Getting caught up in the arguing, fighting and silent treatment can make a bad pattern hard to break. But if you want your marriage to survive, effort is required on both sides. Not sure where to start? We turned to five relationship gurus for five must-know tips on how to save a failing marriage.
No one likes fighting, cold silences, slamming doors, court battles, child custody problems and financial struggles. ‘Drama of that type is never necessary — it’s a result of adults acting like upset children,’ points out Tina Tessina, who’s also known as ‘Dr. Romance,’ and author of How To Be A Couple and Still Be Free. ‘Avoid dramatic pronouncements, scenes and ultimatums when problems arise. Instead, learn to sit down as an adult and talk about what the solution might be.’ For starters, think and act as you do at work when a problem arises — most people can’t throw fits and keep their jobs, right?
Don’t resent each other
Resentment is a poison that will kill a marriage. ‘In order for a marriage (or any relationship) to heal and grow, it’s essential that you release resentment over things that went ‘wrong’ in the past,’ says Aurora Winter, founder of Grief Coach Academy and author of From Heartbreak to Happiness. ‘The truth is, the past is over. No matter how much you think it should have been different, the past is never going to change. Ever.’
Plan Date Nights
It’s very important to keep the lines of communication open between two people who spend their days focused on other people and careers. And it’s also very important to have some fun in the process. ‘Once or twice a month, get out of the house and enjoy a dinner and talk,’ suggests Sybil Keane, psychologist and mental health expert on JustAnswer.com. ‘Make a list during the month about what you feel you need to address and talk about — both good and bad.’ Keep children’s issues to a minimum — this is about the two of you. Validate each other and try to remember what life was like when you first dated, Keane adds. ‘Yes, [things are] different [now], but the longer you stay married, the more mature your love will become.’
Don’t forget about TLC
‘Instead of trying to mold your spouse into the perfect partner, focus on becoming the ideal partner you seek,’ explains Lauren Mackler, life coach and author of Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. ‘This allows you to engage with your partner from a place of wholeness, instead of from a place of neediness or fear that you can’t take care of yourself.’ And don’t forget about how much you love your significant other. It’s important to extend to your relationship the same devotion and tenderness that you would to a newborn child, Mackler says. ‘Just as a baby would die if left to fend for itself, relationships fail to thrive without on-going care, love, and attention.’
Give it time
Getting a relationship back on track takes time. ‘Set in your mind a timeframe with periodic check-ins to see if things are improving. Remember though, it’s not a wait-and-see proposition, which can be passive,’ says Karol Ward, licensed psychotherapist and author of Find Your Inner Voice. You have to commit and make saving your relationship an active project. ‘At the end of three months (for instance), check in with yourself and your spouse to see how things are going.’ Ward reminds to start acknowledging the positive changes you’ve experienced and fine-tune the things that still need work.