Recently, I had the privilege to interview Dr. Lee H. Baucom, a Relationship Coach and Marriage Expert, who is also the creator of the best-selling resource on the internet for saving marriages: “Save The Marriage, Even If Only You Want It!” Dr. Baucom has worked for a decade and a half helping couples to find ways to create and recreate relationships.
Dr. Baucom’s mission is to help couples transform their marriages into something wonderful. . . something better than they had dreamed possible. He specializes in helping couples bring their relationships back to life after affairs, bankruptcies, dishonesty, deception and mid-life crises,and just about any other roadblock a marriage may run into.
So now, without any further delay, let’s start the interview with Dr. Lee H. Baucom
Dr. Baucom: Well my background is pretty typical for a lot of therapists. I did training just like any other therapist would do, mine was specialized. I really focused on families and marriages. That was because in college I was exposed to the idea of family system theory rather than individual psychology.
Individual psychology looks at what’s happening to the individual; while family systems theory looks at how the whole family is kind of working as a web of relationships and I really focused in on the marriage web, the web or the connection between the couple.
That set the stage for my graduate school training where I actually was focusing also in that marriage and family therapy. So a lot of my research and also a lot of my supervision was around those areas.
Now the thing that’s different though is along the way I kind of realized something was going wrong, that couples were not improving the way that I would want them to, the way that I was told they should.
So I began to do a lot of research and it’s at that time that I realized that the skills of family therapy are particularly about marriage therapy are not particularly successful in the therapy room. In fact the rates of therapy helping are pretty dismal.
About 80 to 85 percent of couples report that they got no help from marriage therapy and about a little more than 50 percent go ahead and get divorced. So you are only talking about 10 to 15 percent maybe 20% tops of people depending on the research, that were actually helped by the therapy.
So that began my efforts to come up with a different way of saving relationships and that’s what led to me writing Save The Marriage and trying to put together a system to help people walk through the process of saving their marriage.
What I found is that it actually reversed the percentages. Instead of 80% not finding help, about 80% in fact, if you talk about 85% of couples not getting help and what I did in my research, and again limited research, but my research showed that about 85% of the couples I worked with did save their relationship.
Q2: What results have you gotten with helping couples save their marriage?
Dr. Baucom: Well that’s where this whole idea of an improved ratio comes in. As I began to work with couples what I discovered is the biggest thing lacking was their connection. So a lot of times that connection has fallen to the side for lots of reasons. But when we focused on the connection, when we were able to work through that process about 85% decided to stay married.
And when I surveyed those same people not only were they deciding to stay married but they were reporting that they were happy with their relationship so this isn’t just a case of where we were stopping a divorce, where we were stopping the legal process.
What we were discovering is that people were re-discovering their relationship and coming to find it to be a whole different thing, a whole different process for them where we brought alive their relationship and really created the relationship that they’d always wanted, always dreamed of, just didn’t know how to get to and the reason is because they didn’t know how to get there.
Q3: What’s the number one thing you would say to a couple having marital problems to help them thrive as a couple?
Dr. Baucom: The number one thing that helps couples get together is to really focus on the fact that what they are creating is a WE, it’s a joint intimacy. I talk about that place of being a we, where we have each others backs, we are in this together, we are working towards something bigger than just each of us individually.
That sense of calling to that place of we begins the process of reconnecting. What happens is that reconnection they discover something very powerful, the we is not just about being kind of a ego mass, a big blob, a super glue of relationship.
Sometimes the super glue relationships actually are as dysfunctional as the disconnected relationships. Until it’s not really about finding that place of just being kind of we’re are lock step together but to discover the unique capacities of each other, of the other person and valuing the unique capacities they bring in the relationship, suddenly there is great potential for great connection and intimacy in the relationship.
We also want to work on how to be loving but notice that it’s all focused on that central theme of how do you become a WE, how do you connect together and become that WE.
Q4: What’s the first step every couple should take to get started with saving their marriage?
Dr. Baucom: In reality most people who come to my site it’s not a couple, it’s an individual and that person needs to step back and ask the question why are they doing this, what is their reason for that and I really push people to do two things on the front side. One is for them to really think about what the reasons are, to sit down and write down; here are my reasons to save the relationship and you are going to notice that they break down around really two different topics.
One will be that they break down around fear. That we are afraid of losing something, whether its fear of loss of income, fear of loss of the house, or time with the kids or half of the retirement, or lots of practicalities. Those are the fear pieces that I am going be abandoned and grow old by myself, all those things, no one is ever going to find me attractive, those are all fear based.
Then there are more aspirational based, and those are more things about how being true to a commitment, about how you want to show your children a great relationship, how you want to grow old together, supporting each other, how you want to discover truth about love and how it can be deepened over time.
Those are aspirational and if you sit there and list them long enough you are going to have both of those and so what you then do is mark out all the ones that fear based for one very specific reason. That reason is because they are not going to carry ballgame.
You are going lose the fear over time, people survive, financially survive divorces just fine and so that’s not going to carry it. People manage to figure out how they are going to see their kids and all those other pieces, they work out over time. Those are all feared based.
But when your really get down to the aspirational based, those are going to last. In five years you are going to feel the same way about those and so you have those as your touch stone because when you working on saving a relationship one or both of you are going to be ready to give up over and over and you’re going have that yourself.
Even if you are the one who wants to save the relationship, you are going to hit that point where you’re going to say is this worth it? Am I able to stay in this and so those are your touch stones and you pull that back out and look at it in those tough times.
The other thing is you formulate a plan. And I’m really talking about a written down plan, not just kind of a oh I though through it in my head. But a plan. That’s really what we focus on in Save the Marriage.
I want to give you some background understanding and give you a mindset of understanding this but then we want to create plans, a real plan for how you’re going to reconnect with your spouse, how to get to that place where you are both doing it. The first two steps, one is to figure out your why, why are you wanting to save your marriage and the second is how, what is your plan for doing that.
Q5: What stops most couples from trying to save their marriage?
Dr. Baucom: The reason that most couples don’t end up saving their marriage is because one just will not step into the process. The problem is that when one won’t the other won’t continue. So the biggest thing that gets in their way is a lack of being willing to set aside your own personal needs in the beginning to get things started.
Somebody’s got to take the first move. It’s always that case where who’s going to take the responsibility, whose going to kind of pull on the adult pants and move forward with it, who is going step up to the plate and say you know what, I’m not liking what I‘m getting right now and so I’m going to just say I’m not going to like that for a while longer but instead I’m going to be building towards something.
So that’s what really keeps people from saving their marriage and the other is that they always stay linked to what’s been broken. They say oh things can’t get better because look at how they’ve been. It’s been awful until now how could it possibly improve? And so they stay locked into that mentality and they can’t see that there is something possible beyond that.
They only see the problems they’ve had and we can always stay focused on the problems we’ve had or we can decide we are going to build something different, we decide we are going to revive it, we are going to discover something that we haven’t before.
We all have that capacity of making that decision, that’s just kind of the nature of life to make that decision that we are going to move forward and not be always focused on what’s already happened.
Q6: What’s the single biggest obstacle a couple faces when deciding to save their marriage?
Dr. Baucom: Most of the time the person who is trying to save their marriage, it starts with one person deciding that the single biggest obstacle is themselves; they get in their own way.
They are angry, they upset, they are emotional and then they get into a place of fear. Reacting from fear always keeps us stuck. So how do you react from fear? Well, when you are anxious it comes out, it comes out as desperation, as neediness, as begging and that’s never attractive and so what happens instead is when that person gets to the place, they get in their own way, they can’t see how things are going to get better and then their emotions take over.
My wife has a great saying, she says consult your plans, not your emotions. In other words, when you are feeling bad you don’t drop back and respond out of that feeling, but you figure out your plan, you step into you plan and you say you know what I’m committed to this I am going to keep on moving forward with this. If I don’t move forward with this I’m going to stay constantly stuck.
So that’s the biggest thing I think is people get in their own way. When we can find a way of being focused on the fact that we will probably not get what we want right now but we will if we focus our energies on getting to a different place.
Once we get to that different place there is great possibility, but we have to be willing to go through the pain, the hurts, the disappointments to get to the place where we go wow this is incredible, how did I get to this place.
Q7: Any final thoughts, next steps or final words of caution for our couples?
Dr. Baucom: A big caution is to not believe everything you read; there is a lot of stuff out there and what you want looking for are people who have been doing this a) a while; and b) with training because there are lots of pieces of information out there that is going to vary from manipulation to even using magic spells and all kinds of other pieces of information.
The first thing is to really make sure that the information you’re digesting, the information you are focusing on is information that’s going to be helpful, information that is going to tell you what you need instead of what you want to hear.
What you want to hear is oh there is this great short cut, what you need to hear is this takes work, it takes effort and it takes a knowledge base. You got to start over and a lot of people just kind of want to take a short cut.
It’s interesting to me to watch how many people spend lots of energy and time on their hobbies, on their interest, how to do better golf swing and how little time they spend on how to have a better relationship.
They kind of think it ought to be natural, they don’t think about anything else in life but they think that about a relationship that one of the big myths is that if were meant to be, it would be easy.
The fact is that everything has a skill set. Everything has a skill set, if it’s a hobby you have, if it’s a sport you love, everything is something you improve on. I can remember talking with a person who is a great salesperson and would do nothing to get better at his relationship.
I said, hey didn’t you go to a sales conference last week? He said yeah. I said why did you go and he said I wanted to learn some better ways of being a salesman. I said, have you ever thought about figuring out some better ways of being a spouse, that some training you could get to that would help you with that? Never crossed his mind.
Be open to the possibility that you have to gain some new skills, that’s part of the process and be cautious of the advice that gives what you what you want to hear instead of gives you a challenge. And just remember this, its going to take some time, you didn’t get into this place easily and you’re not get out of it easily.
It took some time for the relationship to kind hit that place of disconnection and its going to take some time to reconnect, not as long, as long as you’re following a good plan, but it is going to take time. So decide you are going to invest it upfront, decide that it’s not going to be an easy process, decide that it’s not going to be automatic but decide its what is worth it and move forward with that.
Dr. Baucom thank you for sharing! Guys this is the real deal, go use this stuff. Put some of the strategies into action today to improve your marriage. To find out more about the Save The Marriage System and how it can help you save your marriage, just follow this link: Save The Marriage.com