A marriage crisis can be one of the greatest challenges you’ll face in life. If you’re in this situation, you may feel anxious, stressed, and helpless. Here’s the good news: this page is going to give you the tools and information you need to begin repairing your marriage.
As a world-renowned marriage counselor and relationship scientist, I’ve personally helped thousands of individuals like you turn things around… I know for a fact that you can save your marriage. All you need to do is read this page in full, and follow the advice I share below. Let’s get started, shall we?
Step #1: Believe That Your Marriage CAN Be Saved.
One of the most common things I hear my clients say is, “I don’t even know if it’s possible to save my marriage anymore… it seems hopeless.”
In reality, however, this is almost always incorrect. Most couples can re-build a happy, lasting marriage.. and you’re no exception. But you need to take action, you need to be willing to put in the effort, and you need to start now, before things get any worse.
Here’s two more facts that are also good news:
– You can save your marriage on your own, even if your partner has already “checked out” and seems unwilling to put in the effort. (In fact, taking the first few steps on your own actually has some big advantages, which I’ll explain later.)
– You do not need to spend any money on traditional marriage counseling or couples therapy in order to turn your marriage around.
Once you’ve begun to believe that there’s still plenty of reason for optimism, you can stop stressing about whether your marriage can be saved and begin thinking about how you’re going to repair it.
Step #2: Stop Buying Into The “Big 3” Myths That Destroy Marriages.
There are three widely-accepted (and highly toxic) misconceptions about saving a marriage that cause thousands of couples to get divorced unnecessarily and prematurely. Marriage expert Brad Browning, who has an excellent free video explaining these three misconceptions, calls them the “Big 3 Marriage Murdering Myths“.
In this article, I’m only going to explore one of the three myths, so I strongly encourage you to watch the video I linked to above for a more in-depth explanation.
The one ‘Marriage Murdering Myth’ I do want to explain here in this article is the idea that you need to ‘talk it out’ with your spouse in order to resolve the problems that are plaguing your marriage. This is, quite simply, one of the worst things that you can do if your marriage is on the brink of collapse.
Don’t get me wrong – communication is absolutely crucial in a successful marriage. But at this stage, when you’ve already tried talking through all the problems and you’ve already spent hours arguing over these issues, talk is not the answer. This is also why marriage counseling is not always the right choice if your marriage is on the verge of collapse (read more about the pros and cons of marriage counseling here).
Here’s the simple explanation: when you talk with your spouse about the problems in your marriage, you’re reminding them of these issues and reinforcing your partner’s belief that there are many fundamental issues that you disagree on. Worse yet, these “talks” usually end up turning into arguments, and they become more destructive than constructive.
The sooner you stop believing in any of these three huge misconceptions, the sooner you can begin to re-build a healthy and long-lasting marriage with your spouse.
Step #3: Commit To Changing Your Marriage.
I know, it sounds so cliche and so simple… but the truth is that commitment is one of the most important aspects of saving your marriage.
Unfortunately, repairing a marriage isn’t easy. It takes both patience and perseverance. You need to be willing to put in the effort, and that requires you to stay committed to doing what’s necessary to re-build a deeper, more lasting bond with your spouse.
At first, things may not change quickly. Even if you follow the advice I’m outlining in this article to the letter, it may be weeks or even a month or two before you begin to see positive changes. Your spouse may continue to act cold, distant, and uninterested in putting in the effort. But even through these difficult phases, you must continue to remain committed and trust that by taking the right steps, you can and will make progress and eventually be able to enjoy a happy future together with your spouse.
Step #4: Follow Expert Advice To Ensure You’re On The Right Track.
This article is a summary that gives you a high-level overview of how to save your marriage. I simply can’t address every “what if” scenario here on this page. That’s why I recommend that anyone facing a marriage crisis invest in a proven guidebook (even the best marriage-saving programs, such as Mend the Marriage, are available online for less than $50) to ensure you know exactly what to do to begin re-building your marriage.
Why should you invest $50 in a book or online program? Because the last thing you can afford is to make mistakes that will further drive a wedge between you and your spouse. Start by reading a guidebook written by a well-known marriage expert, and then apply the strategies outlined in the program to a T.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you “know better” or that you can “go it alone”… there’s a ton of research and many studies out there that have shown what works and what doesn’t, and you need to stick to proven methods that will actually help you start fresh and re-build a healthy marriage.
There are two affordable online programs I have reviewed and personally recommend: Mend the Marriage by Brad Browning, which is arguably the best resource for anyone facing a marriage crisis, and Save the Marriage System by Lee Baucom. Both authors are renowned marriage and relationship experts, and both programs are online so you can access them just a few minutes after you sign up.
There are many other books and programs also available, but many are of dubious quality, so be sure to buy a reputable program like the ones I recommended above, or do your homework before you buy to avoid being ripped off.
