I'm Struggling In My Marriage: I'm Not Ready To Give Up On My Marriage

I often hear from spouses who are trying desperately to hold onto their marriages while their own spouse is ready to call it quits. I hear comments like: "I'm not ready to give up on my marriage, but my spouse is. What can I do to change his mind before it's too late? I just can't bear the thought of my marriage ending and having to let go for good."

This is a difficult situation. It's daunting to think that you will have to save your marriage all by yourself, but I do firmly believe that it can be done and that this situation is far from impossible. I will discuss this more in the following article.

Who Decides When You Have To Give Up Your Marriage?: I often have spouses who ask me things like "why does my spouse get to decide when we're going to let go or give up? What if I'm not ready to? Do I just have to accept that it's over because he says so? Why does he get to make that call?"

I understand these frustrations. It seems unfair that you should just have to go along with this if you disagree or if your heart is breaking. It's my experience that no one truly has control of your own feelings. And, conversely, you don't necessarily have control over your own spouse's feelings. With that said though, although you can't control someone else's feelings, you do sometimes have control over the situation and the circumstances.

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You can try to set it up so that the situation is conducive to changing perceptions, evolving feelings, and things turning around. But this often requires a workable plan and a bit of resolve to accept gradual victories until you've slowly worked up to where you want to be.

Most People Who Aren't Ready To Let Go Of Their Marriage Suspect That There Are Cards Yet To Be Played: People will often say to me things like "I have no idea why I just can't let go. I mean, he's pretty much spelled it out to me but, for whatever reason I'm so stubborn that I just can't accept it." I'm not sure that stubbornness is the only thing at play here. It's my opinion that people often don't want to or can't "let go" because they feel or suspect that there are still things that have yet to be tried.

Deep down, many people know that there are things left unsaid or attempts to save the marriage that still haven't been attempted. Many believe that if they could just elicit even a little bit of cooperation from their spouse, there are other things that could be tried which just might work. And, while this may well be true, I often tell people that if they wait to get their spouse's cooperation or the green light, they may be waiting a long time. The point is, sometimes if you have something to say, you may be better off finding the right time to say it rather than allowing yourself to wait for a time or a go ahead that may never come.

Or if you suspect that there's something that would save your marriage, it's not always the best idea to wait for it to happen instead of attempting to make it happen on your own. That's not to say that you need to be blatantly obvious about your opposition or about any plan that you have. But it's my opinion that it's better to take some planned action than to just wait for things to magically fall into place or to just pray that your spouse wakes up one day and changes their mind.

Where Do You Start?: Often, I will have people who tell me that what I've said makes sense, but, despite this, they have no idea where or how to start. They are in situation where they know or suspect that they are the only one who thinks this marriage can work and this can be a very vulnerable and daunting place to be. But, there's nothing that says you will or even should try to change things over night. Doing so probably isn't all that realistic anyway.

I often suggest starting very small. Don't tell yourself or your spouse you're out to save the marriage immediately. Instead, vow to just improve things on a day to day basis. You might just want to connect in a light hearted and positive way and find some common ground. As the load lightens and things become more upbeat, you may begin to gradually tackle the larger issues, but don't try for too much too soon.

Many of the spouses who are ready to give up on their marriages tell me that they feel like the spark is gone. They don't believe that things will ever get better. So, your true job is to show your spouse that there are wrong about these assumptions. And, you will often have an easier time showing your spouse this on a gradual basis rather than telling them something which they may not be listening to right now anyway.

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Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make are holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor... ~Ephesians 5:25-27a (NRSV).

The model for marriage that the Apostle Paul sets out for Christians (Ephesians 5:21-33) fits with marriage universally. Here we acknowledge God constructed, instituted, and blesses marriage by the Divine code set out in sections of the Bible like these.

Yet, there might hardly be a more dividing subject so far as the home is concerned. This is because we polarise between the roles, responsibilities, and needs of men and women in marriage. Too easily we find marriage requirements put in the 'too hard' basket. We are, after all, speaking about an illustration - Christ the husband, and the wife as the church.

Any husband who seriously contemplates such a tall order - to be compared with consummate Perfection - will without doubt begin to hesitate over his capability, and even suitability, for the role. It's clearly not God's will for the husband to feel hopeless against the Christian ideal of marriage. Still, many have.

There is a flip side to the requirements of the husband; whilst his model is Christ - unreservedly and unapologetically so - there is a need for reassurance.

Five reasons husbands feel vulnerable in marriage - against the biblical standard - are:

1. MANY HUSBANDS STRUGGLE TO LOVE THEIR WIVES

The reasons for this are many, notwithstanding the common one: he may not even love himself (Ephesians 5:28-29). Many, many men struggle deeply with identity issues and a cover for this is either of/or both extremes: chauvinism or timidity. In other words, he's either a bully or a weak pushover. Any self-assured woman would not want either.

Men cannot love their wives, their children, their extended family, or anybody else for that matter until they accept themselves.

The wife has an important part to play in supporting her husband's self-image to that end, so that not only would he be capable of loving her, but he would also be capable of loving every human being. Without doubt the husband has the same responsibility; let's not forget his standard is already loftier than all other standards.

Even the most well-adjusted husband will, at times, struggle with self-acceptance and, therefore, self-love. He will, during such times, consequently, struggle in his ability to love his wife.

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2. HUSBANDS, LIKE WIVES, STRUGGLE TO SACRIFICE

Perhaps the modern pleasure-zone has exacerbated this problem.

The Scripture tells us the husband is supposed to serve his wife, by sacrificing his needs for hers. And yet, the wife is to submit (Ephesians 5:22). Modern convenience has made it hard for them both, but not impossible.

Our flesh is the biggest problem - self-centredness has no gender exclusivity.

But as the husband considers, with earnestness, that he is to give himself up for his wife, he knows he can do it most of the time, or even some of time. Equally, and this is a sad truth, he knows he can't do it all the time. He feels vulnerable, perhaps, because he is back at 'square one' too often. (And, many men, as with many women, struggle with illogical perfectionism problems.)

3. MAKING HIS WIFE 'HOLY' CAN SEEM AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK

Giving "himself up for her" necessarily leads to "making her holy."

With that condition in mind, and surmising that wives no doubt have similar - if not the same - human issues and limitations to deal with as husbands do, we can understand the husband feeling vulnerable about his capacity to achieve the mandate.

Not that he shirks the issue. The Christian husband knows, most certainly, he's under the covering of grace at all times. Only the devil makes us feel condemned. Still, that happens; occasionally we feel condemned.

4. LEADING THE FAMILY PROPERLY CAN SEEM AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK

As leader of his family, nurturing their spiritual growth can seem a huge task, particularly considering the challenges of the teen years. Nothing makes a man or woman feel more humbled, and at times hopeless, than parenting does.

Yet, one of the most important roles for any husband, with its direct impact on his wife, is how consistently well he nurtures the children and the entire family. Men love their wives by appropriately loving their children.

A husband cannot, foreseeably, reach his goal as husband without achieving this. He knows it deep in his heart, and yet he feels vulnerable; perhaps even (often enough) a failure.

5. DEVELOPING HIS WIFE'S FULL POTENTIAL IS A LOADED ROLE

Giving control to anyone for the results of another person is a loaded role, though we need to be careful; the husband is just supporting his wife, enabling or empowering her to become everything she needs to be.

Justifiably, if the husband looks back on 10 or 20 years of marriage and sees little evidence that she's made her self-desired progress on her journey, he will no doubt - even for a moment - consider that he is failing. That would make anybody feel vulnerable.

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Controlling jealousy in your relationship has to be more about prevention than cure because once jealousy takes root, it can become such a debilitating emotional experience that you are really just better off focusing on prevention rather than trying control.

And even then, what is to be done when jealousy is already a part of the relationship? Again, the control here has to focus on controlling the effects jealousy will have on the relationship as seeking directly to control the emotions that do arise from jealousy is just such a hard thing to do.

With that said, are you going to go through life never feeling jealous or always be able to have complete control over jealous emotions? Of course not, no one is hardly that fortunate or so in control of their emotions. But the idea here is rather than trying to control jealousy once it enters your relationship, try controlling the environment that normally gives rise to it and nourishes it.

That is the smarter approach to take to controlling jealousy in your relationship.

So exactly what are the aspects of this approach to controlling jealousy?

Jealousy is rooted in insecurity. This insecurity can be the result of any number of things. Basically these are either related to the actions of one partner or related to the thinking and perception of the other partner in the relationship.

So either someone is doing something to make the other justifiably feel jealous, or the one that is feeling jealous is reacting completely to what they are perceiving inside and nothing else.

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Depending on which it is, taking appropriate steps to address the issues is the only way to control the jealousy that will inevitably arise.

So lets say the jealousy is being driven by the action of one spouse - flirting, inappropriate behavior with someone else, cheating whether ongoing or in the past, or any other action that results in a third party being a threat to the relationship.

In this case the only appropriate approach has to be putting an end to these actions. This may sound simple enough, but the fact that they are happening clearly means there are other underlying issues in the relationship.

Identify these issues, focus on working on them in a responsible manner and if both parties are sincere about it, the jealousy will subside.

If the jealousy is being driven by just pure insecurity of one partner caused by low-self esteem or the habit of perceiving things the other partner does in a wrong way then the focus has to be on why these feelings exist.

Again, both partners have to be sincere about wanting to address the issue. There should be no ascribing of blame here. Addressing the issue that is causing the insecurity should be the only matter that is focused on.

Controlling jealousy in your relationship is much easier to do when you focus on the causes rather than just the emotions of jealousy. Telling yourself that you will control it by not feeling it is being naive. Control it by fixing the environment that is giving rise to it and nurturing it.

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Marriage is still considered a serious business so when a couple make the hard call to separate it would be fair to say it did not come lightly.

Family and friends will probably be saddened by the news but if there have been ongoing problems they may agree it is the right thing to do. Supporters will hope a time of separation will enable the couple to work through their issues as one-partner packs their bag and leaves the family home.

But what if a normal separation is not possible? There may not be enough cash in the bank to support such a move as the leaving party may not have the luxury of bunking down with parents or friends and is forced to seek costly accommodation. Add to this the spouse and child support they would need to pay if they had left children behind and

We know that the recession has left many families in financial strife and in the happiest of marriage they may be struggling to put food on the table. The credit crunch destroyed a lot of dreams but none were hit so unfairly as families with hefty mortgages and DEBT. This would not be uncommon in boom times but with lenders holding tight keeping a line of credit going became like walking a tightrope.

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A new decision had to be made and that was to be separated but remain living together.

"Living together"! Would possibly be the retort from family and friends when the couple endeavored to explain why they had made this choice?

You can imagine the look of sheer horror on some people's faces as they tried to process what there nearest and dearest had just told them. A couple may need thick skin at this time because there will be those who think they are stark raving mad. There is of course validity in their reaction and concern that the husband or wife close to them may endure more unhappiness and hurt. At the end of the day the decision is for the separating couple to make.

Looking at the world today and the precarious world economy couples making decisions like this have based them solely on necessity and survival.

Would it be like walking through a minefield?

For some definitely yes but for others once they got into the swing of living together as roommates and the pressure of the marriage was lifted they got on a lot better.

Something must be working because many couples who started out separated but living together went the whole hog and ended up divorced and living together.

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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