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How to save your marriage alone (11 no bullsh*t steps)

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With about 50% of marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce, failing marriages may feel like an inevitable outcome for most people.

It’s easy to give up on your marriage when it feels like the odds are stacked against you, and even more so if your spouse is ready to call it quits.

But for some reason, you’re not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Maybe you’re feeling remorseful over something you did; maybe you’re just convinced your spouse is the only person you’re meant to be with.

No matter the reason, you still believe that the marriage can be saved from its impending demise, even if it means trying alone.

Taking on the responsibility of resurrecting a crumbling partnership can feel like a huge burden.

But if you do this right and repair your relationship from scratch — carefully addressing one marital problem at a time instead of slathering on a band-aid on a bursting wound — there might be hope for you yet.

Why Do Marriages Fail?

Marriages don’t fail overnight. Some marriages end abruptly because of a specific circumstance (abuse, spousal affairs) or as a cumulation of a series of unhappy and unsatisfying experiences.

No marriage is happy and perfect one day and completely irreparable the next day.

With every fight and disagreement, resentment, distrust, and betrayal can slowly build up over the course of your relationship.

Understanding why your marriage is failing (and how to save whatever bits and pieces are left) is the first step to salvaging a dissolving relationship.

Marital problems can be categorized into two: chronic problems and acute issues.

Chronic Problems

Chronic problems are long-term marital issues that may have always existed in your relationship, long before you got married.

These kinds of problems mainly stem from behavioral or personal differences which could include anything from cleaning habits to religious beliefs.

The problem with chronic issues is that they typically start out small and nondescript, and usually don’t become bothersome until you’re already married to the person.

For instance, your spouse’s cleaning habits may not have bothered you when you were dating because you would only visit his place from time to time.

But with marriage, these lapses become harder to ignore.

If partners are unable to overcome these differences through change or compromise, the marriage grows tense and spouses become resentment of each other, leading to divorce.

Common Chronic Problems:

  • Incompatibility with political or religious beliefs
  • Poor relationship with in-laws and other members of your spouse’s family
  • Varying career goals and opportunities
  • Selfish husband or wife, competitive, and jealous traits that you or your partner may have always had
  • Childhood trauma that’s complicating your relationship
  • Self-esteem and other personal issues
  • Verbally or physically abusive behavior
  • Incompatibility over sexual and intimate details
  • Substance abuse and other addictive behavior
  • Financial problems (debt, joblessness)
  • Communicate issues

Acute Issues

In comparison, acute issues are problems that happen seemingly overnight.

Because the problem isn’t long-term, it may seem like acute issues will be easier to solve than chronic, recurring ones.

In reality, acute issues can actually prove more detrimental to marriages if left unsolved.

Whereas chronic problems often feel like a slow burn, acute marital issues can immediately sever relationship ties, causing marriages to deteriorate.

The suddenness of acute issues often come as a shock to most spouses.

With little to no room to react and process the new obstacle or circumstance, spouses are likely to opt out of the marriage instead of staying in and fixing it.

Common Acute Issues:

  • Cheating, adultery, infidelity
  • Extremely verbally, physically, or sexually abusive behavior
  • Sudden promotions, requirements to transfer work elsewhere
  • Radical changes in personality due to external influences
  • Disagreement over having a child or not
  • Sudden development of mental issues such as anxiety, depression

Most marriages end not because of one or two slip-ups. No marriage is without troubles, and that includes even the perfect textbook marriage.

If your spouse is unwilling to try again, it’s probably because they feel that your problems are irreparable.

By digging deep and getting to the root of your marital issues, you can begin to understand why they’re apprehensive about giving the marriage a second shot, and start working towards convincing them that your relationship is worth saving.

3 Reasons Why Your Spouse Doesn’t Want To Keep Trying

It’s frustrating knowing you’re prepared to give it your all while your spouse is probably already looking for a divorce attorney.

You talk to them and try to negotiate saving the marriage, but they only say the same thing over and over again: that the marriage is indeed over.

At this point, it’s important to think of the situation from your spouse’s point of view.

If you feel betrayed and confused, just try to imagine what they’re feeling.

Your spouse is likely feeling the same things, but is also feeling an overwhelming sense of hopelessness over your marriage.

Understanding why your spouse is hesitant about giving the marriage one more try is another crucial component to getting the relationship to work again.

By getting in their head, you can figure out the best way to win them back, and how you could rebuild trust, companionship, and love before it’s too late.

1. They’re Convinced You Can’t Change

What they’re feeling: Countless fights and arguments have convinced your spouse that you or the situation can’t possibly get better.

At this point, your spouse feels like they’ve tried hard enough and are now unwilling to continue fighting for the relationship.

Your spouse may be feeling unheard and neglected, which explains why they’re uncooperative regarding saving your marriage.

How to fix it: Sit down with your spouse and ask them what you can do to save the marriage. More than anything else, your spouse needs to know that you’re willing to make things work again.

This time, go beyond listening. Earn back their trust by showing them that you can change.

Baby steps might be enough so don’t hesitate to do a big gesture to show them you still care and that what they say and feel has value in the relationship.

2. They No Longer Respect You

What they’re feeling: Respect and friendship is the foundation of any stable relationship. Without respect, arguments easily spiral into fights and personal attacks that turn into a vicious cycle.

This cycle chips away at your respect for each other with every insult and every offhand remark, paving the way for more disrespectful behavior.

If your spouse is unable to respect you, they’ll act defensively against everything you say. Communication becomes harder because they don’t want to deal with you anymore.

How to fix it: Take the high road and don’t resort into shouting or insults. Your partner is reacting in the only way he or she knows how.

Show your spouse that this marriage can argue and disagree on things without spiraling into a complete fight.

Call their attention towards destructive behavior and talk about meeting each other halfway.

Try and establish basic respect to get to the root of your issues, which is likely communication problems.

3. They’re Falling Out Of Love With You

What they’re feeling: People who are in love don’t fall out of love all of a sudden.

Falling out of love is a complex process that typically involves the following reasons: they feel like they don’t know who you are anymore; the small things you used to do have turned into big annoyances; it feels like everything they do or say is being scrutinized under a giant microscope.

How to fix it: Attempt to reestablish intimacy and attraction. Small acts of kindness such as cooking for them, asking them about their day, and engaging them in activities they enjoy can make a huge difference in your marriage.

Focus on bringing that affection back into your relationship, rather than diving deep into problem-solving your marital problems.

Saving Your Marriage: 4 Techniques That Won’t Work

1. Becoming A Yes Person

It’s tempting to say yes and give in to your spouse’s demands just to save the marriage.

Some people convince themselves that buying into their partner’s every whim is enough to keep the divorce at bay.

While this may distract your partner from leaving, it doesn’t do anything to rekindle your broken relationship.

2. Begging and Clinging

Pushing harder for your spouse to stay is only putting more pressure on them. This kind of affirmation isn’t enough to win them back.

It only reveals how desperate you are to keep the relationship alive, which might turn them off and push them farther away from you.

3. Manipulating Their Emotions

Fabricating a good experience using sex or gifts won’t do anything to fix your relationship.

As soon as the novelty wears off, your spouse will realize how unhappy the marriage is and decide to leave all over again.

4. Turning To Friends and Family

Using your friends and family as pawns to keep you two together won’t work. Social obligations can only take you so far.

At the end of the day, this doesn’t address your marital problems. Like manipulation, you’re only banking on external stimuli to save your marriage.

How To Save Your Marriage When You’re The Only One Trying

1. Negotiate for Time

The Problem: The first and most serious problem you need to resolve: if you’re the only one trying to save the marriage, that means that the clock is over for your partner.

Their internal timebomb has gone off, and in their head, the marriage is over and past the point of no return.

Any effort made moving forward won’t be truly considered, because they’re already planning for a life without you, rather than fixing the life with you.

The Solution: Negotiate for time. Do whatever you have to do to convince them that you need time.

And while it can take months (if not years) to truly get your relationship back to a self-sustaining and happy place, you need to start small: ask your partner for days and weeks rather than months.

Because fixing a marriage will never truly work if you’re doing it alone; while your partner might not participate in the act of “fixing it” as much as you would like them to, they need to be at least mentally open to the possibility that this isn’t totally over yet.

Let them sit around while you do all the heavy lifting if the marriage means that much to you, but they need to say that they are willing to open their mind to your efforts.

If they won’t, then your attempts will be dead on arrival.

2. Don’t Try to Easy Way Out

The Problem: You’re tired, you’re distressed, and you’re emotionally exhausted.

You want the marriage to be okay again, but you’re also hurt and betrayed by the fact that your partner no longer wants to put in the effort that you’re willing to invest.

So you want to cut corners and try the easy way out: instead of winning your partner back with love, you try to win them back with emotional blackmail.

