In my work as a coach many people approach me, when they're really struggling in their relationship and they don't know what to do. What I have found is that, virtually without exception, people are making these five fundamental mistakes.
So if you're struggling with your marriage, have a look at these five mistakes and see which ones you are making. It’s probably most - if not all - of them!
These are basic things that virtually everybody does. But before looking at what these mistakes are, it's worth asking the question: “Why is it that most people do these things?”
There are three main reasons. Firstly, most people simply don't know what the right things are to do.
Secondly, none of us are really taught about how relationships actually work. How to put a relationship together and to keep it together is not something that is part of our education system.
And the third reason is we don't know how to fix things when they go wrong. When things are going well in our relationship, that's all fine and good. But when a problem arises - perhaps our spouse tells us they don't want to be married to us anymore - we don't know how to fix things. We don't know what to do to get our relationship back on track.
So what are these five mistakes? As we go through them, think about how many of them you might be making.
Mistake #1: Trying to get your spouse to work on your marriage with you
Have you tried to discuss your problems with your husband or your wife? Have you said to them things such as “We need to talk about this. We need to resolve this. We need to work it out.”
Have you even tried to get them along to counseling?
If you have done any of this, you will know that your efforts often backfire. If you have a husband or wife who wants to end your marriage then they almost certainly won’t want to go to counseling.
And this is the problem with trying to get your husband or your wife to work on your marriage with you: they simply don't want to. And the reality is that the more discussion you have about it, the worse your relationship becomes.
Mistake #2: Trying to show your spouse how much you love them
You might be thinking: “If I can just show them how much I love them and how much they mean to me, then maybe they'll want to stay.”
“Maybe they will want to come back.” (if they have already left)
Perhaps you've put in a special effort to be nice to them, to be considerate and to do special things for them.
You may have had some positive response, but overall you feel that they are just “going through the motions” and it isn’t really doing much to change their overall feeling towards you and your marriage. This is all because showing your spouse how much you love them is not only ineffective, it is a mistake.
Mistake #3: Pleading with your spouse or trying to make them feel guilty
If your husband or wife has said they want to leave, they don't love you anymore, they are in love with someone else, that you don't get on…. If you beg them to stay or try guilt as a tactic, you'll know that none of this works.
You may have said things to them such as: “It would be terrible if you left. Our children will be harmed. You will regret it for the rest of your life.”
But all of your pleading has probably simply fallen on deaf ears. It may have even made your spouse resent you even more. So it is a big mistake to try any of these things.
Mistake #4: Becoming upset or angry with your spouse
Many people do this, many would say that it is a natural reaction.
Of course, your husband or your wife coming to you and telling you that they want to end your marriage can be upsetting. I'm not saying you're not going to be upset, but getting upset or angry with your spouse because of what they have told you is not going to help save your marriage. It's not going to make them want to stay. It's not going to encourage them to work on rebuilding your marriage.
Mistake #5: Being cold towards your spouse
Your reaction to the problems in your marriage might be to be cold towards your spouse and give them the cold shoulder. But that would be a big mistake - and another one that will push them further away from you.
And you might be thinking this may be a contradiction to Mistake #2: Showing your spouse that you love them. Isn't it the opposite to be cold?
Well the two aren't actually opposites. You can create an environment where you are not overly loving towards them and not being cold and hostile as well. But being cold towards your spouse is going to change their attitude. Like the previous four mistakes, it will only make your situation worse.
So those are the five biggest mistakes that I see that people make.
What is the solution? The first thing is to stop doing those five things. Just stopping doing those is going to make an immediate difference to the atmosphere and feelings within your marriage.
And of course the next step is to do the right things - those things that actually do work in restoring the love between you and your spouse.
If you would like to learn what those things are, check out my marriage programs here.