Past Promiscuity Marriage Problems: How To Deal With Spouses Past Relationships

Wouldn't you like to know the secrets for how to make your marriage last through thick and thin, through sickness and health, for richer and for poorer, until death do you part?

After all, that - or something like it - is the vow you took at your wedding ceremony. Trouble is that very few people know how to make that work and be happy in their marriage over the long term.

And the biggest challenge that every single couple runs into is that life is full of bumps. Misunderstandings, downright disagreements, painful moments and even affairs or betrayals are actually the everyday stuff of virtually every single marriage that ever existed.

If you know a married couple who got through life without painful experiences - and thus a painful past - please let me know. I don't know any, and I've spent time with hundreds or even thousands of couples from all walks of life, from all socio-economic classes, races, creeds and religious preferences.

It's Not Your Fault

Most marriages begin to fall apart the moment there are significant challenges or disagreements. If this describes your situation though, don't despair. It's not your fault if you don't know what to do when bad goes to worse, because no one taught you how to handle these difficulties.

You don't learn how to maintain and enjoy long-term intimate relationships in school. You probably didn't learn it from your parents, from other adults you've met or from your aunts and uncles. The reason is that they probably didn't know either.

And more than likely they were suffering either noisily or quietly in their marriages, wondering if they would ever feel any better.

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The Big Secret to Happy Marriage

The big secret about happy long-term marriages is not what most people think it is. It's not finding some secret way to stay happy all the time. It's not amazing sex - which literally cannot stay amazing forever. Unfortunately it's not even having a deep spiritual or religious life, since research has shown that even the most orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have just as high an occurrence of unhappiness in marriage as the most secular couple.

No, the secret is this: managing disappointment in a very specific way.

Now you might be surprised by that answer. Managing disappointment? Does this just mean all we can expect is disappointment in marriage?

Not at all, but I guarantee that you will experience disappointments. No guy can ride in on a white horse every day and be his wife's hero for 40 years. No woman can be absolutely sexy and ravishing 24 hours a day for decades.

You Are Human Beings

No one can stay 100% loyal and unswerving in their dedication to their partner every single day of a long marriage. There will be disloyalties, frustrations, disagreements and pain of one kind or another.

I do hope you will be spared the ultimate betrayal of extramarital affairs, though. It's one of the most devastating things possible in a marriage, and if you're considering having an affair and hope to keep your marriage, I advise you very strongly not to do it. Extremely few marriages happily survive affairs.

But these are of course not the only betrayals or painful experiences that happen in marriage. There can be emotional affairs, loss of money through poor decision-making (actually the leading cause of divorce), bitter disagreements over parenting, alienation from one's parents or siblings which you feel are caused by your partner's behavior, rudeness or harshness or being taken advantage of in many ways.

So... The Question is, How to Overcome the Past

If you are to survive and thrive as a couple you must figure out this challenge. Past experiences can haunt you to the extent that you feel you cannot go on with your spouse another moment.

Here are a few initial tips for how to achieve this task.

First, you have to make a list with three columns. The first column needs to be things that you are sure you can let go of. Then you simply let go of them. You just say "NO MORE, GO AWAY!"

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"You just don't listen" is one of the most frequent complaints I hear couples level at each other. This accusation can be a reflection of feeling ignored or discounted, but it can also mean "you don't understand what I am saying", or "I'm not getting what I want from talking to you."

Whatever the meaning, it reflects the reality that the way that these two people are trying to communicate is not working for them. There is more than good listening skills to effective communication, but effective listening is the cornerstone of good communication. Effective listening is crucial to effective communication and inevitably to effective problem solving. You can't have effective communication without effective listening skills.

Sometimes when couples are unable to problem solve, there is a general absence of listening. The message sent or intended is not the same message as the one received by the listener. Although this may happen for a lot of reasons, the lack of listening is a major culprit. It is difficult to pay attention and listen when you are assuming that you know what the other is going to say. You may attend to just enough of the message to confirm your beliefs. This is often the case when couples dig themselves in deeper and deeper trying to be understood and not realizing that neither is hearing what is actually said.

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To be a good listener, practice these active listening behaviors:

1. Give the other person permission to tell you whatever it is they are trying to say. This involves not talking while the other is talking. You can't listen and talk at the same time.
2. Turn off the television, phones, and other distractions. The other person knows that you are interested in what they are saying because they have your undivided attention.
3. Look at them. Keep eye contact. Be patient. Don't mind-read, fortune-tell, or finish their sentences. Don't interrupt or distract them.
4. Communicate an attitude of acceptance and patience through your non-verbals.
5. Above all, active listening involves reflective listening. Check out the message with something like, "what I hear you saying is....."

This technique is especially crucial when trying to problem-solve. When you reflect back what you heard and it doesn't match what the other person said or meant to say, they have an opportunity to correct it. If you still don't understand, ask for further clarification, without challenging the person's position or feelings. Active listening goes a long way to restoring or building effective communication skills. If you want to be understood and accepted by a significant other, work hard to understand and accept them. To understand another person you have to listen to them.

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Marriage is never a complete walk in the park. Even when married couples are flying a vitalising flight path, wing-rattling turbulence is never too far away. At all times everyone can improve their marriage.

