5 Ways to Fix a Marriage

Have you tried these ways for how to fix a marriage? LIFE Marriage Retreats can help you find the right way to fix your marriage and build a trusting relationship again.


Rediscover the Magic with LIFE Marriage Retreats

LMR7On your wedding day, you walked down that aisle with a rosy vision of your future together. But somewhere along the way, that vision seemed to get a little lost. Are you and your spouse ready to rediscover the magic you once had?

There are many marriage retreats in San Antonio, but it is important to choose the right one for your marriage. No matter where your relationship is today, it is the perfect place to begin a new journey toward lasting, positive change — LIFE Marriage Retreats can guide the way.

At a LIFE marriage retreat, couples find healing, renewed trust, and the highest level of communication they have ever experienced. Any committed couple looking to take their marriage to a higher level of love, trust, and effectiveness can benefit from a LIFE Training Retreat.

If you’re ready to feel more connected to your partner, develop trust and communication, or simply want to be happier in your relationship, LIFE Marriage Retreats can help.

While all of the Retreats we offer are in beautiful locations, LIFE Marriage Retreats in Texas have a specific ambiance. The lake setting in the Texas Hill Country is more than just a beautiful geographic location. Here, you might take long walks through peaceful woods with your loved one, or spot wildlife among the hills. In a beautiful lake house, you can connect with nature and your spouse.

Retreats are available for small groups or as private one-on-one retreats. The retreat offers a constructive combination of training, private sessions, experiential activities, and free time. To ensure positive group dynamics, as well as maximum personal attention, attendance is limited.

The retreat’s all-inclusive pricing includes private bed and bath suite accommodations, all meals, training, private sessions, all activities, and post-retreat support to ensure lasting, positive change.

You married this person for a reason. Now is the time to make a positive change for your marriage. If you’re looking for marriage retreats in San Antonio, choose LIFE Marriage Retreats.

Common Threads: What Every Couple Wants (Part 2- Repair of Eroded Trust)

As mentioned in our last posting, while every struggling couple is unique, they do seem to share several common yearnings. We wrote last time of every person’s desire for emotional connection. In this posting we will briefly consider the challenge and opportunity of repairing eroded trust.  Erosion of Trust in Marriage

Trust is one of the cornerstones of any successful relationship, yet virtually every marriage will experience periods of ebbing trust, not necessarily due to significant betrayals or breaking of vows, but often a result of the build up of little things such as not spending quality time together, chronic faultfinding and criticizing, or not following through on commitments.

We sometimes ask at our Retreats, “What do you think would be the fastest way to build trust with another person?” We always get some great answers that come from the hearts of people yearning for trust:

  • Speak honestly from your heart
  • Be open and vulnerable
  • Be accountable regarding past mistakes
  • Show authentic respect

Clearly these are all key elements to building trust with your partner. These and other elements of trust are woven throughout the Retreat experience. We always point out another simple but effective process in building trust: Make and Keep Promises.

Simply consistently being our word can quickly develop trust with others. Many people make promises to others with little actual commitment to follow through, then find themselves constantly making excuses for why they forgot to pick up the cleaning or how they could not get to that project they promised to complete, and a hundred other promises that are delayed or forgotten. While these seem like small slips, broken promises and forgotten commitments can add up over time, slowly but surely eroding trust.

If you want to build trust with your partner, making and keeping promises can be a clearly “trackable” place to start. A few hints to help in the process:

  • Consider each promise you make. Don’t be stingy in making promises, but make sure you really can follow through and deliver on them.
  • Determine some promises that might be particularly meaningful to your partner
  • It’s OK to start with ‘small’ commitments, then build from there.
  • Write every promise you make, then review your commitment list regularly

This concept of consciously making and following through with promises might seem somewhat contrived at first, something of an ‘exercise;’ but the building of any new habit will involve some conscious thought and planning, and this trust building process will bear some wonderful fruit for you and your relationship.

Lessons Learned: The Secrets of a Happy Marriage (change yourself first)

Change yourself first:

Tolerance is a good temporary tool to have in our relationship toolbox, but it is not one we want to constantly depend on over the long haul. White knuckled, teeth gritting tolerance eventually saps our energy and we will likely ultimately collapse under its weight. And even as we are simply tolerating another person or a part of their behavior, the relationship will not really grow or prosper. Settling just for tolerance can lead to the booby prize depicted in this picture and caption of “I’m right and you’re wrong, but I’ll try to put up with you.”

