Brink of divorce? Wait.

“Your one idea saved my marriage.”

The Good Men, a biweekly men’s group that I run, has a simple mandate: To help each other be better men.

Better fathers, better partners, and better people. No sacred circles, hand holding, or kumbaya. Just talking. 

We all love our group. It is a chance for men to talk, to laugh, to share, to give difference perspectives. And occasionally, we save marriages.  

Late last year, one of our men was in a deep dark relationship rut. He was, in his words, on the brink of divorce. They had already talked about dividing up their stuff, and their kids were asking who they might be living with. 

Nothing was working. He felt no connection with his wife, no love, no sex, and no friendship. Nothing but door slamming, yelling, constant fighting, frustration, and lots of space growing between them.  

Luckily, we managed to pull him back off the ledge and helped him to pause and reflect. He credits our group and the one idea offered with changing everything.

Let’s back up. Once the fireworks and excitement of a new relationship have started to simmer down, relationship life begins, and all couples enter a new phase. 

Come on, did you honestly think you could stay in that stage forever? Who would get any work done?  

It isn’t even physiologically possible. The chemicals responsible for that passionate loving feeling (adrenaline, dopamine, noradrenaline, phenethylamine, etc.) all start to dwindle and level off. Suddenly your perfect lover has faults. Why did he or she change? 

Actually, your partner probably hasn’t changed at all, it’s just that you are now able to see him or her more rationally rather than through the blinding hormone-driven passionate love, sex, and blissful infatuation. When a couple hits the simmer down phase, the relationship is either strong enough to endure, or it ends.

So, our helpless friend on the brink felt there was no hope. He had a very negative perspective on his wife, their marriage, and his ceiling of happiness. Everything was bad.  

The idea I offered wasn’t my own. I would love the credit, but I borrowed it from my Gottman Couples training. It is, simply: 

Maintain a positive perspective.  

When you are in a negative perspective, at least five things happen:

You are hyper-vigilant
You are constantly judging, looking, watching to catch your partner doing things wrong, to support your negative opinion of them.

You are hyper-sensitive
There is a massive magnification of feelings around a negative event, and little things are constantly blown out of proportion.

Nothing rolls off your shoulders
You become score-keepers, and everything is tit for tat 

No one gets the benefit of the doubt
No one gets a respectful interpretation of their behaviour, only the worst interpretation which continues to feed the core negative image you have of your partner.

You don’t bite your tongues and take the high road
You give in to contempt and hostile comments. You take cheap shots at each other, and each other’s character (and maybe family members too).  

Are you in a negative perspective of your relationship?

If so, put on a different pair of glasses. You are missing out on all the good stuff that might be happening, because all you see is the darkness.

Looking at his wife through a positive perspective worked for our man on the brink, and it just might help your relationship too. What do you have to lose? 

Look for the person you fell in love with. He or she is right there in front of you.

Until next time. . . .


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About the Author

Jeff Hay is a Kelowna-based writer, motivational speaker, parenting coach, and father of four.

Along with writing for Castanet, Jeff also writes for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project, and the National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States. 

When he is not playing his favourite role of 'DAD', Jeff speaks throughout Canada as a popular parenting educator, working on his website – www.thedadvibe.com, and writing his parenting book for dads, “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

Jeff dedicates his life to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

E-mail Jeff your thoughts or questions anytime at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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