When I tell people that I write about heartbreak all day and coach the heartbroken, I get all kinds of reactions.
Often, I don’t mention the work that I do at all because I can’t explain this phenomenon to other people. I can’t tell them why I’m willing to do work that seems depressing and dark. Why I’m swimming in sadness and grieve.
Yet I don’t see it this way. To me, heartbreak is the first step to a complete life overhaul. When heartbroken, people make the greatest improvements,
It may seem like sad and depressing work but I find it the most empowering work I can imagine. If you have suffered a broken heart, it’s worse than
As far as writing about heartbreak, I started writing about my own breakup in the beginning because I was hurting so much after my divorce.
I wanted to share my path to recovery and my journey to help other people get over their own breakups and divorce.
Heartbreak Can Kill
Most people suffer in heartbreak after their breakups. They feel knocked out but the gravity of the breakup.
The pain is about the worst thing you could humanly experience. Heartbreak can kill our soul, our spirit, our emotional center.
Yet, now I’m realizing that heartbreak can kill people. This doesn’t get talked about much.
The media doesn’t talk much about suicide because of heartbreak because they don’t want more and more people copying others and taking their own lives.
I Have a Stronger Reason Now
Not only does breakup take people’s lives but it took the life of someone very close to me.
The woman whom I am dating now and I only met because of a tragic breakup. Her younger brother took his own life by suicide. He killed himself when the woman he fell in love with rejected him.
The woman I am dating and I met while she was returning home to Indonesia for her brother’s funeral. She wished that her brother had spoken to her about his relationship problems and his breakup. They handn’t communicated.
Then he passed away.
Her returning to Indonesia for her brother’s funeral was how we had our most unlikely meeting.
We met in the midst of tragedy and ironically on Valentine’s Day.
Love Can Kill
So many of us don’t have the tools to overcome heartbreak and move on with our lives. Our first heartbreak or most passionate heartbreak can be life-crippling and soul-crushing.
It can tear us down and make us plunge into depression, lead us to the midst of darkness and or make us wonder about the meaning of life.
Heartbreak can also lead to death.
Heartbreak kills people who can’t cope with the pain of the breakup when they chose to end their lives through suicide.
Heartbreak can lead to broken heart syndrome, a medically-diagnosed disease, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy. According to the American Heart Association, “In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.”
It’s time to do the work.
Now more than ever, we must process heartbreak and come out on the other side of it.
If you’re going through heartbreak, don’t sit on the pain and sorrow for months and years on end.
The myth about heartbreak is that it will get better on its own and with time. I never found that to be the case. It took a grieving, processing, and rebuilding to heal from heartbreak. It took reframing and self-love.
I want to make sure that everyone going through heartbreak finds their way out. Heartbreak may not just take your peace of mind but your life.
Someone very close to me lost her brother due to heartbreak and suicide. I’m going to work even harder now to help people with broken hearts heal and move on.
“You are going to do whatever it takes to save this marriage.”
I spent the next several months doing everything I could to repair this marriage, save it, and get it back on track.
We went to Paris, had regular nights out, and attended counseling sessions regularly. We spent more time together, learned to communicate better, and made a monumental attempt to make this marriage work.
While we couldn’t pull it off at the end, I know I gave it my best.
I went all in at the end because I wasn’t ready to give up on this marriage.
I wasn’t ready to give up a life-time commitment, sacred wedding vows, and our dreams so easily.
If you’re not ready to give up on your marriage and want to save it, then keep these 12 marriage-saving steps in mind.
Here are 12 steps you can use today to save your marriage.
1.Drop the ego fast.
Nothing I’m going say is going to make sense if you don’t drop your ego in a quick minute.
I know you feel your spouse is at fault and he’s the one who should try to make it work since he is the one who screwed everything up and told you he fell in love with some 25-year old bartender in the Czech republic.
It’s total bs that you have to be the one that has to win him back.
If you think this, you can put a nail in the coffins of your marriage. You have to be willing to set your ego aside and be willing to go all in to save this marriage.
This is one of those situations where you can be right or you can save your marriage.
You have to be willing to save it even if you didn’t cause it to unravel
2. Respect is the name of the game.
In my marriage, we had both given up respecting each other long ago. We didn’t value each other and were at each other’s necks.
During the 6 month campaign to save our marriage, I realized that I had to start respecting this woman quickly! No disparaging remarks, sarcasm, insults, or any other crap that I had been doing for the last few years. Respect is paramount. If you don’t respect your spouse, there is no incentive for them to stick around.
