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How to Save a Marriage That Is Falling Apart

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How to Save a Marriage That Is Falling Apart

The majority of couples break up, as evidenced by the fact that the divorce rate is about 50% in western countries. These marriage statistics don’t include couples that break up after being in a long-term relationship without ever getting married.

So why is it that so many relationships and marriages result in breaking up?

While many relationships and marriages don’t last, there are things you can do to save a marriage. Here in this article, I’ll explain how to save a marriage that is falling apart.

1. Take Action Early If You Are Keen to Save Your Marriage

The most common mistake that a lot of couples make is they only begin to deal with problems when things have already escalated too far out of control (therefore sometimes it’s too late to save their relationship).

I would like to encourage you to take action as early as possible. Don’t wait until the state of your marriage is already feeling hopeless. Do something now, while you both have the belief that your relationship can be salvaged.

When you notice something isn’t right in your marriage, you need to do something about it immediately. This requires open and honest communication. Yes, this can seem challenging at times, however, a happy and fulfilling relationship requires effective communication followed by intentionally focused actions. If you act early enough, it’s not that difficult to turn your relationship around.

If money is an issue, you will need to have a financial plan and a weekly money date with your spouse when you check your personal finances together. This strategy is recommended by author Kate Northrup in her book Money: A Love Story.

2. Realize That You Will Often View Things Differently

When you are arguing with your spouse, nine times out of ten you’re trying to be right rather than choosing to be happy. Yes, you can be absolutely, positively right… from your own perspective. But if arguing your point doesn’t make you happy, what’s the point of having to be right all the time?

Look to see the humor in a situation when your opinions and perceptions are shown to be different. Research has shown that our brains can perceive a situation in hundreds of different ways – so it really is a miracle that we understand each other and agree on anything at all!

Knowing in advance that your brain is often going to misinterpret things, (as well as the intentions behind them) you can choose to see the humor of a situation instead of taking a resistant stance and stubbornly trying to prove that you are right. Technically, both of you are right from your own perspectives, so make it a priority that you seek to understand what your partner is trying to say and convey.

Often, you will find yourself starting to smile at the absurdity of a resistant stance you are taking but, you can’t seem to help yourself from indulging in being stubborn. You clearly see what your partner is trying to say, however, you are too invested in proving that their words are wrong and inconsistent with what they’re meaning to say. You’re too busy proving yourself right that you don’t correct this relationship sabotaging action before it escalates out of control. Overindulging in this childish game can lead to either or both of you becoming emotionally triggered and entering a full-blown argument… Just because you wanted to prove that you were right.

Stop being petty and instead, choose to enjoy your different modes of expression. This will help prevent issues from escalating out of control and is a major step toward saving your marriage. The good news is when you stop overreacting from a negatively triggered emotion, you will feel happier. And it’s a wonderful thing to choose to be happy rather than being right all the time. Hence, an effective method of saving a marriage that is falling apart.

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Using humor and stopping being petty are effective ways to cope with small problems in a marriage and dating coach Matthew Hussey agrees with that. During an interview with NBC, Hussey says,[1]

“The key to an amazing relationship is never stop flirting with your partner and seeing them in a new light.”

Using humor is one of the easiest ways to keep flirting, and you can use this technique to save a marriage any time your actions have encouraged unnecessary tension to rise between you.

3. Work on the Three Pillars of a Marriage

There are three pillars of a relationship: emotional connection, intimacy, and mutual benefits which can also be known as attraction alignment. When a marriage has all three pillars aligned, the relationship is balanced, happy and healthy.

When two pillars are going well in a marriage, it is viewed as a very good marriage.

When one pillar is going well in a marriage, this marriage is still sustainable.

You can evaluate which pillar (or pillars) require further work and improve those areas to save your marriage as soon as possible.

Pillar 1: Emotional Connection

First and foremost, if emotional connection is not strong enough, you will often feel distant and disconnected from your partner. This is when words and actions are most often misinterpreted and disagreements escalate. It generally means you are more focused on what you don’t like about your partner than what you love and appreciate in them.

There’s a part of your brain which filters out the millions of bytes of data coming in through your senses, so you don’t become overwhelmed. The problem is that these filters are determined and set by what you most often focus your attention on, and then make you notice more of it.

Are you focused on the best or the worst outcomes for your marriage? Where are your imagined conversations taking you, toward or away from a happy relationship with your partner? Are you imagining your relationship breaking down or are you disciplining your mind to look toward opportunities to create what you want?

To improve your emotional connection, remember to be thoughtful with your choice of words and especially the tone of your voice.[2] It is often the tonality of your voice which triggers your partner into an emotional reaction.

Praise and appreciate your partner’s efforts and focus your attention on creating the best outcomes for all concerned. Be forward thinking instead of constantly reliving past experiences where neither of you were at your best.

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To improve your emotional connection, focus on lifting each other up with your thoughts, words and actions. Focus on creating what you want.

You can also create more shared experiences with your spouse, for example going away for a weekend or vacation together, having regular date nights, and sharing your dreams for the future.

Pillar 2: Intimate Connection

In the second place, if things aren’t very good in the bedroom, it’s eventually going to cause an emotional divide and possible loss of desire and attraction in either or both partners. To truly restore a happy emotional connection requires building and maintaining a satisfying sex life. Sex is the one thing that makes you more than just friends and is an essential component of a happy and healthy marriage.

We’re not taught how to operate our bodies sexually, so there is a lot of guesswork involved in completing a sexual act. This results in 40% of men and women suffering from common intimacy problems with many couples giving up on being able to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling intimate relationship.

Frankly, this is the real reason why lots of couples don’t have children. The reason why they don’t have children is oftentimes not the reason they’ve given others on social media.

It’s more than communicating what you want and need. If your partner doesn’t know how to focus their attention correctly, they will continue to have problems. For example, too much focus on his partner will cause a man to lose his hard erection. For a fulfilling intimate life, both of you need to know how to increase your sexual stamina.[3] This will ensure you are able to enjoy your intimate time together and strengthen this important area of your relationship.

Building intimacy is something you both need to work toward together.

Desire for many women is based around emotional connection, so it’s important to take steps to stop sabotaging your happiness in the emotional and sexual aspects of your relationship.

Most men need sex like fish need water and is how they show their love and affection. If you hold back from connecting sexually because you’re not feeling enough of an emotional connection, it can cause a further divide. You must be the adult here and make the effort to connect emotionally and intimately with your partner. Once you make the decision to stop being resistant and start focusing on what you like and love about your partner, you will more easily come together intimately.

A lot of couples stop working on their intimacy after being married for several years, and sex-starved marriages are more common than most would think. This can lead to either partner leaving the marriage or having an affair. So if you want to save your marriage, make sure you work on the intimacy pillar.

Pillar 3: Attraction Alignment

Why does the honeymoon period end? Because we stop paying attention to all the details which attracted our partner in the first place!

NEVER become complacent and expect your partner to remain attracted to you. When you stop looking after yourself and/or have become lazy with your attitude toward being the best version of yourself, you start to lose your partner’s respect and admiration.

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Psychologists state that the first thing that people notice when they meet someone is this individual’s hair. Changing your hair is a simple way to start restoring attraction and bring variety to a marriage that is falling apart. Ginie Sayles, author of She Was a Bigamist, argues that a woman would be well-advised to change her hairstyle every two years. She discovered this technique when her husband took her to have dinner with another couple. After dinner, her husband said, “I’ve known this couple for many years. That lady is very nice, but she never changes her hair.”

In other words, men notice these kinds of things. So do women.

To be more specific, when a woman pays attention to the way she looks, men may or may not notice her attractiveness. But when a woman becomes stale, men will notice that. The same goes for men. As women, we take note of our partner’s appearance and the effort or lack thereof he (or she) puts in to keeping themselves attractive to us.

Complacency is the number one relationship killer and must be avoided at all costs. This also includes your actions toward fulfilling agreements in your relationship. If your partner mentions an issue that is upsetting them, I guarantee they have thought about it many times before mentioning it out loud. Respect the fact that they trust you enough to confide in you, then make an effort to pull your own weight in resolving the issue long-term.

