3 Ways to Tell Your Spouse Isn’t Happy and 1 for You

It is a scenario that I regularly see in my office. Spouse A has cheated on spouse B because he/she wasn’t participating in the marriage. Then, spouse B hurries to fix what has been wrong for 10, 20 or even 30 years, but many times, spouse A believe this effort is too little, too late. What has happened? Spouse B kept hitting the snooze button on their wake-up call. Here are some signs that your spouse wants to improve the marriage; typically through counseling.

He/she says, “I want to improve the marriage. We should seek counseling.” This is pretty straight forward. It might not be this nice, but it will typically be a blatant statement that he or she isn’t happy and wants things to change. Has your spouse said anything like this?

Your spouse spends time on other activities rather than the marriage. Your marriage is no longer fulfilling so other hobbies must be pursued in order for your spouse to get the daily recommended allowance of enrichment. This might be a personal activity or it might be another individual. In either case, it’s not with you like it should be.

Your spouse isn’t happy when he/she is around you. It is a cliche that marriages are to be unhappy prisons of barren loneliness. Well, after 16.5 years of increasing marital bliss, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn to be happy with your spouse. You should be happy.

You aren’t happy when you are around your spouse. You may be ignoring your wife or husband because of his or her behavior. This too can be fixed through counseling or even a pursuit of your own self-improvement.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Fix what’s wrong in your marriage, now.

4 Tips to Save Your Dying Marriage

Never too far gone

Sometimes couples get into such a state that they are extremely divided, but because of one spouse’s level of commitment, he or she refuses to quit on the relationship. Certainly, there may be a time to quit, but at this time, one of the spouses has resolved to save the marriage. It can be done. As I’ve said before, you’re never too far-gone in your marriage if you’re willing to make the journey back. So, what should a spouse do if he/she wants to save the marriage?

First, is it worth saving? If your partner is on his/her 20th affair, should you keep going? Only you can answer that. Anybody can change at any time and Jesus teaches us in Matthew 18 to have no limit on our forgiveness, but there should be a limit to the degree we are going to endure poor marital behavior. How much is that for you? Decide and then move forward.

Second, if it is worth saving, what are you saving it for? There must be a motivator and in a chaotic state, any will do. Children come to mind first. They are better off in a home where mom and dad learn to love one another than in a home void of this love. So, if you are doing it for your children, make sure you do it right. You might also consider the material investments you’ve made in the marriage. Remember, any motivator will do and starting over on what you’ve gone so far to earn is pretty scary.

Third, you must work to change the narrative in the home. For weeks or months your relationship has been built on the negative. “We wouldn’t be in this mess if you hadn’t . . .” is what you might say. What is wrong in the marriage must be discussed but do it during controlled times that you agree upon. Also, if you learn how to communicate about difficult topics, the discussions can be just that, discussions rather than arguments which only make the problem worse. Localize the negative, deal with it, and make the rest of your home life positive and encouraging.

Finally, you must now change the behavior in the marriage. If you are not the offending spouse, this means acting out of love (not obligation) for your lover. If you are the offending spouse, this means going overboard on showing your spouse that you have nothing to hide. In either case, changing behavior to look like a happy marriage results in being a happy marriage. It became unhappy because you were doing all the wrong things. Now, you must act differently. This “fake it til you make it” method can work and eventually be sincere. This is not a replacement for discussing the issues that brought you to such a lowly state.

Marriages are worth saving and if yours is one of these, I hope you’ll consider these tips as a new beginning for a lifelong relationship.

BOOK REVIEW: Hope for the Separated by Gary Chapman

This is a well written “how to” manual for any couple that is separated or considering separation. Ninety percent of the book is geared towards helping you get back together, reconciling in a constructive way that will really work. The other 10% is about what to do if reconciling isn’t an option.

Chapman talks about giving a rebirth to your marriage and given my experience with struggling couples, he does an excellent job of walking a man or a woman through the steps of healing no matter what may have caused the split. Counseling after getting back together may still be necessary but the biggest hurdle of recommitting to one another can be accomplished through this book. 

Chapman gives marriage the holy reverence it deserves and walks couples and individual spouses through this very difficult process in such a way that they can truly say they gave it their best. 

When To End An Affair

Regarding an affair we often talk about the hurt, the divorce, the kids, and the betrayal, but rarely is the beginning of the affair ever discussed. Well, at least until it is too late. In their book, Intimate Issues, Dillow and Pintus address this and work to help women stop an affair before it ever starts. Men would do well to take note here also.

