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Can I save my marriage?

We all slip up from time to time, doing things that later make us say “Whoa! What was I thinking?!” These mistakes can help your marriage when they initiate conversations about boundaries and expectations. This way we can avoid repeating them in the future and continue on in harmony. At the same time, when the same mistakes are made over and over, real problems arise and you may find yourself wondering, “How can I save my marriage?” Dr. Heitler talks about the 3 A’s that can destroy your relationship if you don’t address them: Addiction, Affairs, and Anger.

Here are her tips for how to recognize these problems and what to do about them.

1. Addiction

Addictions come in all forms. You can become addicted to shopping or watching a certain TV show as well as alcohol and drugs. Many people do these activities in moderation all the time. The key is to really listen when your spouse or other close person tells you they think it’s too much. You may not feel that your behavior is out of line and it’s easy to get defensive. At the same time, if it is enough to make your spouse uncomfortable, take his or her concerns seriously and sit down for an honest look at your habit.

Dr. Heitler encourages you to ask yourself, for example, "If I want to save my marriage and I look at my drinking in the best possible light, what is it meant to accomplish?" Does it help me de-stress from my work place or homelife? Is it the only way I can feel exciting and confident? Does it stop me from thinking about a mistake I’ve made? In all of these cases, it’s time to face the root problem head on. Online marriage counseling can help you learn the tools to talk through your concerns with your spouse.

2. Affairs

When we get married we don’t automatically stop finding other people attractive. It’s how we react to attraction that can be troublesome. You may be saying, “I don’t need to save my marriage. I’d never cheat…I just flirt!” Unfortunately, sexual magnetism is a very real and potent force. As Dr. H says, “A minor sexual flirtation outside of your marriage or other monogamous relationship can feel good.  The problem is that sexuality is a slippery slope phenomenon.  Initially the activity seems neither too slippery nor sloped....until one more step, and the swoosh...you're hooked.  Sexual feelings are addictive.

Communicate with your spouse and set clear guidelines for prevention. Limit interactions with those who you may be attracted to. Most importantly, don’t give in to the temptation of that exciting first step of flirtation. Leave early, before the “seduction of seduction” pulls you further in.

3. Anger

We all get angry in provocative situations; the key is what we do with that anger. Verbal and physical violence can spell immediate doom for your marriage and/or happiness. Sarcasm and snide comments are also forms of aggression that can eat away at your relationship. Understand your anger and learn tools for dealing with it. Just like with attraction, the angrier you let your self get the harder it is to resist the urge to satisfy it with an explosion of rage. Learn to stop and exit the situation when you begin to feel too heated. Come back and resolve the conversation once you’ve cooled down.

“Can I save my marriage before these problems start?”

Luckily all three of the A’s can be prevented before they even become a problem. In addition to marriage books and therapy, PO2 is perfect for couples at all stages of their relationship to learn skills for communication, positivity and intimacy. These skills will last you a lifetime. Start a FREE 3-Day Trial of Power of Two and start messaging your coach today.  

See Dr. Heitler's original article on Psychology Today.

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Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant 90-FE-0123. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Administration for Children and Families.