How to Save Your Marriage

What to Do When Your Heart Has Grow Cold

People often ask me,
"What do I do when my heart has grown cold to the person I once loved?"
This is always a very sad and distressing question. But it is asked more often than we want to think about. But with an almost 50% divorce rate as a reality, we cannot pretend this isn't a problem.

Most people site an inability to communicate as their major problem. Most of the time they will complain that their partner no longer listens to them. How often do we stop listening to people because we assume we know what they are going to say? We get the Charlie Brown syndrome and everything that comes from our partner's mouth begins to sound like, "Whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa."

We stop listening because we convince ourselves we have heard it all before, and then, we have heard it some more. Whining. Complaining. Moaning. Groaning. We feel as though it never ends.

We begin to believe we know what someone is going to say before they say it and we attach a negative meaning to everything being said. I call this problem thinking that we “Already Know” someone. When we believe 'we already know' what another person is going to say, or what they mean when they say it, it doesn’t allow them or you any room to listen, to grow or to change.

We begin to sleep walk through our “already knowing” about people to the point that no one is listening to anybody. And when we stop listening, we stop communicating, and when we stop communicating, well we know what happens from there, the relationship begins to deteriorate.

Listening is a skill, probably the most important skill in communication and yet it is the skill that we spend the least time developing. What if instead of zoning out on your partner, you really listened to heart what the hurt was underneath the words. What if you allowed yourself to make an opening to expect to hear something new and different?

Sadly, most of the time, we get exactly what we expect. If we expect to get nothing, or simply more of the same, that is what we will most likely get. If that is the case, why listen? But if we allow ourselves to open up, to be surprised by what we learn, the people we care about just might surprise us.

What do you do when your heart has grown cold? You do everything you can to warm it back up. We do all we can to learn more about ourselves, our personality and the personalities of those we care about. This understanding of how different personalities see the world and make meaning of experiences is invaluable. Take a free personality test.

Divorces are costly. They cost our children their safety. They cost us not only our safety, but they are one of the most expensive endeavors we will ever be involved in and many states have determined that divorce is the number one reason behind the poverty in their state.They cost us in our confidence. No one wants to fail. No one wants to feel like a failure. But to save a relationship has its price as well. What it cost us to save a relationship is our willingness to give up "being right", and our determination that we "already know" the fullness of the capacity of the other person to learn, grow and change.

How well can you love someone you “already know”?  Never  as much as you could love them if you shook yourself awake, and expected to be surprised by how much there is still left to learn.

Your parents' divorce might be setting the stage for your own, or NOT. Come on people, when will we step up to the plate and accept responsibility for our own attitudes, perceptions and actions.

Are their people who marry because they believe someone else "completes" them—of course there are, especially after watching Jerry McQuire. Some professionals tell us that when we get married because we believe someone else completes us, we are actually “masking low self-esteem and feelings of not being worthy of love”.  Come on. Don’t all people have vulnerabilities when it comes to insecurities? That is part of the human condition.

I hear my fellow psychological professionals spewing on all the time with sentences like, “It wasn't until after therapy and introspection that she realized she had fallen into a relationship trap: Trying to fill a void of lost love left by her parents' divorce, and the loss of a relationship with her mother, when she was just 5 years old.” I am certainly not saying that our experiences do not impact us, but what I am saying is that we are the most advanced species on the planet and we CHOOSE how our experiences will impact us. Yes, I said CHOOSE. How long can we use the things that happen to us as excuses? I think as long as it is acceptable to do so.

For me there are two choices. One, use any past experience as your chance to play the victim card, milk it for all its worth. Use it as your “reason” to fail and feel entitled to more. OR two, use any past experience as an opportunity to fortify your courage, determination and dedication to the life that belongs only to YOU.

So here are my relationship tips for creating relationships that don’t take after anyone, but who you want them to take after.

 Seek a relationship, not a rescue. You are not an abandoned pet. 

Choose to be resilient. You get to choose. Yes, it is difficult when a parent abandons a child, parents divorce, there is child abuse or neglect, no question, but none of those things determine who you are. Only YOU can do that. It is only your beliefs that matter. Do you believe you can succeed at what you desire, or do you believe there is something wrong you--and therefore seek evidence of that your whole life through.

While the lack of a relationship with a parent can have a significant impact on romantic relationships for a child later in life, there is a debate amongst researchers on this topic. Some experts believe, these individuals are affected for life. I believe in choice, and that an individual heal and develop rich and successful relationships in all areas of their lives.

I believe you can succeed at relationships by working on 7 significant messages.

  • 1. Separate your identity from your parents.

Resolve issues that could be playing out in your relationship and are undermining it. For instance, people get into a relationship looking for things that they were missing growing up. Often they don’t even understand what is driving them. You aren’t pre-programmed to fail. You have to choose to copy the behaviors and perceptions of people who have failed before you.

  • 2. Gain insight into yourself and your relationship patterns.

Figure out what you are looking for, and why? Who are you? What do you believe about yourself and your relationships? Most people spend more time selecting their brand of dog food than they do reflecting on their choices, reactions and perceptions and how they are impacting their lives. People say you have to learn to love yourself – but how can you love someone you don’t really know?

