What to do if your spouse wants a divorce

If you find divorce on the threshold of your marriage, take action. Don’t let it happen. Here are a few ideas to keep this enemy at bay.

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  • Some can see it coming. Some say it came out of the blue. Either way, no one wants their spouse to say they want a divorce. Marriage was never meant to end this way. Remember the vows were, "til death do us part," not "til differences do us part."

  • If your spouse says he/she wants a divorce do you just bend to his/her will and give in? No! If your marriage was worth having at the beginning, it's worth fighting for now. If you loved each other once, you can love each other again.

  • Don't give up easily

  • We're reminded of a call from a new client. The wife—we'll call her Julie— had made the appointment for the couple, but two weeks before their first counseling session she called again. The receptionist, Kate, took the call. Julie said, "I want to cancel our appointment. We're getting a divorce, and there's no point in coming for counseling. It's over!"

  • Kate said, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Do you have any children?"

  • "Yes," she replied. "Three."

  • Kate said, "For their sakes will you do an experiment for me, just for the next two weeks? After that time if you still feel the same, call in and I'll cancel your appointment then."

  • "What's the experiment?" Julie asked.

  • "It's simple. For the next two weeks notice everything positive about your husband and tell him. Say nothing bad about him to him or anyone else. Just positives."

  • "I can't think of anything, not one thing about him that's positive!" she said.

  • Kate asked, "Does he provide for your family?"

  • "Well, yes."

  • "That's a huge positive,' Kate said. "Does he love your kids?"

  • "Yes, he's a good dad."

  • "Another huge positive. Notice every good thing you can about him, and tell him. Try it for two weeks."

  • Julie hesitated, and then said, "OK. I'll try it, but it won't help. I can't stand him."

  • Two weeks passed and Julie and her husband showed up for their therapy session. They sat down and her husband began to cry. He said, "These have been the happiest two weeks of my life."

  • Julie then said, "Mine, too. We don't want a divorce. We love each other. Please help us make this marriage work."

  • That's what it takes: doing the things that make marriage work. Julie and her husband caught the vision and went on to have a happy marriage that had nearly ended in divorce.

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  • Remember the beginning

  • If the threat of divorce is spoken, take a few quiet moments with your spouse, without getting upset, and say, "Could we calmly talk together for a few minutes?" Then sit down together— without even mentioning the word divorce— and start remembering. Talk about how you felt the first time he kissed you. Talk about what it was that made you fall in love with her. Talk about what qualities attracted you to each other. Talk about your wedding day, and your honeymoon. Look at your wedding photos. Remembering the beginning can do a whole lot to heal the here and now.

  • Feelings of love that may have gone cold can be warmed by memories of a loving past. It's not so much that people fall out of love. It's that they forget to love. Remembering how it used to be can help you know how it needs to be today.

  • Plan a "start over." For your sakes and your children's, literally make a plan to give your marriage another shot. And by that, we mean another shot of what worked before. Go on some dates, alone. Notice the good in each other and let each other know that you are noticing. Say please and thank you to your spouse. Couples sometimes forget these kindnesses when it comes to each other. Renew your courtesy and caring. It will fan the flames of love.

  • Fight for your marriage

  • Don't let it end. Even if it feels like it's falling apart, do all you can to make it work. If you think it's impossible, remember the words of Audrey Hepburn, "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" Restoring your marriage is possible. Be determined to keep it together and make it happy and lasting.

  • Be unselfish. Be forgiving. Let it start with you. Think of the needs of your mate and do all in your power to bring him or her happiness when you are together. It will come back to you. Unselfishness begets unselfishness. Forgiveness begets forgiveness. It's automatic. It works that way naturally, even if it takes a little time to take hold. Be patient and truly care about your mate and his or her needs. It will make all the difference.

  • If you do these things, you can't help but fall in love with each other all over again. Your marriage can be saved.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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