Debra Macleod’s Marriage SOS™ method of relationship help combines elements of Debra’s “hard” training in law, conflict resolution, marital mediation and communication with her “softer” experience as a marriage / intimacy author and coach. It is primarily used by individual spouses who are working alone to save or improve the marriage and who are facing a partner who may be unfaithful, untrustworthy, apathetic, or otherwise uncooperative and less motivated; however, it can also be used by spouses who are working together.
Debra helps spouses focus on resolving their marriage problem in a practical and thoughtful way: this includes incorporating her “Fair, but Aware” approach. This approach encourages spouses to be fair in terms of advocating for and respecting each other’s needs, feelings, and perspectives, but also encourages them to be aware of how both people in the marriage are contributing to the marriage crisis / conflict: this includes being able to identify and manage an unfaithful, indifferent, or otherwise uncooperative partner’s behavior and possible manipulations in a purposeful and intelligent way. (Read a full article on this “Fair, but Aware” approach.) Debra offers a wide variety of insights and marriage-saving strategies, many of which emerged from her practice of essentially reverse engineering failed relationships to create successful ones.
Debra’s method offers a practical alternative or adjunct to psychology-based couples counselling, one that provides people with an option for relationship help and avoids the possible pitfalls of couples counselling (e.g. the presence of an uncooperative spouse or a spouse with a different agenda, finger-pointing, an individualistic focus, divisive discourse, unnecessary psychoanalysis, a focus on the past or the negative, ongoing discussion without resolution, and prioritizing theory over practical ideas). It also offers an alternative or adjunct to other forms of marriage help, such as self-help books, couples retreats, faith-based help, or support groups.
The five goals of Debra’s method are to help partners:
1. gain information to better understand the general or typical nature of the marriage crisis / marital conflict
2. better understand “both sides” of the marital conflict: this includes being fully aware of their own role in conflict as well as their partner’s role, perspective, feelings, interests, needs, behaviors, motivations, possible manipulations, etc.
3. exercise personal discretion and empowerment so that self-determination within the marriage is possible: the goal is to achieve a healthy and respectful balance of power and decision-making between spouses
4. resolve specific areas of marital conflict (e.g. an affair, disrespectful behavior, arguing, apathy, etc.) fairly and intelligently, using carefully selected insights and strategies, thus creating an environment of cooperation, commitment and collaboration in the marriage
5. improve the communication, commitment, interactions and intimacy of the overall partnership so that future marital conflict or breaches of trust can be avoided and the needs of both partners can be met: the ultimate goal is to rebuild the marriage on the foundation of a romantic partnership
DEBRA’S METHOD: WHAT IT IS & WHAT IT ISN’T
Debra’s method is informational, reflective, and discretionary in nature. It strives to provide a spouse with a variety of usable insights, skills and strategies from which they may choose in order to resolve a marriage crisis / marital conflict, reconnect with their partner (e.g. restore or enhance commitment and intimacy, improve communication and interactions), and rebuild a successful marriage that is equipped to avoid future marriage crises / marital conflict. There is an emphasis on understanding “both sides” of an issue and balancing the interests, needs and perspectives of both spouses for the overall good of the partnership. There is also an emphasis on thoughtful decision-making and self-determination within the marriage. This method focuses on a happy future more than an unhappy past, on practical application more than theory, and strives to deliver relationship guidance as quickly and clearly as possible, cognizant of the urgency involved when it comes to marriage crises / marital conflict.
Debra’s method is not psychological counselling or therapy and is not a substitute for these. While it may offer general guidance, it cannot and does not advise people as to what specific actions they should or should not take in their marriages or lives: the choice to use or adapt the information provided is always at the sole discretion of the client or course-taker. Debra’s method provides a marriage-help option for healthy, functional people and is not suitable in cases of abuse, trauma, mental illness / disorder, addiction, serious emotional distress or when crisis intervention is indicated. Those in such situations must seek help from the appropriate resources (e.g. the police, a lawyer, a mental health professional).