When only one spouse shows desire to work on the marriage, it can leave that spouse feeling stuck, unhappy, and even hopeless. I’ve been there! Let’s see how we can move towards improving your marriage without your spouse!
It was exhausting feeling like I was the one taking on all of the work to improve our relationship. While Jeff seemed uninterested in reading marriage books, going to marriage counseling, or attending marriage events.
When Jeff and I were first married, we were so in love. We read all the marriage books, went to premarital counseling, and promised to always work on our marriage. I would have never imagined a day when he would get angry at the suggestion of getting help with our marriage problems.
Fast forward 10-15 years, we were running a busy business, raising 4 kids, and struggling to resolve conflict. We were finding more and more conversations we couldn’t have because we would shut down or get angry.
It seemed obvious to me that we needed help (secretly, I thought HE needed the help), but Jeff was unwilling.
It does take two to create a thriving, lifelong marriage. And as I started working on myself, I realized it only takes one to get the ball rolling.
Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a rock across the waters to create many ripples.”
There are 3 reasons it only takes 1 to get the ball rolling toward improving your marriage.
- Together, you and your spouse have been building a system and that system can be thought of as a dance. You say one thing, your spouse responds, then you respond and on and on the dance goes. Each step is so predictable you could name each one. If one of you changes up some of the steps in the dance, your system (or relationship), changes. The example of a dance shows just how powerful one person’s actions can be in a relationship.
- In all my years of coaching, I have yet to find a situation where both spouses weren’t equally contributing to the current atmosphere of the relationship. I know it can be hard to imagine or even to hear, but the reality is that there is always work to be done for each spouse.
- If YOU are unhappy, resentful, or feeling stuck, it is your responsibility to resolve those things for you.
As you begin shifting your dance steps, by changing the things you say and do, the old system starts breaking down. The actions and reactions change and the new actions begin to create a new system.
It doesn’t mean the marriage gets better overnight. But it does mean your interactions move off of auto-pilot mode. Which was driving you to the same results each time, and instead allows for something new to start happening.
It doesn’t matter whether both spouses want to work on their marriage or just one spouse is ready. When working with couples in either situation, I always start in the same place. I walk them step by step through working on themselves.
If you are interested in learning more about what it looks like to start working on yourself in order to get the ball rolling toward improving your marriage, you can watch my Youtube episode: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Your Spouse below. In that video, I’ll walk you through my real-life example of how that played out in my marriage with Jeff. I’ll also be sharing about why it may be that your spouse is uninterested in putting in the work to improve your marriage.
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