Exploring new interests as a couple (and by yourself as an individual) is important to expand your relationship and develop and grow yourself as a person. Introducing novelty to your marriage can strengthen your emotional and intimate connection. A case in point is bringing variety to your relationship by changing your hair, taking your spouse to see an exciting movie and learning something new together, say salsa dance or a foreign language, etc.

I highly recommend attending a dance class together because that’s how you learn to communicate with your partner with your bodies; it helps to restore emotional and sexual intimacy as well. It’s especially effective when you two are learning tango, salsa or other partner dances which require the man to be the masculine alpha leader in the dynamics. Then, when you go out together and dance in public, there’s the feeling of pride and accomplishment and sharing a special connection which other couples don’t seem to have, which is quite magical.

4. If You Can’t Improve the Quality of Your Marriage, Hire a Marriage Counsellor or Relationship Specialist

Damage caused by unnecessary arguments can damage your relationship beyond repair and cause your marriage to fall apart. After one argument happens in a marriage, at least three positive experiences are needed in order to make a couple feel happy again. Thus, it is important to prevent arguments from occurring.

Do you want to be right or happy? Using a professional service to help you with your marriage is a smart move. Yet not everyone is willing to do it for various reasons.

For instance, when Kate Northrup and her husband Mike Watts had arguments frequently in their marriage after their first daughter was born, she asked him to see a marriage counsellor with her. Actually, when they got married, Kate had already told Mike that if something is wrong in their marriage, they will need to look for help.

At first, Mike didn’t want to see a marriage counsellor after their frequent arguments, as many men think asking for help is a display of weakness. But later, Mike realized that asking for help actually shows his strength because if something isn’t working in his career, he would talk to a career counsellor. Therefore, if something isn’t working in his marriage, he should see a marriage counsellor.

So, Kate and Mike consulted with a marriage counsellor and now they are still happily married.

Unfortunately, not everyone is happy to ask for professional advice when a marriage is falling apart. But this world will become a much better place if all couples experiencing problems in their marriages would get professional help.

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While contemplating the value and cost of getting professional help to save your marriage, take into consideration that the average wedding costs $30,000 while the average divorce costs a lot more than that. Therapy can result in being a much cheaper option. And here’s Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor.

5. When Compatibility and Chemistry Are Both Absent, You May Consider Moving On

Sometimes ending a marriage is the wisest decision. Yes, I understand that saving a marriage is paramount in most cases, but not every marriage should be saved. It can be more important to save your sanity when compatibility and chemistry are both absent in your marriage.

Compatibility means you and your spouse have the same, similar or compatible value systems which can improve communication in your relationship. Let me explain.

If both you and your spouse love reading books on personal development, that means you probably have similar values, i.e. knowledge and self-improvement.

Another example of having similar value systems is you like cooking and your spouse loves wine – both of you value the foodie culture.

As to compatible value systems, that can be something like you love writing and your spouse loves movies. In this situation, when you are writing, your spouse can be watching movies. You don’t necessarily have to do the same or similar activities together, but your interest doesn’t negatively affect your spouse’ interest.

Nevertheless, many couples have incompatible value systems. For example, a highly spiritual, health conscious, ethical person with no interest in football being married to a partying atheist who drinks a lot of alcohol and spends most of their spare time frequenting bars and watching football. As time goes by, resentment can build, as they have little shared interests to talk about.

As for chemistry, I know I’ve mentioned that you can improve intimacy in the bedroom. Yes, most people can work on their intimacy skills in the bedroom and rekindle their passion as well as a happy and healthy relationship. But no one can guarantee that 100% of married couples will act to restore a happy and satisfying sex life. This may be due to one partner refusing to get help due to feelings of embarrassment.

If your partner is not willing or able to step up to fulfill you, this will eventually affect your level of emotional connection and desire for this person. While it may seem like hard work or an emotional barrier you have to overcome, putting in effort for your partner’s sake is often the most essential step in saving your marriage.

When compatibility, values, chemistry and the desire to work together to save your marriage are absent, it’s time to end the marriage and move on.

However, remember that life is a journey. Every relationship you have will help you become clearer on creating the life you really want.

Featured photo credit: Jon Asato via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Jacqui Olliver

Psychosexual Relationship Specialist

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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