Or should the question be: is the marriage worth saving?What a question.
One that I'm asked frequently and that - like anyone - I have lots of my own personal feelings and thoughts about - as well as my professional ones. But lets focus on the latter.
When I'm working with my clients on a one-to-one basis in my Bristol office, we generally talk about relationships of many kinds. Most often we talk about our relationships with a significant other or others (remembering that not everyone is in a monogamous relationship, and may have a different configuration for how they expend their romantic energy). Sometimes we talk about who they are in the relationship in question, who their partner is and what they mean to them. Whether they consider their relational needs to be met. Chances are, if they've brought up the subject, they're not.
So what can a person do in counselling to save a marriage?
My view is not so much the lengths to which a person should go in order to save a marriage - but rather I would ask them to pose some of the following questions to themself:
You might be wondering where the question about love is. Why I haven't asked whether they are in love with, or have love for the other person? And my view on that might not be what you might expect:
It's not about love.
That's not to say that loving someone isn't an important and fulfilling feeling - and many of us are lucky enough to know what it feels like to have been loved at some point in our lives. But if a person is making a decision upon whether or not a relationship is supportive, safe, a good place to be - then love alone will not be enough to be the deciding factor in whether or not that relationship is successful.
We can love people who are bad for us, just as we can love those who are good to us. We can love those who hurt us, who abuse us even. We can love those who are kind to us, and generous. You see, love is not a good barometer for judgement of worth. We have to be more pragmatic if a positive and healthy life with a significant other (or others) is what we seek.
Love is dangerous, love is wonderful, love is addictive - but love is not trustworthy.
So when someone comes to me and asks me to help them to save their marriage - we begin by analysing whether or not the relationship is one which warrants saving. One which is good for them. One which is worthy of their presence.
If you're in a place where you're working on these decisions then I would urge you to look at those questions above, to be brutally honest with yourself and be sure that the reasons for staying in a relationship are the right ones. After all - you are the prize that someone who meets your needs gets to keep. Lets not forget how valuable we are "just because" of love.
If you would like to work on relationship difficulties or decisions I work one-to-one with individuals in my Bristol office - you can book a free 10 minute telephone consultation here at www.harleycounselling.com/bookonline or email me at email@example.com to discuss further.
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.