How Can I Save My Marriage? I’ve Tried Everything!

When you tried everything to save your marriage, it is time to go back to basics. By basics I mean what do you say and do with each other from moment to moment. You need to look at this almost one sentence at a time. What you're looking for are the patterns of recognition or stroking patterns that are the foundation of your relationship.

You may have heard about strokes as the warm fuzzies and cold pricklies you exchange when you talk to each other. A warm fuzzy is something you do or say that leaves someone else with warm and fuzzy feeling. A cold prickly is something you do or say that leaves someone else feeling uncomfortable, cold, prickly. This sounds like and fun but the concept of strokes is quite profound. Research has shown we need attention from each other on a very basic and fundamental level. Without it people can literally die.

Both kinds of strokes, the positive ones that feel good and the negative ones that feel bad have value to help an individual survive. On some level we all know this and while most people prefer strokes that feel good, if those aren't available we do what's necessary to get the strokes that feel bad. When nothing has worked to save your marriage I have to suspect that getting stuck giving each other strokes that feel bad is your main interaction with each other.

You each need strokes so badly that you tend to repeat whatever works to get other people to pay attention to you. On a very simple level this might look like forgetting that your husband or wife likes the cap put on the toothpaste tube. Every time you do that you are guaranteed a reaction that proves that your spouse has noticed you. The reaction doesn't feel good, but at least you've been noticed.

Repeating this pattern hundreds of times a day is a recipe for unhappiness. The way either one of you can start to switch the pattern is to stop giving negative strokes cold turkey. That means no more cold prickly for anything negative. Start noticing even very tiny positive things and say nice things about them to your spouse. You can even say nice things like "I love you" for no reason at all.

Start the day by putting 10 pennies in your left-hand pocket and every time you say something nice to your husband or wife switch one penny to your right-hand pocket. It will make a difference and probably very quickly.

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