Category Archives: Marriage Help

A Metaphor; Or, the Parable of the Rose

Once upon a time, you found a rose bush that produced the most beautiful and rare of flowers. You could always count on that rose bush having one singe rose that always bloomed, vibrant with color, redolent of the most extraordinary fragrances imaginable. You planted that rose bush in a carefully chosen spot, and cared for it with true devotion, day after day. You watered it, nourished it with nutrients to its soil, and protected it from the harsh elements. Day after day, month after month, that most rare of roses bloomed.

Then at some point, life began to divert your attention from that rose bush, bit by bit. There were days you would forget to water it; perhaps you might think, “the rain will take care of it,” and sometimes the rain would. There were weeks that you forgot to add nutrients to the soil. There were months in which you forgot to shelter it from the vicissitudes of the seasons. Yet all the while, that rose still bloomed.

You were distracted, perhaps, so you didn’t notice that the rose had lost a bit of its luster. Some of the petals had frayed or dropped off. The foliage was not as verdant or abundant as it formerly was. But overall, the rose looked healthy, and was a reminder of the wondrous bloom it once was. After all, don’t all things fade with time?

One day, you walked past that rosebush and noticed a weed. It was a truly noxious looking weed, that had entwined itself into the bush, and looked to threaten to choke it off. Perhaps you tried to disentangle that weed, but it wouldn’t come loose. Or perhaps you tried to cut the weed off at its stem, only to watch it regrow. Or perhaps you tried to uproot the weed, only to find that it seemed to be intertwined with the roots somehow, and the rose bush would be uprooted as well.

It could be that you applied toxic chemicals, and this caused the weed to wither, or perhaps even outright to die. I could also be that those chemicals poisoned the rose bush as well, causing it to lose even more of its foliage, and perhaps even to die as well.

It might be that you eventually reached a point, quickly or slowly, at which you decided the only reasonable course of action would be to uproot the bush and the weed, and to banish them from your sight.

But the wise gardener knows why the weed is there in the first place.

The weed was opportunistic, and took root because the conditions were right. The soil had changed in composition such that it favored the needs of the weed. The foliage on the bush had died back enough that the weed could get sufficient light. The soil was dry enough for the weed to grow, for it didn’t need much more than a few drops of water every now and then.

The wise gardener also knows the solution to the problem.

The weed is a temporary phenomenon. It is not a perennial plant like the rose bush. It cannot continue to grow and thrive for years and years. It will be gone with the next season, and can simply be expected to fade away as the natural order of things unfolds. It appears to be so entwined with the rose bush that it could choke it off and kill it, but in reality this is mere appearance.

The solution lies in tending to the rose bush once again. Nourish the soil so that it can regain its foliage. Water its roots so that it can begin to regrow. Shelter it from the harshness of winter to which it is now more susceptible. Do all of these things unfailingly and with patience.

After a season, the miracle of nature can unfold. The rose bush is once again verdant with foliage. Its rose blooms with a renewed vigor and vibrancy that is heretofore unparalleled. Its aroma is redolent of all of the most rare and fragrant flowers known to man.

And that noxious weed is nowhere to be seen. It has no room to grow, and that verdant foliage has blocked out any sunlight it might have gotten. It finds the deeply nutritious soil abhorrent, and it drowns in the abundance of water. It has vanished, according to the order of nature.

This is how a marriage crisis takes root: slowly and surreptitiously, as a result of years of neglect. Yet it can manifest suddenly and noxiously, like a weed that threatens to destroy that most precious rose. It could come as a barrage of arguments that leads to a more serious situation. It could manifest as an affair, or it could come in the form of separation, or the even threat of divorce.

Regardless of how it manifests, the remedy is the same: Be the gardener who tends to the rose bush.

A Few Words about Deceit

Jeff Murrah’s blog, Survive Your Partner’s Affair, is one that I visit from time to time. Although I don’t share his spiritual path (he writes from a Christian perspective, and I’m a Buddhist; if you are Christian, you will likely find his blog very  helpful) I often find his posts very insightful.

One of his recent posts deals with the feelings of “cleverness” that a wayward spouse likely has in being able to hide his or her affair from the betrayed spouse. In my case, one full year later, my wife still hides her affair from me, despite its being revealed by me a year ago. (This is quite significant, but a topic for another post.) You can read Murrah’s article here.

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How to Know If Your Marriage Will Survive

There are times in every marriage when disagreements arise, and this includes marriages that are in trouble and attempting to get to the point of reconciliation. I find myself at such a time right now, almost a year in, and getting pushback from my wife that is unlike any other I’ve seen thus far. This is because it is classic pushback coupled with avoidance. There are issues right now and my wife is simply avoiding them. Moreover, she is doing things in an attempt to give me some sort of message, but that message is vague at best, and basically says little more than “I do not feel the need to respect you or your wishes.” I’ll write more about this later. Today may be a day of discussions. Or, it may not. But a discussion of some sort is at hand, because of a situation I wrote about in my previous post.

For now, I’ll let Mort Fertel do the talking. He’s the creator of Marriage Fitness, the program that has really turned things around for me, and that will doubtless lead to the reconciliation of my marriage. It’s not a quick fix by far, but when you make it to the finish line, you’re there for good.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR MARRIAGE WILL SURVIVE

 

Do you know whether or not your marriage will make it? I can tell you with near certainty.

Hi. I’m Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.

If you had to pick ONE THING that best predicts whether or not your marriage will succeed, what would you pick?

You might say “conflict.” If you fight a lot, then that’s not a good sign, right? WRONG.

Would you believe that it’s the opposite?! That’s right; research shows that the number one predictor of divorce is the habitual AVOIDANCE of conflict. In other words, a couple who does NOT fight is at the greatest risk for divorce.

A couple came to me for private phone sessions and I asked them what was going on in their relationship.

“We never talk,” Kathy said.

“Why not,” I asked.

“Because we realized that that’s when we fight,” she responded.

Isn’t it ironic? We try to avoid conflict with our spouse for the benefit of our relationship. But there’s nothing MORE damaging to your marriage than NOT fighting.

Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is! Hate is close to love. To hate someone, you have to CARE about them.

Did you ever feel hate for your mailman? How about the clerk at the supermarket? You never hated them because you don’t care about them. That’s the opposite of love. 

But the closer you are to someone the more likely it is that you step on each other’s toes. Hate is actually a sign of hope. It means you care. It means you’re close. Apathy, on the other hand, is cause for great concern.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising you to go pick a fight with your spouse. You can’t fight so that you’ll have a good marriage. I didn’t say fighting is healthy. I said people in healthy marriages fight. In other words, the fact that you fight is a sign that deep down you really love each other, that your relationship has potential. But if you want to be happily married, you have to learn to fight WELL.

Successful couples know how to discuss their differences. This is not something that comes naturally to anyone; it’s a learned skill. And once you learn it, all the energy that goes into your fights propels your relationship forward.

EVERY successful couple has areas of disagreement. No two people are perfectly compatible. “Irreconcilable differences” are like a bad knee or a chronic back—they’re part of every good marriage.

The key to succeeding in marriage is not finding the right person; it’s learning to fight well with the person you found. You’ll have “irreconcilable differences” with anyone you pick. The question is whether or not you can learn to discuss them.

If you’d like to learn how to discuss them as well as other marriage renewal tips, then subscribe to my FREE breakthrough report “7 Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” and get a FREE marriage assessment too. To subscribe, CLICK HERE. It’s FREE.

 

Mort Fertel

Author of Marriage Fitness

Marriage Coach

 

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Can Hypnosis Save Your Marriage?

Can hypnosis help you to save your marriage?

Absolutely. But first, let me clarify. I’m not talking about hypnotizing your spouse or anything like that. Instead, I’m talking about using the power of self-hypnosis to disrupt unproductive behaviors that are affecting your marriage and to modify these into positive, productive behaviors. My own background with self-hypnosis goes back about 17 years to a time when I was in graduate school. I was dealing with a difficult academic situation (adversarial problems with my thesis advisor) and  emotional issues in my personal life (a relationship that was not working out). I came across a book called Centering, by Jerry Kushel, which is long since out of print, and in it Dr. Kushel explained the use of self-hypnosis to modify behaviors and emotional patterns. I needed to get over considerable worry and stress, and recorded some sessions into my little hand-held tape recorder, which I’d then listen to. It did bring measurable relief, but I was a rank amateur.

Click here for more information on self-hypnosis.

Fast forward about a decade, and I had begun a relationship with my wife. We weren’t yet married, but had some issues to work through individually. She was having sessions with a hypnotherapist who also was a practitioner of emotional freedom techniques, and was having some significant breakthroughs. I had a session or two and found it quite transformative as well.

