On being separated: Why don't you try "relationship boot camp" and try to save your marriage?

Can relationship boot camp save your marriage?
Some people get separated before they get divorced. There are different reasons why someone would do this. One reason is that they are not sure they want to divorce. They just want a time out. Well, if you fit this criteria, I was just reading in Self Magazine about this concept called the “relationship bootcamp.” And it might be something you can try if you think the marriage is worth saving. (Yes, I know I’m a weird divorce lawyer who talks clients into staying together rather than get divorced. At least, it seems like I do. But really, I just feel that before clients come to me, I want them to exhaust all other options, so that, frankly, I can just be the lawyer, and not the marriage counselor when we finally have that consultation.)
So, about the marriage-saving boot camp. These things are run by various organizations, like Relational Life Institute in Arlington Massachusetts. They basically offer “basic training” for couples who are in shaky marriages, who are separated, or who just want to do “relationship maintenance.” What I get from the article is that the aim is to help couples learn how to communicate in a whole different way.
Many people end up getting divorced because they can’t communicate properly with each other. They get locked into roles. One may be passive aggressive, one may be the “rage-aholic”, or there is also the “control freak” or the one who always “has to be right.”
What I have found is different people can bring out different emotions and reactions in us all. I mean, for example, I am the sweetest, funniest person you will probably ever meet in your life. One of the world’s greatest pacifists. But crossed by the wrong personality type you might become convinced that I’m in need a strait jacket. I’m not kidding. I am also queen of the silent treatment, so if a man is also prone to clamming up when he’s unhappy, then a relationship with someone of my personality type is probably dead in the water before it even begins. 
I guess the first step in salvaging a marriage is making a determination if the marriage can be salvaged, if it is even worth it. Are you with the right man who is basically compatible with you? Do you complement each other? Are the two of you right for each other? Or does he push your wrong buttons as well as you push his, and you both bring out the very worse there is within each other?
Getting locked in a marriage with someone who brings out the worse in you or vice versa is a prison that transcends all description. So you have to be really honest with yourselves as you experience this “boot camp.” Communication is key, but at the end of the day, compatibility rules. The funny thing I’ve come to realize is that you can tell whether you are compatible with someone within a couple of months of meeting them. The problem is that many people still go ahead and get married to someone whom they know they are not compatible with.
I don’t think any amount of boot camp will change things for this type of couple. But there are other couples who have hit a rough patch. And they just need a little push, a little pressure put on them to straighten up. If you fit that mold, then you ought to try the boot camp route.
If all else fails, I guess you’ll just have to call the lawyer. You know my number, right?
Originally published December 20, 2008