Should I Work on My Marriage?

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Should I work on my marriage four questions to ask on a background with a freed marcroft divorce and family law attorney laptop“Should I work on my marriage?” is a fundamental question when you’re experiencing issues in your relationship.  But how do you figure out the answer to whether you should work on your marriage?  We’ve put together a clear, four-step process to help you figure out if you want to work in your marriage inspired by Donna Zajonc, MCC’s work at The Center for the Empowerment Dynamic.  Read on to understand how to make the decision whether to work on your marriage rooted in your own happiness and dreams for the future.

How To Figure Out If You Want to Work on Your Marriage

In order to repair a marriage, you and your spouse must both have to have a genuine desire to repair the relationship.  The first step is to figure out whether you want to work on your marriage.  The second step is to invite your spouse to consider whether they want to work on the marriage.  As they say, it takes two.  If you both choose to make the commitment, the two of you are ready to move forward and work to repair your marriage.  If not, it’s time to consider your options for ending the marriage, including divorce.

Donna Zajonc teaches four questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide if you want to rebuild a relationship.

They are:

  • What is my intention?
  • Is my intention to repair genuine, or only in appearance to get what I want?
  • What was my contribution to the breakdown in the relationship?
  • Is it time for a break?

Next, up, we explore each question.

Question 1: What Is My Intention?

The first question Donna invites us to ask ourselves when deciding whether to work on our marriage is “What is my intention?”  When there are problems in your marriage, the first thing you must do is determine whether you want to rebuild your relationship.

If you’re struggling with how to figure out your intention, try asking yourself another question, “What is the outcome you want?”  Your answer shouldn’t reflect what you are trying to move away from; it should reflect what you want to move forward.  For example, not “I don’t want to be in this marriage if all we do is argue.”  Rather, “My relationships are supportive and inspiring.”

If your intention is to work on your marriage, proceed on to Question 2.

If it isn’t your intention to repair your relationship, that’s okay.  Only you can know what’s right for you, and you should be proud of yourself for being honest with yourself.  Plus, if you forge forward and try to work on your marriage when remaining married isn’t what you want, it will likely fail.  And, it can create additional issues with your spouse and negatively impact your ability to have a good, amicable divorce.  If this sounds like you, move on to Question 4.

Question 2: Is My Intention to Repair My Marriage Genuine, or Only in Appearance to Get What I Want?

This question is your gut check on Question 1.  You need to make sure that your intention to work on your marriage stems from a genuine desire to rebuild the relationship.  Please be brutally honest with yourself when you answer this question.  If, for example, you want to try marriage counseling in the hopes that it will teach your spouse the error of their ways, or help them understand how much they hurt you — stop yourself.  A focus on who is right is common and normal, but it is not the way to go into a decision to work on a marriage.  In fact, if you have any motive other than wanting what’s best for the relationship itself, you shouldn’t proceed without a lot more soul-searching, if at all.  Again, moving forward and trying to repair the marriage under any circumstance other than a genuine desire to improve the marriage can backfire.

If you have a genuine intention to repair your marriage, move on to Question 3.

If you don’t, head to Question 4.

Question 3: What Was My Contribution to the Breakdown in the Relationship?

Take 100% responsibility for your part in the issues of your marriage.  By genuinely grappling with these issues, and taking responsibility for your role in them, you get to decide and evolve into the person you want to be.

This does not mean that your spouse isn’t also responsible.  You each have 100% responsibility for your respective actions (and inactions).  You each have a choice about how you show up, no matter the circumstances.  Your taking responsibility for your role may even create space for your spouse to take responsibility for theirs.

Now, head to Question 4.

Question 4: Is It Time for a Break?

It may be time for more space, or to end the marriage.  Our article “Options When You’re Unhappy in Your Marriage” provides you with some options to consider ranging from developing separate interests to living apart to divorce.  It also gives you a framework to use when you think about them.  Your thoughtful reflection also supports a good divorce process.

On the other hand, if, after answering these questions, you both choose to work on your marriage, you’ve positioned yourselves well to refocus on your marriage together, with positive, forward energy. By focusing not on who or what is “right,” you’ve not only created an opportunity to heal your disagreements.  You’ve also created the opportunity to create a deeper relationship going forward.  It’s possible that in the process, you’ll ultimately decide that it’s time to transition out of your marriage.  If that’s the case, your positive, thoughtful, and candid approach to your reconciliation attempt will stand you in good stead for an amicable divorce.

Next Steps

Relationship issues are part of life. Drama — including differing opinions, miscommunication, mistrust, and arguments — crops up in all close human relationships.    Many clients meet with us prior to making the decision to divorce, to understand more about how a potential divorce might work in light of their individual situation and goals.  They also may seek our opinion on what divorce process — mediation, litigation, or collaborative law — might be the best fit.  We are available to assist with pre-divorce planning or divorce itself, depending on your needs.  Please contact us here.

Additional Reading: One Question to Ask When Deciding to Divorce & How to Decide Whether to Divorce

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC