or therapist right from the start.
When did the two of you stop enjoying one another? When was the last time you two interacted as those two people who had those conversations about how special your love was?
It can be easy to fall into a routine and let the days go by without noticing that you stopped doing the little things that make a huge difference in keeping yourself and the ones you love happy.
Was there anything the two of you used to enjoy doing together that you stopped doing? Think back to when you two first met. What was it that drew you to her? What was it that made it so exciting and fun to be together?
Try to remember things she used to love, and do those things to help her feel important and seen by you. Did you stop rubbing her back at the end of a long day when the two of you were relaxing on the couch?
Did you used to spend time talking every night, but now you only sit in the same room, glued to your phones, and rarely speaking a word to one another? Did you used to go on long walks, but now you can’t remember the last time you two even so much as left the house together?
Look, you two met and fell in love for some reason. You just lost sight of it along the way. If you are reading this, there is a part of you that is hurting and searching for things in your marriage to get better. Talk, communicate, be open, and find each other again. It is definitely worth a shot. Good luck!