After that time, my contact with self-hypnosis was kind of hit or miss; I’d use it sometimes to help myself fall asleep, but really didn’t have any coherent engagement with the technique. That is, until recently. It took a marriage crisis — and many months of it — for me to look for some resources on hypnosis. To my surprise, there wasn’t all that much out there, and there was pretty much nothing that was based here in the U.S., aside from a few questionable sites with squeeze pages that would result in endless emails pinging you with their terribly overpriced services. In fact, it was largely because of one such website that I began looking for more reputable and affordable alternatives.

This is when I found HypnosisDownloads.com. I’m not here to push their services, not fundamentally. This is a personal blog about my experiences in attempting to reconcile my marriage. However, I have found the services that this website offers to be of the absolute highest quality, very powerful, and extremely helpful. And it’s inexpensive: the average download costs about $12, and you can use it again and again. In fact, the more you listen, the deeper the effect.

Their main download page lists all of their available downloads, and there’s one for just about everything: not just marital issues, but also help with smoking, alcohol and other addictions, diet, exercise, anxiety, and much more. There’s also a free course in learning self-hypnosis that is excellent, and contains hypnotic inductions you can use on a daily basis.

Which sessions do I use? Well, this might surprise you. Here’s what I use on a regular basis:

  • Learn Self Hypnosis. This comes with the free self-hypnosis audio course; you do need to register with your email for this track, but I have had zero issues with spam after having registered.
  • Seize the Day. This one is great for ending procrastination and training yourself to take initiative, both of which are qualities that will help your marriage reconciliation. This was an audio that they were giving away for free for those liking their Facebook page, but this offer may or may not still be available when you click through via Facebook.
  • Stop Being Messy. I admit it, I’m not a neat freak, and it was my laziness in keeping tidy that actually launched my marital crisis. I’ve only been using this track for a few days and it’s already having an effect.
  • Automatic Writing. This concept might seem a bit odd, although I suspect it will be familiar to creative individuals: you can train yourself to write “automatically” while in a state of deep hypnotic absorption. I have found this skill incredibly useful, in that it helps me gain insight into situations that otherwise would have gone undetected. This was one of the first downloads I purchased, actually, and I use it daily. It has really helped me to understand where my wife is at, and has helped me to chart out a course of appropriate actions to keep me on track.

As mentioned above, there are also many sessions that are appropriate for marital crises, including the following:

There are plenty of other tracks that might suit your situation. Most of these titles run about $12, but there are some mulit-download packs that cost a bit more. Many of the tracks have suggested “bundles,” that pair the track with another complementary title that is given at a discount. If you find their services helpful — which I’m pretty sure you will — you might want to join their “Growth Zone,” which runs about $18 per month and grants you 2 monthly downloads of your choice, plus two randomly chosen hypnosis scripts (which you’d have to record yourself, but you could do this if you’d taken the free audio course) per month. You also get discounts on buying additional titles. It’s quite a bargain, really.

So, can hypnosis help you to save your marriage? Again, I’d say, “absolutely.” Check it out, you won’t be sorry. I know I sure don’t regret it.

Click here to visit the HypnosisDownloads.com official website.

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Problems with Information on Adultery

If you’re the victim of an unfaithful spouse and have rooted around the internet in search of information, chances are you are reading a lot of conflicting and unhelpful information. For example, can anyone definitively say how long the typical extramarital affair lasts? Can they tell you what you should do if you suspect adultery to be at play, or what you should do if you discover it? Can they lay out for you the best way to move beyond this heinous act and to begin to heal?

While there are a few helpful websites with good information out there (Marriage Sherpa comes to mind), much of what you’re likely to read is hearsay at best and harmful at worst. Don’t take my word for it, just go and visit some of the many infidelity “support” forums out there, and you will find a bunch of really hurt and angry people, many of whom are on an accelerated track to end their marriages. I’ll get to why this is a problem later in this post.

For me, the single biggest problem with the overwhelming majority of “authority” sites on adultery is that most of them deal with the affair as if it were a thing of the past. That is, you would only find any of their information relevant if your spouse’s affair had already ended. But what if it hasn’t? I mean, is it really possible that the majority of people have no idea their spouses are committing adultery? Are they really that disconnected from their spouses that they don’t suspect something’s up? Are those wayward spouses so wily and cunning that they can totally hide their affairs for months if not years on end? Somehow I doubt it.

