If you are worried that your marriage is headed south, do a 180 and find your True North again.
Don’t worry about getting your spouse on board – you can do this all by yourself. This is a strategy Michele Weiner-Davis talks about in her Divorce-Busting series, and it really works. Perhaps your spouse is threatening to file for divorce, or maybe (s)he has already left. Take a deep breath, calm down and get ready to turn your marriage around.
Doing a 180 basically means doing the opposite of what you have been doing, or what your spouse thinks you have been doing.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say your spouse thinks you criticize him/her constantly. You don’t see it that way, and can’t understand why (s)he is so sensitive. You are just trying to communicate like you are supposed to, ask for what you need and stop expecting your spouse to be a mind-reader. I am not going to try to convince you that you need to change your position. Your position is quite reasonable. You have needs; you are supposed to clearly communicate those needs to your spouse, etc. HOWEVER, if your marriage is in trouble, please forget about defending your position, etc. and start using this strategy immediately!
In the example we are using, you would simply stop asking for anything; you would stop explaining to your spouse how you would like for him/her to hug you, take out the trash, talk to you, clean the house, look for a job, etc. etc. Instead, you would start telling him/her how much you love him/her, how you appreciate everything (s)he is doing, etc. You appreciate your husband doing the dishes – you do not need to tell him to wipe the counter down also. You appreciate him working so hard to provide for you and the family – even if what he makes is not enough to pay the bills. You are not angry, you are not disappointed, you are not irritated, you are not stressed – you are appreciative, you are loving, you are grateful, you are understanding, you are patient.
If you are still reading this, I commend you! You may feel that I have encouraged you to lie and be dishonest, because you don’t feel any of those things. You are stressed and upset and alone also. What about you and your needs? I know. But if things have gotten really bad, one of you needs to change the energy of the situation, and make it safe enough for both of you to stay in the marriage. You can work on all those problems later, when both of you have committed to stay put. Right now, stop doing what your spouse has accused you of, and do the exact opposite of it. And don’t just do it a little bit. Make a drastic change. There’s a reason it’s called a 180 (and not a 45.)
Your marriage is worth saving. And you may find that doing a 180 is actually kinda fun. Imagine the look on his/her face when you do the exact opposite of what (s)he thinks you will do. Someday, (s)he may thank you for saving your marriage. And even if (s)he doesn’t, your children may. And if they don’t, your grandchildren may. And if they don’t I will! Be brave.
Try something crazy. Do a 180.