how to save your marriage, marriage, communicating in marriage, marriage counseling

How to Save Your Marriage by having the Hard Conversations

by Deborah Cruz

Marriage is not always easy. Most of the time it’s hard. But where there is true and deep love, I think it’s worth fighting for with everything you’ve got. This is how to save your marriage by having the hard conversations, the uncomfortable ones that might leave you yelling, in tears or second-guessing your entire relationship but its better than the cold silence of not caring at all.

There is no guidebook that they hand out as a wedding gift called How to save your marriage. That would be a little dismal to say the least. But maybe there should be. Maybe they should just change the title and give that book to every single person even considering getting married.

What do you do when you’re in love with your spouse and they are crazy about you but you disagree on one thing? Sounds simple, right? You get over it or you compromise. You work through it. But sometimes the “thing” is so huge that getting over it is impossible. Parenthood is that topic.

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Full disclosure, I had been ready to get pregnant since our first wedding anniversary but the Big Guy was really enjoying our time as a married couple. I come from a big family so wanting to be a mom was a given for me. He comes from a small family and, to tell the truth, I think he was lukewarm to the idea of little people. By about year three, I could feel my biological clock ticking. My brother had kids and I wanted babies too. Still, the Big Guy was slightly above lukewarm.

I was starting to panic. Not about having babies at that moment but whether or not he wanted to have them ever. That was a real problem for me because some hard decisions were going to have to be made. I knew I wanted children. Full stop. I also knew that if he didn’t, that’s not something that you can force someone into. What if I couldn’t live without being a mother and he couldn’t live with being a father? Was I going to have to divorce the man I was completely in love with and who loved me more than anyone else ever had? I was hiding from my own reality because I didn’t want to face it.

One day during year four, I just broke down and had the hard discussion, laid it all out on the table. Never have I been so afraid to tell anyone anything in my entire life because it really was a life-changing conversation. I didn’t make any threats. It wasn’t an ultimatum. But we had to face the obvious and have the conversation, I wanted to be the mother of his children. That wasn’t negotiable and I wasn’t going to change my mind. I knew I would feel like something was missing if I just gave up on that dream. I also told him that there was no way that I would ever ask him to be a father if he didn’t want it 100% because then he’d be miserable and we’d all suffer.

My brain knew that the only option if we couldn’t come to an agreement that we were both comfortable with, was divorce. Divorcing someone who you love and loves you back in a world where it is so hard to find that sounds ridiculous, I know, but what are your options when you can’t agree on something so huge? We had the talk and got it all out in the open. We both cried because it was hard and afterward, we laid in each other’s arms emotionally exhausted 20 somethings wishing it would all just not be an issue. But we both knew the problem wasn’t going anywhere.

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It wasn’t that he adamantly didn’t want children. It was that he had never had an opinion one way or the other and his partner in the previous long-term relationship prior to me was adamant that she did not want children…ever. So he had reconciled himself to the fact that he would never be a father. Then he fell in love and married a Catholic, Mexican from a family of 8.

After a couple weeks, we don’t take the heavy questions lightly, he told me that after thinking about it for a while, he was prepared to plan to plan to have a baby. He wasn’t ready right that moment at 27 to become a father but babies were definitely on the table. We were both relieved and finally, on the same page. Then, a New Orleans long weekend away to celebrate our anniversary changed everything.

I won’t lie, I still wasn’t sure that he was 100% onboard but I could see him warming up to the idea. He started spending more time with our nieces and nephews and I could see a shift from holding a baby like it was a tiny bomb to cuddling the baby and smiling, feeling the joy that all newborns in your arm bring. We had time. But it had to be discussed.

So if you want to know how to save your marriage, this is my advice.

My point is that hard discussions have to be had for there to be honesty and trust in a marriage. You can’t avoid the hard things. They have to be faced head-on, together. These are the moments that make or break a marriage.

You’re probably wondering, why didn’t these 2 discuss their position on babies before getting married? Fair question. The only answer I have for you; we were in college when we got engaged after 4 months of dating. Our heads were not in charge of the situation. It was all heart. We were young and very much in love. I think we were both just taking it for granted that the other person wanted what we wanted. We hadn’t known each other long enough to know how different our experiences growing up were.

I’ve learned from my mistakes though. I’ll make sure that my girls have these conversations before they are married to their best friend and 4 years deep into building a life together. We were lucky it worked out. More than lucky, we are blessed that we were willing to face it together and talk it out and figure out together what we wanted out of our marriage.

What’s the biggest marriage challenge that you’ve faced as a couple?

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