I hear it all the time from a hurting spouse: “My husband was the one who cheated, so why isn’t he fighting for me? Why do I have to convince him that what he did was wrong?” Or “My wife is the one who caused this mess…so why am I the only one who seems to care about our marriage?”
It’s a common situation: The spouse who was unfaithful, or who has in some way broken trust or created conflict, is the same spouse who shows resistance, indifference or even hostility toward any efforts to repair the damage they have done and rebuild the marriage.
Instead of begging their spouse’s forgiveness, it’s almost like they couldn’t care less whether their wounded spouse stays or goes. In fact, they may even act as if they have a foot out the door and are ready to leave the marriage if their wounded spouse doesn’t stop putting “demands” on them.
It’s the exact opposite of what a betrayed or hurt spouse expects.
Why does this imbalance happen? And if it’s happening to you, what can you do about it? As a practitioner who specializes in these particularly challenging cases, I have a few initial suggestions.
For starters, you can get focused by asking yourself a question: “Based solely on my spouse’s actions (not his or her words), is my spouse as motivated as I am to save our marriage?”
This distinction between words and actions is an important one to make, since many unmotivated spouses will either fake it or buy time by pretending to be motivated.
An example is a husband who has had an affair with a female co-worker. He may constantly tell his wife that he’s going to request a transfer; however, he never quite gets around to it. Why not? Because he’s buying time. The longer he put his wife on delay, the longer he can continue to flirt with his co-worker. His wife is so desperate and powerless that she has little recourse but to keep “reminding” him.
“Did you ask for a transfer today?” she asks.
“No, I didn’t have an opportunity today. I’ll do it tomorrow,” he replies.
But as they say in Mexico, mañana never comes.
That’s why you need to focus on what your partner does, not what he or she says.
If, based only your spouse’s actions, you decide that he or she is not motivated, you need to turn the tables, fast. You need to shift momentum so that your spouse is the one who is working – hard – to keep you in his or her life.
Unless and until you can create that shift, your spouse will continue to treat you like you come second to whatever or whomever he or she finds more appealing at the moment.
And here’s the worst part of all:
The longer your spouse treats you like an option instead of a priority, the more he or she may begin to actually feel that way about you.
You might think, “I’d love for that to happen, but based on my partner’s behavior, it seems impossible. There’s nothing I can do.”
It isn’t impossible. And there’s a lot you can do. You can begin by reading Three Steps to “Turn the Tables,” below. It’ll help you get your head around what has to be done.
If an emotional or physical affair is to blame for your partner’s apathy, inaction or skewed priorities, you should also consider my online program Overcoming Infidelity // For Betrayed Spouses.
Listen to the audio below while you read.
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Another common marriage problem that can make a spouse feel unimportant or unloved is an inappropriate friendship. It’s hard to feel like you’re a priority in your partner’s life when he or she seems to put more time and effort into an opposite-sex friendship than into the marriage.
It seems like no matter how many times you explain how wrong or hurtful the “friendship” is, your partner just won’t listen or end it. In fact, they seem more protective of the friendship than your marriage.
Again, you need to get control of this situation. Another of my programs, Prevent Infidelity // End Their Inappropriate Friendship can help.
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But affairs and inappropriate friendships aren’t the only situations where one spouse may refuse to “fight for the marriage.” I’ve seen it happen with midlife crises and also in marriages where there isn’t really any actual conflict – there’s just apathy. If any of this sounds familiar to you, may wish to check out my other online “crash courses.”
Regardless of the issue you’re struggling with, however, your goal is the same: to turn the tables and get to a place where your spouse is fighting for you (instead of against you).
Three Steps to “Turn the Tables”
1. Step one is to gain pro-level insight into the marriage problem you’re having. I’m not talking about doing a Google search and reading a few free blogs on why men or women cheat. I’m talking about diving into the issue and becoming a mini-expert in it. Once you understand what you’re dealing with, once you can see the situation clearly, you will be able to decode your partner’s behavior (or bullshit, as the case may be).
And once you can do that, you will be able to use that knowledge to your advantage – to trigger a sense of urgency in your partner, where he or she feels compelled to “act” and save the marriage. This is an absolutely essential step and it’s why my online programs contain eye-opening, usable insights. I’ve worked with couples on a professional basis for many years, and I want you to know what I know! Knowledge is power. And since you’re probably feeling pretty damn powerless right now, no doubt you can see the necessity for that.
2. Step two is to get more self-control. A lot of this comes from having the type of knowledge that I just mentioned. Once you have clarity, you will have more control over your own emotions and reactions. You will be able to conduct yourself with dignity and purpose, instead of just begging, crying, making empty threats, etc.
3. Step three is to start acting strategically instead of emotionally or impulsively. This can only happen after you’ve acquired the knowledge that I spoke of and after you’ve gained better self-control. That’s why strategy comes third.
You need a strategy – a plan of action – that will help you assertively turn those tables. It isn’t enough to hope or wait it out. It isn’t enough to talk (or cry, or plead, or threaten). You need to stop acting in those desperate, powerless ways and instead start acting in smarter, more strategic ways…ways that in your best interests and in the best interests of your marriage in the long-term.
Again, this is something that my online audio/video programs provide. In them, I provide strategies that you can pick and choose from. These are based in real-world actions that have worked for countless numbers of my clients – they’re tried and tested, as it were. And as often as not, these strategies are counter-intuitive: that is, they aren’t what you would naturally do or expect. That’s the point! You may need to act in unexpected ways. Your partner may need to see that you’re capable of it.
So – if your spouse has had (or is having) an affair, an inappropriate friendship or even a destructive midlife crisis, and if you feel that you’re the one doing all the work to save your marriage or that you’re more “in love” with your partner than he or she is with you, you need to make a change. You need to make it soon. You deserve better. You deserve a spouse who cherishes you and who will show it through their actions.
And although it may not feel like it right now, you really can have that. I’ve seen it happen for many women and men, and it can happen for you, too. Review the options on this site and then initiate a change in your marriage and life. If you want tomorrow to be different, you need to start doing things differently today.