Whether you and your partner are arguing constantly or the relationship has quietly changed over time, you just know when things are falling apart.
And the statistics don’t help, with around 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it’s easy to wonder if you’re headed in the same direction.
But if you and your spouse are willing to work at your marriage, there’s no reason you can’t overcome your current hardships.
And we’re going to help you by explaining some important ways you can save your marriage, but first, let’s have a look at some of the signs that things are falling apart:
Signs that your marriage is falling apart
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re here because you’re desperate to fix your marriage.
Whether your partner’s behavior towards you has changed, or the relationship itself has become stale, it’s hard to judge whether you’re going through a rough patch or if the end of the marriage is near.
So let’s go through some of the signs:
- There’s little to no intimacy
- You hardly talk anymore (and when you do it’s either very limited or it turns into an argument)
- One or both partners stops making any effort in the relationship
- There’s a lot more resentment than respect
- There’s an emotional disconnect between you
- You feel helpless when you think about your marriage
- You stop spending time together
Now, even though this is a brief overview, if all or most of this has been happening in your marriage for some time now, then there’s a good chance it’s taken a turn for the worse.
So before we get to the ways you can save your marriage, let’s first look at some of the reasons why they fall apart in the first place.
Using that information, hopefully, you’ll be able to identify where things have gone wrong in your relationship…
Why do marriages fall apart?
Arguments happen in all relationships, but when they start to escalate and become more frequent, it’s usually a sign that there are unresolved issues in your marriage.
But on the other hand:
Some marriages break down long before it becomes obvious.
Couples drift apart, they spend less time together, and before they know it they’re living separate lives under the same roof – all without saying a word to each other about it.
The truth is:
There isn’t usually just one reason behind it all.
If one partner cheats, it’s easy to blame them for the breakdown of the marriage.
But in reality, it points to them not being satisfied or happy in the relationship. There are issues under the surface that aren’t being resolved, so they seek that connection, affection, or sex elsewhere.
Let’s look at some more reasons why once seemingly happy marriages break down:
- Financial issues or disagreements on how to manage finances
- Infidelity – emotionally and physically
- Excessive criticism – lots of negativity
- Inability to communicate properly – never being able to reach a resolution
- Loss of interest/boredom
There are other factors to take into consideration, such as expectations (which we’ll cover below) which play a significant role in damaging healthy relationships.
And, sometimes a couple just naturally drifts apart. Maybe one of them is progressing steadily in life whilst the other has stayed stagnant, in the same place as when they first got together.
This can lead to resentment, and one partner feeling held back by the other.
So as you can see, there are several ways marriages can break down, but until you sit down with your spouse and get to the root cause it’ll be hard to address your issues accurately.
But for now, let’s dive in and look at how you can fix your relationship and take you both back to a place of love, partnership, and respect.
Ways you can save your marriage:
1) Don’t wait until it’s too late
The chances are, something has happened which makes you worry that the marriage is unraveling.
Whether you can just feel it in your gut, or your spouse has verbalized their unhappiness, it can feel like a dead-end.
But if you want to save it, you’ve got to act now.
Don’t wait for things to escalate further, and certainly don’t bury your head in the sand and hope it’ll all work itself out.
Because it won’t.
The longer you leave it, the more damage will be done and you’ll have less of a chance of repairing things with your partner.
The truth is:
Your marriage is failing because issues weren’t addressed on time.
Whether you’re experiencing resentment, an emotional disconnect, or a lack of intimacy, something has led you to this point that should have been looked at sooner.
Now, that’s not necessarily a fault of yours or your partner, but unfortunately, many couples fall into the trap of brushing their problems under the rug.
And when this happens, tension slowly builds up until it’s too late.
2) Find ways to communicate effectively
Communication is at the heart of everything. Without effective communication, our relationships break down very quickly.
You don’t feel understood, your spouse feels attacked, you can see how not being on the same page can upset your marriage.
So how can you communicate better with your partner? Here are a few tips:
- Listen with the intention of understanding (not just waiting to give your response)
- Try to avoid passing judgment and just stick to the facts
- Stick to “I” statements rather than “you” statements (“I feel upset right now” instead of “you’ve made me upset”)
- Avoid responding defensively
- Express negative feelings in a way that doesn’t put your partner on the defensive
When it comes to positive or negative statements, some research suggests that marriages are happier when there’s a 5:1 ratio.
That means, for every 1 negative interaction, the couple should share 5 positive experiences to keep a healthy balance.
So even though it feels like your marriage is falling apart, it’s never too late to work on your communication skills — after all, this could be a leading factor in why your marriage is suffering in the first place.
3) Surround yourselves with the right people
Let’s face it, some of your friends have been rooting for you guys since day one, others not so much.
We all have that friend who for whatever reason always has something negative to say. And they won’t hold back on criticizing your marriage and your partner.
Here’s why this is dangerous for your marriage:
You’re already upset. You feel down in the dumps, you’re struggling with your marriage and you don’t know what to do.
So you turn to a friend, in this case, the one that never has anything hopeful or positive to say.
At your weakest point when you’re crying out for help, being shoveled with a whole bucket full of reasons to leave them isn’t going to help.
It might even cause you to do something you’ll later regret, all because your friend has painted a dreadful picture and encouraged you to “get out before it’s too late”.
So what should you do instead?
Surround yourself with the people rooting for you. The people who genuinely love you and your spouse, and want to see you succeed.
That way, when you reach your wit’s end and you need to complain over a glass of wine, they’ll give you encouragement, support, and honest advice on how to save your marriage.
4) Don’t wait for your spouse to fix things
The very fact that you’re reading this shows that you’re willing to make an effort to save your marriage — you’re off to a good start.
But at times it’s easy to think, “why should I be the one to save this relationship?” especially if your spouse isn’t making much of an effort.
Here’s why you should:
Deep down, under all the hurt and resentment, you still want this marriage to work out. You love your partner, you just don’t know how to fix the mess you’re in.
Imagine if you both took on this attitude? Your relationship would improve drastically.
Imagine if your partner came to you and tried to make amends. Imagine that they started treating you nicely like they did at the beginning of the relationship.
Can you picture what it would be like if they started making a loving effort with you?
You’d feel great, and ultimately you’d probably start being a lot nicer back.
So, be the first one to take a step towards fixing your marriage, the effect it’ll have on your spouse might surprise you.
5) Remember yourself in the process
Going through marital problems is draining, to say the least.
There’s no doubt this has probably affected your work, social life, and even your health (to say it’s stressful is an understatement).
But you stand very little chance of fixing your marriage if you don’t look after yourself.
Saving a marriage doesn’t happen overnight, so you’ve got to be strong enough to endure the bumpy journey.
Here are a few ways to practice self-care:
- Do things that make you happy – hobbies, meeting up with friends
- Avoid bad habits and focus on exercise and healthy eating
- Keep up your hygiene – when you look good you feel good
- Take out some alone time when you need it and recharge your batteries – read, meditate, go for a walk in nature
You will think clearer and feel better physically and emotionally if you remember to take care of yourself, and this will help you approach your marriage more healthily.
6) Spend time reflecting on your marriage
The brutal truth is — it takes two to tango.
You might hold your spouse accountable for all the hurt and conflict in your marriage, but you’ve played a role in it too.
As hard as might feel to face the truth, you must do so. You need to know what your part is in all this to be able to correct things.
What could you have done differently?
Have there been times where you’ve upset your spouse or neglected them?
How do you react in conflict and arguments with your partner?
Start from the beginning and think back over your relationship (it might help to write it down). Try to stay objective and avoid making excuses for yourself.
Ultimately, for your marriage to be saved you and your partner are going to have to work on yourselves individually and together.
So, you might as well start now with yourself, by recognizing the role you’ve played in your marriage falling apart.
7) Be honest with your spouse
If you know something is wrong but you can’t put your finger on it, ask your partner.
Tell them your concerns about the marriage and ask if they feel the same. If you open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable with your spouse, they may feel compelled to do the same.
And the truth is, what’s better than a genuine, honest, heartfelt conversation?
Now, depending on how bad things have become between you, there’s the possibility your partner doesn’t want to talk. They won’t give you the time of day.
In this case, avoid springing the conversation on your partner randomly over breakfast. It’s better to arrange a time to sit down together when you’re both free to talk openly.
And ultimately, if your partner refuses to engage in a conversation with you, you should consider whether this marriage is worth saving.
It won’t be possible if one partner isn’t even open to the idea of working on it.
8) Learn when to agree to disagree
As you’re going through these difficult times with your partner, it’s crucial to learn when to let things go.
Here’s the thing:
Both of you are already on edge. Things are tense at home and emotions are running high. Before you know, you’re engaged in a full-blown shouting match over who left the milk out.
This is where knowing which battles to fight and which to give up on comes in handy.
You and your spouse are different people, you have different expectations, needs, and wants, so conflict is going to happen.
Recognize that you’re both entitled to have your own opinions, and sometimes the best thing to do is let an issue go if you’re not getting anywhere with it.
Even more importantly, agree to disagree if the issue is something irrelevant that you’ll probably forget by next week.
9) Work together as a team
Most likely at the start of your relationship you were a team, partners in crime, whatever cute nickname you gave yourselves.
But somewhere along the line, things changed.
Suddenly, the person you once couldn’t wait to see now fills you with dread and despair…It’s a horrible transition.
But what if you got back to that place of seeing them as your partner, teammate, friend, and confidant?
If you change your attitude and perspective of your spouse to a more positive image, you might find that your approach to conflict with them also changes.
And if anything, your spouse will notice you making an effort to restore that loving connection you once shared.
10) Recognize the damage that expectations cause
Expectations are usually one of the root causes of problems in a marriage.
The tricky thing is, we all have them and all of our expectations differ massively.
So it’s no wonder that so many marriages break down when two people try to enforce their ideal expectations onto each other (and inevitably clash).
