While this website deals primarily with decisions about divorce, many people who are reading this information may have the goal of saving their marriage.  If you believe your marriage can be saved, it is important that you have the information you need about how you and your spouse can work on reconciling your marriage.

Who Can Help?

Many people are available to support you in efforts to keep your marriage intact. Often, when couples are in conflict, emotions may override judgment. Defensiveness, confusion and frustration may keep couples stuck in a repeating pattern of conflict, blind to solutions that can help. Processing your issues with a third party may bring new perspectives that allow couples to reach an agreement that can lead to solutions for conflict. If you are interested in saving your marriage, make that clear to the professionals whose help you solicit.  Ask for support and solutions.

Each individual must be honest and responsible for their feelings in order to bring true resolution to conflict. You are the one best equipped to determine your capacity to work through identified issues. Remember, in the end, the judgment and decisions made regarding your marriage, belong to you.

Friends and Relatives

Friends and relatives can offer much needed emotional support. Keep in mind however, that their life experiences, the state of their marriage, and the feelings they may have about your spouse and you may complicate matters and color any advice they give. It is natural for family and friends to have a bias toward the partner with whom they are closest. Be aware, that this can set up alliances that may feel threatening to the other partner. Be cautious when seeking advice, and think how they would feel to choose a course of action different from what family or friends may recommend.

Your close friends and relatives will most likely know you and your situation better than anyone. You can use them as a support system. Family and friends want to help. They want to see you happy. If your intent is to work at keeping your marriage and family together, make this clear to them. That way, they will know the direction in which to support you. It may be helpful to temporarily stay away from those family and friends who express excessive hostility or negativity toward your spouse. This may be their effort to show support for you however, your main focus must be on the relationship and the resolution of the issues causing conflict.

Religious Organizations/Clergy Members

Religious organizations/Clergy members can offer emotional support, spiritual guidance and possibly referral to other types of counselors. Members of religious affiliations are a source of spiritual support. They may share insights from religious doctrine, listen without being judgmental and assist a person in moving through life’s passages. Most clergy members have training in theology and pastoral ministries. Some, however, also have training in individual or marital counseling. They can offer not only emotional support, but spiritual inspiration that often binds a couple together, allowing them to weather times of conflict and crisis.

A number of faith-based organizations offer marriage and family counseling and programs to strengthen relationships. For a list of religious counseling services in the Twin Cities area who are available to provide guidance or counseling on savings marriages, click here.

In addition, many religious organizations offer faith-based support groups to help individuals or couples during difficult times. For a list of religious support groups available in the community, click here.

Many churches offer marriage encounter weekends to help couples work on their marriage. Marriage encounters are a weekend getaways from home, family and responsibilities. They offer a comfortable, secluded environment where couples are guided in the discovery of new techniques for communicating and sharing with one another. It is not a retreat, but a program designed to give couples the opportunity to examine their lives together, their weaknesses and strong points, their attitudes toward each other and toward their families. Couples are given the opportunity to look at themselves and, privately with their partner in an honest, face-to-face, heart-to-heart encounter. For a listing of national marriage encounters, click here.

Professional Help

Professional Help In addition to the help you can receive from friends, family and clergy, there are many professionals that can provide valuable assistance in saving marriages. Learn More.

Programs and Resources for Re-building Marriages
What if my spouse will not join me in marital counseling?
Programs and Resources for Re-building Marriages

There are many helpful programs and resources available for couples committed to keeping their marriage together. Many articles and books have been written on the subject and provide valuable information and ideas for re-building relationships that are experiencing trouble. Seeking help from professionals and organizations devoted to saving marriages can and does work. Some options include; articles, books, weblinks, relationship and marriage work-shops, support groups, and trained marriage and family professionals. Reading books and listening to audiotapes that support the idea of saving marriages may prove helpful.  Two websites that you may find helpful are www.drjanhoistad.com and www.drbilldoherty.org.  Asking your counselor, clergy, or friend may reveal additional resources to assist you in times of conflict.

What if my spouse will not join me in marital counseling?

The decision to divorce is one of the most difficult and lasting choices you may ever have to make. This heart wrenching and painful experience can leave emotional scars on adults and children alike. When can a marriage be saved? Most professionals will agree that saving a marriage takes extremely hard work on the part of both partners in the relationship. If you and your partner truly love each other and are willing to spend time and money in restructuring difficult areas of your relationship, your marriage may have a good chance of surviving.

Setting an example of getting help sends a clear message to your spouse. That message says that you value the relationship and you want a better quality of life for yourself and family. Many reluctant spouses have been inspired by the faith the other spouse demonstrates in believing in a relationship – and have joined in the effort to improve it. By seeking help, you will begin the process of building a support system in the event your spouse chooses not to stay in the relationship.

Remember that most marriage and family therapy specialists strongly prefer to work with both spouses from the very start. Seeing the spouses jointly helps a therapist view the relationship from an un-biased perspective, making it easier to sort out the true dynamics of the relationship. Seeing the therapist jointly helps both parties to enjoy a feeling of “ownership” in the process.

Here are some things to consider if your spouse declines to join you in joint marriage counseling:

  • If you see the counselor alone, the counselor’s first task could be to convince your spouse to engage in the joint sessions.
  • If solo counseling proceeds long enough that your spouse identifies the therapist as being “yours,” you can ask your therapist to refer you and your spouse to another therapist for joint work.
  • Look closely at the nature of the counseling in which you want your spouse to join. Does it focus on your relationship, or on internal individual issues? Your spouse may not feel a need for individual therapy, but might participate in counseling that focuses on the marriage.
  • If your spouse refuses to engage in joint counseling, urge him or her to pursue help on his or her own – help that includes marriage counseling rather than focusing exclusively on individual issues. Try to go forward on parallel tracks.
  • You can proceed with individual counseling, exploring ways to see things differently and to determine honestly what changes you can and should make to improve your situation.

Finally, if your spouse refuses to join you in efforts to save your marriage, it may be time to admit your marriage is at an end. Examine the reasons for conflict in your marriage. These may include difference in values, sexual infidelity, lack of interest, or even abuse. In the end, when two individuals experience a significant loss of respect and trust, rebuilding a marriage may be hopeless. The degree of conflict in the environment in which you live ultimately affects the psychological well being of each family member adults and children alike. Constant conflict and anger is exhausting and debilitating. Ending a painful relationship may be the only way to move yourself and your family toward a more healthy future. Divorce is a beginning as well as an end. You and your spouse must decide your willingness to commit to the work it will take to stay together.

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