The authors discuss the beginning of an affair in three stages. The first being temptation. Let’s say you meet a man through normal circumstances. He is attractive, thoughtful, and everything you have been missing in your own marriage. You get excited because there is a chemistry between you and he seems equally as dissatisfied in his own marriage. Here is an opportunity to feel things you’ve not felt in a long time. It is indeed tempting. 

This tempting situation leads to the second stage; contemplation. You begin fantasizing about how things could be with this man. When you see him , careful consideration is made of how you dress and of your perfume. The affair is continually entertained in your mind and you begin noticing opportunities to act on these thoughts and feelings. 

Finally, you may move into activation. You will finish this stage with comments like, “I wasn’t thinking” or “it just happened.” Don’t reach this stage. By now, it is too late. 

You may get into the first two and hopefully within them you will see the necessity to seek marital counseling or get some type of help before your marriage ends and many lives are ruined because the best time to end an affair is before it ever happens.

This is my prayer for all couples:
“May your marriage be so personally satisfying between you and your spouse that the temptation stage sickens you.”



Can You Maintain A Good Marriage?

When I speak to young married couples on the verge of divorce, (the average age of a divorcing couple is 30) it is plain to see that they just don’t know how to maintain a good marriage. Why? 

First, they may not have seen a good marriage before. Having possibly come from a dysfunctional or divorced home themselves, they do not have a history with the behaviors of a good husband or good wife. So, the default action is also the second reason why couples cannot maintain a good marriage; selfishness.

1 Corinthians 13: says that love, “does not seek its own.” Stop worrying about yourself and begin worrying about how you can make that other person happy. Two people who look out for one another is much better than two people looking out for themselves. 

When we think only of ourselves (not of loving the other person) we grow apart. “That other person” in your house is causing you to not get that fishing boat because she’s a nag, or live in that big house because he doesn’t make enough money. “I deserve it” you tell yourself and by your own lack of vision for what a family should be, you wreck possibly dozens of lives because a divorce involves much more than just two people.

While you might not be labeled self-centered, maybe you’re doing everything else EXCEPT working on your marriage. There are so many distractions in today’s world that we end up doing everything else but eating dinner together, talking over coffee, and cuddling in bed; all things that bring you closer as a couple. When person needs aren’t fulfilled at home, people begin looking elsewhere. I see it happen a lot.

Ask yourself: 
  • What does my spouse like to have for breakfast?
  • What is his/her favorite dinner spot?
  • If I could do one thing to make him/her happy, what would it be? 
If you struggle with these questions, you’ve got some work to do.


Marriage is like bowling. The goal (like the pins) is far off, but if you set your throw up just right, you’ll score BIG.



Men Who Want Divorces

I sometimes talk to men who are just done with their marriage. They are done trying to be “whatever it is she wants me to be.” They are simply finished and want out. What can cause this level of frustration?
First, when women do not communicate their needs, but rather leave their husband guessing, even the most well-intentioned man can wonder, “What’s it all for?” Women want their husbands to know what they need/want because it makes it that much more special. However, if you have never told your husband what you like and don’t like, how is he really supposed to know? Research has shown that the longer we are married, the less we know about one another. You must talk. Also, some men are not that good on picking up on clues. Help him fulfill your emotional needs more by talking to him about them. Then, your husband can move on those needs at appropriate times.
Second, women become so frustrated with their husbands that they continually beat up on them. “He won’t do what he says” or “he never listens to me” are just two complaints. Don’t continually remind him of his shortcomings. The desire to win you over must return to him and by berating him, this will not happen. Also, while communicating one’s feelings, you must move away from hurt towards forgiveness; provided he is apologetic and working to be a better man. 
Third, men don’t listen. Guys, if you haven’t even tried to understand your wife, you gave up before she ever got started, so ask yourself, “What do I want?” Hopefully, you want a wildly passionate life with the woman you committed yourself to. Think single guys have it all? Think again. Marriage has been proven to prolong your life and make you a happier person. If you’re not happy, work to change that.
Your spouse is the greatest thing you could ever possess so don’t let it crumble underneath your feet.


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Thinking of Divorce? Think of Your Children.

Parents love their children but sometimes mom and dad don’t love each other. Another way to put it is that mom and dad are divorcing. You can divorce for good reasons or for bad, but in any case, please think of the children before you sign any papers. By working to save the marriage, you may save yourselves and them from utter ruin.

The following is from www.FirstThings.org. Some of these stats are old but because divorce is still divorce, I’d be willing to guess that things haven’t changed. They may actually be worse.

