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Welcome to my Save My Marriage Today Newsletter Series! If you are looking for effective, powerful tips and techniques to take your marriage back from the verge of divorce and rebuild the love that you both once had - even if your partner doesn't want to - then read on!
co-author of Save My Marriage Today!
Owning Your Past and Looking Forward
Written by Andrew Rusbatch
When reading of people's justification for their unhappy marriages, I hear a lot of stories. Miscommunication, hurt feelings, different expectations of what marriage is, different expectations of what is involved in parenting, different personalities and cultures, and past scars and traumatic childhoods.
Today we are going to look at the scars of the past, particularly with unresolved issues from childhood or past relationships. It's something that happens to a lot of couples, and it's an enormously destructive force.
When you meet the person you love, quite often they have lived a part of their lifetime before meeting you, and immersed themselves in a range of different experiences, some good, some bad.
Emotional baggage is something that all of us carry within us to an extent, but how much we bring into a relationship can really effect how the relationship dynamic works.
I received an email from a man who had been married for a number of years, and was a chronic adulterer. He blamed it on unresolved issues from childhood, perhaps a lack of connection with a parent figure, or low self-esteem, either way he continued to have affairs at intervals right through his married life.
His wife was aware of what was happening, and after a number of affairs she simply stopped participating on an emotional level. A part of her died every time he went outside the relationship in search of that elusive fulfillment. Eventually she sought solace in the arms of another, and an affair ensued.
Now his wife has decided she wants to end the marriage, and this man believes it is motivated by revenge. This man wants to start over, but doesn't know where to begin.
I have omitted any identifying details, and here is my reply:
Thanks for your email.
You are right when you say that you can't erase the past, and the scars of your past behaviors are significant. The success of your marriage is really going to hinge on a few things, including:
* You and your wife living near each other, preferably in the same country and same state. A long-distance relationship is not a marriage, nor is it an appropriate place from which no negotiate the future of your marriage.
* Your wife's ability to trust you again and find positive ways of channeling her pain. In order for you to regain her trust you need to demonstrate through actions, not words, that changes have been made.
* You going to a counselor to resolve your childhood issues that you have carried into adulthood. It's time to stop making excuses.You need to decide if you want to be present in the relationship. What do I mean by this? Be there for your wife. Nurture her, take care of her, appreciate her, share your feelings with her, share your dreams with her, be her lover and her friend.
Now expanding on those points, you identify that your behaviors are symptomatic of unresolved issues from your childhood. Have you sought treatment for those issues? Those that we resist, persist.
Don't assume that your problems will go away on their own. Learn the lessons from your past, get counseling, modify your behaviors and stop making excuses. Your past may have affected you in a negative way, but one of the responsibilities of an adult and a father is that you are aware of your issues and seek treatment for them.
Your childhood didn't cause you to have affairs. You did. That was a choice you made, and one that your wife and family will now have to live with.
The next point is that neither of you have been present in the relationship for a long time, both emotionally and physically. Your wife didn't have an affair because you did. She had an affair because she needed to feel the love and attention that you were unable to offer her.
Your wife needed to be reminded of her femininity - her presence as a woman, and this is a very real need that needs to be fulfilled within the marriage if it's going to survive. She had given up on you emotionally, and in that moment, in her mind, you stopped being her husband.
You had not been present in the marriage for even longer, at least as long as you were having affairs.
How do you recreate this presence?
Communication. Talking about feelings. Finding moments of connection with your partner where you can demonstrate the love you have for one another. This is about an emotional as well as physical connection. Remember what it was like when you first met your wife?
What is your idea of the perfect relationship? What changes do you think need to be made in your relationship to get there?
The biggest I can see is presence and communication. It's your responsibility to participate in the relationship and make this happen. Don't let your past hold you back.
Hope this helps.
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co-author of Save My Marriage Today!
About "Save My Marriage Today"
The "Save My Marriage Today" course is a comprehensive collection of marriage rebuilding tools designed to assist troubled couples in turning around the negative patterns of behavior that exist in their marriages.
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