Great site and great advice. I wish I had found it months ago before it was too late to save my marriage. Unfortunately, when my wife withdrew from the marriage I think I made all the mistakes you warn against. I confirmed all her growing negative biases and fed them. I had no idea how easy it would be to "make things worse." So she hired a lawyer and filed for divorce. Needless to say, I have followed (belatedly) some of the advice you give, which is very similar to Michele Weiner-Davis.
Since I am not on your side of the country, I found a therapist local to me through marriagefriendlytherapists. I've ordered ebooks galore. But now my wife's position is so totally hardened that none of the very rational pro-marriage arguments you and others make have any currency with her.
Clearly, as you point out in your example with Eddie, the problems were simmering for years. However, my wife had "stuffed" her unhappiness and so it all came out at once. I'm sure this is not an atypical story! Now she feels absolutely nothing in the way of a motivating spark to save our marriage. She's "done." So at this point there isn't much to do except give her the divorce she wants. I still have trouble with the "don't guilt-trip her" advice...it all seems so pointless to break up this loving family (we have 2 daughters, one pre-teen and one teen) especially since I am not pressuring her to get back together. I'm sure this all sounds very familiar.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling on now. Love your advice and I hope it reaches many before they get in my situation.
-Too Late in California
Dear Too Late ,
I was moved by your story and sadly I agree with your assessment that whatever you do at this point may be too late. Otherwise, I might have suggested you both watch my YouTube: Don't Throw Away Your Marriage on the worth of maintaining your marriage.
Also, I might have referred both of you to an article about fixing your marriage at Fix An Unhappy Marriage. In this article, I share a link to a story about how a man fixed his own marriage single-handedly. He has a fascinating story to tell and you might want to read it anyway. Even now, if you could get her to read this article, also, and you could commit yourself to doing like he did, you might be able to impact your situation in a good way.
My best wishes go out to you in putting your life back together.
A personal note to readers of this response Like many others in failed marriages, "Too Late" probably downplayed the seriousness of his situation. We all want to be "normal" and in doing so we often consider our own problems much like everyone else's until they reach the seriousness of an affair or divorce. If you are having problems in your marriage, I urge you to have at least one appointment with a seasoned Marriage Friendly Therapist to help you understand where you are on the larger continuum of couples with marital problems.
In particular, you could benefit from ongoing marriage counseling if either of you is experiencing sexual thoughts about others, frequent angry outbursts, or you think your partner is too dense or too uninterested to understand you.
Wishing you all the best,
If you want to work with me, I offer marriage counseling or marriage retreats in Maryland, to couples from all over the world. I am intentionally out-of-network for all insurance plans. My fees are based on $260 per hour, with a 45 minute session costing $195. I also have self-help programs available.