In midlife, the month of June is a significant period in making decisions about marriage and divorce.
Why? Because it is the month of high school graduations. Many husbands and wives have waited until their youngest child graduates from high school to file for divorce. What one spouse finds to be a blind-siding event, has been a long standing resolution for the other spouse.
I have addressed the issue of midlife or “gray” divorce many times on the show. That is because I see too many Midlife Community members answering the call for a need to shake things up by blaming their spouse for their unhappiness and ditching what could bring them the best chance for long-term quality of life and joy.
I think that many divorces over 50 are reckless. Yep. I believe most marriages CAN be saved if at least one person is committed to starting over. One of the very best resources out there is Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage program. What I like is that Lee addresses those situations where just one spouse is committed to turning things around. If you are both on board, even better!
The following is a guest article from Dr. Lee Baucom, founder of Save The Marriage. He was my featured guest on the podcast back in January, 2016 . You can listen to our conversation here.
Each year in America, nearly 1 million marriages end in divorce. This is an incredible number! That would be as if all the citizens of Houston Texas were divorced (each divorce leaves 2 people). In 2014, the rate of divorce over 50, was double that of any other age group. Double!
The question is how many of those marriages could be saved. Unfortunately, that is an invisible number. If your marriage stays together, it is hard to find in the statistics.
Can your midlife marriage be saved? If I could tell you the answer, I would be a wealthy man. What I can tell you is that if your marriage is in trouble and you do nothing, the outcome is doomed. If you do something, anything, there is a much better chance that your marriage will be saved.
I’m going to tell you, in four simple steps what you can do now to save your marriage. You can start right now. But you must understand that I said “simple”, which is not the same thing as “easy.” These steps are not easy. They do, however, give you a map that you must follow if you want to change the destiny of a marriage in trouble.
Here are the first 4 steps to save your marriage:
1) Quit the blame game. Stop blaming your spouse and stop blaming yourself. This is the first step because marriages get frozen into a pattern of blame that obliterates any prospect of progress. Instead, the momentum gets dragged down and down.
Blame is our way of avoiding seeing ourselves clearly. It is much easier to point the finger at the other person and say “It’s their fault.” But in your marriage, you can just as easily turn that pointing finger on yourself and place the blame there, saying “it’s all my fault.”
Unfortunately, blame feels good in the short-term, but in the long-term, it prevents any shift or change. So, even if you can make a long list of why you or your spouse should be blamed, forget it. Even if that list is factual, it will not help you put your marriage back together. Blame is the fuel of divorce.
2) Take responsibility. Decide today that you can do something. Change always begins with one person who wants to see a change. Understand that taking responsibility is not the same as taking the blame (see above). You must take saving your marriage on as a project. You are silently and privately taking on the role of Project Manager.
Instead of blaming, say “regardless of who is at fault, there are some things I can do differently, and I am going to do them.” What buttons do you allow your spouse to push? What buttons do you push with your spouse? Decide not to allow those buttons to be pushed and stop pushing the buttons.
What amazes me in my counseling is that everyone knows what they should be doing or not doing. But it is difficult to move in that direction. Don’t be caught in that. Decide that you will take action.
The difference between blame and responsibility is clear: if you are in a burning building, you can stand around trying to figure out who started the blaze, why it has spread so quickly, and who you are going to sue when it is over (blame), or you can get yourself and anyone else you can out of that building (taking responsibility). When a marriage is in trouble, the house is on fire. How will you take action to save the marriage?
3) Get help. If others have been helped, you can be, too. Experts with a great deal more perspective and experience can be a real help in these situations. Do your research and divide the useless from the useful, then take advantage of the useful.
Don’t assume that your situation is so different from every other situation. I can tell you that after 20-some years of providing therapy, not too much new comes through my doors. Don’t get me wrong; the story changes, but the dynamics are the same.
Remember that you can seek out help on your own, without your spouse if necessary, and use new tools and understanding to change your behavior in the relationship. It is contagious.
4) Take action. More damage is done by doing nothing by taking a misstep. If you know or just suspect that your spouse wants out of the marriage, you have no time to waste! It is too easy to get paralyzed by the situation. Therapists often talk about “analysis paralysis.” This happens when people get so caught up in their chatter thoughts and attempts to “figure things out” or place blame that they never take action.
It is not enough to simply understand what is causing the problem. You must then act! On a daily basis, I find people coming to my office with the belief that if they can just understand their problem, it will resolve itself. That simply does not happen. Resolution of the situation takes action and change.
Will your marriage be saved? If you follow my suggestions, you have infinitely more opportunity for saving your marriage than if you do nothing. Marriage is one of those places where it takes two to make it work, but only one to really mess things up. You can only do your part, but many times, that is enough. Resolve not to ask the question but to begin to act.
Did this get you thinking? Motivated? Inspired? Perhaps you can save your marriage! Are you ready to take action? I strongly encourage you to learn more about the Save The Marriage program. Grab the best-selling resource on the internet for saving marriages: Save The Marriage, Even If Only You Want It!