Hearing that your partner wants out of your marriage can feel devastating and scary. Even more so if you have children. Fortunately, saving your marriage is possible if you get intentional, are open to listening and willing to make long-term (even lifetime) changes.
Saving your marriage or relationship is a process, not an event. If your partner is talking about ending the relationship, s/he has likely been unhappy for a long time. Long-time problems require consistent, ongoing change—not reactive promises or superficial shifts. If you truly want to save this relationship, you have to be in it for the long haul; you’ll have to make life long changes. Changing your actions for weeks or months may keep your spouse around a little longer, but that won’t save your marriage. In addition, the nature and scope of these changes will need to be determined by your partner, not you.
Here’s the process. First, step back and be sure that you actually want to save the relationship. Ask yourself if you truly want this relationship enough to significantly change your behaviors as your partner wants. Sometimes, what one partner wants in a relationship, the other partner doesn’t. For example, if your partner wants you to be more active and to travel, yet you hate traveling, maybe this isn’t the right relationship for you. So, before you beg your partner to save the relationship, ask yourself if you truly “want” it. Be careful that you don’t confuse “want” with “need.” When we “need” a relationship, we get desperate to keep the person and reactively beg them to stay; that is not love, that is fear. If you’re desperate, get into therapy to get strong enough to be able to stand on your own, if necessary. Therapy is also a great first step when you’re not sure you want to change as your partner is requesting or if you’re not sure you want the relationship. Get clarity first, before you try to save a relationship that you may not want.
Once you’re clear that you want the relationship and you’re willing to change, next you need to get clear the changes you need to make. Winning your spouse back is not about lavishing her/him with superficial acts of kindness. Trying to save a marriage by writing cards, buying flowers and giving gifts is like trying to get healthy by not eating French fries—it’s a minute piece of the solution. The true solution to saving a marriage lies in listening and action. If you’ve been at all listening to your spouse over the years, s/he has likely been complaining to you about the same things again and again. Typically, the change needed is centered on one or two key issues they have with you. Common issues include: control, anger, emotional connection, defensiveness, work addictions etc. You will have to get clarity on what issue(s) has caused your partner the most pain. Once you’re clear on that, almost your entire focus will have to be on fixing this issue. If the issue is anger, for example, you’ll need to do whatever you have to in order to control your anger, stop being a bully and to show up as a safe partner for him/her to be married to. In every inter-action—with your spouse, the kids, the world—show that you have changed in this area. Regardless of what your particular issue is, you’ll need to master that issue in such a way that shows your spouse that s/he no longer needs to worry about that issue with you.
Challenge: Get clarity on the primary issue that drove your partner away. Focus on fixing this issue. Show your partner that this issue is no longer a problem.
For more info on this topic: http://lisamerlobooth.com/dos-donts-saving-marriage-winning-spouse-back/