What are the real reasons you have for saving the marriage?
When I ask a spouse why he or she wants to save the marriage, I often hear, “Because I love him or her.” And I sometimes respond, “What is it about him or her that you love?” or, “What do you mean that you love him or her?”
If the person seems confused by the question or says, “Duh, what do you mean?” I sometimes offer the following distinction: Are you saving your marriage because you love your spouse, or is it more because you need your spouse? And, if you didn’t need your spouse, would you still be working on saving the marriage? What would your life be like without your spouse. What is it exactly about your spouse that is driving you into saving the marriage?”
Love is a huge word that often loses its power and meaning in a relationship, especially when there are expectations to “love.” And in most cases, when a couple is working on saving the marriage, the pressure and expectations for love becomes more intense.
Do not throw around the word “love” lightly. Give it some thought. Dig underneath the word and learn what it means for you personally. Examine your needs. Examine your fears (I need him or her so I won’t be alone or won’t have to start over. I need him or her so I won’t feel wounded, inadequate or undesirable. I need him or her so I won’t lose my lifestyle, circle of friends, favor in my family, etc.)
Uncovering the myriad of levels of needs, wants, desires and yes, love, enables you to more powerfully accept your humanity and the humanity of your spouse, which sets you free from pretending and allows you to realize your specific reasons for saving the marriage. And it also greatly increases your ability to communicate powerfully to the other.
Saving the marriage does not only mean that you work on your relationship, it means having to work on yourself as well.