The following ten issues need to be talked about in marriage:

1. Communications - married couples are notorious for communications that resemble the Tower of Babel story. Somehow communication gets confused. The married couple who step into each other's minds and hearts, and learn to listen, and prioritise the other's needs, will enjoy less conflict.

2. Conflict Resolution - when emotions have free reign in communication conflict gets worse, not better. The couple that organises to discuss and resolve conflicts in mature calmness saves a lot of individual and mutual stress. Conflicts cannot be avoided forever.

3. Financial Management - couples to a marriage need to be able to trust each other with money. Perhaps one partner is frugal, while the other is carefree. Couples need to talk about vital compromises when it comes to money.

4. Affection and sexuality - these issues are potentially polarising; in general terms women seek affection and man seek sex. But both affection and sex are necessary in every marriage. Sufficient time and care (affection) needs to go into the process of sex in the authentic love-making experience. Sex needs to be talked about, as does affection.

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5. Family and Friends - couples must talk about the impact of family and friends on the marriage. Other people, no matter how much we love them, mustn't be allowed to compromise the intimacy value inherent in the marriage.

6. Relationship Roles - it's all too easy to assume that the guy will earn the money and the woman will do all the housework. Every single role needs to be talked about: who works, who cares for the children, who is in charge of discipline, and who does what housework, etc. And because roles change, couples need to revisit relationship roles at least every few years.

7. Partner Style and Habits - personality is a big determinant in the relationship dynamic. Being conscious of each other's style and habits is about understanding the role of family of origin issues. Everything needs to be on the table for discussion. And every partner needs to be accepted for who they have become.

8. Spiritual Beliefs - what the Bible calls 'unequal yoking' is a real threat to marriages. If one partner's spirituality and growth outstrips the other's, or more appropriately one partner backslides, there is a major issue the married couple may not even be aware of.

9. Leisure Activities - play is outstandingly important in every marriage, particularly for revitalising the partnership. Leisure activities that suit both partners, and some generosity of a little give and take, are important things to talk about.

10. Idealism and Realism - one partner is bound to be more idealistic than the other, but idealism can be a danger if it goes unchecked. The more realistic partner can sensitively broach the subject.

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Marriage is just a legal document, after all, so why do it? More and more people are living together without actually getting married. Do they lose out on something? Yes they do. As a counselor and pastor, I've witnessed firsthand what is lost outside of the marriage.

Yes, yes, I'm a Christian which means that I do believe that only in marriage does God bless sex. But if that is all the reason to get married, it is rather pathetic. No there is so much more that a marriage can bring.

I'll mention two things that you can only get through marriage that are most important to my wife and I.

COMMITMENT

Saying, "Will you marry me?" is making a commitment that transcends other partnerships. When you get married you make a lifelong commitment-or at least that is the way it is supposed to be. Shacking up like two stray cats doesn't lend itself to long term commitment. You may claim that you love each other, and you may, but not willing to make the level of commitment that a marriage entails, puts doubts to your love.

I don't have an easy out if we have problems. I can't just pack up and leave without creating huge problems. I wanted it that way. I don't want an easy way out of marital problems. I want my commitment to help me be determined to see it through, to work out the problems.

But if two people are just living together without this commitment, then it is an easy thing to leave when problems come. There is nothing that keeps them together or that truly encourages them to find a solution even if they don't want a solution.

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It is more than just a legal document. It is a profession of my commitment made to a society, publicly, and to my mate. My word is my bond and I wanted a relationship that is more than something I can get outside of marriage. I also wanted something public and before witnesses. I'm not ashamed of my wife. I'm not waiting to see if things are going to work out. I don't want to wake up one day wondering if it's time for a change. The marriage gave me the depth of commitment I sought. I can't get that otherwise.

For me, I can only get the depth of a relationship I want inside of marriage. The commitment means a lot to me. It means everything to me. That someone else would commit to a relationship that says, "Till death do us part, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" means more than I can express here in words. That my wife believes in us to that degree, that she would commit herself in this manner, that she would demonstrate her love with this level of commitment is a wonderful gift that I fear few have-even those who do get married.

AN EXAMPLE FOR MY CHILDREN

The marriage allows me to set an example before my children to shoot for themselves one day. The above commitment is something I want my children to learn about. I want them to see a relationship that is so close, so in love that they seek for the same thing when they become adults.

My parents had a marriage like I do. As a child, I had such tremendous security at home that I never worried about if my parents would be together one day or not. I witnessed their commitment and I craved the same thing. I want this for my children, and it is only through the commitment of the marriage that I can give it to them.

A relationship outside the bonds of marriage sends the wrong message to my children. How can I expect them to find the same level of commitment and love if I myself am not willing to demonstrate it? Our children more often than not follow our footsteps when it comes to relationships. Mostly, because it is all they know. Well, I want my children to know what a relationship is like between two people so committed to each other, so in love, so bound together that they want nothing else.

That being said, if the above is true, then getting married on a lark is unwise. I got married because I found a woman that I could commit the rest of my life to, and a woman who was willing to do the same for me. Our union has purpose and our marriage gives depth and commitment to that purpose.

Saying or doing the wrong thing can actually cause your spouse to feel even more distant from you. You can make your spouse fall back in love with you, all over again.

You don't have to worry about whether your spouse is on the brink of asking you for a divorce. You can control the situation and use specific techniques to naturally make them fall hopelessly in love with you.

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