Solving Marital Problems: What To Do When Your Marriage Is In Trouble

Through my years in practice and as a social observer, I've seen a number of couples in crisis. I tend to find that problem marriages break down into several broad categories. One example is the "Rescue Marriage."

Oftentimes it's hard for people to see the problem with this type of marriage. There's a certain highly romantic element to this relationship structure, and people feel, as they enter into it, that either they will be saved forever, or that they have the ability to rescue a drowning person--and the rescuer and rescued (or victim) will live happily ever after, once the rescued person's life has been fixed.

In fact, Judith Wallerstein, a psychologist and researcher who has studied the long-term effects of divorce for over 25 years, writes with her co-writer, Sandra Blakeslee, about the rescue marriage, and writes of it in highly romanticized terms, using case studies that portray this marital structure as a favorable one. But in my experience, I'm forced to disagree with their assessment.

There are multiple examples of this time of marriage: a woman marries an alcoholic, convinced she can cure his addiction with her love and compassion. Or perhaps she marries a man who has never made a living, and is certain that her belief in him will help him be successful. I had one client, with some serious commitment issues, actually, marry a woman with a terminal diagnosis. Again, his love and support, he seemed to believe, could cure her illness and make her whole again.

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More commonly, the term 'rescue marriage' is utilized to describe one spouse saving the other from a bad family-of-origin set-up. This is one how Judith utilizes the term in her book, The Good Marriage.

Thus, in an idealized world, the healing that occurs in this relationship is the marriage's central theme. But as the authors themselves point out, things can go mighty awry. They write that, instead of healing, the marriage can become "... a new forum for replaying earlier traumas. Spouses have the capacity to wound and abuse each other...the hopes for rescue and comfort that led to the marriage are buried and forgotten" (p. 23).

In my experience, a different pattern emerges that can be destructive in the relationship--and it's one you might expect. Simply put, the rescuer often undervalues the contributions her spouse can make, and thus enables the 'victim' in his need to be rescued. Alternatively--and this makes perfect sense to anyone who has rescued a lot--sometimes the rescuer just gets sick of rescuing--to the point where she actually starts persecuting the victim--and the victim, sick of being in the role of the one needing rescued, becomes resentful--and, at times, takes on the role of persecutor himself, too.

It's all clearly explained by Stephen Karpman's work [he is a psychiatrist who is Vice-President of an organization called the International Transactional Analysis Association] by what became known as the Karpman Drama triangle. He writes up his findings in his paper entitled "Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis" and it is pretty fascinating to read, so I encourage you to take a look, especially if you believe you might be in a rescue marriage.

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There are some significant problems in this marital structure, but I insist that before you walk away from a marriage you need to ask yourself how you'll change your own behavior in the future so that you don't fall into your pattern again. Because rescuers tend to be rescuers, no matter what the setting, and that applies to marriage, too. The outer construct of your second relationship may look different from your first--but if you don't work through why you always need to be in the position of rescuing your mate, it's a question of being doomed to repeat your destiny.

And the same goes for the 'victim,' or one who needs rescuing. If you believe in your heart of hearts that you are incompetent, or that the world has dealt you a bad hand and you can't make it out there on your own without someone swooping in to save you from your own fate--well, it's pretty clear to me the type of person you'll marry next time, too--and then begin to resent.

I can't answer decisively if you should stay or go in this marriage more than in any most other ones, but I can strongly recommend that you work through your issues with the role you take up, or you'll be repeating your pattern, no matter how different the surface of your next relationship may appear.

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The busy and hectic days people have to face in both their personal and professional lifestyle have started to play a significant impact on the strength of their relationships. Many people experience problems in communicating with each other and lose touch of reality, which leads to lack of spontaneity and loss of understanding. These factors influence the way people see themselves in the particular relation and emphasize the necessity of finding the best and most effective solutions.

There are, however, some essential rules that need to be followed in cases of problems between partners to be resolved. There are some tips that could help in finding the most appropriate method for bringing derailed relationships back to track.

1. Individuals need to realize that there is a problem. It usually takes a lot of time to determine what exactly the problem is. It may also require some professional help to be involved in the matter, especially in cases where problems seem to lack an adequate solution.

2. Individuals need to be able to realize that there is the need to relate to the other person and to try to get him/ her understand that talking out will put the beginning of problem solving. When marriage (or relationship) communication is involved, the process of talking out and verbalizing what's been bordering the couple for some time is crucial. Better communication could help initiate the process and could direct individuals, trying to spare people going into dead-ends.

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3. If people have come to the point where there is no way ahead, or back for that matter, they need to consider taking advice from family and friends. This kind of help they are going to get, focuses on the unspoken truths and feelings and takes individuals through the path of inner reevaluation of their self-being and their being with others and selects the best techniques to help.

4. After individuals reach the conclusion that they need assistance from friends and family, they have to choose the one that could be most useful to them and their partner. Whenever they need to choose a person to whom to share their problems in a marriage or a relationship, they have to consider the following:

- individuals have to find a person who is in himself/herself an example of success, who has a successful marriage or relationship and finds love and understanding to be the most critical elements in a relationship.

- believe it or not, a divorced friend or family member is usually not the best choice to make. He/She has to be able to get people to talk about the most dearest and personal things - the ones that essentially determine the outcome of the process.

- individuals will need an impartial advisor who is capable of confronting them and their emotions and tell the truth to their faces.

- they will need help from a person who is going to respond to their needs and will become an active participant in the process of their regaining the power of love.

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After you have been married for some time, you may get into a normal routine that kills the spark that used to keep you together. When there is nothing new and all that remains is the familiar, friction and contempt will begin to develop. As a result, you may begin to realize that your husband has fallen out of love with you.

Although it will be very painful when you discover that your husband has fallen out of love, you should not despair. There are a number of things you can do in order to reverse the situation and strengthen your marriage. When you know how to go about it, you will not only restore your husband's love but also maintain it to a higher level than before.

Trace the beginnings

You should determine the point at which your husband began to fall out of love. In case you have children, you should consider such times as after you had given birth. This is a very likely area, as you probably devoted most of your time to taking care of your newborn baby. This is something that can easily make your husband feel left out.

Make necessary adjustments

If you have realized that you have been attending to your family at the expense of your husband, you should make necessary adjustments to accommodate him as well.

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Make arrangements so that you can have some time apart with him only. For instance, you can take the kids to bed early so that you spend some quality time together before you go to sleep. You should also find other periods in which you can spend more time just as a couple without anyone getting into the way.

It will make little sense if you spend time together but not focus on each other. Ensure that your conversations revolve around your lives. You should show a deep interest in your husband if you want to get him back in love with you.

Don't nag

There are many stressful situations in life that you may be experiencing. Unfortunately, you may be taking out your frustration on your husband without even realizing it. This may manifest itself in such things as nagging. Unfortunately, nagging is very good at drying a husband's love.

Perhaps you have been having frequent arguments that create friction between you. Find out the things you constantly argue about and make some necessary compromises.

You should do everything necessary to solve any problems you experience in your marriage. If your husband has fallen out of love with you, you should take measures to win him back.

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What does a wife need from her husband? I can't answer that question for all women, but I do know what I need. I need my husband to be supportive of my endeavors and ideas. I want my husband to realize that the marriage does not center only around him and what he needs, but on what we both need. I want for my husband to make time for me. I want to be put on the top of his priority list, after God, and not on the bottom. Does that sound selfish? It's not selfish when you know that he gets the same treatment from me.

I want for my husband to enjoy spending his time off with me and so I often encourage fun and creative things to do together when he does have the spare time away from work. I have to remember this, though, if I am not acting on my marriage obligations the way God wants for me to, I should not expect that my husband would be too happy about it. So then, I shouldn't take advantage of my husband's loving kindness or take our marriage for granted. Because my first priority should be my husband's happiness, right?

I believe God has put me where I am at for a reason. I have been blessed with the man I married because that is who God put before me 23 years ago. I didn't change the course of events to marry the man I married, because the events became the course. In other words, I did not put a gun to my husband's head and tell him to marry me or else. What became yesterday is what is today. Not that we cannot change or improve on our marriage, but that we ought to be content with the person God has blessed us with.

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Once we get rid of the idea of divorce and we get rid of the bad attitude is when we can begin to reflect upon who we are in the marriage and begin living our God fulfilled purpose. Once we get rid of the selfishness we can start to fulfill the roles and responsibilities that have been given to us when we got married. But we cannot get rid of these ideas until we choose to follow Gods plans for our marriage. We are the ones who fail marriage. Marriage does not fail, people do!

We fail marriage because we give up. We give up on God and we give up on what we can do to change ourselves. You've heard the saying; patience is a virtue, right? Well, we have given up on patience because we feel that time is running out. Time does not run out, but people do. The messages from society run amok and tell us to do things that are not from God but from selfish desires and arrogance. If that is who a person is then they have every right to continue listening to and believing those messages. But if you are a part of God's family then you have your own messages to listen to.

Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lords will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)

I know what I need from my husband. I need to know that he is devoted to our marriage that we started 23 years ago. I want him to accept me for who I am, because I cannot guarantee that I will never make mistakes. I need to know that my husband would never act on a bad attitude, turn against me, and ask for a divorce like many spouses in marriage do. Because what is that? That is not a marriage, that is people being wishy washy with each other, allowing feelings to control the outcome of the marriage. I believe a husband needs the same thing from his wife. A man needs his wife to respect his position in the marriage above everything else. If a man is allowed to be the man in his home, then everything else should just fall into place like clockwork.

...However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33 NIV)

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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