Does your spouse make promises that aren't kept? Does your spouse acknowledge that there are problems in your relationship but refuses to change behaviors or see a marriage counselor with you?
The frustration of your spouse's lack of follow through on good intentions, or saying one thing and then doing another, or breaking promises can slowly erode both the emotional and physical intimacy in your marriage.
This frustration can be heightened if your spouse refuses to seek marriage counseling with you.
What can you do when faced with a spouse who has a serious behavior (gambles, drinks, spends too much money, has a very negative attitude, can't keep a job, is emotionally or physically abusive, doesn't make time for the children or spouse, is unfaithful, etc.) that could potentially destroy your marriage and your spouse won't change, isn't willing to work on improving. Although it isn't easy to cope with this type of situation in a marriage, here's help on how you can deal with a difficult marriage when only one of you wants change.
No Easy Answers
There are no easy answers when your spouse can see no reason for change or doesn't want your marriage to change. Some situations can be dealt with and other situations are deal breakers.
Only you know what you can tolerate and still be emotionally healthy yourself.
You Can't Change Your Spouse
•Accept that you can't change your spouse. You can only change yourself and your own reactions. Changing your own behavior may trigger your spouse to want to make changes.
•Respond differently to difficult situations. If you've had the same argument over and over, state that you will not rehash the issue and leave the room. If you've not expressed your feelings previously, share how you feel with your spouse.
•Get to know yourself and look at your own attitudes, behaviors, expectations, hopes, dreams, memories, concerns, behavior triggers, fears, etc. Ask yourself how long you think you can stay in your marriage if things don't improve. Consider individual counseling to prevent feeling depressed or helpless, to understand your role in the conflict in your marriage, and to clarify your plans for your future.
•Decide which of your spouse's negative behaviors you can live with and which ones are deal breakers. Decide if you are able to adjust to the irritating and hurtful situations in your marriage or not.
Face The Issues
•Realize that your spouse may not be as frustrated and unhappy as you are.
Strategies for Difficult Conversations
•Agree to set a time frame to re-evaluate how things are going.
If things are not going well when the two of you are ready to re-evaluate your marriage issues, think about these questions:
•What is the best thing that could happen if you stay together?
•What is the best thing that could happen if you divorce?
•What is the worst thing that could happen if you stay together?
•What is the worst thing that could happen if you divorce?
•Even if you believe your marriage is over, try one more time. Don't leave without telling your spouse you don't think the two of you can save your marriage without professional help.