Our expectations can make us ungrateful, unreasonable, and ultimately it takes us away from unconditionally loving our partner just as they are.
The sad truth is:
We start to resent them for not being the way we think they should be, whilst forgetting that we’re unable to fulfill other people’s expectations whilst staying true to ourselves.
Once you start recognizing your expectations, and the expectations your spouse has, some of your conflicts might become clearer.
11) Invest time in personal development
So how can you evaluate your expectations and see how they’re playing a role in the downfall of your marriage?
Start by investing in personal development. Learn about yourself, your emotions, and your triggers so you’ll begin to understand yourself better.
Whether you listen to podcasts, read or take a course (I recommend this free workshop, Love and Intimacy, very useful for dealing with dysfunctional relationships and it also addresses expectations) do something to give yourself new perspectives.
And, if you know there’s something negative you bring to the relationship, such as an explosive temper or the habit of ignoring your partner during a conflict, work on it.
It’s unfair to expect your spouse to make these changes if you aren’t willing to work on yourself too.
12) Don’t make any hasty decisions
In the heat of the moment, anything can be said.
And there’s nothing like your partner pushing your buttons (somehow they know every single one to press) to make you lose control.
It’s understandable especially if you’ve been going through a crappy time for a while, some days you’ll think about just giving up for good.
Other days you’ll have a lot of anger and unpleasant names to call your partner.
Allow yourself to have these thoughts, but avoid saying them out loud. If you feel like you’re about to explode, remove yourself from the situation and cool down.
But don’t make any rash decisions that you’ll later regret. At this point in your marriage, you don’t want to make things worse than they already are.
13) Practice forgiveness
If you truly want to save your marriage, you’re going to have to forgive.
Not only your partner, but forgiveness towards yourself is important too. Whatever wrongdoings you’ve done, draw a line under it and allow yourself to move on.
Holding on to hate, anger, and hurt will only weigh you down, and you’ll find it a lot harder to reconcile with your partner if you’re still resentful.
Now, forgiveness comes easier for some things than others, but here are a few tips to help:
- Think about things from their perspective – did they hurt you out of malice or because they have different expectations/perceptions than you?
- Focus on the positives of your spouse – sure, they have some flaws, but are they a great partner in all other aspects?
- Focus on where you want to get to – can you move past this for the sake of your marriage?
And remember, forgiving your partner doesn’t excuse their behavior. It acknowledges that you’ve been through something hurtful, you’ve both grown as a result of it, and you’re ready to move forward.
14) Remember the good times
This is something that should be done with your partner, where possible.
Whether you’ve been married five years or 15, life has a habit of passing by and making you forget what made you such a great couple in the first place.
And when you’re unhappy and arguing all the time, or living in tension, this can make the entire relationship seem miserable and dull.
So, lighten things up.
Remind yourself and your partner of what you once shared. Look back over old pictures and videos, reminisce on the good times you had before things went south.
Not only will this make you both feel nostalgic for the past, but it might also soften your hearts to each other, enough to recognize that there’s still love between you and the marriage is worth fighting for.
15) Seek therapy
Finally, therapy is another effective way to save your marriage from falling apart. But just as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to get the ball rolling before it’s too late.
Don’t wait for the divorce papers to come through before suggesting marriage counseling, do it before it gets to that point and you’ll have more chances of fixing things.
Here’s the truth:
As much as you both might have good intentions, if you’re not on the same page, you’re not going to see eye to eye.
Simple disagreements will turn into unresolvable arguments because you’re both approaching from different angles.
A therapist can help you work through this, in a calm, safe space. They can open both of you to new perspectives that might help you understand each other better.
Ultimately, it’ll be a place where you can share your feelings honestly, and learn strategies to put your marriage back on the right track.
But if you don’t want to wait to see a therapist, here are some powerful couple counseling tips you can start trying today.
When is it time to give up?
Unfortunately, there’s a reason why the divorce statistic is as high as it, and that’s because sometimes incompatibility far outweighs the love shared between two people.
It’s sad, but it’s the truth.
In some cases, you and your spouse might have simply outgrown each other. You’ve moved in different directions, and you’re no longer the people you once were.
In other cases, there’s been a lot of hurt and broken trust, and your partner might not be willing to work on these issues. Ultimately, you can’t force them, either.
So, the best you can do is try to save your marriage, follow the tips above and approach it with a positive, forgiving attitude.
If your partner refuses to engage in therapy or to work on the marriage, you’ll quickly realize. It’s at this point you should consider moving on (don’t stay in an unhappy marriage just for the sake of it).
But there’s always hope.
If your partner is willing to make an effort, make the most of it. Work on yourselves, work on your marriage, and put all you have into saving your relationship.
No marriage is smooth sailing, and if you and your spouse can persevere and heal through the hard times, you’ll come out much stronger on the other side.
The bottom line is:
Two people who truly want to make it work can resolve their marital problems, but it will take a lot of patience and understanding. The good news is, once you start facing the issues, it’ll become easier to overcome them.
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