It has been said that a flaw in many marriages is the so-called “good” partner who is really only tolerant, who only endures. Polite neutrality softens no heart, invites no mighty change. A dull and lifeless commitment wonders, “How long must I wait for this person to change?” An active loyal commitment asks, “What can I do to touch the heart of my companion?”

Asking myself such a loving question will lead to seeing things from a new perspective. I often find as I seek a better understanding of others and their behaviors that it is me that is out of alignment rather than the other person. I can then take accountability for my own feelings and build a better relationship through my unilateral changes and actions.

But sometimes our partners are, indeed, out of alignment. What then? The long-term answers are to learn how to influence our loved ones appropriately without controlling; and to develop charity in our relationship that leads to the ability to love and delight in our partners just the way they are. Those discussions will be left for our Couples Retreats.For now we can focus simply on changing the ONLY thing that is within our power to change: Ourselves.

This is a powerfully liberating principle. As we end the ceaseless examination and judgment of others; as we realize that our attempts to control or force change in others is doomed to failure and will simply erode the trust of the relationship, we are freed up to put down the magnifying glass and instead pick up the mirror.

The truth is that relationships are reflective and we will find that if we want our partner to treat us with greater respect and tenderness, we get to treat them in that fashion. If we want our loved ones to be more enthusiastic about the relationship, we get to exhibit our own heartfelt enthusiasm. In almost every case we will find that our attitudes and actions will be reflected back to us by our relationships (whether negative or positive).

When I made the decision many years ago to cease in my attempts to manipulate, control, and change others it was as if chains had been unlocked and lifted from me. Focusing on my own self-improvement and then bringing that better self into my marriage every day has been the key to building a great relationship with Margo. Margo then reflects back to me (while adding her own light and service) what I offer to her and it creates an ever ascending and joyful spiral as opposed to the death spiral experienced by many relationships where the partners are simply pridefully waiting for the other to change.

Free yourself from such misery and direct your time and energy to where it can actually do some good. Get off the “Spouse Improvement Plan” and focus on the “Self Improvement Commitment.”

Lessons Learned: The Secrets of a Happy Marriage (Humility)

2. Humility makes all things possible

You might be wondering, “What the heck is Neil Diamond doing on a LIFE Marriage Retreat blog?? The guy has two failed marriages to his credit!”

Maybe it was his painful failures in marriage that inspired him to pen some of the truest words ever sung for his song, “Husbands and Wives.” Listen Here

Neil Diamond

Two broken hearts lonely looking houses
Where nobody lives
Two people each having so much pride inside
Neither side forgives

Angry words spoken in haste
Such a waste of two lives

Its my belief
Pride is the chief cause in the decline
In the number of husbands and wives

Pride is one of the absolute indispensable elements in any unhappy relationship. Certainly there can be many circumstances surrounding the erosion of a marriage, but we have yet to work with a couple in distress where pride was not a component in their unhappiness.

Think of the many places that pride can raise its ugly head in a relationship. To name just a few:

  • The need to be right. We humans seem to come equipped with this need already installed and just as powerful as our need to eat and sleep. (I can hear a lot of you saying right now, “But I AM right!” My point exactly.)
  • The inability to forgive. Somebody once said that refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  • Narrow perspective. Our perspective is our reality. When we forget that there are other perspectives we try to force our reality on everyone else.
  • Not admitting our own legitimate needs; or not recognizing the needs of others. (or selfishly focusing only on our own needs)

The opposite of pride is Humility. Please don’t mistake humility for ‘humiliation’ or groveling. Humility is possessed only by those who are secure enough in themselves to be open to possibilities; open to other points of views, open to the reality that none of us have all the answers.

People who are appropriately humble in their relationships validate their partner and acknowledge them and their point of view, even when they don’t necessarily agree with them. They do their best to forgive when they have been offended, certainly not inviting abuse, but recognizing that we are all human and we all appreciate it when others cut us some slack.

Allow me to give you a very valuable tool. But first I must define a very broad word: Enmity. Enmity is described by many feelings and emotions such as hate, irritation, anger, feelings of superiority, bitterness, frustration, etc. The tool is this: Whenever you feel enmity toward another person you have stepped outside of humility and into pride.

This is crucial because all problems can be solved from a position of humility–and no problem can be well-solved from a space of pride.

Truly, Humility is real Power in a relationship.

Do All Dogs Bite?