The truth be told, there are many people out there right now who are struggling with their spouses’ infidelity. Some live with their spouses and know that there is an active affair. Others, myself included, have spouses that decided to separate, because they mistakenly believe that the affair is the Best Thing Ever. Some of these people have confronted their spouses with their knowledge of the affair, but still the affair did not end. Others have made the (in my view, wiser) choice not to confront their spouse with that knowledge. Some of these wish to remain willfully ignorant (not a good idea), others refuse to allow their spouses even to bring it up (very good idea); of these, the latter are in a much stronger place, since the endless lies that need to be told will help to end the affair once and for all.

If you are struggling with an affair, you may likely have seen web pages that tell you that an average affair lasts for two years. Others will say that they last five years or more. I’ve just chosen a couple of websites at random here for the aforementioned time frames, but, as you can see, a lot of the information out there appears to be hearsay. However, some experts who deal with adultery on a regular basis claim that the trajectory is much different, giving time lines of just a few months to a year or so, with the obstinate remainder virtually all ending before two years has elapsed. I do think that the betrayed spouse has a lot of power in ending affairs, but that power does not come in the humiliation and pain that one might inflict by outing the affair to the entire world. Instead, if one were to engage the wayward spouse consistently over time with compassion and unconditional love, this will in virtually every case overpower the utter vapidity of the affair. But it takes time, dedication, and emotional stability; this latter is in pretty short supply for people riding the emotional roller coaster that the wayward spouse provides. Nevertheless, I do think this is the smartest choice.

However, as I mentioned earlier, many people become very angry at the revelation of their spouse’s affair, and rightfuly so. I did, too. Their first reaction is often to kick the offending spouse out and file for divorce. Believe me, I was there as well. Here’s why I think this is a bad idea. Let’s say your spouse is having an affair, and you discover it. You go through the horrible feelings of betrayal, and all of the pain, heartbreak, anguish, and anger that ensue. Then, you decide to end your marriage, for you feel that you can no longer trust your spouse. It could even be that your spouse has become hurtful to you in return, and so you feel the best thing you could possibly do is to get this person out of your life. So you go ahead and take that course of action, and perhaps you feel vindicated.

It seems fairly common that, while the betrayed spouse is attempting to end the marriage, that the wayward spouse’s affair ends. The timing of this can be uncanny; while this is hearsay, I personally have heard of cases in which the affair ended within days of the divorce going final. In many other cases, and this does come from an authority source which I wouldn’t consider hearsay, the majority of wayward spouses end their affairs within 12-18 months, and attempt to return to the betrayed spouse. And, for those very few wayward spouses who are so obstinate as to actually marry their affair partners, the success rate seems to be very poor. In fact, from the most reputable sources I’ve found, it appears that an affair has at best about a 0.75% likelihood of becoming a successful marriage. That’s right, three-quarters of one percent. So, if you’re thinking that ending your marriage is a good way to deal with an affair, think again. In due course, both your marriage and the affair will have ended, and where will you both be then?

Well, here’s where you’ll be. You’ll be unmarried, and you will almost certainly not have any better relationship skills than you did while you were married. Your spouse will be unmarried, will have the shame and remorse of the affair on his or her conscience, and will certainly not have any better relationship skills than before the affair happened. This means that, for both of you, you would be highly unlikely to enter into another successful, long-term relationship. Such a relationship would almost certainly end up in a similar place of disconnect that caused your wayward spouse to become wayward in the first place. But, this is what you see if you visit these so-called infidelity support forums: dozens of betrayed spouses, venting their anger, feeling vindictive. It’s not a good place to be.

So what should you do? Consult a reputable expert. Do not go to a typical marriage counselor, as most of these have, at best, a neutral standpoint when it comes to marriage. Find a marriage-friendly therapist if you can, although, truth be told, these appear to be few and far between. At an absolute bare minimum, get yourself on a healthy marriage coaching program that has a proven track record of success; reconciliation rates of 85% or higher are what you’re looking for. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I recommend Marriage Fitness with Mort Fertel. I do think it is the best and most ethical program out there. Mort has extensive experience dealing with adultery, and support for this situation — especially cases that are ongoing, which, if you were to poke around the internet as I have, would appear not to happen — is a major part of the program.

Don’t believe the hearsay. Find a trusted expert and follow his or her advice.

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Adultery Is a Very Public Disease

You would think that a person who commits adultery would feel ashamed, remorseful, and guilty. You would think that a person who betrays his or her spouse would want to deny that it ever happened and hide all the evidence. You would think that a person who has an extramarital affair would avoid telling others about his or her infidelity.  You would think all of these things, and you would be right, to a certain point.

