Couples usually visit a psychotherapist with a question how to fix marriage problems before it’s too late. In some cases, unfortunately, at that point it already is. But, for many, as long as they can remember better times that they shared together, there is hope. Hope not merely for saving the marriage, but for transforming it into what they imagined as being the ideal relationship when they were saying their vows. So, how do those couples save their marriage from ruins? Here are four steps that you should take when you’re trying to fix marriage problems before it’s too late.
List all your problems, but focus on your role in them
All couples fight. Those who don’t ever get into a disagreement probably have a serious problem of lack of openness. But, for the vast majority who do get into a disagreement here and there, there are proper and inadequate ways of dealing with the issues. So, at this point, you need to use your problems and turn them around to your advantage.
How do you do this? Make a list, for starters. Write down all the issues you fight about, or you would be fighting about (if only you didn’t avoid mentioning them in the first place for fear of fighting). And be as honest as you can possibly be since this might make a difference between making it and fail.
A very important aspect of this process will be for you to concentrate on your own role in these problems. We’re not saying it’s your fault, not at all. But, at this stage, you will begin to learn another important skill – to stop blaming others and to focus on what you can control and can improve. In other words, each partner needs to learn to direct their efforts inwards, in order for the process to stand a chance of success. Blaming each other for problems and not taking the responsibility for your share of guilt might very well be one of the reasons that the marriage got to this point in the first place.
Learn how to communicate in a constructive way
With the last, that has been said comes the next part of the process, to fix marriage problems in four steps, which is constructive communication. Marriages tend to fail because the ratio between positive interactions and negative ones is too close (or the bad prevails). All sorts of blaming, yelling, insults, sarcasm, anger and resentment, all that falls into the second category, and they all need to go.
Why? Apart from the enormous potential of snide remarks and open hostility to ruin the receiver’s confidence and willingness to show affection, they are utterly unconstructive. They say nothing about how you feel and what you want, they solve nothing. As long as you keep barking at each other, you are wasting the time that you could have committed to fixing marriage problems.
So, instead of such impractical approach to your time and relationship, try to express yourself in an effective manner. Yes, you might need to practice and change your way of communicating with your partner significantly. But, what you were doing thus far wasn’t really working, wasn’t it? What you should do is use the following template whenever there is a touchy subject at hand: express your feelings, express your concern and perception of things, suggest a solution, and ask for your partner’s opinion on the proposed solution.
Eliminate major deal-breakers
After you address the daily calls for an argument, you should dedicate your attention to the major deal-breakers of your marriage. These are usually anger, adultery, and addictions. Many marriages don’t get through these huge problems. But those that do, do so by ending such marriage and starting a new one. A new one with the same partner, but with none of those extremely hurtful and damaging habits.
Work on positive aspects of your marriage
When a marriage reaches the point of no return, where the partners need to decide whether they will continue down the same path or change their ways, most couples have already completely forgotten the good sides of their relationship. They fell into the abyss of bitterness and anger.
However, when you want to salvage the marriage, you need to remember the good things about it. And more than that. You need to focus entirely on them. You should make an effort to eliminate all the old and worn-out issues and make a fresh start, based on your marriage’s strengths.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.