You know who your friends are when you’re going through a relationship crisis. Maybe your husband is coming up to 40 and has started acting strangely; perhaps you’ve caught him texting another woman; or, worst of all, he’s threatening to leave you and break up the family.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s only being able to phone a friend or chat with the girls over a glass of wine that stops you from going round the bend.
According to Andrew G Marshall, after almost 30 years working as a marital therapist, he has become convinced that, while men don’t have enough friends or emotional support, women can have far too many and too much.
He says, “my heart sinks when a new female client tells me her ‘friends have been wonderful’ because time and time again, while she thinks they’ve been helping her save her relationship, they’ve been fanning the flames or even throwing petrol on the fire.”
FIVE STEPS TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE
- When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Under pressure, we tend to try the same failed strategy again and again. Even though we know pushing for an answer, getting angry or going silent doesn’t work, we imagine doing it one more time (but bigger, louder or for longer) will
change things. It won’t.
- Stop playing tit for tat. He does something horrible and you match him. Soon it’s become a race to the bottom.
- Just for a second, put your feelings to one side and step in your partner’s shoes. How does your relationship look now and what would you like to do differently?
- Make a full apology. This is different from saying sorry. First, acknowledge any behaviour that you regret; next, identify how this might have made him feel, and then apologise. Please don’t explain why you acted as you did — that’s for another day — because it can sound like an excuse and lessen the power of your apology.
- Be the big one. If you love your husband — and if not, why are you spending hours talking about him to your girlfriends — do you love him enough to give without any expectation (in the short term) of getting anything back?
Credits: Andrew G. Marshall is a marital therapist and author of I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You: Seven Steps To Saving Your Relationship (Bloomsbury).