No marriage is perfect and often times, it’s far from it. Marriage comes along with commitment, responsibilities, the good, the bad, and the in-between.
After the honeymoon phase has passed and as life presents challenges, it can become easy to feel discouraged about a relationship you were once head over heels in.
If you are feeling that your marriage is struggling, you have come to the right place. Below are six pieces of advice for what you can do actively to help turn your marriage into a positive, safe, and exciting place once again.
Six Steps To Saving Your Marriage When You Feel Hopeless
Step 1: Focus on gratitude
Appreciation goes a long way in any type of relationship whether it be romantic, familial, friendship, with coworkers, even with strangers. Every person wants to feel appreciated for his or her efforts despite how big or small they may be. In this very moment, pause to put conscious effort into some of the things your significant other does for you.
Do they bring out the garbage, help the kids with homework, make you coffee in the morning, start your car in the Winter, listen to your concerns about work, or rub your back? Think about all the ways your partner tries to do things for you and identify them in your mind. Also, start paying closer attention because I am sure there are things you aren’t seeing.
When you do realize that your partner is doing something for you or something that will ultimately make your life better, simply say “thank you” to them. Acknowledging the small, daily, efforts helps to encourage more of that. Everybody wins. Express the importance of receiving this appreciation as well, but also continue to do for others simply for the sake of doing and wanting to help.
There are many studies that show that the simple act of saying “Thank You” helps to contribute to, and maintain, a healthy relationship.
Step 2: The gratitude list
Once you start to focus more on the things you are grateful for about your partner, make a list of ten things you appreciate about your husband or wife. You can add things from step 1 (things you’re grateful for that they do), but also think about your partner as a person.
- What is it about him or her that drew you to them initially?
- Do you like how they look when they wear that certain outfit or the way they can engage a room socially?
- What about their thoughtfulness and attentiveness to detail?
- Do you appreciate their simplicity and laid back personality?
- Or perhaps their work ethic?
Aim for at least ten things to write down about your partner that you appreciate about them. Keep the list going if you can! When we stop to pause and reflect we allow ourselves the opportunity to pay attention to things we may have been overlooking.
Sometimes you both need some perspective to remind yourselves why you chose this person to begin with, which will bring you back to the simplicity of appreciating this person who you have committed to and who has committed to you.
Step 3: Set aside some time to spend together
Carve out an hour after the kids are asleep or if you can afford it, get a babysitter to go out for dinner once a week. Whatever you can make work, decide on it together and set a number to it. One hour per night? One dinner date per week? 15 minutes of quality time every morning?
Whatever this looks like for you, and whatever you both agree on, put a frequency to it to make sure you can keep yourselves in check. Make sure you agree on this plan together. In order to better your relationship, spending quality time together is of the utmost importance.
Instead of watching your favorite TV show, play a board game or cards. Instead of falling asleep to the TV, turn it off and have a brief conversation about the day. If you can’t think of something to talk about – focus on positivity and gratitude.
Ask your partner to share three things he or she is grateful for and do the same. Find what works for you both to share your thoughts, time, and yourselves with each other.
See also: How to move beyond the fighting
Step 4: Disconnect to reconnect
Disconnect from your phone, social media, and any other device. In order to connect with those around you (in the physical), you must disconnect from the temptations of distraction (phones, TV, etc). So often we allow ourselves to delve into the social or entertainment world to distract ourselves from having to face our own realities.
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When you are with your partner, spend mindful time with them in conversation. Ask them questions to express your interest in their day, in what’s going on at work, how their friends are. When they are speaking to you, give them your attention through eye contact, active listening, and minimal distractions. Put your phones and devices away.
Remember that when you listen actively, it is not just a matter of looking at them speak and saying “uh huh” in response. Listening to truly listen does not mean having to provide a response at all. It’s nice if you do, if it’s meaningful. But, what’s more important is to use eye contact to show you are fully engaged, be mindful of your body since body language is a huge part of communication, and to listen to understand.
Step 5: Maintain your individuality
Sometimes martial issues stem from expectations placed on the marriage itself. Maybe you’ve become caught up in the daily routines of work, kids, pets, family, etc.
There is nothing wrong with routine or spending your time in a certain way, but it is important to you as an individual and to your relationship to maintain your individual interests. If you have the time and means to sign up for a class – try it out without your partner (unless of course, they want to join then you can get quality time)!
If you maintain your individual interests and pursue them, even if they are separate from your partner’s interests, it is healthy for you and will carry over positively into your relationship. Check out apps such as GroupOn to see what classes or activities are in your area to try out – anything from Yoga and cooking classes to golfing and photography etc.
Maybe try something you’ve never experienced before to broaden your horizons.
Step 6: Laugh
Laughter is key in any relationship and any situation. When we can laugh together, we can work through many of our more serious situations.
If you can swing it, make a date night out of it to a comedy club. If you can’t make that happen, pull up some Netflix or another outlet to watch a funny movie or stand up comedy.
When we laugh together we connect on a deeper level and we remind ourselves not to take things so seriously.
Being able to connect in this area can be extremely beneficial in recreating warm, positive feelings in your marriage.
The main thing to keep in mind is that while you may be feeling like your marriage is hopeless, you can remind yourself that you have the power to turn the energy of it around.
If you follow the steps outlined above as a starting point you will be able to work toward shifting back to a point of loving, appreciating, and enjoying the marriage that you have committed to.
A shift in perspective + effort on both ends = the key to revamping your marriage into being more successful and fulfilling.