Initially, that’s pretty much how adultery plays out. The wayward spouse crosses that moral line in the sand and betrays his or her spouse. It’s often an impulsive act; the initial contact with the adulterous partner very often is exactly that. The sexual transgression could be either impulsive or premeditated. Regardless, when that line in the sand is crossed, there is no turning back. The wayward spouse has started the clock on a time bomb, and that clock is ticking away to the ultimate destruction of the affair. The wayward spouse is unaware that there even is a time bomb, and he or she certainly is not aware of that countdown to some specific moment in the future when the walls will come tumbling down.

After that line has been crossed, the coverup begins. The wayward spouse feels guilty, and tries to hide his or her actions. At the same time, however, the wayward spouse feels as though he or she has discovered the most fantastic drug on the planet. The feelings of euphoria are unprecedented, as is the thrill of being involved in a secret dalliance. A truly narcissistic bond develops between the adulterous partners, with each masking the insecurities of the other, helping the two to feel as though they have met someone utterly perfect, someone better than their soul mate. The process of self-deception thus begins.

Once the adulterer is on that drug, there seems to be no getting off it. The adulterer knows deep down inside that this new “relationship” is unhealthy, wrong, and immoral. But there are still those feelings of euphoria, a very strong infatuation that all too easily is mistaken as “love.” The adulterers profess love for one another, make plans for the future, promise to spend all eternity with one another, swear to leave their spouses, and so on. It is all utterly delusional thinking. They believe that they can find a quick and easy way out, and that is through the destruction of their marriages.

There is, however, a problem: this wondrous new “relationship” is still a secret that is being hidden from everyone. This fact is wholly incongruous with the feelings that the wayward spouse is having toward the adulterous partner, feelings that tell him or her that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this new “relationship,” a relationship that clearly will last indefinitely. So, the wayward spouse begins to make up all sorts of reasons why the affair is not wrong, and why he or she is justified in committing adultery. Take your pick: my spouse ignores me, my spouse does not sleep with me, my spouse is lazy, my spouse never does housework, my spouse is a jerk, etc.; there are literally thousands of reasons that a wayward spouse can come up with to justify the affair. These justifications are  knitted together to form a story that makes him or her out to be the hero or heroine, the adulterous partner to be Prince or Princess Charming, and the betrayed spouse to be the villain.

Now that this story is in place, it is just a matter of time before the wayward spouse has an epiphany, and it goes something like this: “If I don’t think I’m wrong, then I’m not wrong. If this relationship feels so right, then it must be right.”

This leads to the next stage of the affair: the adulterers go public. They tell everyone who will listen. They broadcast that information to the world in every way possible. They seek venues for introducing the adulterous partner to others. The seek the approval of the world, which they sometimes find explicitly (which is disturbing), and more often find implicitly, in the reticence of others to speak out against their behavior. The adulterers are appropriating the consciences of others to help clear their own.

This all leaves the betrayed spouse in a rather difficult place. At some point, the wayward spouse will want to talk about the affair to the betrayed spouse as well. This simply cannot be allowed to happen. The betrayed spouse has an obligation to shut down any and all talk of the affair. This does mean that the wayward spouse will need to lie about it from then on, but what are the alternatives? For the betrayed spouse, listening to the wayward spouse speak of something so grossly immoral and horribly hurtful is unbearable, and the thought of giving any sort of approval to this situation is simply unacceptable. A moral person would certainly never condone other forms of immoral behavior, like, say, theft or physical violence, so why should any talk of adultery be allowed? Adultery is theft, and it is an emotionally violent act, and it absolutely should be shunned. It should be shunned by every single person to whom the affair is exposed. 

Sadly, adulterers can be very wily individuals who create very clever and convincing arguments. They will say things like, “I’m getting a divorce,” or “we’re already separated,” as though either of those situations would in any way justify their vastly inappropriate behaviors. All too often, the people who hear these explanations end up buying into them, or at least end up not as repulsed by the idea of adultery as they should be.

And sadly, for the adulterer, the day of reckoning will occur. The clock is ticking down to zero on that time-bomb that is the affair, and when it hits that point, the whole thing will implode. This countdown cannot be stopped; the most that can happen is that all of these other people who fail to register their objections just lengthen that countdown somewhat. But when one acts in contravention to the laws of the moral universe, there really isn’t any way to stop the implosion from occurring.

This hopefully raises the question, “What should I do if someone I know is committing adultery?” The answer is very simple. If it is your spouse, you shut down the conversation immediately and make it clear that you will not talk about it. If it is a friend or acquaintance, the obligation is the same: you must not let this person talk about it. Your relationship with that person is being violated at that moment, and you should be clear that any talk of the matter is incredibly distasteful to you and you will not allow it.