At one of our recent LIFE Marriage Retreats we had the privilege of working with a great couple from a southern state. She is a beautiful woman, poised and charismatic, and owns a successful business. She and her husband had returned to the house from a walk on the beach and in sharing some of their experiences from the walk she mentioned that they had passed a man walking a gentle looking dog. It turned out she had switched to walking on the other side of her husband, well away from the dog because, she said, “All dogs bite.”That really caught my attention and we had fun the remainder of the Retreat applying the belief that ‘all dogs bite’ to various matters of trust in relationships. Her premise was that under the right (or wrong) conditions any dog, no matter the size or breed, can “snap” and bite even a friendly hand, so one must always be careful around them. She admitted that this type of fear and mistrust sometimes spilled over into her human relationships.So do all dogs bite? And are we doomed to be disappointed, at one time or another, by all of our relationships? Well, yes, probably so. After all, we are human and all of us make mistakes. We do or say things that we later regret. Most of us have moments of thoughtlessness or selfishness.But if this potentially painful reality keeps us tied to the trunk of our relationship tree, afraid to risk and climb out, we will never know just how sweet the fruit is that grows at the end of the branch. While trust must, indeed, be earned, never let the fear that “all dogs bite” close us off from the warmth and fulfillment that we deserve in our relationships.If we are occasionally bitten, if our limb is shaken by our partner, remember that we are all human and have probably been the biter and shaker sometimes as well. Some people simply aren’t ready to be trustworthy, but in almost all of our relationships we will, with some patience, kindness, and forgiveness, be able to help one another inch out on that branch a bit at a time where the fruit is sweet and the air is pure. And where not all dogs bite!I am pleased to say that by the end of the Marriage Retreat this woman was well on her way to petting dogs and tasting the goodness of her relationship with her husband.

You Can’t Fake Trustworthy

A couple we have recently worked with provides us an example of one way that trust can be damaged in a relationship in an indirect but very powerful way. In this case the husband was generally considerate of his wife and her feelings and did some of the overt things that one would expect from a caring husband, but it was clear that his wife’s trust in him had declined to dangerously low levels over the years.It turned out that this man had settled into a pattern of negative judgment in regards to most people with whom he came in contact, whether colleagues, neighbors, store clerks, or the guy that annoyed him in traffic. He would spout out his frustrations and comment on the “bad, dumb, thoughtless, mean, etc.” people.His wife realized that as she observed this behavior her trust in her husband was suffering. She not only found this type of behavior toward other people to be personally offensive and upsetting, but she also realized that she was beginning to wonder what he REALLY thought about her. How harshly was she being judged in his heart?In the early stages of a relationship we tend to be careful about managing our words and actions, but with time and a growing comfort level whatever rats might inhabit our “cellars” (and we all have some) become visible to our loved ones and, both consciously and unconsciously, the relationship is affected. The good news is that our best qualities also become more apparent and help to strengthen the relationship.We simply cannot fake our way through an intimate relationship. One of the keys to building a strong and trusting marriage is to be continually engaged in building a better us. As our loved ones see our efforts towards them and others, even though we are far from perfect, their trust and even admiration for us will grow, and the relationship will flourish.

Trust in Marriage

As we prepare for another Marriage Retreat (and Training) in San Diego next week, I note that the constant that links every couple we have ever worked with stays true: There has been an erosion of trust in the relationship. Of the pillars that hold up any relationship, particularly a marriage, Trust is the central one, and we can trace most marital maladies to that pillar losing its integrity.We note that with the vast majority of our clients the loss of trust has little or nothing to do with physical infidelity; most have stayed true to that part of their vows. The erosion tends to be more subtle than that, a slow growing cancer made up of small broken promises, the distractions of the world, and a fear that perhaps our partner really can’t help us meet our legitimate Mental emotional physical and spiritual needs.We have a chicken and egg question here. For example, using the 800 pound gorilla of marital communication as an example, do couples quit communicating at a meaningful level because of a breakdown in trust, or did poor communication lead to the erosion of trust? The bottom line is that they are intertwined but our experience working with troubled marriages indicates that it is the subtle decline in trust that first precedes a commensurate decline in communication that flows from the heart and that resolves hindering issues.I feel secure in this analysis because during our Marriage Retreats as we help the couple to rebuild trust in one another (and in themselves) the rebirth of deep and meaningful communication is one of the natural results.So the first question for virtually any couple experiencing difficulty and decline in their relationship is not “How can we communicate better,” or “How can we spend more time together,” but “How can we gradually rebuild trust in the relationship?” The answer to that crucial question will be the difference between long-term success and failure in the relationship.More on developing trust and its beautiful natural byproducts in future postings.