Get to the Roots of Marital Missteps
By Susie and Otto Collins
If trust has been weakened or broken in your marriage, you
might be wondering what went wrong and how you can save your
marriage and restore connection?
It could be that you are sure you know what went wrong in
your marriage but you're not clear about how to turn things
around so that you and your mate can be close and trust one
When you look at the roots of the missteps or mistakes that
have happened along the way in your marriage, you can get a
deeper look at the habits that might have contributed to the
distance and even the painful betrayals that may have
Janet cannot understand how she and her husband Bob have
come to this dark and lonely place in their marriage.
With all of her heart, she wants to return to the trust,
closeness and passionate love that they once shared.
"Where could it have gone?" she frequently asks herself.
These days Janet and Bob's marriage seems dominated by
mistrust, jealousy, accusations, arguments and withdrawals
She can't remember the last time either of them laughed for
the sheer joy of it. Making love together also seems to be
rare and awkward.
Identify the major challenges in your marriage.
Step one in getting to the roots of the distance and
disconnection in your marriage is to acknowledge and
identify the major challenges facing you.
Either alone or with your mate, you could even write out a
list of the issues that you see contributing to the wedge
between the two of you.
Keep your focus on writing out an observation of the
challenges. Don't try to assign blame or cast a judgment
about whatever they are.
Janet makes a list of the major challenges in her marriage
She includes the following on her list: jealousy, arguing,
mistrust, giving each other the cold shoulder and a lower
While it is tempting for Janet to put Bob's name beside
particular items on the list because, at this time, she sees
him as the blame for those items, she resists this urge.
Instead, she looks at the list as a statement of her
perspective of where their marriage is. This list of
challenges allows Janet to give her attention to making the
changes she can in these areas.
Understand your role in your situation.
Blame is a tricky thing. Of course, if your partner had an
affair, there is a hefty sense of responsibility he or she
carries for that choice.
If you want to shift out of the relationship dynamic you
have going on at the moment, however, you need to widen your
gaze and start looking at what you can change.
You can't change the fact that your partner had an affair
and your continual blaming and judging of him or her is not
going to help you to heal and the two of you to rebuild
Please give yourself the opportunity to feel what you're
feeling. You might still be angry about an affair.
Feel those feelings. Then, if you decide to stay in your
marriage, do what you need to do to forgive and release the
Start to understand the role you played (and continue to
play) in the distance and disconnection that has developed
between you and your spouse.
Take responsibility for no more and no less than your share
of the habits you two have fallen into.
Create agreements to make specific changes.
Janet spent a lot of time shifting herself away from blaming
Bob for the sorry state of their marriage at the moment.
Yes, his actions did play a major role, but now
Janet can take her own share of responsibility as well.
She asks Bob to talk and she shares with him her list and
realizations. She acknowledges that she has a jealous habit
and way of communicating that she can see contributed to
where their marriage is today.
She tells him that she'd like to work together to create
agreements and make specific changes that may help them move
Alongside your list of marital challenges, include
specific ideas that you and your partner can try out.
These changes don't have to be huge.
It can be something as seemingly small as one or both of you
becoming more aware of your tone of voice when talking with
one another about a tricky topic, for example.
As you get to the root of what's contributing to the
distance between you and your partner, you might feel
uncomfortable or vulnerable.
If so, breathe and come into your center. Remind yourself
that your ultimate goal is to save your marriage, rebuild
trust and re-connect.
Know that with perseverance and a willingness to go to these
uncomfortable places, while keeping a sense of openness, you
can reach this goal together.