Adultery is a disease of the conscience that is all too rampant in society. Your refusal to participate in any way is very much a part of the cure.

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How to Deal with the Silent Treatment

It seems that quite often in the process of working with an obstinate spouse, one encounters the “silent treatment.” This can manifest in many ways. The obstinate partner might stop talking to his or her spouse if they live together. If they are separated, he or she could stop answering the phone. In more severe cases, the obstinate spouse might attempt to block the phone number and/or email of the faithful spouse, or try to erect other barricades in the way of communication.


Fix Your MarriageThink of this as the last line of defense for an obstinate spouse. it is very much like a toddler sticking his fingers in his ears, pretending as if you aren’t really talking. It is very childish and highly immature behavior, and certainly not something befitting an adult.

The right approach here is not to give up and walk away. The right approach is to persevere and to continue to try to reach out to the obstinate spouse. The onus really is on the faithful spouse, for to walk away would be to assent to the obstinate spouse’s agenda, and the obstinate spouse’s agenda typically only has one goal: the destruction of the marriage.

You’ve got to be a bit creative when dealing with the silent treatment. It also helps if you’ve built up a store of goodwill through other acts of generosity and loving kindness.  Otherwise, if you were to start from absolutely nowhere and suddenly begin reaching out several times a day to a spouse who is giving you the silent treatment, that could come across as lacking in credibility and possibly even manipulative.

So what do you do? Well, if you are lucky enough to have built up some goodwill, and have established lines of communication with the spouse already, then you simply continue to reach out as you always have. (I’ve mentioned Marriage Fitness before, but if you want to learn how to do this in a practical way, please do visit their website.) This could be idle chitchat about something frivolous, if your spouse lives with you, and it does not matter at all if he or she responds. If you are separated, then you call to do the same. If you were doing this, say, two times a day before the silent treatment hit, then continue with that level of contact. Don’t ramp up suddenly.

If you had no pattern of communication, well, that likely could have been part of the problem. You will now need to establish these habits. Take it easy at first, and go slowly. One contact per day will likely be enough. Over time, you can escalate this to two, or three contacts per day. Your contacts should not be logistical, but should rather just be about frivolous, non-serious matters. Keep it brief, too — 30 to 60 seconds is usually enough.

You can expect pushback; that’s normal. If you’re not sure what to do about that, just read my post about pushback for some ideas. What’s most important is that you do not let the pushback derail you. You can tone it down and back off a bit, especially if you are new to the process of trying to reach out to an obstinate spouse. If, on the other hand, you’ve been at it for a while, then you really should not back off much, if at all. You are responsible for setting the tone, and that tone should be that you will establish and maintain open lines of communication.

I do think that attitude is one of the most important elements in dealing with the silent treatment, yet it is also one that is much harder to quantify. While it’s easy to describe the attitude an obstinate spouse might throw at his or her spouse, how does one describe the attitude one should take in return? I would say it is one of gentle, yet firm insistence. Your attitude simply has to be that you will communicate with your spouse, regardless of his or her behavior. You certainly can be sensitive to your spouses feelings and maintain this gentle-yet-firm insistence. You’re not looking for confrontation; you’re looking for positive connection.

Here’s what I did in this most recent round of silent treatment. As noted in an earlier post, this latest spate of silence began with a rather petulant request by my wife to stop calling her and to leave her along. Now, I already had some months of positive connection and regular phone contact with her — yes, I call her 3 times per day, even if it just goes to voice mail — and so my approach was simply to ignore her request and to continue to reach out as I had been doing for many months. She apparently did not like this very much, and shut off her cell phone, shunting everything straight to voice mail, even to the point of letting her voice mail box get totally full. This required a bit of creative thinking, so I found an iPad app that does voice recordings, and on occasion would make a recording that I’d send by email. Or, perhaps instead I’d send a short video I’d made of something or other. The whole point is that you do have to gently insist on there being no “space” between yourself and the obstinate spouse. This should make sense: if this is your husband or wife, you likely had a heart connection with him or her for many years, and it is exactly this connection you need to recreate. That connection knows no such thing as “space,” either physical or emotional.

Remember, it takes two to play the silent treatment game. Just don’t buy into it. You can change the tone and set the agenda, such that the course is set for reconciliation. It takes time, effort, perseverance, and wisdom, but it is totally achievable if you put your mind and heart into it.

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