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No one said marriage was going to be easy, but do any of us fully understand what we’re getting into when we finally take the plunge ourselves? All relationships go through their ups and downs, but the commitment level of marriage means that sometimes those downs can feel bottomless, and that’s when some people might start feeling around for an escape hatch. Before you go there, take a step back and consider what made you commit to this person to begin with, what remains, and what’s to come if you can just figure out how to save your marriage!
If you find you’re in a rough spot in your relationship and are looking for how to save your marriage, this is a good start. Apathy is the ultimate death blow to a relationship, so feeling the urge to troubleshoot what’s gone wrong and looking for guidance on how to save your marriage means there’s something still there worth saving.
Do a Pre Post-Mortem
The first step is to figure out what the heck is going on that makes you feel like you need to save your marriage! Have you and yours had a major life event that pushed you further apart rather than closer together? Has there been a violation of trust that splintered the relationship? Did you two stop sharing your lives together and are now just living side by side as glorified roommates?
Figuring out what has happened will be an important part of figuring out how to save your marriage, so take an honest look at the history of your relationship. Sometimes there is no “big event,” just year and after year of drifting further apart, and knowing that is integral in figuring out how to approach saving your marriage. Working with a professional marriage counselor can be key in figuring out what has gotten you to this point.
Sometimes it can be really difficult to accept the role we have played ourselves in a struggling relationship, but there’s always an action/response, and whether you’re the actor or the responder, you’re in there too! For example, if you feel like your spouse doesn’t share anything about their day anymore, consider how you might switch up the way you ask and the way you listen.
Maybe you’ve unintentionally signaled to them in the past that you didn’t have time or headspace to hear about their day, or perhaps you were disinterested in something they really cared about, and they no longer share to avoid that reaction. To counteract this, you could take the lead, “so what is going on at the office these days? I haven’t heard you mention anything in forever, I miss hearing about your day!” Keep it light and consistent and chances are, they will respond in kind. When we change our own behavior, the responses we get will likely change, too.
If you’re looking for how to revive your relationship, it might be that you need to put some effort into connecting with your spouse again. I’ve written about how to maintain connection in a relationship before, and there are many things you can do to reconnect as you try to save your marriage.
Intentional effort is key here, so go out of your way to bolster communication techniques and speak in your partner’s love language, show them how special they are to you with planned date nights, romance, and relationship routines, and above all, pay attention to who your spouse is these days. What do they actually want right now? What is most important to them? Connect with them as they are now, not who they were when you first met.
Assume the Best
Many of us like to believe we are mind readers when it comes to our spouses, but we really, really aren’t! In fact, I’d venture that the grand majority of the big fights my husband and I have had have been due to one of us assuming we know what the other person is “really” saying or what they “really” meant by this or that, but the truth is, we don’t!
In fact, if you commit to assuming the best in your marriage, you will find that even the things that were said with sarcasm or with a hidden message no longer land that way and because they were received differently from you, they won’t inspire the same response and whatever pattern that used to exist will be broken. It might not feel natural the first few times you do it, but keep it up; eventually, your partner will likely notice and you might find they rise to the occasion with a shift of their own!
Find the Fun Again
After years of marriage spent tending to daily responsibilities, it isn’t so uncommon to wake up one day and realize that there isn’t much fun happening anymore. You can find the fun again by prioritizing a little playtime together, either by goofing off during daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and running errands or by going out somewhere for some intentional fun.
If you really want to kick up the fun level, try something entirely new for both of you! Having novel experiences together is a great way to reconnect and fall back in love with each other, plus, a romantic weekend away somewhere new increases intimacy because couples’ travel has been found to bolster relationships and improve sex lives! If you want to save your marriage, try making it more fun for the both of you.
Work With A Professional
When I’ve having a medical problem, I see a doctor. When my car is making a funny noise, I see a mechanic. If my marriage is having issues that are so complex that I’m googling “how to save my marriage,” I would see a marriage counselor.
I am a big fan of therapy, and my husband and I have been to couple’s counseling many times because there’s just no substitute for an educated, neutral third party who can help a couple sort through personal biases to get to the root of an issue. They are trained professionals that can help people navigate whatever conflict they are having with tools and tips for a stronger, sturdier, healthier marriage. If you consider your marriage to be one of the most important relationships in your life, why would you DIY it when you could see a pro?
Embrace the Evolution of Marriage
When someone starts thinking they need to save their marriage, sometimes they might be trying to save what was there before rather than embracing the evolution of the relationship. No one stays the same and neither do relationships, so sometimes it might be the case that people assume the marriage is struggling when really it’s just the people in the marriage struggling with change.
If you can embrace the ways you both have grown since the start of the relationship, you might find that you two can grow together, and while the relationship may never be the way it was before, it can grow into an even stronger, sturdier, fresher version that reflects the growth you two have had personally and together; marriage 2.0, maybe?
A healthy marriage should be healthy for everyone involved, so if you are looking for ways to save a marriage that is not healthy for one or both parties, it might help to take a step back and re-evaluate the relationship altogether. Relationships change just as people do, and if a relationship has become a point of pain and strife and is now something that is holding people back rather than helping them be their best selves, then I personally believe the healthiest, kindest, and most rational thing to do might be to separate.
However, if you and yours are still committed to finding ways to save your marriage, then I wish you the very best and hope that your relationship is full of love, life, and laughter as you navigate the trying times together.
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Kendra Paulson is the writer behind the content on Has Baggage, Still Travels on IG and FB, where she creates original Content to Cultivate Our Best Selves. She loves to travel and explore new places with her husband and two kids, which is a good thing because their military family moves every couple of years to a new place for a new adventure! A mix of every place she’s ever lived, Kendra likes to think she brings a little taste of the plains of the Midwest, the coastal Southeast, the desert of the Southwest, and the lush Hawaiian Islands to everything she works on.