A post by Dan Umprhess
In my work as a Marriage Coach, I talk every week with people who have heard from their spouse some variation of “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore. I want a divorce.”
I am not writing to address the pain and shock of hearing these words. I’ve been there myself and I understand the trauma those words can bring.
May I suggest that the “I love you, but…” phrase can actually represent an opportunity to reconnect?
I always talk to my coaching clients about this idea:
“Yes, we do need a divorce. We need to divorce our old marriage, not each other.”
Marriages often get lost in the journey of life.
Young couples get so engaged in parenting that they lose their connection as a couple.
Men trust in the old model of marriage that tells them it is enough to be the provider and patriarch of the family, causing them to fail to understand the foundation of marriage is intimacy (and I don’t mean sex).
Women often put all their energy and focus into raising the children. It sounds noble but putting the kids before the marriage is only hurting everyone involved. The best gift we can give our kids is a great marriage.
These are some of the reasons I hear weekly to justify divorce:
- Couples reach a crisis in life when they come to believe that time is running out and they haven’t found fulfillment in life or in their marriage, and so they need to divorce to seek happiness.
- Couples lose emotional connection with each other and seek to meet that need outside of the marriage.
- Men get complacent in “Companionship Marriages,” and they don’t realize their wives are starving for emotional connection until they make the shocking announcement they are leaving.
These are, in my opinion, not reasons to end a marriage. They are obvious indications that the marital relationship needs to be repaired.
Marriage repair begins with reconnection.
The couple who has drifted apart and must come back together with the mutual goal of “divorcing the old marriage” and building a new relationship based upon relational health and the use of new relational skills.
I believe marriage rebuilding often begins with friendship.
I have talked to hundreds of couples over my professional life, and I’ve observed many of the happiest couples began as friends.
I’ve often heard, “We began as friends with no thought of being a couple. As our friendship grew, we became closer. We became best friends. Then the day came when we looked at each other with the surprise of finding that we had romantic feelings for each other.”
These are some of the marriages that I believe have the highest probability of surviving the trials of marital life.
I think this can be the key to saving troubled marriages.
What is the foundation of early friendship?
It’s mutual interests and the enjoyment of each other’s company.
We enjoy our conversations and we have some laughs together.
We are equals in the friendship.
We do not attempt to exert control over each other.
We do not smother each other or require our friend to give us all of their time and attention.
We have parts of our lives that are independent from each other.
We are not dependent upon each other for self-esteem or meaning in our life.
We choose to spend time together because we enjoy it.
The recipe for re-connection in marriage
Are you your partner’s best friend?
Are you the person they can come to with their fears, hurts, successes, dreams, hopes, opinions and beliefs, with confidence they will be safe in the sharing of these intimate things?
Do you listen and accept without judgement and without telling them how to fix their problems?
Are you an emotionally safe friend?
We can take broken marriages and put them back together in a form that is so much better than the marriage that preceded the announcement that “It’s over!”
Is it possible that your marriage needs to start over with friendship?
If your spouse is telling you the marriage is over; your best hope for saving the marriage may be to enter the Friend Zone. Go back to being your partner’s friend and work on the goal of “dating your wife/husband” This is a hard transition to make for most people.
Contact us online or give us a call today at (972) 441-4432 to help you reconnect with your spouse and bring friendship back to your marriage.