“Please, please answer my question! I’ve only been married seven months, and it seems like there is no hope. My heart is broken. My spirit is crushed. My soul is wounded. You write about hope. Please help me hope again. PLEASE!”
This is just one of the heart wrenching pleas for help I’ve received in the form of questions over the past five weeks. I read them and my heart hurts deeply for you who send them. I’ve answered each question and prayed for turnaround.
They keep coming, so just in case you are one of them, but have not reached out, I want to answer the top five questions I am receiving.
The series of the past five weeks came as a result of a broadcast I was doing live when the host asked a question that felt like a gut punch to me:
“What are the most frequent ways you see people murder their marriages?” I certainly answered the question but felt more compelled to tell people what to heal the relationships when they have murdered their marriages or wrecked their relationships.
Therefore, for the past five weeks, I’ve been sharing five ways to heal any broken relationship.
I know that there are times when all of us feel like our relationship is dead. But in 99.9% of cases (except where abuse is involved), any marriage or relationship can be resurrected, restored, and reignited!
In case you missed them, these are the topics I have covered:
I. CHANGE THE ATMOSPHERE AND CULTURE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP (AND YOUR HOME) (Click here to read more).
II. JOIN HANDS AND BECOME PARTNERS … HEALING PARTNERS (Click here to read more).
III. DREAM TOGETHER ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP YOU WANT, LISTEN WITH YOUR MICKEY/MISSIE MOUSE EARS ON, AND TAKE THE BARRICADE OFF YOUR HEART (Click here to read more).
IV. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHO YOU ARE IN THE RELATIONSHIP AND TAKE MASSIVE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CORRECT AND/OR IMPROVE IT! (Click here to read more).
V. DEVOTE 30 TO 40 MINUTES EACH EVENING FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION, ALONG WITH GRATITUDE FOR PROGRESS! (Click here to read more).
Here are the questions I have received most often through the series. My hope is that they will help you. That’s my heart and desire for you. If you have other questions, you may reach out to me via private message or my email: Coaching@DrNeecie.com.
1. What can I do if my spouse will not do these exercises with me?
This is definitely the question that I heard most often over the past number of weeks.
But before I respond, I also want to say I not only heard the question, but I heard your heart in it.
I heard some hearts that were angry, which is totally understandable.
But I heard some hearts were broken too.
Sometimes the very best medicine is just knowing that someone hears your heart. I hear your heart, and I know this can feel devastating.
There are three things that I might warn anyone reading this about before I respond:
- Be careful to not be demanding when you ask them to participate
- Make it a request from your heart
- Do your best to ask in a way that makes a “yes” irresistible!
I am aware that even following all of these precautions does not mean they will be willing to participate actively with you at this time.
There is no doubt that doing it together is much more powerful, and so much easier. Especially when you are both not only willing, but committed to the process.
However, less than that does not automatically make it impossible.
I’m a big believer that you doing your part in these exercises, whether or not they are willing to, will change the dynamic of the relationship.
But it can only change the dynamic if you are doing it from a heart of wanting the relationship to work. If you do it to prove a point, or to be “right“… The relationship dynamic does not change at all.
I am aware of the injustice of doing it solo. I’m also aware of the hurt.
If you are able, make a commitment to doing your part and everything presented in the past five weeks, with no expectation of anything in return.
That’s the true definition of unconditional love.
Am I suggesting that you continue this for another 10 years with nothing in return? Not necessarily.
But for now, commit to 90 days. Tell yourself that you can do anything for 90 days, because you can.
If you do it faithfully, the dynamic will indeed change. It may not be perfect. It may not be exactly what you want, but a change in dynamic affects everyone and everything.
A man I shared this with in response to his question emailed me back: “But what if the relationship is already at rock bottom?” With great compassion, I said, “That’s great news. As the dynamic changes, it has nowhere to go but UP!”
And we can certainly hope and pray that the change in the relationship dynamic will be the beginning of transformation.
2. What should I do if I’m having trouble “getting over” something that my partner has done?
I understand this more than I wish I did.
We are all human, and we all do things that hurt the other. I am aware some are minor, and some are major.
Because I don’t know the wrong you have experienced, I likely cannot speak to you and your experience In total specificity.
Let me get some general guidelines:
- It’s not only important that you “deal with” the wrong, but also the hurt it caused. For the sake of your partner. For the sake of the relationship. But also for your sake. You deserve that!
- Noticed that I did not use the words that were used in most of these questions… “Get over it.”
Getting over it means stuffing it, acting like it never happened or saying very negative things to yourself. Like “It’s all my fault,” or “I deserved it.” None of those are helpful, and only cause it to fester.
Dealing with it means acknowledging what happened, identifying the feelings associated with it, and making note of the story that you are telling yourself about it.
I know this sounds like such an easy thing, and it is not. But forgiveness is truly in order.
I think the reason so many people have a difficulty with forgiveness is because they somehow have been taught to believe that forgiving means it never happened. Or forgiving means denying the hurt.
In many ways, forgiveness is more for your sake than the sake of the one who inflicted the hurt.
There are a few things I try to help people understand about forgiveness:
- It is a journey, a process (not an event). But it starts with the decision to forgive.
- It is simply releasing out of your hands any punishments and consequences to someone greater than you.
- It does not always mean reconciliation.
If that’s still a struggle for you, it’s OK to need help. Find a coach, a counselor, a clergy member… Someone who can help you find healing.
Unfortunately, you will never forget, but the sting will begin to decrease the moment you begin the forgiveness journey.
I know it’s hard, but you deserve the relief and release that comes from it.
3. Is it even possible for someone in an active addiction to do these exercises in a relationship?
Now that’s a tough question! For a number of reasons:
- Often there is denial on the part of the addict, and sometimes the partner too
- What the addiction is can make a difference in the ability to do these exercises. Particularly substances (alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, etc.)
