Monday, March 15, 2010


If you have filed for divorce but still love your spouse, and believe that you can still work things out, you may have asked yourself "can I avoid divorce ?" The answer to that question is complex and involves the feelings and attitudes of both you AND your spouse -it's not a one-way street.

Let's start by looking at some well-meaning advice that can be found on the internet about this topic. Many marriage experts claim that if you change your approach in the way you relate to your spouse by agreeing with what they say when you have usually been arguing, that it will turn the problems around and you will find yourselves to be in harmony again, and stop a divorce from happening. Is it really that simple ? Maybe. But maybe not.

Consider this: what are the issues that you usually are in conflict about. Are they about child-raising, money, the stresses of daily life ? are they connected to problems with in-laws ?

If your problems are connected to one of these issues, it is possible that you can work things out with the help of a marriage counselor who can help the two of you talk things out in a logical way. Some marriage counselors will tell you that you should be able to decide within six sessions whether or not your marriage can be saved if it is one of the issues I just mentioned. If the two of you are in agreement that you still love each other, it is possible that with time and effort you can resolve the problems and stop a divorce if you are both committed to doing so and committed to each other.

However, if there are more complex issues involved it won't be so simple. Is infidelity one of the problems ? What about addiction or physical abuse towards you or the children ? It's important to get a clear idea of what the core problems are if you think you can stop a divorce.

If Indifelity is a problem, your main task is communicating with your spouse about what he or she wants from your relationship that they think they are not getting. It is not always about sex. Get help from a marriage therapist or a clergyman to rebuild the trust in your relationship. If that can't be accomplished, or if your spouse won't go to counseling, consider a trial separation and renegotiate with your support person after that.

If you have identified phsyical abuse or addiction as a problem with your marriage, it is crucial that you get help. These two problems require specialized VERY specialized help.

If your spouse is an alcoholic or drug addict, the first thing you must do is learn to take care of yourself. Up to this point you have likely been focused on trying to fix his or her problems connected with the substance abuse. The most important thing you can do in this case is learning and applying what I call the THREE C'S:

1. You didn't cause it
2. You can't control it
3. You can't cure it

The best way to really internalize this truth is by going to Alanon or to a substance abuse education program for family and friends at a local National Council of Alcoholism program. This should your first step towards deciding if you can stop a divorce if this is the problem. If physical abuse is the problem (the two often exist together) you need to learn abou the stages of abuse and how you have been a part of the problem. Briefly, there are 3 stages:

1. Tension building
2. Abuse
3. Honeymoon phase

For further information, see my blog and scroll down to Divorce and Physical Abuse. This information is also available on the internet. Firstly, just a word of caution to those of you who are in this situation: GET HELP. DO NOT stay in the same house with the abuser.Doing so will only endanger your safety.

We have covered some of the basic problems that lead to divorce. In the process of answering the question "can divorce be stopped?" After you've done that, remember some very basic things about relationships.

1. Good communication skills begin with using "I statements". Avoid blaming and saying "you do this or that".

2. You can NEVER change, coerce or bargain with another person successfully.

3. Put your attention on your needs and what you want, and set about meeting those in other ways, since your spouse is not meeting them.

4. You can't stop a divorce by using new or different sexual techniques to restore their interest. Sex isn't the foundation of a good marriage.

5. Avoid agreeing with your spouse when you don't. That makes you less of an honest person.

6. Avoid trying to convince them you love them as a way of dealing with problems. Problems are a separate issue from love.

If you have been to counseling with a marriage therapist or a clergyman and you are still asking yourself whether you can stop a divorce, honestly and thoroughly consider these ideas and apply them to your situation. Then get support from a good friend. If you will do that, I am certain that you can answer this question for yourself once and for all. Whatever your decision, l wish you success!

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