5 Min Read
- What A Marriage That Needs To Be Saved Looks Like
- Can Her Marriage Be Saved?
- What To Take Away
- What Readers Have To Say (170+)
Part 1 of 3
Last week I met with Carrie for the first time, and she told me she's been searching online for answers to the question, "How to save my marriage?"
Like many women, Carrie’s in a marriage that’s stopped functioning in a healthy manner and as a result all of the enjoyment is gone. She feels disillusioned, unloved, and like she’s at a dead-end.
Figuring out how to save her relationship and bring the love back is not an easy task, especially since she feels she has to do it all on her own. Her husband is checked-out and seems incapable of (or disinterested in) doing any of the work needed to save their marriage.
Carrie says the advice she's been finding through internet searches has been really general and not very helpful.
That’s not surprising.
When you’re trying to save your marriage there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each situation is very different, and her searches alone won’t be enough to get her husband to recognize their marriage needs saving.
She’ll need to do more.
What A Marriage That Needs To Be Saved Looks Like
While every relationship is different, most relationships that are in trouble have some similar characteristics.
If you're feeling like your marriage is in trouble, read below and see if you can recognize what Carrie’s going through. Perhaps you too feel as Carrie does, that your husband doesn’t love you anymore.
Or maybe there are other aspects of her relationship to which you can relate.
Carrie's husband, Al, came home after closing a big sale and said, “Let's take the kids out to dinner.” So, she loaded everyone into her car and waited for him. When he sat down in the passenger seat, he erupted in a tirade of verbal abuse.
Al lit into her like a machine gun,
How many times have I told you...?"
Your car always smells like..."
Carrie had forgotten that her dirty gym clothes were still sitting on the front passenger floor. She says Al doesn't like her leaving them in her car. As she recalled the event days later, and in a moment of clarify in my office, she stated that it’s “my car, not his.”
Nevertheless, that night she sat in the car paralyzed as he unloaded on her and became ever more verbally abusive. Their 6 and 10-year-old kids sat silently in the back seat.
They eventually got to the restaurant, but Al didn't get any nicer and their 6-year-old son cried through most of the meal.
At her next counseling session she told me some of the thoughts that make her wonder how she will ever change her husband or her marriage:
- "He doesn't love me"
- "I want to take care of my children and be happy"
- "He doesn't care about his family"
- "I don't have the ability to help (him)"
- "I can't take this way of life anymore"
- "He needs help"
- "I am done"
Sadly, Carrie has been thinking these thoughts for quite a while. Even sadder is the fact that she's far from alone.
A lot of wives have marriages that look something like hers and they have many of the same thoughts too. And like Carrie, they too have no idea what to do to save their marriage.
Can Her Marriage Be Saved?
Carrie doesn't know how to save her marriage.
She's been married to Al for 14 years, and even though it wasn't like this in the beginning, it's been like this for a long time. She's thought about marriage counseling for years, but never went until now.
Just like she was too paralyzed in the car to do anything as her husband screamed at her, Carrie is also frozen in her marriage.
In Carrie’s mind the biggest problem is that Al seems to have fallen out of love with her, otherwise why would he behave this way? And it seems that no matter what she does, or how hard she tries, she can't get Al to love her again.
What Carrie hasn’t recognized yet it is that the problems she’s experiencing may not necessarily be because the love has gone.
Al’s anger and volatility could have nothing to do with his love, or lack of love, for Carrie. In fact, there’s a good chance that he’s struggling with internal issues that he needs to deal with, and because she’s the person closest to him he’s taking the stress from them out on her.
Of course, this doesn’t make his behavior okay. Nor does it change the way Carrie feels about her marriage.
Carrie's desperate to save her marriage, but thinks it's hopeless.
Fortunately, she's finally sought professional counseling help and I'm beginning to help her learn ways she can get things to change. It won’t be easy or an overnight fix, but it is possible for her to save her marriage – even if she can’t get her husband to participate at this point.
What To Take Away
Saving a marriage takes a lot of work. This work is exponentially harder when only one partner is willing to participate. For someone like Carrie, who feels her husband doesn’t love her anymore and can be verbally abusive, it can feel impossible.
The good news is that it’s not.
If you’re trying to save your marriage, remember the following:
- There’s nothing that makes abusive behavior acceptable.
- Volatile, violent, verbal or emotional abuse is an indication of problems that go deeper than marital unhappiness. Before a marriage can be fully healthy, the partner struggling with anger issues needs to learn what’s causing them and resolve those issues.
- Saving a marriage isn’t a one-person show. It takes work on the part of both partners.
- Saving a marriage can be difficult to do on your own, but not impossible. Marriage counseling is a good choice and if your spouse won’t go, attending on your own will still be very helpful.
If you feel like your marriage needs saving and aren’t sure where to start, learn from Carrie and don’t wait to seek out help.
In what ways can you relate to Carrie? Does your marriage, or maybe a friend's, look something like hers? Share a thought with other readers and let them know they're not alone.
This is the first of three articles examining a marriage in which a wife feels her husband doesn't love her anymore and she seeks the expertise of a marriage counselor for help in finding out what she can do to save her marriage. In the next article we'll take a look at her husband and try to understand what's happening for him in this marriage -- I Think My Husband is Depressed. Finally, in the third article we'll look at some things Carrie can do to change her husband and save her marriage -- How Can I Save My Marriage When My Husband Won't Change. Sign-up for this blog below this article and be sure you don't miss any parts of this story (you'll get notified by email).
Editor's Note: This post was originally published February 16, 2010, updated on February 27, 2018, November 14, 2019, and has been updated again with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- Could My Husband Be Depressed? (Part 2)
- Can I Save My Marriage When My Husband Won't Change? (Part 3)
- When You're In A Relationship Yet Feeling All Alone
- Get More Help When the Love is Gone