Emotional blackmail is most commonly done in the form of pressure tactics.

You try to rationalize the relationship, turning their commitment into an act of logic rather than an act of love.

You use your finances, your children, your social circle, and anything else to try to emotionally blackmail them into staying with you.

While this may work logically and in the short-term, it would only lead to negative long-term results.

Your partner would end up despising you because you never tried to win back their heart, and they ended up staying with you out of their own good nature rather than because it’s what they actually wanted.

The Solution: Don’t play with guilt because guilt tripping is the easy way out. Relationships are a matter of the heart, not the mind.

You and your partner built a life together because you fell in love and nothing else, so mending the relationship requires mending and rediscovering that love, even if it’s now different.

It may be significantly more difficult to try to make them love you again, but it’s the only way to truly fix a relationship that has gone to the brink.

3. Protect Your Perspective

The Problem: Everything will be working against you. If you’re the only one trying to save the marriage, you will constantly face a barrage of mental obstacles and barriers trying to convince you it’s a bad idea.

From your friends to your colleagues to your family, and even to the inner voice in your head; everyone will be telling you to just give up and move on.

The Solution: While it may be the better idea to give up, you decided to go the hard way — winning your partner back — and the only chance you have at success is by giving it your all.

The negative voices in your head and around you will only serve to limit your efforts, so do your best to shut them out and listen to your reasons why you still want to do this.

Love your partner wholeheartedly, the way you used to. Show them and convince them that this relationship can be what it once was, no matter how far it has fallen from its peak.

And this means convincing yourself that this is still worth saving because before your partner can believe it, you have to believe it.

Write down a list of all the reasons why you want to save this marriage — for yourself, not for your kids or your family — and keep that list close by you at all times.

Repeat it to yourself every day so that your heart stays in the game completely, because that’s the only way you can save this marriage.

4. Find the Real Issues

The Problem: A marriage at the point of its death will look like a menagerie of problems and issues.

It’ll be like a tangle of dozens of wires and cables, where you don’t even know where to start in trying to fix it.

Years of arguments and resentments have led to this, and getting back to square one means untangling the most important issues first, and that means identifying them from all the emotional chaos.

The Solution: Take the time to think and breathe. Reflect on your marriage — your most major arguments, your most inner feelings, and all the complaints your partner has shared with you.

Do your best to understand not just the superficial and daily issues, but the root causes behind them.

The well has been poisoned, and it’s up to you to discover from where the poison is leaking in.

And this shouldn’t be a solitary effort. Your partner’s grievances with the marriage are equally important as yours.

Come up with the problems that you think are most relevant to your relationship, and then take the time to calmly sit down with your partner and discuss your thoughts.

Get their insights — and do your best to avoid a fight — and revise if necessary.

You need to know where to start if you’re going to do this at all.

5. Check out the course Mend the Marriage

Another strategy is to check out that I highly recommend is a course called Mend the Marriage.

It’s by famous relationship expert Brad Browning.

If you’re reading this article on how to save your marriage alone, then chances are your marriage isn’t what it used to be… and maybe it’s so bad, that you feel like your world is falling apart.

You feel like all the passion, love, and romance have completely faded.

You feel like you and your partner can’t stop yelling at each other.

And maybe you feel that there’s almost nothing you can do to save your marriage, no matter how hard you try.

But you’re wrong.

You CAN save your marriage — even if you’re the only one trying.

While I decided to end my relationship, I believe that I could have made things work if I decided to continue with my relationship.

After all, I’ve seen it time and time again – relationships becoming stronger and better thanks to the learnings that come from something as drastic as infidelity.

You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed. And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time.

If you feel like your marriage is worth fighting for, then do yourself a favor and watch this quick video from relationship expert Brad Browning that will teach you everything you need to know about salvaging the most important thing in the world:

In this video, you’ll learn the 3 critical mistakes that most couples commit that rip marriages apart. Most couples will never learn how to fix these three simple mistakes.

You’ll also learn a simple, proven “Marriage Saving” method that makes marriage counsellors look like kindergarten teachers.

So if you feel like your marriage is about to take its last few breaths, then I urge you to watch this quick video.

When To Call It Quits

So you’ve tried to fix your marriage.

You’ve put in the serious hours in a task that everyone told you was hopeless, including yourself, and you don’t know how much longer you can take without seeing any progress.

When do you know that it’s time to finally throw up your arms and say, “enough is enough”?

