You ignored the subtle hints, you forcefully silenced the voice inside your head, and turned a blind eye to those glaring red flags.
A relationship cannot be rosy all the time; there will be times when you both have differences. But if you are sweeping these issues under the carpet instead of addressing them, then there will come a time when one of the partners will say “That’s it! I am done,”and walk away.
Divorce is the final step in a relationship. Once a couple gets divorced, there is no going back. So if you think there is still hope for the relationship, or if you still love each other, then do what you must to steer the marriage away from divorce.
In this MomJunction post, we give you 11 pointers on how to stop a divorce, keep the marriage alive, and nurture the relationship back to health.
11 Ways To Stop A Divorce
Here are a few things you can do to prevent getting to the point of legal separation or divorce.
- Stop blaming each other: A relationship works or fails because of both the partners and not just one of them. If you want the marriage to work, refrain from saying things like “it is all because of you,” or “you are fortunate that I came back for you.” This will only make them more distant. Instead, try to talk about what you feel and what is bothering you about their actions. Make it about both of you, not one of you.
- Introspect: Before trying to convince your partner to reconsider their decision, you need to introspect. Take a look at yourself and your behavior within the marriage to understand what you want and why you want them in your life? Where did things go wrong, and what can you do to make it better? When you know the answers to these questions, you’ll have clarity about what to tell your partner and expect from the relationship.
- Be careful of what you say: Your partner has heard and said enough before arriving at this decision. For them to even reconsider changing their stance, they’ll need to hear something optimistic and practical. So be extremely careful about what you tell them. If you blame or play the victim, or ask them to stay because you need them, then chances are they’d want a divorce even more.
Instead, accept your flaws if any and subtly point out how their behavior has affected you and the relationship. Look at both sides and talk about the good things you’ll both be missing if you get divorced. Choose words that convey your acceptance, love, and understanding.
- Accept their side of things: You might be a perfect son, friend, and colleague, but when your partner says you have done something that has hurt them, then you probably did. Even if you disagree, don’t immediately defend yourself and try to shift blame. Arguments that are about finding faults only keep going in a loop. As hard as it may be, admit your mistakes and empathize with your spouse. Apologize if it is your mistake. This will help them reconnect and think for reconciliation.
That said, do not take the blame for your spouse’s mistakes. If they are blaming you for things you are not responsible for, then tell them gently that the accusations are hurting you.
- Be open to change: If you want your marriage to work, then you need to accept your mistakes and also be willing to change. You need not change your life altogether, but a few behavioral changes could keep the peace in the marriage and make your spouse happy. For example, if you have an addiction, working on it can help you save your marriage. If you have uncontrollable anger, then practicing meditation and yoga can help you keep your temper in check.
However, unreasonable demands on you to give up your career or dreams, not spend time with friends, and not have a life outside of marriage, cannot be entertained. Any other minor changes that can save your marriage should be considered.
- Maintain a connection: If your spouse has decided to move out of the relationship, but you are not ready to let go, try to maintain a connection with them. Whether it is discussing the kids, a common friend, or your home in general, keep talking to them whenever possible.
Every time you make an effort to reach out and include them in your life, they may realize that you are still trying to stay connected and save the marriage. Lose the connection, and in no time the distance increases, turning you into strangers who were once an important part of each other’s lives.
- Hush your brain: Our brain uses the fight or flight response to protect us from getting hurt. So, when your relationship is hurting, you might want to stay away from that person. You may get angry and take impulsive decisions in a rush to save yourselves from whatever is hurting you.
When you’re angry and hurt, avoid responding immediately. Take time to think and process what happened to respond maturely, without being nasty or dragging the past issues into the present.
- Go for counseling: Seeking professional advice will help you both to work on the things that are bothering you. Couples on the verge of divorce tend to get stuck in a vicious cycle of arguing and blaming, which will lead to more hatred and bitterness. An objective third-party mediator may help you bring in a fresh perspective. So, convince your partner and go for it.
- Have a plan in place: Reviving a broken marriage needs a lot of work. Both the partners must agree to a plan and take it forward. They must be committed not to repeat any of the past mistakes. Also, both partners must accept certain aspects within each other.
For example, even though your spouse is a bit harsh when they tell you something for your own good, do not get offended by their ways; instead, look at their positive motives. Accept the fact that no one is perfect and your partner has their own way of doing certain things.
- Healing takes time: Whatever has led to the idea of divorce is not just some regular marital spat. The fact that one partner has given up on the relationship speaks volumes about how much they are hurt.
They may have further built a wall around them to protect themselves. Healing, in such cases, will take time. If your partner doesn’t respond to your initial efforts, then do not get discouraged or blame them for not trying. Understand how difficult it can be for them to open up again and risk getting hurt. So be patient while doing what you must do, and give them their space to think.
- Weave your own love story (again): Here comes the good stuff! Once you both have worked on the issues and healed old wounds, it is time to create some good memories to replace the bitter ones. Once your partner has turned around, you should not sit back and relax. This is where the real healing starts; this is the time to show that you don’t just talk, but also act. Make it a habit to:
- Spend time with each other
- Treat each other with compassion and kindness
- Address issues instead of sweeping them under the rug
- Take care of each other’s needs
- Listen to each other and help each other out
You might have had the best love story in the past, but now you can build an even better one.
Know When To Stop
You might want to give the relationship a second chance, but sometimes, things go so out of hand, that no matter how much you try, the relationship cannot be repaired. Just because you are ready to get back, doesn’t mean that your partner should also feel the same.
That said, marriage cannot work if you’re the only willing participant to make changes. But do your part sincerely and wait for your partner’s response. Observe your partner’s reaction to your efforts and see if there’s any improvement in the equation.
If the issues don’t get resolved in spite of all your efforts and professional counseling, then it is best to let things be and respect your partner’s decision. But by trying your best to stop the divorce, you will at least have peace that you gave it all before giving up.
Also, just because you have taken a step to save the relationship, doesn’t mean you are the only one at fault. It is not healthy to compromise on your happiness to save a relationship that is making you sad. Accepting your partner’s unreasonable demands (if any) can make them happy but will leave you distressed. This will further lead to fights and arguments, continuing the loop of the toxic relationship.
If both or either of the partners is not willing to work to stop a divorce, then the marriage will not work.
Do you have any experiences or advice to share? Tell us about it in the comments section below.