It’s no secret that marriage is difficult. When you build a life and home with someone, you are bound to run into differences of opinion.
Over time, you may even develop significant problems within your marriage. Perhaps ongoing conflict drives a wedge between you and your partner, or maybe you have grown apart and lost the spark, leaving your marriage in need of healing.
If you are wondering how to fix a marriage, these ten ways to reset your marriage may be just what you need to get back on track.
Fortunately, if you are still able to reminisce on the happier days from earlier in your relationship, the marriage can likely be saved.
By taking some steps to engage in a marriage reboot, starting over in marriage is a possibility, and you can find yourself enjoying the marriage you had always hoped for with your partner.
In fact, repairing a marriage is a common task that couples encounter over the years. All marriages have ups and downs, as the differences between two people can cause them to grow apart after years of living together in marriage.
This doesn’t mean the marriage is doomed. Instead, it is an opportunity to refresh your marriage. You might be worried that you don’t know how to heal a marriage, but the truth is that with honesty and real efforts to change, you can get your marriage back on track.
The best days of your marriage may even be yet to come.
10 ways to reset your marriage
If you are wondering how to start over in a marriage, there are some tools you can put into practice. Consider the following 10 tips for how to reset your marriage:
1. Give your partner grace.
The reality is that we all have expectations of what marriage will be like, but our partners can never live up to all of these expectations. At the same time, our partners have expectations of us that we may not always meet.
This is normal.
When you demand that your partner meets all of your expectations at all times, you set yourself up for disappointment.
Learn to accept the reality that unmet expectations are a part of every relationship, and you will learn the value of granting your partner grace. You and your partner may have different expectations, and you will have to let go of some of these.
Life may not always look exactly as expected, but to reset your marriage, letting go of unreasonable expectations is worth the healing it brings to your marriage.
2. Don’t assume you know what is going on with your partner
Assumption can destroy even the strongest marriages.
When you assume, you know what is going on in your partner’s head, you open the door for misunderstandings.
For example, if your partner seems agitated, you may jump to the conclusion that they are angry with you, leading to a day full of conflict and resentment.
To reset your marriage, instead of assuming the worst, ask your partner what is going on, and offer support. By asking instead of assuming, you can prevent miscommunication from ruining your marriage.
3. Take time to affirm with your partner
Offering positive affirmations is a key way to reset a resentful marriage. When a marriage begins to fail, it is often consumed by negativity.
Instead of criticizing your partner, be intentional about providing praise and expressing gratitude. Thank your wife for taking the time to make dinner, or tell your husband you appreciate how hard he worked on that household project.
To reset your marriage, make a habit of complimenting your partner or even leaving handwritten notes of appreciation around the house.
4. Get to know your partner on a deeper level
There are probably things you loved about your spouse from the beginning of the relationship, but you may also have noticed how he or she has evolved as the years have passed.
Take time to get to know who your partner is now. You may have fallen in love with his adventurous nature, but who is he now?
Ask about your partner’s hopes for the marriage, or their deepest desires. You may also explore childhood memories. Revisit these areas of your child’s personality to see how things may have changed, or how they may have grown over the years.
This can build a deeper connection or and be a solution for how to restart a relationship from scratch.
List out each area of contention, and work toward coming to a compromise in each area. If you are unable to tackle the list because you are fighting about absolutely everything, it may be time to seek couples counseling to help you work on healthier ways of communicating.
If you cannot agree on anything, chances are that you are not really fighting about what to eat for dinner, but rather are stuck in a cycle of negativity.
6. Work on yourself
It is easy to blame your spouse for everything wrong with the relationship, but the reality is that it takes two people to make a marriage.
To reset your marriage, instead of constantly demanding change from your partner, consider what you might be able to do differently to remedy some of the problems in the relationship.
7. Stop criticizing and express concerns effectively
If you are stuck in a cycle of belittling and criticizing your partner each time you are upset, you may be struggling with a resentful marriage, because an endless cycle of nasty remarks is no recipe for a healthy relationship.
To reset your marriage, learn to approach conflict or differences of opinion calmly and constructively. If you feel yourself escalating to anger, take a break from the conversation before you say something hurtful that you don’t truly mean.
The video below talks about criticism and why it is harmful to relationships, how to identify it when it is happening, and how to replace it with a more effective and less harmful technique called the “soft startup.”
When you are ready to have a discussion about disagreements, remain respectful by beginning the conversation with, “I feel that” or, “My concern is that.”
This keeps the conversation respectful and avoids placing blame on your partner.
8. Increase positive interactions
One of the top ways of how to reset your marriage is to be more intentional about positive interactions.
Relationship expert John Gottman asserts that for every negative interaction, couples need to compensate with five positive interactions.
Spend more time hugging your partner or giving a comforting touch. Instead of arguing, listen to your partner and express when you agree with something they have said.
9. Take a look at your parents’ marriage
Our first experience with love and marriage comes from what we learn from observing our parents. Whatever you witnessed growing up provides you with a framework for what to expect from relationships.
You may subconsciously be behaving the same way in your relationships that your parents did.
If this is the case, take the time to assess the pros and cons of your parents’ habits to reset your marriage. Then decide which you would like to change so they are not negatively impacting your own relationship.
You do not have to have your parents’ marriage.
10. Eliminate affairs, addictions, and excessive anger
If your marriage contains any of these traits, it is time to do a complete marriage reboot. You must create a new marriage that does not include any of these barriers.
Repairing a marriage in which there is an affair or in which one partner suffers with an addiction or anger problems may require the help of a relationship therapist.
If you are looking to reset your marriage, it is helpful to know that all marriages go through ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean you are destined for divorce.
There are ways of how to heal a marriage. If you have hit a rough patch, you and your spouse can begin to move forward by taking steps toward a marriage reboot.
It is also important to take time to get to know your partner, and to offer positive affirmations. Other strategies for repairing a marriage include making a list of disagreements and evaluating traits from your parents’ marriage that you may not want to emulate.
Other methods of starting over in a marriage may require the help of a relationship therapist. For example, if you find that you cannot communicate positively and are arguing over everything, marriage counseling can help you to develop healthier communication patterns.
One of both of you may also benefit from working with a counselor if serious issues like addictions, affairs, or anger are plaguing the marriage.
Even if things seem hopeless, there are ways of how to reset your marriage so you can enjoy happier days with your spouse.
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.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.