Considering a Marriage Ultimatum?
I am often asked about marriage ultimatums. Though I am sure that there have been a few times in history when marriage ultimatums have worked, let me provide a little insight as to why they often are futile.
Why a Marriage Ultimatum Typically Fails
Marriage ultimatums usually fail because when a spouse gives an ultimatum they are professing that they are ready to play their last card. The only problem is that this rarely occurs as it is more of a threat than something that they are ready to carry out.
It Only Works Once or Twice.
The other issue with marriage ultimatums is that if you have threatened divorce, separation, or a change in the status quo once, yet never acted upon it, then the next few occurrences seem to carry less and less weight.
Instead of giving ultimatums, I would encourage a spouse in a troubled marriage to take on a different approach. Here are the steps that I would encourage:
Step #1 – Work on Yourself First
I have found that there is always something that a spouse can do to create the atmosphere so that change has a better chance of happening. On this site as well as in our book on marriage we give couples very tangible steps to take in order to help promote viable change in their marriage.
Step #2 – Give it some time
Time is a very valuable commodity though few seem to want to use it in our day. The hand of Providence over long periods of time has a way of softening hearts and bringing people to a place of repentance.
In our fix it yesterday culture we tend to want every problem eradicated as quick as possible. However, I typically find that problems are seldom fixed when you want them to be fixed and in the way you want them to be solved.
Step #3 – Watch our Video on The Top Mistake Couples Make in a Fight
Sad to say, but many couples do have great motives when it comes to solving their marital issues, just absolutely lousy methods. And, we have found that our teaching on The Top Mistake Couples Make in a Fight shows couples exactly why they have failed to penetrate the wall of emotion that is between them and their spouse.
Step #4 – Express a Fear of Hopelessness
Instead of giving an ultimatum, I advise couples to establish a time with their spouse to say something to this effect:
“You know that I want this marriage, and I want to obey my marriage vows. However, if you persist in this behavior, I am afraid of losing hope that our marriage will ever change. I am also afraid of where my feelings will tempt me to go if your behavior is no different in six months from now.”
Let me tell you why this works better than a typical marriage ultimatum:
1. Marriage ultimatums are typically delivered in a way in which the other person feels as if they do not have the power to act on their own volition.
2. Marriage ultimatums usually make you to look like the parent and the other the child. (Though the case may be so, it never helps for this paradigm to be present.)
3. Marriage ultimatums give the impression that your love is conditional in nature.
4. Marriage ultimatums are typically delivered in an emotionally charged atmosphere which is almost always a recipe for disaster.