You have to be able to respect them even if you don’t feel like it. Try to speak to them and treat them like a professional colleague or friendly neighbor. Try to look at them in the most respectful way possible even if you have 0 ounces of respect for them.
You have to let go of contempt and despising them to respecting them. Hard work.
Once again, you have a choice. You can disparage them and break this marriage up because it feels good to put them in their place or you can respect them and save this marriage.
3. Hold off on the guilt-trip and blame game.
Even if it’s not 100% percent your fault, you’re going to feel like it is. You’re going to think about every single thing you did and feel guilty about it. This is not the most helpful right now.
Feeling like you’re the guilty person and a bad person during a time you’re trying to improve this relationship is not the way to go. Hold off on the guilt trips. You can’t be 100% responsible when there were two people in this marriage.
Also, stop blaming your partner. It’s not 100% their fault either. Even if they hurt you, betrayed you, or were the reason this relationship came crashing down, they are not solely responsible.
If you have a healthier perspective on each person’s role and refrained from blaming each other completely for the breakdown of the marriage, you’re going to be able to be in a better frame of mind to save this marriage.
4. Take responsibility.
Don’t blame yourself 100% but you’re allowed to take responsibility for your role in this marriage. If you think you did nothing wrong and didn’t have a role in this relationship ending, please refer back to #1 above.
As I mentioned previously, it takes two people to make a marriage work and for a marriage to fall apart. You did have a role here. Try to figure out what that role was? What were your shortcomings and what was your part?
Work with therapists and counselors, coaches, and healers to help you understand your role in this marriage. How was your communication? How was your prioritizing this marriage? How much did you show up for it? How did you interact with your spouse? How much did you let your past get in the way?
Determine what you could do to improve your relationship right now. Take responsibility for the things you weren’t doing and start doing that today. No, it’s not too late. No, they won’t care if you’re doing this just to save your marriage.
You can make changes, improve, and do what you weren’t doing just last week.
In addition to outside help, what has your ex been saying to you all this time?
Reflect on everything your ex has been saying to you and write it all down. What are they saying to you? What do they want? Is there validity to whatever they have been saying to you?
5. Seek peace within
There are two reasons to do this.
One is for your own mindset and well-being. You want to have peace of mind so that you’re not driving yourself crazy. Your entire past, present, and future is zipping by in front of your eyes. You want to slow things down. You want to experience more peace. You want a calmer inner world so you can work on the news that just rocked your world.
Start practices that will help you get you to that calm. This is different for every person so figure out what will help you get to this state of inner peace. Will it be prayer, nature, meditation, journaling, bhajans, or spiritual talks? Will it be daily affirmations or a gratitude practice? Will it be reading spiritual text or Vishnu’s Virtues?
The second reason to get grounded and seek inner peace is to calm down the things in your outer life. If life feels chaotic and out of control, it might be because your inner life is this way. The more peaceful and calmer you become within, the calmer your outer life will become. Seek peace within and you’ll start seeing more stability and calmness around you.
I’m not sure if this is spiritual or what but it’s just what I’ve found to be try. The calmer I become on the inside, the less crazy my outside environment becomes.
6. Get more affectionate
It might have been a long time since you spoke affectionately to your partner.
Your words might have come out with anger and hostility.
They’ve done enough to warrant your bitterness and anger yet remember, you are trying to save your marriage here. It’s time to bite your tongue and lower the tone of your dialogue. You can’t criticize, condemn and cuss them out as much as you want to.
You have to speak pleasantly and kindly. You have even try buttering them up, using words of affection, praise and empowerment.
The bottom line here is you have to be positive. You have to become like your kid’s soccer coach. No matter how badly your kids are doing on the field, as a supportive parent, you’re going to cheer on your kids and tell them what a great job they did. Become a partner coach. Speak words of encouragement and inspiration. Speak words of acknowledgment and gratitude.
Keep the Victoria for another day, unleash your inner Joel Osteen.
Keep the bitterness and anger for your visit to the therapist or for your journal. You can feel the feelings you are feeling and be able to process but you can’t do this with your ex at the moment.
Be more affectionate, speak sweet nothings.
Praise them for the small things. Acknowledge them for anything good they are doing. Thank them for any help.
7. Start speaking their love language fast
While you’ve been married, there has been an important book that has come out called 5 Love Languages.
This is a book by Dr. Gary Chapman and it talks about how people feel loved.
There’s a quiz on his website to help you determine how you both feel love.
Some people feel love through physical touch and others through verbal affirmations. Some people feel loved by acts of service or quality time. Look up what your love language is just for your information. Try to determine what your partner’s love language is or have them do the quiz.
Depending on the answer, put together a plan that makes your spouse feel loved.
Yes, you should have done this years ago but no better time than right now to communicate love in whatever language will get through to them.
8. Create time for each other
Everyone’s busy. You’re busy. Your spouse is busy. Isn’t it interesting that we make time for what matters? Your marriage hasn’t been what mattered to both of you in years so you ignored it. What happens to a garden that’s ignored? Exactly. It’s time to cultivate this marriage garden again.
Of course, your spouse is going to have no interest in spending time with you now unless you can find creative ways to get them to do things. Tell them you will accompany them to their family’s event. Attend a kid’s sporting event together. Try to take them out for their birthday. It’s time to water this relationship and see if there’s still a connection there. You have to try a little harder to do things than your divorce-seeking spouse.
9. Communicate like you’re a Zen monk.
Here’s what happens in marriages. People think there are communication breakdowns because other people don’t listen to them. As you well know, communication is not about them listening to you.
I’m going to give you a very easy technique here to improve your communication. Practice shutting up and only listening. The only things you can respond to are repeating what your spouse said to you.
“Oh, so let me make sure I get this right…you’re saying x,y,z”.
Your opinions, your thoughts, and your wants don’t matter right now but you may feel that’s unfair and you’re compromising who you are as a person. I get it and if you feel that way, I completely understand. I’m not suggesting you make permanent changes to what you think and believe. I’m just saying you don’t voice them at this moment and you keep the speaking to the minimum.
You listen to what the other person has to say and you confirm that you got it by asking them what they said. Listen as mindfully as possible and refrain from responding in any way, especially if they are sarcastic or hurtful.
10. Forgive like you’re the Dalai Lama
This goes along with setting aside your ego above. Your spouse has done unforgivable things and treated you so badly that you never want to speak to them again. They have broken your heart and pierced your soul with pain. They have hurt you beyond words and treated you worse than your worst enemy.
If you hold onto all the bad things they’ve done to you recently and throughout your marriage, divorce is imminent. IF you’re trying to save your marriage, you have no option to forgive like the Dalai Lama. Allow your spouse to become a forgiveness experiment. Forgive them for everything they have done over the years, how they hurt you most recently and how they are showing up on a daily basis.
No matter what they do or say, forgive them. Forgive immediately and forgive often. Learn to release the resentment and anger you have towards them so you can save this marriage.
11. Live every day like Day 1.
One of the best things you can do to save your marriage is to revert to Day 1.
Day 1 of meeting them.
You may have some of your fondest memories of your relationship from 20 or 30 years ago when this relationship started.
You remember all the wonderful moments you had and how your partner swept you off your feet. You remember the planning, the special surprises, and the effort both of you put in at that time.
All you have to do now is go back to that place. Reflect on the happy memories of the past and what were the things you and your ex appreciated about each other. What did you both enjoy doing with each other? Playing instruments? Going to the movies? Eating out?
Whatever it is you both did previously to fall in love with each other, try to engage your partner as much as possible. Get them to remember the many sentimental and romantic moments that they had in the previous relationship.
Go back to day 1 to cultivate the love and affection you once had for each other.
12. Kill them with kindness.
You may have no interest in kindness and have a lot of interest in killing your partner but…try kindness first.
Try a lot of kindness to save your marriage.
Treat your spouse like they are the gentlest, kindest, most understanding and most loving person you know.
Lie to yourself if you have to.
People run away from disrespect and rudeness and run towards kindness and compassion. Same with your spouse.
You will be showing them how to be kind, respectful, and human during the most stressful time in both of your lives. You can show them how to be mature and how to be an adult even if they are not acting like one. You can show them what taking the high road looks like.
Even if you don’t save this marriage, you will leave a lasting impact on them and you will become just the kind of person someone else is looking for.
You can make this relationship work if you try all of these steps above. Show them who you genuinely are again and what they’re going to be missing.
Make them regret leaving you if they are going through with the divorce.
If they found someone else in their lives and someone much younger than them, you’re going to be competing against someone who is wooing your spouse just because of their age or looks. Age can steal your spouse’s interest but may not able to steal their heart.
You may not be able to compete on age or looks but you can pull your spouse back to their senses by offering them a loving alternative. You can offer them maturity, kindness, loyalty, and someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep them.
You can show them resilience and faith. YOu can show them your personality and your commitment to making this marriage work.
If you want to do these things or not is a whole other question. If you feel like you’re selling yourself out by coddling or accepting their bad behavior, it may be time to make peace with the marriage and move on to better things.
If you do try out these ideas, you may be able to save your marriage. You could just be going through a rough patch with your spouse and you may be able to rebuild this marriage piece by piece.
Your partner could just be going through a phase and maybe coming back to their senses soon. The younger woman they are seeing could fade away as the excitement wears off.
If you’re not able to save your marriage, you still win. You may be able to save your future.
There is no better way to set yourself up for the rest of your life than to have done the inner-growth work, become a gentler and kinder version of yourself, and a better person.
The journey of saving your marriage could be the personal growth journey you need to become your true self. It could be the spiritual and growth journey you never asked for but preparing you for the next chapter in your life.
Just a final thought. Do not beg, plead, blackmail, threaten, or guilt-trip your spouse to staying together. Hostility, manipulation, and guilt will not work now. The way to their heart isn’t through games or hostility. It’s to remind them how good you’ve been to them.
I wish you the very best on this journey to saving your marriage.
* If you need some support in saving your marriage or deciding what to do next, reach out to me for some support.
I wondered out loud last week how couples stay married, after tying the knot.
I theorized that it’s easy to be in a good relationship when dating but there’s a serious plot twist after marriage.
The chase is more enticing than the catch.
The journey is richer than the destination.
The engagement is juicier than the wedding.
Prior to marriage, you’re fighting for the relationship and to stay together.
Post marriage, you take the relationship for granted.
I reached out to you for insight and thoughts about how to stay married when the sizzle of the wedding day is gone and all that’s left is writing thank you notes, paying the wedding photographer and oh yeah, living a lifetime together.
It was Ambrose Bierce who defined marriage this way, “love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
So, what’s the deal? How do you stay together when you have to stay together?
How do you stay together when you are bound by wedding vows and traditions? How do you stay together in the container known as marriage?
9 Wise Ways to Stay Together Even After Marriage
1.You stay friends first.
Simply because you exchange rings or garlands, doesn’t mean you have to change the dynamics of your relationship. The best partners are best friends first. The best couples remember that they are first friends, and then spouses. You are more likely to maintain and build upon relationships you have with friends. You are more likely to give your friends the benefit of doubt.
2. You marry each other to enhance your lives, not complete your lives.
Couples that stay together are each rooted in their own power and their own self-worth. You can’t have a partner to complete you or fill in the missing pieces. Contrary to popular romance fiction and Bollywood movies, you are not complete just because you have a partner. If you place your happiness or completeness in another person, you’re at the mercy of their behavior and actions.
3. You accept each other unconditionally.
When dating, you find your partner’s quirks and flaws cute and charming. In marriage, you feel like you want to choke your partner for not being the person you want them to be. Married couples that survive marriage realize you can’t change your partner. Only your partner can change your partner and only you can change yourself. You each accept each other for who you are, quirks and all.
4. You don’t expect your partner to meet all of your needs.
It’s high pressure to expect your marriage partner to be everything in your life; friend, mentor, counselor, lover, coach, motivator, therapist, etc. You may get most of your needs met from one person but don’t expect this one person to replace all the other people in your life. It’s healthy and normal to have a support system of friends, family and your partner in your life.
5. You don’t take each other for granted.
This means you value, prioritize and care for each other. You don’t take your partner for granted. You still ask, make requests and honor their opinions and choices. You don’t expect them to do things because they are your partner. You make time for each other even if you’re both super busy and you continue to work on the relationship. You don’t allow the relationship to turn into one of default and convenience.
6. You let small things be small things.
Prior to marriage, you’re willing to give your partner the benefit of the doubt and be more forgiving. After marriage, you take every small thing and blow it out of proportion. For healthier post-marriage relationships, keep things in perspective. Your partner did not intentionally hurt you or try to ruin your life. S/he could have been forgetful, inconsiderate or careless. An act of daily forgiveness can help smooth over much of the conflicts that arise in the course of a relationship.
7. You keep your egos in check.
When you don’t have something (like a spouse), you tend to be more understanding, forgiving and accepting. But once you have something in your life (like a marriage certificate) you tend to default to entitlement and be filled with expectations. You turn from a place of humility to a place of ego. You go from requesting to demanding, from asking to directing, from extending forgiveness to demanding perfection. Healthy relationships manage egos and flourish from a place of compassion and humility.
