When I first started my marriage project, I didn’t think it was going to work. I saw the project as a way to prove to myself that I’d married the wrong person, that my marriage was beyond repair, and that I was an idiot for feeling guilty about ending it.
Then a strange thing happened. Things got better.
After four months my bad marriage certainly had not been cured, but it had improved so much that I stopped planning my exit strategy. I renewed my vows instead.
I’d love to give you a list of “yes” and “no” questions that could help you determine whether your marriage is broken. I can’t. The only way to find out whether your marriage is beyond repair is to sincerely try to fix it and see what happens.
I put the word sincerely in italics because it’s easy to go through the motions of fixing your marriage. When you go through the motions, you buy books, but you either don’t read them or you don’t practice the exercises they suggest. You go to marital counseling, but you daydream the entire session and you don’t do the homework your counselor asks you to do. You read this blog, but you find one excuse after another to not put the advice into practice.
You think about saving your marriage, but you do not take a strong step in any direction. You just stand still and you think.
To find out if your marriage is beyond repair, you need to stop thinking and start doing—something, anything, everything. Try things that seem silly. Try things that you don’t think will work. Try things that you think are downright insane.
Try everything. When Project: Happily Ever After is published later this year, you’ll get a chance to read about everything that I tried. For instance, you’ll read about how I attempted to learn how to be a better hugger, and how that didn’t quite work. The point is that some of what we did worked. Some of it didn’t.
You’ll probably come to the same conclusion when you attempt to fix your own marriage. You won’t be able to predict what will work until you try it. What works for some marriages doesn’t work for others. There is not one blueprint to follow.
More important, you won’t know whether things are beyond repair until you give it your all for at least four months, if not longer.
One marital counseling session is not enough.
One argument is not enough.
One book isn’t even enough.
Try everything. If nothing works, then it’s broken.
For my readers who have ended a marriage, how did you decide it was time to give up? How did you know your marriage was broken? What advice can you share with others here who are pondering whether it’s time to give up.
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A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.