One of my closest friends approached me the other day and asked if we could have a talk. My friend and her husband had been married for just over 8 years, and to all that casually observed them, they seemed to have it all; a nice car, nice house, fashionable furniture and decor, perfectly-behaved pets, and time for each other despite their high-profile careers. To some, they could be the perfect couple, yet inwardly, I found out, things were quite different. Things seemed to be on the brink of disaster. And so in asking to have a talk with me she was putting a call out for help.
One of the hardest things about saving your marriage is facing up to your friends and yourself that you have a marital problem. It is much easier to put on a brave public face and show the world that you and your husband are the picture of domestic bliss, while behind closed doors things are all at war.
Perhaps that is what it is like when you decide to save your marriage. There are fears about what others will say:
- He or she is a jerk
- You are better off without them
- You can’t forgive them for what they did
- It will never be the same
- It has gone too far to save
- You are a failure
Public perceptions are perhaps the hardest to overcome. On a subconscious level, we picture our own relationships as that level above others, immune to the petty squabbles and arguments that plague other couples on a regular basis. If we are having problems, they are only bumps in the road to what is otherwise a very pleasant journey. It is easy to identify and even discuss the deficiencies in other people’s relationships, perhaps in an effort to convince yourself that your relationship by comparison is so much better.
So confronting your marriage problem can bring forth issues both in your marriage as well as in others perceptions of your marriage. To admit you have problems in your marriage is to admit that your life is not a fairytale. In addition to this is the fundamental age-old question:
Who is to blame?
One of the hardest hurdles to overcome when saving your marriage is justifying your wish to save your marriage to your family and friends, as well as suffer the humiliation of admitting that your marriage is in crisis. Some of your friends will nurture and support you, and others will sympathize with you and feel sorry for you. Others still will judge you, and it is perhaps this group that you fear the most. Despite your fears, your love for your partner and your need to do what feels right will need to outweigh your fear of how others will judge you.
How do you overcome the humiliation of having a troubled marriage? You have two choices:
You can walk away, or you can stay and try and make it work.
Walking away is the easy option, but in some extreme cases it does become necessary. The harder option is to stay with your partner and commit to making changes and fixing the problems and heal your marriage.
Sometimes the choice to end your marriage is not yours, and you suffer the further humiliation of having to negotiate and bargain with your partner for time to communicate feelings and offer explanations, justify actions and pray for absolution. This is a harrowing experience for even the strongest of us.
Perhaps a thought is to remember why your friends are your friends, and to accept their offers for help when you need it. In the midst of your marriage chaos, the support and love of your friends can be a very humbling experience.
I told my friend that I would offer to help her wherever I could. Friends are angels without wings. At a time when you most need it, the simple act of swallowing your pride and asking for help can bring strength and comfort from those friends,neighbors and family members who have your greatest interest at heart.