Don’t Try Harder, Try Something New 

Sometimes people claim, “I’ve tried everything to make my marriage work.” However, it’s unlikely they’ve tried everything. In fact, most people try one approach. And then they keep trying that same approach over and over.  When it doesn’t seem to be working, they just keep doing more of the same until they exhaust themselves.

If you are having marital difficulties, it’s important to analyze your role in the problem. What steps have you taken to try to improve the relationship? Are the steps you are taking working? If not, what have you done about it? Many people get caught in a cycle of repetitive behaviors and have difficulty breaking the cycle.

Donna and Andrew had been married for nine years. Donna felt exasperated by her husband’s lack of involvement with the children. She nagged him to be more involved. She sometimes begged him to be more attentive. She kept trying harder and harder to convince him by nagging and begging. She often said, “I’m doing all I can to try and get him to do better.”

Obviously, Donna was putting in a lot of effort. However, nagging and begging her husband clearly wasn’t working. Yet instead of trying something new, she kept it up. She was slowly wearing herself out in the process.  There’s many other places where her energy may have been better served. For example, she could have focused that energy on her children. Or she could have focused it on spending more alone time with her husband in order to improve their relationship. Unfortunately, she was using up most of their alone time arguing with him about his lack of involvement.

If you feel like you’ve tried the same thing over and over, take a step back. Think about a different way to approach the same problem. Consider trying something new instead of just repeating the same thing over and over. If you have difficulty recognizing other options you can try, consider seeing a therapist. Counseling may be able to offer you some new ideas and fresh approaches for dealing with marital issues. If your spouse doesn’t want to attend with you, go by yourself. Individual therapy can sometimes be very beneficial to a marriage.

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