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Published on September 27, 2019

How to Fix a Broken Marriage And Save Your Relationship

How to Fix a Broken Marriage And Save Your Relationship

When you are a child and dream of your “happily ever after,” it never dawns on you that your marriage might not end up that way. I mean, let’s face it – all the Disney movies in the world never, ever hint to the fact that Cinderella and her Prince Charming would ever have any problems, right?

Well, Disney movies aren’t real life. Although we all know this on a conscious level, we still – in our hearts – hope that we will be the exception to the rule. We think that we will be one of the lucky ones who have a lifelong, happy marriage.

However, for many couples, it simply doesn’t happen. Why is that? Well, the reasons are many, which I will go into in a minute. But no one teaches us how to have a loving marriage. And if we didn’t see our parents living happily together, then we really have no model for it.

So, what if you find yourself in an unhappy marriage? How to fix a broken marriage and save your relationship?

Reasons that Lead to a Broken Marriage

I really wish all of us could take a class in school called Relationships 101. But no one is ever formally taught how to have a good marriage (or any relationship for that matter). What is the result? The result is that all of us just sort of fly by the seat of our pants and wing it when it comes to relationships. But if you want to have a happy, healthy, successful marriage, you can’t do that.

Here are some of the causes of a broken marriage.

Laziness

Everyone says relationships are hard and take a lot of hard work. Well, think about it. Anything in this life that is worth having takes effort, right? I mean, unless you win the lottery, you won’t become rich without hard work.

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Relationships are no different. You have to put in effort into your marriage. If you don’t, and are too lazy to keep it alive, it will die.

Selfishness

Many people are selfish to some extent. But when it comes at the price of a healthy marriage, then it’s a problem. You can’t always put your needs first. You have to put your partner’s needs at least equal to – or before – your own. Otherwise, resentment will keep building endlessly.

Neglect

This goes hand-in-hand with laziness and selfishness. If you are lazy and don’t put in effort, and you are constantly selfish, then you are neglecting your partner – and your relationship as a whole.

Relationships are like plants. If you don’t water a plant, it will die. If you neglect a marriage, it will eventually end as well.

Children

As much as we love them, children are hard on a marriage. If you are honest with yourself, you know it’s true. Children take a lot of time and energy – time and energy that could spent on your marriage. So, when couples don’t stay connected because children get in the way, then your marriage will break down.

Poor Communication Skills

Knowing how to talk to your partner to express your feelings and needs is essential. However, both people need to do the same and have empathy for the other person.

If empathy (the ability to identify with and see the other person’s point of view) doesn’t exist, then it’s virtually impossible to have a healthy marriage.

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How to Fix a Broken Marriage (without Couseling)

Sometimes, we feel hopeless when we’re in a bad marriage. You wonder if it is ever possible to rediscover the good relationship you had in the beginning. The answer is yes, but you have to put in some work.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the financial means to go to counseling. However, if you do, I would suggest that as a first step.

Even if this is not an option, here are some steps you can try:

1. Take a Good Look at Yourself

It takes two to tango. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. In other words, problems in a relationship are rarely the sole responsibility of just one person.

Take a look at your behaviors and speculate how they might have contributed to the state of your marriage.

These tips are useful for you: How to Save a Marriage That Is Falling Apart

2. Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions

Now that you know what you did to contribute to your marital problems, own up to them. Tell your spouse how you feel, and then commit to changing your behavior immediately.

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3. Be Honest with Yourself and Your Spouse

Sometimes it’s easier to put your head in the sand and ignore the problems. But your marriage won’t get any better if you do this!

Sit down and be honest with yourself about the state of the marriage. Then, take your feelings to your spouse and have a deep, heart-to-heart talk.

4. Have a Talk

This is an obvious step, but it needs to be done. You can’t map out a plan for the future if you don’t even talk about your problems to begin with.

5. Each Partner Explains His/Her Perception of the Problems

Perception is reality

. In other words, your spouse probably sees the marriage in a very different way than you do. So, you need to listen to your partner’s point of view.

6. Just Listen

While your spouse is explaining their point of view, just listen to them. Don’t talk. Don’t interrupt them. Instead, stay calm and don’t get defensive.

7. Make a List of Things That Both People Want to Change

In order to rebuild your marriage, things obviously need to change – on both sides. So, both of you need to write down, and talk about, what needs to be changed in the marriage.

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8. Write out a “Contract”

It’s easy for people to say they are going to change, but it’s another thing for them to actually follow through with it. So, it’s best to write a “contract” between the two of you and sign it. This shows commitment to each other for change.

9. Spend Quality Time Together

You can’t rebuild your marriage if you aren’t spending time together! It seems obvious, but you need to rediscover each other, and spending quality time talking and doing things is imperative.

10. Ditch the Technology

Believe it or now, technology is a huge culprit in the downfall of relationships. Whether it’s the TV, cell phone, or video games, spending too much time with technology and not each other is the kiss of death. Make sure you put that down and talk to each other on a regular basis.

Can You Fix a Broken Marriage Alone?

This is a very common question that I am asked, which does not have an easy answer. In fact, my first instinct is to answer “it cannot be done.” I truly do believe it takes two committed people to rebuild a marriage. However, if you don’t have a willing spouse, you can try these steps if you are desperate enough to try to go it alone:

Take a Look Back at What Happened in the Marriage

Do a “relationship autopsy.” In other words, how did the marriage die? Just like a literal dead body is dissected after death, you can look at your marriage and see what went wrong.

If you find that a lot of the causes were because of YOU, then you can change your actions.

Notice Any Common Patterns That Have Emerged over the Years

Relationships always develop patterns. Some are good, and some are bad. So, you need to look for recurring themes in your marriage that may have gotten you into trouble. Once you identify them, try something new instead of repeating the same actions in the future.

Final Thoughts

Rebuilding a marriage is not easy, but it can be done. The easiest way to have a healthy relationship is to not let it break down in the first place. However, since that’s not an option, all the tips in this article will definitely put you both on the path to resurrecting what was lost.

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Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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