- Commit to saving the marriage. When a couple has children, I ask them to promise that they will stick to the hard work of rebuilding their lost love for at least three months. It would have been great if you had both agreed that divorce would never be an option, but let’s just say that for now no one will be moving out, calling mediators or lawyers.
- Review and correct your expectations. So many people go into marriage expecting to ‘change’ their partner – for the better. In reality, they want to change them to being more fitting to their needs and wants, which is not very approving of them, as they are, for who they are. (The marriage started off with a troubled foundation if either of you intended to change the other.) But, what’s done is done. Now you have to take a good long look at yourself and your partner to see who each of you really is. When we understand our partner’s issues, wounds, needs and wants as vital to our healing, and ours to theirs, it makes it a lot easier to accept and honour each other as equals with neither one owing the other the loss of their self. A good exercise for this would be to think back to when you got married and list all of the expectations you had for marriage itself, and another of your mate. Then, ask your mate to do the same, and see how many matches you had for expectations of the marriage, and for each other. Maybe you both fell short. And, maybe one or both of you had expectations that the other could not fulfill (without making changes in who they are) and no you can see that unmet expectations led to more frustration, disappointment, and possibly anger and/or a lack of respect. Now you can start to focus on meeting each others needs and work on both of you healing and growing beyond the wounded selves you began as. If you switch your focus to showing love, behaving lovingly, even when you don’t totally feel so loving, you might be surprised by the result.
- Create a ‘vision’ of what you would like your relationship to be like now. Years have passed, life has surely changed since you were dating, so it would be reasonable to come up with a new plan that might better fit your life circumstances now. Working on this together, and/or with a Certified Vision Board Counselor, will be easier than trying to communicate in words, plus it will be a nice way to discuss your needs and wants quietly.
- Get outside help – and that does not mean family or friends!
- Get serious about either talking with each other, if you can, or making the time available for each of you to attend your sessions with a coach/counsellor.
- Listen to each other. Remember we have two eyes, two ears, and only one mouth for a reason.
- Share the truth of your relationship problems with family and close friends - without giving details. Your marital issues are private and personal, but the fact that you are trying to save your marriage will probably be pleasant news to some people and they might even offer to babysit!
- Do not allow your discussions to become battles. If/when talking with each other becomes difficult, combative, or insulting, stop talking. Take a time out to cool down. The goal is to save the marriage!
- Avoid the ‘toxic’ topics that you find yourselves arguing about constantly. Accept that your conflict style is not working for this, and maybe other issues, and let a professional help you deal with those.
- Work at being polite and friendly. A smile usually helps to lighten the mood and spread a welcoming atmosphere in your home for everyone – your children do not deserve to be in a nasty/cold home.
Before accusing your partner of being at fault for the serious state of your relationship, analyze yourself. Most of the time we tend to overrate ourselves and underrate others. So, do not hesitate to correct yourself and say sorry for your part – because you both shared in creating the relationship as it is. Whether it was what you did, or did not do, you are both responsible for how it is now.
And yet, no matter what situation your marriage is in - if you're willing to work on saving your relationship, you'll be amazed at how much better it can be in just a few months!
Saving your marriage is not about begging or pleading with your partner to stay, giving in to their demands, forcing them to accept your way, punishing them for their faults, or trying to get them to understand that everything that went wrong is all their fault - and not yours! It’s about each of you working on your own issues so that the two people in the relationship can start from inner peace and acceptance of themselves. Then, as each of you is able to view themselves, the other, and the relationship in a new light, without the past hurts and disappointments controlling your perspective, you will be able to support each other in figuring out and expressing your needs and wants in the marriage.
I have truly seen miracles work with troubled marriages that first appeared to be absolutely beyond repair.
Here are a few more ideas to get things started on working on rebuilding your relationship:
If you feel comfortable enough to try to get back on the right track of loving each other the right ways follow the “28 Days to Make Your Relationship Sizzle” calendar: