How to Save my Marriage From Divorce

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I stopped telling people what I do at parties because inevitably I’ll see the look. And then a short time later, that person will find me alone and ask the question they’re dying to ask: how can I save my marriage from divorce?

I tell them what I’m telling you now: before you figure out how to save your marriage from divorce, you need to decide if you actually WANT to save it.

That is the first step because, once the thought of divorce exists, it takes a lot of hard work to save the marriage.

Can it be done?

Sometimes. I will be discussing that. But, first decide if you even want to save it (take the “Is my marriage over quiz.”)

How to Decide if I Want to Save my Marriage

So many relationship advisors talk about the financial cost of divorce. Yes, divorce is expensive. But money is not the reason to save a marriage. Sometimes, the right choice is to leave even if that will create financial hardship.

Here are five questions to ask yourself about your marriage and your partner. Your answers will tell you if you really want to do the work to save your marriage.

  1. Do we respect each other?
    Mutual respect is the basis of any strong relationship. Lack of respect shows up as constant criticism, refusal to accept responsibility, casual insults, dismissiveness, and a belief that your partner just can’t do anything right (this could be coming from you or your spouse).
  2. Do we have the same core values?
    If your outlooks on life differ, you may be looking at a lifetime of struggle in the marriage. Different core values often show up in how you raise your children, how you interact with family and friends, how you save or spend money, and how you show up in the world.
  3. Is the relationship built on collaboration or does one person have all the power?
    A healthy marriage requires compromise. Period. If one of you is always suppressing your needs and desires, that’s not healthy.
  4. Do the same issues keep repeating themselves? I believe Albert Einstein said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I’m not talking about folding laundry. Is your spouse always working late, hanging out with friends and leaving you alone, maxing out the credit card? Mostly likely, these habits and behaviors aren’t going to change. Can you live like that?
  5. Do we trust each other? If you suspect your spouse lies to you or keeps secrets, that’s a marriage killer. And vice versa. Jealously is the primary way lack of trust shows up, but it could be in constant worry and nit-picking. Is building trust something you think you can do?

If you need help answering these questions, that is what I do.

If you know you want to try to save the marriage, the following is what you need to know about the most common questions I get.

I’ll warn you now: there is some tough love in here. I believe that if you have landed on this article, it’s because you need to hear what I think based on a career watching people go through divorce. So I’m going to say it.

How to Save Your Marriage When You Feel Hopeless

If you truly want to save your marriage and you feel it is hopeless, I am sorry. That is a difficult place to be emotionally. I wish I could offer you a magic bullet, but I don’t think I can. In your heart, you know the answer.

What I can offer is that you need to listen to your intuition, regardless of how hard that feels.

I think one of the primary ways humans get themselves in trouble is that they don’t listen to their intuition. In this case, that trouble is trying to save a marriage that needs to end for whatever reason.

If you’re feeling hopeless about your marriage, I believe you know in your heart that your marriage is over. You have landed on this article at this time because you needed somebody else to tell you that message.

How to Save a Marriage When Only One Person is Trying

Wouldn’t it be great if it only took one to tango? But it doesn’t. It takes two to tango. And two to save a marriage. The reality is that if one person isn’t willing to try, then that person isn’t invested in the marriage.

That said, there is an exception.

It you are the one causing the problems in your marriage, then you can save it alone (I assume since you found this article, you’re the one who is trying to save the marriage). Let me explain.

Say you’re married to a wonderful person who adores you, but you’re insecure and jealous. You can save your marriage by changing that behavior and getting to the root cause of your jealousy.

Or, if you’re married to a substance abuser, and you’re willing to accept you can’t change that behavior, you can respond by getting out your spouse’s way when he or she is high or drunk. Then, perhaps, you alone can save the marriage. This might be a good short terms solution; but is usually not satisfactory for the long-term.

When only one person is trying to save the marriage, you need to look at the behaviors which are causing the marital strife. If the behaviors are yours, and you are willing to work on them, then you have a chance at saving the marriage all by yourself.

But if your spouse is the one who needs to change, know that you cannot make that change happen. Only your spouse can change their behavior.

How to Stop Divorce After Separation

Sometimes time apart is a good thing. But often in a marriage, it is the first step toward filing for divorce. Once that train has left the station, it can be very hard to get it to stop.

The question to ask is what has been going on during the separation? Have you or your spouse started dating? If so, can you deal with that? If not, it’s time to ask if you really do want to stop the divorce.

If you want to stop the divorce despite being separated, it will take both of you working on the marriage. Some people find it easier to work on their relationship problems when they have some space. Assess whether your apart time is to provide breathing room, or is really just a precursor to a divorce.

Ask: how badly do I want to save this marriage? Am I willing to do whatever I need to do—marriage counseling, changing behaviors, moving, altering my career path? If the answer is not an immediate and loud YES, then it’s a no.

How to Save Your Marriage From Divorce

Despite all this tough love I’ve shared, I believe a good marriage is worth fighting for. I also believe that, in order for a marriage to work, you have to look at it as an entity unto itself. Your marriage is you, your spouse, and the marriage.

To save the marriage, you need to be able to hit the reset button. Wipe out all the past hurts and harms.

If you don’t think you can do that—or don’t want to do that—then you have your answer, and it’s time to file.

If you do want to hit reset and need help figuring out how, I can help. As a divorce prevention coach , it’s my mission to keep couples out of my mediation office. I look forward to helping you.

Imagine Life with Peace of Mind

Imagine having clarity and relief instead of being confused and angry. Imagine feeling optimistic about your future instead of feeling stuck in an unhappy marriage. It’s all possible.

Let’s Talk

Posted by Robin Graine, JD, CDFA – Divorce Coach | Mediator | Problem Solver

This blog and it’s materials have been prepared by for informational purposes and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as legal advice or advice of any other kind or nature. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client, coach-client, mediator-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

Robin Graine, JD, CDFA – Divorce Coach & Mediator

Robin Graine, JD, CDFA® is a veteran divorce coach and divorce mediator I help people determine whether their marriage is worth saving or not. I have been in the divorce business as a coach, lawyer, mediator, and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst for nearly 20 years. I know how hard this can be. I am also a divorced mom and had to rebuild my life after being a stay at home mom for many years.

How to Save my Marriage From Divorce

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