8. You practice the art of saying what you want.
You’re much more apt at saying what you want before marriage than after marriage. Before marriage, you seek to be understood and want to understand your partner. You inquire, clarify, ask and communicate what it is that you want. Unfortunately, often times after marriage, you might expect your partner to know things without communicating it. You expect and demand your partner to do something without informing them of what this. Health marriages work on healthy communication. You practice saying what you want and asking for what you need.
9. You live in the present
One way to build and maintain a healthy relationship is to stay in the present moment. It’s easy to always cite past grudges and disagreements in the present. It’s easy to use phrases like “you never” or “you always” in reference to what is happening today. Healthy relationships post marriage don’t try to link the present with the past. You live, fight, and love for today.
For more tips on making marriage work, visit this book review post on the 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman.
While we’re no longer talking and I couldn’t make that budding relationship last, her book suggestion was invaluable.
I got a better a picture of what it takes in the book, The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work.
I’m still not sure I can fulfill these 7 principles but I finally got a scientific, research-based answer of what it’s going to take.
Here are the 7 principles it will take to make marriage work, if not for this marriage, then at least for your next one:
1.Being familiar with each other’s worlds.
You’re familiar with intimate details of your spouse’s life and you pay attention to these details. As the author puts it, couples who know each others love map, “know each other’s life goals, worries, and hopes.” When you have greater personal insight about your spouse, you’ll know your spouse better. When you know your spouse better, there’s more room for love and affection.
2.Look at each other with admiration.
Behind the antagonism and fights of a unhealthy marriage, can you still care for each other? Do you still find things that you like and respect about each other? The idea is to continue to cherish and appreciate each other in the normal course of the marriage. If you see your spouse with positivity and admiration, you can save your marriage and be happily married.
3.Turn toward each other.
You can make your marriage work better by regularly connecting with and turning towards each other. Are you being thoughtful towards each other, helping each other and being there for each other? Each time you help each other out or are there for each other, you are funding your emotional bank account. It’s paying attention to everyday interactions and valuing them, instead of taking your interactions for granted.
4.Let your partner influence you.
You have to an equal partner with your spouse to make the marriage work. You have to both participate in the decision making and respect and honor each other’s opinions and thoughts. You have to be willing to give and receive input to each other and take their thoughts into account when making decisions. When you accept the other person’s influence in making a decision, you strengthen the friendship between both of you. “…the goal is for both of you to be influential and to accept each other’s influence.”
5. Solve your solvable problems.
Take a new approach to settling conflict and solving problems that can be solved in a marriage, as opposed to the perpetual problems in a marriage. The most effective steps for resolving issues starts with softening your start-up, making and accepting repair attempts, soothing yourself and each other, compromise, and processing grievances so they don’t linger. The basic idea is to have good manners and to treat each other as you would a work colleague or guest when resolving problems.
6. Overcome gridlock.
Some arguments never end and both sides believe they are in the right. The issue becomes increasingly polarizing over time and neither side wants to compromise and lose. The best thing to do is to avoid or sidestep gridlock if you can avoid it. If you can’t avoid it, figure out a way to acknowledge it and discuss the issue without hurting each other. Neither party has to give in and lose, Gottman points out. “In satisfying relationships, partners incorporate each other’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about,” he writes. He suggests ways to uncover each others deepest hopes and dreams to help couples find common ground and be able to support each other in the pursuit of these hopes and dreams.
7. Having a shared meaning.
Each successful marriage has it’s own culture. It symbolizes something and stands for something. “When a marriage has this sense of meaning, conflict is much less intense and perpetual problems are unlikely to lead to gridlock,” observes Gottman. The more you agree about the big picture or the profound things in life, the better your marriage is likely to be. Even if you don’t agree, if you can speak honestly and understand each other’s convictions and beliefs, your marriage will fare well. Meaning can be enhanced in 4 ways; creating rituals of connections around different aspects of your life. You can also develop meaning by supporting each other’s roles in the family, supporting each other’s personal goals and finally, having shared objects or activities that symbolize your shared values and purpose in life.
The idea of this book isn’t about doing everything but doing something. It’s about re-evaluating, communicating and implementing some of the many ideas discussed.
If you’re at a critical point in your marriage where some changes need to take place, pick up this book today.
The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work is the conversation starter and invitation to explore and understand each other more. Self-awareness and self-understanding, individually and as couples, can go a long ways in improving the quality of a marriage.
Pick up The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work here.
Hi, I’m Vishnu
I help people overcome their devastating breakups and divorces and find love again. Instead of visiting the Himalayas, sign up below and join me. I am taking a writing break but will be back soon.
This guide is free. A ticket to the Himalayas is $2000. Your move.