Here are some signs that you need to cut your losses and call it quits:

1. Your negative voice is louder than your positive voice

Your positivity is the only thing fueling your drive to save your dying marriage. When your negativity becomes louder than your positivity, you’re stuck in a downward spiral that can take months or years to finally end

2. They mock every effort you make to fix it

You are giving it your all — planning fun dates, scheduling therapy sessions, preparing their favorite meals — but they are doing everything to spite you and your efforts, even mocking you for just trying

3. You aren’t even friends with your partner anymore

You can’t remember the last time that your partner looked at you and saw you as a friend. You just live with them, but you don’t even like telling each other jokes

4. Space doesn’t bring you closer

Space used to work, because as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. But now your heart simply feels relief with the space, no matter how much of it you get

5. You no longer feel excitement for your future

No matter how much you plan vacations and fun events in your marriage now, it just doesn’t seem to excite you. Your partner can’t be bothered, so why should you?

6. Sex is but a distant memory

You’ve tried having sex, and even tried going beyond your comfort zone and doing things you would never think about doing in the past, all to please your partner. But even that hasn’t been enough to bring the spark back to your physical love life

7. You’re already having an emotional affair

There’s someone in your life who has your heart, even just a bit of it. It might have started because they were your shoulder to cry on about your marriage, but you’ve gotten comfortable with the reality of emotionally confiding in them. Your partner probably has this person, too

8. The pain is too much to compromise

Solving the marriage is all about compromise; you both have qualms with each other, and you both want to see the other partner change something about it. But you’ve tried to compromise and found out that you can’t, because the existing pain simply won’t let you budge

9. You don’t think their problems or concerns are fair

Pains aren’t made equal, and it can feel ridiculous when you have huge grievances with your partner and they try to equate their much smaller grievances with you. Their cheating isn’t equal to your slight neglect, no matter how much they try to make their case

10. You never give them your full attention

Your heart wants you to think you’re fully in it, but you’re not really.

You honestly can’t give them your full attention because you can’t take them as seriously as they need to be taken for this marriage to work. It’s just been too much for too long

Your Marriage Is Important, But You Are, Too

Your marriage was once the most important thing in the world to you, and you’ve been in your relationship for years; in some cases, for most of your life.

Saving your marriage seems like the only option, because your marriage is as important as your life, and you don’t understand why your partner doesn’t feel the same way.

But sometimes you just have to accept it: it is what it is, no matter how much you don’t want it to be.

Save your marriage and do what you can to keep it going, but if you sacrifice too much of yourself just for the sake of your marriage, then how happy will you be at the end of the day?

Your marriage is important but remember: you are, too.

Value yourself, and don’t let the act of saving your marriage drown the individual inside of you.

The best way to save your marriage

Saving the relationship when you’re the only one trying is tough but it doesn’t always mean your relationship should be scrapped.

Because if you still love your spouse, what you really need is a plan of attack to mend your marriage.

Many things can slowly infect a marriage—distance, lack of communication, and sexual issues. If not dealt with correctly, these problems can metamorphosize into infidelity and disconnectedness.

When someone asks me for advice to help save failing marriages, I always recommend relationship expert and divorce coach Brad Browning.

Brad is the real deal when it comes to saving marriages. He is a best-selling author and dispenses valuable advice on his extremely popular YouTube channel.

And he’s recently created a new program to help couples with a struggling marriage. You can read our review of it here.

His program is as much about working on one’s self as working on the relationship—they’re one and the same according to Browning.

This online program is a powerful tool that could save you from a bitter divorce.

It covers sex, intimacy, anger, jealousy and more. The program teaches couples how to recover from these symptoms that are often the result of a stagnant relationship.

Although it may not be the same as having one-on-one sessions with a therapist, it’s still a worthy addition for any marriage that is slowly tearing itself apart.

Obviously no book or session with a therapist can guarantee your marriage will be saved. Sometimes relationships really are irreparable and it’s intelligent to move on.

But if you do feel that there is still hope for your marriage, then I recommend you checking out Brad Browning’s program. You can watch his free online video about it here.

The strategies Brad reveals in it are extremely powerful and might be the difference between a “happy marriage” and an “unhappy divorce”.

Here’s a link to the video again.

FREE eBook: The Marriage Repair Handbook

Just because a marriage has issues doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce.

The key is to act now to turn things around before matters get any worse.

If you want practical strategies to dramatically improve your marriage, check out our FREE eBook here.

We have one goal with this book: to help you mend your marriage.

Here’s a link to the free eBook again.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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