  • 3. Know what are you looking for.

Write out the ideal relationship: What do you believe you need in order to succeed  someone that you are compatible with. You'll know that you are leaning towards a good relationship when you don't have to be less of who you are in that relationship. You have to feel complete and feel like you have to stand on your own two feet before you can be happy in that relationship. The other person doesn't complete you because they are not the answer to your unresolved issues.

  • 4. Articulate and clarify what you believe you didn’t get growing up.

It is time to uncover your issues and discover what you believe you didn't receive growing up. You will find this information hidden behind all of the “It’s not fair” stories floating around in your head. It is only when you understand the stories that you have written about your past experiences that you can choose to change them, heal them, or forgive them and move forward. When you understand what is driving you to react and respond in relational ways that are detrimental, you can choose to continue those behaviors, or to alter those behaviors, but it is YOUR choice. You are a victim no longer.

  • 5. Strengthen your insight, introspection and understanding.

Strengthen your insight, powers of introspection and understanding of yourself and others. Become a student of human nature. Read. There are so many amazing books that can help you think through and sort out many of the dragons that attack you from within.

  • 6. You are not alone.

Remember you're not alone. You are not the only person who has been hurt, or abandoned, or neglected. You are not the worst case, nor will you ever be the best case. Most of us are smack dab in the middle of the bell curve. Every person has to deal with something. Some people have taken what other’s to be small challenges and allowed them to destroy their hopes and dreams, while other’s have taken what many would consider impossible and insurmountable obstacles and used them for their benefit and the benefit of the world.

It is never what happens to you that matters, it is always how you choose to use what happens to you that makes the real difference. All people will face challenges. All people will struggle with feelings of fear, sadness, loss, inferiority, frustration, anger, resentment and insecurity. It is in the choosing how these challenges will strengthen and fortify us that our greatness is discovered.

  • 7. Feelings are not FACTS and should not determine who you are.

Because we are all human, we all have feelings, but those feelings are not facts and should not shape our choices and behavior. Remember, feelings are fickle. They are like the weather, changing all the time. Do not allow feelings to determine who you are and the choices you make. Let your values, your standards, your character be the determining factor of your actions and you will have little regret. When you move in a positive direction from what you are used to, you very likely will FEEL some anxiety. Embrace it. It may sound clichéd but it's true: You have to truly love yourself, before you can really love someone else.

If you would like more detailed information, check out Dawn Billings book called What Went Wrong with Our Relationship? It Started out so Good.

Or check out Dawn's 26 Day Course for couples entitled The ABC's of Great Relationships.

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  • Count Your Blessings

    This is number 1 marriage saver tip. Read through all of them and apply them in your marriage. Then evaluate your relationship. I guarantee not only will you, and your partner, feel happier, your children will be happier as well.

  • Save Your Marriage with Grace and Kindness

    How many times have you seen—or experienced –partners treating each other in harsh, disrespectful ways? Too often we take our partners for granted, and disrespect or rudeness intentional or unintentional flows from our mouths before we realize what we are saying.

  • Save Your Marriage with Appreciation

    Now that you’ve committed to viewing your partner through loving lenses of endowment and speaking to them with words of love and kindness, it is time to show your Appreciation. Appreciation melts hearts.

  • Saving Your Marriage with Loving Actions

    Action is defined in relationships by our behaviors. Dedicated, loving, consistent, giving, thoughtful, appreciative, compassionate and tender behaviors feed a relationship and make it strong. We are all we aware of the behaviors that choke the life out of relationships

  • Saving Your Marriage by Creating a Safe Environment

    Consistent loving actions build a safety net for those we love, they create a safe environment for love to be nurtured. Safety is one of the most critical elements of a happy, healthy, successful relationship.

  • Save Your Marriage with a Simple Question

    Another critical element for relational success is perspective. Perspective allows us a moment to step back and reflect on the situation at hand. Often tempers can flare over small things depending on our stress levels at the moment. That is why one of the most important marriage saving tips involves asking yourself a simple, but critically important question, "Will it matter at Christmas?"

  • Save Your Marriage with a Ten Second Kiss

    Another critical element for relational success is contact. All relationships need contact; healthy, happy, wanted, sincere, loving contact allows us to feel connected in very physical ways.

  • Save Your Marriage by Listening

    One of the most critical elements contributing to relational success is developing your skill of listening. Ninety percent of all couples filing for divorce report that they do not feel their partner listens to them. If you don't listen, you can't communicate, and if you can't communicate, a relationship begins to get toxic and poison the love that was once so real. That is why one of our marriage saving tip 8 is to remember the importance of listening.

  • Save Your Marriage by Taking Time Seriously

    So now let's talk about time. Many people spell love, T-I-M-E. In order for relationships to truly thrive they must be given the time to continue to grow. Many people is very shaky relationships report that their partner, husband or wife, doesn't MAKE time for them. When this happens, the person begins to feel as though they do not matter, or they are not a priority. This can be very damaging to a relationship. Time is the only currency we can't make more of, that is why we must take time seriously.

  • Save Your Marriage with Self-Awareness

    The profound question love poses is, "Can you face your life as it is; can you look at all the pain and darkness as well as the power and light in the human soul, and still say yes?"

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