  • The poverty rate for a child in a single parent home is six times above that of a married, two-parent home. Typically, the household income of a divorced family falls 37%.
  • Surveys have found that children from broken homes, when they become teenagers, have two to three times more behavioral and psychological problems than do children from intact homes. Zill and Schoenborn, 1988
  • Good remarriages did not seem to help children overcome the trauma of divorce. Dr. Judith Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, A 25 Year Landmark Study, 2000
  • Children living with both biological parents are significantly less likely to suffer health problems than children raised in a single parent home. Dawson. 1991
  • In 90% of the divorces, the father is gone from the children’s lives in five years.
  • Nearly two-fifths of all kids live in homes without their father. Of those children more than half have never been in their father’s home, and 40 percent have not seen them in at least a year. David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America 1995
  • Daughters, white or black, between the ages of 12 and 16 who lived with unmarried mothers are at least twice as likely to become single parents themselves. McLahan 1988
  • Family instability or disruption is one of the major causes of youth suicide, now the second leading cause of death among adolescents. Nelson, Furbelow and Litman, 1988
  • Children of divorce complain: “The day my parents divorced is the day my childhood ended.” Dr. Judith Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, A 25 Year Landmark Study, 2000



The Us Factor™ Program
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How Can You Tell It’s An Emotional Affair?

Men and women have innocent relationships outside their marriage. They eat lunch with one another in the break room. They interact personally, and they even talk on the phone every day as part of business relationships. Just because a woman talks to a man, there is not necessarily something going on. However, many emotional and physical affairs begin this way.
How can you tell you are on the verge, or already deeply immersed in, an emotional affair? If you answer yes to any of these questions (or if you have the least bit of hesitation), you may be in danger.
  • Could you tell your spouse about your conversations without hiding any facts?
  • Could your spouse be in the room as a non-participant or participant in your conversation?
  • Does the person stand unusually close to you? (Close talkers excluded.)
  • Do you call him/her when you are alone?
  • Do you delete his/her text messages regularly?
  • Is your relationship seriously based on anything other than business?

How can you stay out of an emotional affair?

  • Watch for the above signals.
  • Tell your spouse of anyone you feel is making advances towards you. 
  • Always keep conversation on business matters or on the surface regarding personal issues.
  • Don’t say anything or do anything that should be reserved for your spouse.

Affairs can start anywhere, not just work. If you have a relationship with a person and you must make an effort to see them. Stop kidding yourself. It’s an affair.


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Learn the secrets to loving well.
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Too Quick to Divorce?

Marriages can end rather quickly. When a couple starts a life together, and they do not tend to that relationship, they slowly become enemies rather than friends. How does this happen?
First, you think the other person doesn’t care for you. Some couples believe they are fine. “Nothing is happening,” they tell me. Well, this is a problem because nothing is happening. There are no movements towards affection, joy, or anything that resembles happiness. The two spouses just pass by one another in the hallway like strangers. This lack of activity with one another can lead to an unfulfilling marriage and can cause someone to want to seek affection elsewhere.
Second, you are bored. Routine in a marriage can remove the spark but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make time for one another. Married life is like walking over a hilly plain. The two of you are together early on but for various reasons, one of you continues over a hill or goes on in a different direction without the other. You are still close by, but cannot see one another. This creates a feeling of isolation even though you are in the same area. You must join on a regular basis through recreational activities, conversation, and sex. All three of these must be fulfilling.
Third, stress can also lead your marriage down a distressing path. Stress is a part of this marriage or your next three so why not work on this one? Learn to communicate better and learn to work as a team with your spouse. This is the only way you will make it together.
Finally, you find someone else. When the above three issues are going against your marriage, anyone can seem appealing. They talk to you at work, they are nice, and they seem to enjoy your company. They also have none of the baggage that you signed on for when you got married: kids, bills, and responsibilities. This “baggage” can be a good thing if you are handling things right. You can enjoy your kids and the other responsibilities that come with a family or you can loathe them. In any case, when you choose to have a physical or emotional affair with someone, you are choosing to destroy the other life you have built. 
The second marriage has a tremendous chance of failure. You must make your current marriage work if there is even the slightest chance that you want it to because it is really up to you. You’re never too far gone in your marriage if you’re willing to make the journey back. When you think you stop marital problems at a divorce, all you really serve to do is trade those problems for a whole new set and actually, your problems can grow. You will continue to have marital issues if you don’t resolve bad habits and now you have an ex-spouse/parent of your children to deal with.
If you must divorce, or if you have, and your current marriage is good, then you are doing something right. Sometimes things do get better because you mature or you leave a frightfully bad situation. However, I’m afraid to say that this is the exception rather than the rule. Chances are you will leave your marriage hurt, you won’t be the best of friends, and finding happiness elsewhere (that will last) is going to be really difficult.