- Enabling can interfere with the ability to speak openly and honestly
- Whether it’s an addiction diagnosed by a professional or perceived addiction
- Is the “addict” open to being held accountable? (Many times addicts do not want to be held accountable for their addiction, and therefore, refuse accountability in many other areas of their lives)
The very definition of addiction points out the challenges inherent in doing these exercises for the sake of relationships:
- Any substance, process or activity a person uses to medicate painful reality
- Which creates undesirable or harmful consequences
- Affecting every relationship
- All which the addict chooses to deny or ignore
Having said all of that, I still think that it is worth trying to save the relationship (as long as there’s no abuse involved).
If they are willing, why not try the exercises?
I actually have a couple where the wife was struggling with prescription drug addiction. Working through the exercises gave him an opportunity to share from his heart.
She was able to hear him and get help, and their relationship is healing very nicely.
Unless they are totally unwilling, give it a great try. If the addiction throws it off track, seek professional help for an intervention.
Remember this… addicts are not “bad people.“ They are “using” to medicate painful realities.
I am a big believer in AA and other 12 step programs, true recovery occurs when someone is able to identify and heal those painful realities. Otherwise, they stop one addiction (drinking, smoking, porn) and pick up another addiction (cell phone, food, drugs, etc.)
If they are willing, walk with them, get help from an amazing Coach, and watch your relationship flourish!
4. What if we cannot break the habit/pattern of interrupting each other and yelling at one another?
Please know that this opening statement is said with much love and compassion. But it must be said.
“Cannot” (break the habit/pattern) really means there is a buildup of hurt and anger, that neither is willing to surrender to communicate healthily.
It’s really a case of “will not” … not “cannot.”
And when there’s a lot of hurt, anger, and damage … It’s very hard to practice emotional maturity and relationship maturity.
When couples are in this place, I have two suggestions to get started:
- First, do the communication exercise with a giant red heart and Mickey/Minnie mouse ears.
- The person listening should wear the Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears to remind themselves that they are only listening to and thinking about what their partner is sharing.
- The one sharing should hold the red heart in front of them. It reminds the other that they are trying their best to listen to the heart.
If that’s not enough to stop the old patterns, I would suggest doing some small healing exercises together.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Write love letters. Spend 20 minutes together at least two nights a week writing you love letters to one another. And then exchange the letters and write a response. Then exchange again and write another paragraph for your love letter. Do it 20 minutes. You will cherish those letters.
This 20 minutes of sharing love in writing, and in silence, does great healing. It actually gives your body the opportunity to allow the neurochemistry that promotes love and connection to flow again.
- ABCs of great moments. Take a walk together and do the ABCs of your favorite moments together.
You start with one partner sharing a moment that starts with an “A”. For example, one of our favorite moments for me was our first “A”nniversary. We didn’t have any money so we went on a camp out, and between the rain, getting everything wet, the winds blowing down our tent, and the raccoons eating our food… We decided to go stay in a nice hotel.
Then the second partner starts with the letter “B”. For example, “B”oston Market. I remember when we were in college that we would meet at “B”oston Market to study. We would share one meal, and gaze into each others eyes. (And do a little bit of studying)!
Go through the whole alphabet. Then the next time, the second partner starts with the “A”.
- Choose a memorable song. Sit knee to knee and make eye contact while listening to one song, and then the other partner playing theirs.
Research says that inviting positive feelings while making eye contact creates great healing and connection. Perhaps the eyes truly are the window of the soul.
If these little healing exercises do not help enough, please reach out for help from a great coach, counselor, or clergy person.
5. Is it wrong to try to put this back together for the sake of the kids even if the love is gone?
First of all, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong “with trying to heal a relationship for any reason! (As long as no abuse is not involved, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong “with trying to heal a relationship for any reason!)
I believe any reason is a good enough reason to try and stay together. And if you don’t have a good reason, use mine: “Because Dr. Neecie said it’s a good idea!“
As far as staying just for the kids there are several things to note:
First of all, if you are willing to stay together and work on being great coparents, creating a home environment where your children can grow and thrive, (and work on your relationship at the same time) … It’s a win all the way around!
When I first entered this field, research indicated that staying together for the sake of the kids was a bad idea.
There are some situations where it certainly is not a good idea:
- If there’s any abuse going on
- If the atmosphere is so toxic that it’s damaging to the children on a daily basis
- If there are other partners behind the scene
- If there is so much hate and animosity that it affects the children
Most parents who really care about their children and their well-being do not allow any of those situations to occur.
Newer research says that couples who have some level of struggle, yet still have some care and respect for one another…
Who choose to stay together for the sake of the children…
Often find great healing and restoration in the marriage.
When those couples come to me, I suggest that we begin with great coparenting. This begins to pull them together as a team, and often causes little smoldering coals of caring and respect begin to reignite.
My belief is that no child deserves to come from a broken home. However, living in a toxic broken home can be even worse at times.
For the sake of your kids, for the sake of the grandkids, for the sake of your future, for the sake of generations to come… Choose a reason to stay and work it out. Roll up your sleeves, do the work.
You may be surprised at the results, and you will not have lost anything in the process.
Stay. Please stay. Do your best to work it out.
These were not the only questions asked, but these were the top five that I heard.
I know relationships can bring great hurt and cause much pain. It’s actually the sign that there is great healing potential between the two of you.
I hope you will seize the moment, seize the opportunity, to become healing partners… And to see the miracles, the joy, and the fulfillment that can come from it!
That’s my hope and prayer for you … Regardless of where your relationship is at the moment.
I wish you great healing, I wish you great healing partnership.