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10 Bogus Excuses for a Crappy Marriage

Here they are, ten really lousy excuses for the two of you drifting off to an "irreconcilable differences" divorce.

1. My Husband (or Wife) Won't Let Me

Really? You feel free to decide whether or not to stick to those vows you made, but you have surrendered the decision to take a job you want, sport a different hairstyle, try skydiving, or meet your friends after work? Find a Third Alternative, a way to do whatever you need to do that doesn't ruin your spouse's life or make him or her a scapegoat for your loss of enthusiasm.

2. She (or He) Has Lost Interest

Not buying it. Try something new. Not something phony, but something so very you that the person who fell wildly in love with you will be unable to resist.

3. We're Just a Bad Match

This is just the flip side of lost interest. Too much sameness or too much difference both reflect a shortage of creativity. Get a notebook. Write in it every time the two of you agree on anything, from whether stop signs should be red to whether pumpkin tossing is entertainment or a bad waste of good food.

Once a month, take an hour to brainstorm ways to use your points of agreement to find more to agree on. If you agree red means stop, get everything red out of your bedroom. If you agree pumpkin tossing is entertaining, start your search for pumpkin tossing events to visit together or poll your friends to find out which ones would come to your own pumpkin tossing event. Or experiment a bit and try some watermelons on the next Fourth of July.

4. He (or She) is a Workaholic

Workaholic are looking for praise or for escape from something less pleasant at home. You have the power to praise for things at home. You have the power to make coming home an absolute blast for your spouse. If you want your spouse at home more, start competing with his or her work.

If the only thing you want him or her home for is to mow, cook, watch the kids, or remodel, a subscription to Angie's List might be your best gift to yourself. You two are not the only ones who can do these things. Plan something more likely to keep you having a blast until it's suddenly your 50th anniversary and you wonder how the time flew.

5. He Doesn't Show Me Any Affection Any More

News alert! Few men have any natural ability to be truly affectionate. Men figure out affection through trial and error or copying some other man who gets what he wants through affection. If you're getting less affection, it's quite possible it's because your response to his affection changed. He may be really confused about what works and what doesn't now. And because he's a guy, he will stop doing whatever he suspects will lead to rejection from you. Tell him when he's getting warm. Better yet, show him.

6. She No Longer Has Any Respect for Me

Another news alert! Few women have any natural ability to offer respect. They tend to think it's something you must earn, rather than the very basis of a relationship. She may act like she distrusts your driving. She may seem to take the work you do and the income you bring in for granted. However, if she is always be trying to improve you, it means you are still OK in her eyes and worth the effort. Pick up on her implied respect and show her lots of affection (kisses, hugs, touches, flowers, other gifts, and any words that suggest you will be there for her) whenever you spot it. Women can learn about respect.

7. We are Too Busy to Spend Much Time Together

Not true. You may choose time on kids' activities over being together. You may choose money-making and ladder-climbing activities over being together. You may choose gym time or friend time over being together. In the long run, though, your kids will benefit much more from your rock-solid marriage than an afternoon of rock-climbing lessons and your life will be much richer for long-term love than for whatever you manage to put in the bank.

8. I Think He (or She) is Seeing Someone Else

And just to cement your suspicions, you are holding back on your time and attention, your affection, your respect?

9. The Economy (or a Job Loss) is Putting a Strain on Our Marriage

OK. So? Why is this difficulty not bringing you two together to look for Third Alternatives to all the new challenges? Why are you not offering him lots of extra respect while outsiders heap on rejection or shame? Why are you not showering her with affection and security while it feels like the rug is being pulled out from under your family? Do you have any idea how much harder divorce will be on your finances than marriage is?

10. I Thought He (or She) Was My Soul Mate, But I Was Wrong

Or perhaps you are wrong now. Perhaps you are not sad or angry or frustrated or bored because you are not soul mates, but not recognizing what soul mates you could be if you stopped being sad or angry or frustrated or bored. There is only one expectation of a husband or wife that will build your marriage up: Expect Love. All those others things you expect just keep you from seeing the love and being a soul mate.

Unless you are married to someone abusive or with an addiction or mental health problem that puts you in danger, you have plenty of choice about whether your marriage succeeds and lots to look forward to if it does.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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