Serious couple looking at each other as they contemplate fighting for their marriage.

Should You Still Fight For Your Marriage If Your Spouse Has Given Up?

When you pledged ‘for better or worse’ on your wedding day, you might not have imagined that the ‘worse’ could be as challenging as your spouse giving up on your marriage. It’s a heartbreaking situation, filled with a whirlwind of emotions— anger, sadness, betrayal, and above all, utter helplessness. It is natural to wonder whether you should still fight for your marriage if your spouse has given up.

Obviously, this is an incredibly complex question, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, you can navigate through this highly emotional terrain with the right insights and guidance to choose the best path forward for you and your marriage.

Understanding the Situation

The first step in deciding whether to fight for your marriage is understanding the current state of your relationship. Has your spouse truly given up, or are they just exhausted and in need of respite?

You need to examine how you “know” your spouse has given up. Maybe it is a noticeable lack of interest in spending time together, poor or virtually nonexistent communication, or repeated dismissals of your attempts to discuss issues and find solutions. Your “knowing” might even be more directly obvious, like a confession from your partner that they no longer want to be in the marriage.

Whatever evidence you have for knowing your spouse has given up, you are most likely experiencing a myriad of emotions. Some common ones to have in this situation include feelings of rejection, insecurity, and sadness.

However, it’s important to remember that emotions, while extremely significant, can sometimes cloud judgment. When you’re hurt, it’s easy to assume the worst, but taking a step back to assess the situation objectively is crucial. As difficult as it is, this is where you need to decide if it’s time to stand your ground and fight for your marriage.

Why Fighting for Your Marriage is Important

When you took your marriage vows, you likely promised to stick by each other in sickness and health, for better or worse. But what happens when ‘worse’ becomes your everyday reality? Should you still fight for your marriage?

In a word, yes.

A marriage isn’t just a relationship. It’s a commitment, a promise, and, in many ways, a journey. It’s about growth, personal and together, about learning to navigate the ebbs and flows of life as a team. There are bound to be rough patches, but it’s the challenging times that test the mettle of your bond and offer an opportunity to strengthen it.

Even if your spouse appears to have given up, there could be hidden emotions of fear, anxiety, or hurt that they’re struggling to express. The decision to fight for your marriage is not about winning or losing. Instead, it’s about acknowledging these unspoken feelings, reopening lines of communication, and rebuilding the intimacy and trust that may have eroded over time.

Fighting for your marriage means recognizing the value of what you once had, the love that existed, and the possibility, however faint it may seem now, of rekindling that flame. It’s a chance to confront the issues that have led to this disconnect and work on them, to transform your relationship into a more fulfilling and happier one.

How to Fight for Your Marriage Alone

Fighting for your marriage when it feels like you’re the only one holding the rope can seem like a Herculean task. Yet even a flicker of hope can spark the blaze of change, and these steps might help you light that spark:

  1. Understand and Acknowledge the Situation

    The first step is to gain clarity about the reality of your marriage. This means acknowledging your spouse’s detachment and the pain it brings. Understand that it’s natural to grieve over the change in your relationship dynamics. And know that acceptance paves the way for change.
  2. Communicate Openly and Honestly

    While your spouse might appear uninterested, it’s essential to express your feelings honestly. Let them know how their withdrawal affects you and your hope for the future. It’s not about blaming but sharing your emotional reality. Remember, clear and open communication can often break down walls.
  3. Offer and Seek Support

    Isolation can be detrimental when it seems as if your spouse had given up. Seek support from trusted friends, family, or professional counselors. You will also want to make it clear to your spouse that you’re there for them too, no matter what.
  4. Rebuild Trust

    Trust is often the first casualty when a marriage falters. Reinforcing trust requires time and patience. Let your actions demonstrate that you’re committed to improving the relationship.
  5. Nurture Yourself

    Self-care is far from selfish. When you care for yourself physically and emotionally, you can better cope with the situation and be a pillar of strength in your relationship.
  6. Be Patient and Persistent

    Rarely is change immediate. So, give your spouse time to accept and appreciate your efforts which point toward the possibility of a better relationship.

Fighting for your marriage alone can feel like an uphill struggle, but remember, it’s okay and arguably necessary to seek help.

Seeking Professional Help

Even the strongest individuals need a helping hand sometimes, especially when navigating the stormy seas of marital discord. This is where professional help is so beneficial. Engaging a relationship coach or counselor provides a safe and unbiased platform to express feelings, identify problems, and work toward solutions.

One unique avenue of professional assistance is the private couples retreat. Unlike traditional therapy sessions that occur once a week, a private couples retreat offers an intensive, immersive experience to catalyze change in your relationship. It’s like a deep dive into your relationship dynamics, providing you with new insights and tools to foster healthier communication, understanding, and connection.

Whether your spouse is reluctant or open to the idea, exploring a retreat can be an effective way to rekindle the flames of your marriage. You can learn strategies to deal with conflicts, rebuild trust, and rediscover the love that once bound you together. The retreat setting provides a space devoid of everyday distractions, allowing you each to focus on the other and your relationship.

If your spouse is hesitant to participate in any type of professional help, individual therapy or coaching sessions for you can be beneficial too. These sessions can help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your feelings, and your relationship dynamics. You also learn how to manage your responses and create a more positive atmosphere that may gradually draw your spouse back into the relationship.

Knowing When to Let Go

Navigating a struggling marriage often feels like sailing against the wind. While fighting for your marriage is important, it is equally essential to recognize when to drop anchor. If your spouse continues to remain disinterested despite your consistent efforts and professional help, it may be time to consider the possibility of separation.

Remember, your mental and emotional well-being is important. You are a unique individual deserving of love, respect, and peace. There are situations where the most loving thing you can do for yourself, and your spouse is to let go. Acknowledging this does not mean you’ve failed. Instead, it means you have had the courage to fight for your marriage, and now, you have the strength to fight for yourself.

While this thought may be hard to accept, it’s crucial to remember that professional help is also available during this transition. From individual counseling to support groups, there are resources to help you navigate this challenging journey.

Obviously, separation is a last resort. Your marriage deserves your courage and determination to fight for it.

And, no matter how your journey evolves, remember love is a labyrinth. Its winding paths often throw challenges at us that demand courage, patience, and perseverance. If your spouse seems to have given up on your marriage, remember, it doesn’t necessarily signal the end. Instead, it could be a starting point for a journey toward personal growth and relationship transformation.

The thought of navigating this labyrinth alone can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone. Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen and possibly charting a new course for your relationship, contact her here. Embark on your journey with a seasoned guide, and you might be surprised at the strength and resilience you discover within yourself.

There’s a saying, “All’s fair in love and war.” Perhaps it’s time to stop viewing your marital challenges as a war and start seeing them as opportunities for love to evolve, grow, and even surprise you. Remember, it takes one small spark to reignite a flame. Could you be that spark for your marriage?

Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, contact her here.

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Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats