1. Decide What You Really Want
Do you really want to save your marriage? Or are you only trying to save your marriage because:
• This is what you’re supposed to do.
• This is what everyone else is telling you to do.
• You’ve already made a commitment and don’t want to go back on your word.
Be honest with yourself! If all of your reasons for saving your marriage come from outside of you, while, on the inside, you really feel like a divorce, you are just going to end up fighting against yourself.
2. Look for Solutions, Not Scapegoats
Blaming your partner for all the problems in your marriage is not going to make them want to shower you with love and affection. It’s also not going to solve any of your problems. It’s far easier for you to get angry at your spouse for making you late for dinner than it is for you to admit to yourself that if you had got dressed earlier, you wouldn’t have been late either.
3. Stop Keeping Score
Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, and if you’re keeping score, you’re going to lose. Actually, you’ve already lost, it’s as simple as that. All marriages have a natural ebb and flow – sometimes your spouse will do more, and at other times you’ll do more. This doesn’t mean that you should carry the whole weight of the relationship by yourself. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean that you should keep a running tally in your head of what your partner owes you if you find yourself doing more than your fair share.
If you’re the type of person who needs to “win” every argument, you will soon find yourself arguing alone. If you think that your way of doing things is always the best way of doing them, you’ll quickly end up doing everything by yourself.
5. Avoid the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are four types of marital interactions that are so harmful they are known as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” If you find yourself doing any of these four things, you need to stop right away. That means stop criticizing every little thing your spouse does. Listen to their complaints, instead of arguing about why you are right all the time. Stop giving your spouse the silent treatment, and ditch the eye rolling.
6. Watch Your Mouth
After you have been married for a considerable length of time, it’s very easy to fall into a less-than-loving speech pattern with your partner. For example, maybe you like to crack jokes at your spouse’s expense, or maybe you let sarcasm seep into all of your conversations. We often have the tendency to excuse the less than complimentary ways we talk about or to our spouse, but it’s important to remember that the words we use matter.
7. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
The “person” who influences us the most is the voice inside our head. What stories are you telling yourself when your partner does something you don’t agree with? If you come home and the house is a mess does the voice inside your head say, “Wow! I wonder what happened here?” Or, does it say something like, “Again?!! Why do I have to do everything around here?!!” If you are constantly telling yourself that your spouse is a slob, selfish, arrogant, or anything else you despise, your marriage will never get better.
Men need to feel important and appreciated. They need to be right. If your husband wants to do something for you, you should let him (even if he doesn’t do them “your” way!) You need to pay close attention to what he does, and thank him for it. You need to let him take credit for things and let him think that he is right sometimes, even though what he said was originally your idea.
9. Even if You Don’t Think You Need Help, Get Help
If you broke your arm, would you try to do surgery on yourself? We highly doubt it, so why is it then, that when your marriage has a serious problem, you think you can fix it yourself without getting some professional help? Marriage counselling, couple retreats, marriage coaching, and couple programs are all designed to help you work out your marriage issues and improve your life together. So many people struggle with marital problems because they feel that they should be able to figure them out by themselves. But, when you’re up to your neck in muck, it really helps to have someone nearby who knows what to do to pull you out.
10. Learn Before You Burn Your Bridges
It’s simple to think that divorce is the best solution when your marriage is making you miserable, but divorce is a huge process in anybody’s life. It will change everything from your finances to your children and every little thing in between. Therefore, before you decide to burn your bridges, make sure you understand exactly what you will be putting yourself and your spouse through if you decide to divorce. Can you really afford a divorce? How will you support yourself if you do get a divorce? Do you understand how divorce works? Are you aware of what your options are? Sometimes, just seeing what a divorce involves is enough to make a couple give marriage another try.