Step #5: Don’t Rock The Boat, Avoid Conflicts With Your Spouse.
This is something that my colleague and fellow Marriage Guru Paula Lowe discusses in her article on ‘how to prevent divorce’, but I need to briefly mention it here as well because it’s very important.
At the moment, you should not try to address the problems in your marriage directly with your spouse (as I said before, talk is not the solution for your current marriage problems).
Similarly, you do not want to be engaging in any conflict with your partner… for now, it’s best to bite your tongue and avoid causing any additional friction or entering into any arguments.
There are a number of strategies you can use to prevent arguments with your spouse (or defuse an argument that’s escalating). Among the most effective include:
- The 30-minute rule: Set a “rule” whereby you must wait at least 30 minutes before you mention something (ie. something critical, “nagging,” or anything that might result in an argument) to your spouse. Taking 30 minutes to think things over before bringing up a complaint or issue allows you to cool down, step back, and take a look at the bigger picture. Sometimes you may realize that whatever it was you were upset about isn’t worth an argument, and other times it may just give you time to think about how you can discuss the topic with your partner in a civilized, non-confrontational manner.
- Begin sentences with “I” rather than “you”: A Harvard professor who specializes in marital conflict suggests using the word “I” in an argument to avoid escalation (for instance, when you’re making a complaint to your spouse). This one is especially useful when you’re saying something that your partner might call “nagging”… if you have a complaint about something your spouse is doing — leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen, for instance — then start your sentence with “I” when you broach the subject.
- Use humour to defuse an escalating argument: If you find yourself in an argument with your spouse over something silly, humour can be an incredibly effective way to defuse things and bring perspective to the argument. All you have to do is make an appropriately-timed joke or amusing comment when things are getting out of hand. It doesn’t even have to be that funny… a bad pun or silly joke is usually fine, because it lightens the mood and helps both your and your partner see the bigger picture.
Use these strategies to ensure that you don’t get caught up in an unnecessary and potentially damaging argument with your spouse. On the road to saving your marriage, conflict is never helpful, so save the bickering, nagging, and disagreements for a time when your marriage is less “on the rocks” than it is currently.
Step #6: Start Small, And Take The Initiative.
You can’t turn your marriage around overnight, or with one single event or action. There’s no magic gift you can give to your spouse, no quick favor you can do, and no love letter you can write that will undo the problems. When your marriage is in crisis mode, it’s common to seek out that one “quick fix” to make things better.
Sadly, there simply is no quick fix. It took many months and years for your marriage to decline to the point where it is now, and there’s no one thing you can do or say to reverse all of that. It starts small, with simple actions and words.
Below, I’ll share a few samples of the kind of words and actions I’m talking about… but first, let me briefly explain why this is so important to re-building a healthy marriage.
As research from the Gottman Relationship Institute recently showed, kindness is the single most important trait when it comes to maintaining a healthy romantic relationship. That’s because humans are hard-wired to respond to kindness with more kindness. In other words, when you take the first step and show kindness (through actions and words) towards your spouse, he or she will respond with kindness of their own (often unconsciously). This creates a positive action-reaction cycle that, over time, dramatically improves the quality of interactions with your spouse, and the health of your marriage overall.
Now, what are the kinds of small things you can (and should) do to begin improving your marriage starting today? Here’s a few ideas:
- Randomly call your spouse, out of the blue, just to let them know you’re thinking about them. Keep the conversation brief, fun, and positive.
- Have a ‘tickle fight’ with your spouse. Make sure you choose the right time (late at night while watching TV, for instance).
- When you’re alone with your partner, such as in an elevator together, kiss him or her.
- Come home from work with a small but meaningful gift for your spouse. Nothing extravagant — something sentimental (like a gift certificate to the restaurant where you had your first date) is best.
- Share dessert with a single fork, or feed your spouse something delicious off your plate.
- Play with your spouse’s hair while talking in bed.
- Compliment your spouse on something they’re wearing or something they’re good at. (For example, compliment your wife on her new dress or compliment your husband on his patience with the kids.)
Notice how none of these things are actually particularly difficult, time consuming, or labor intensive? The key is to practice these sorts of small actions consistently and with a genuine, meaningful demeanor. Remember: kindness begets kindness, and these small but powerful actions are the first steps on the road to saving your marriage.
Step #7: Continue Learning How To Save Your Marriage.
This webpage is a great place to start, and I hope you’ve found the steps outlined above helpful. In fact, I can assure you that if you follow the advice I’ve provided here in this article, you’re well on your way to re-building a happy future together with your spouse.
That being said, there are plenty of other excellent resources available beyond this article that can provide useful information and ideas that will prepare you for unexpected situations you may face and motivate you to achieve that perfect marriage you’re seeking.
Start with the videos I’ve linked to below, and continue seeking out more information and knowledge thereafter. Best of luck, the Marriage Gurus will be rooting for you!