If you’re struggling with marriage problems, you’re most likely feeling frustrated, sad, or just plain despairing. A failing marriage can feel like a trap, where nothing ever gets beyond “just awful.”
In situations like this, getting therapy or trying to work through your problems together as a team is sage advice. But is there anything you can individually do to save your marriage? You might be surprised to learn that yes, you can.
If you’re worried about your marriage, try these 7 things that just might save it.
1. Praise more often – and get specific
Constant criticism doesn’t create a good foundation for a marriage. If you criticize your partner a lot, you’ll antagonize them and everything will feel combative.
Try praising them instead. If they made an effort, made you laugh, were kind to a stranger or helped the kids with their homework, say thank you. If you love their sense of humor or how passionate they are about their favorite causes, tell them.
It’s so easy to get specific with criticism (“you were 40 minutes late!”), why not try getting specific with your praise?
2. Set clear time for listening
Both parties in a relationship deserve to be heard and validated – but the timing isn’t always right. If your partner tries to talk to you while you’re juggling making a meal and fielding kids’ homework questions, they’re not going to get the best of your attention.
Instead of brushing them off, try saying “I can’t talk about this right now, but let’s make time to sit down after dinner.” Let them know that their concerns matter to you, and then follow through by sitting down and talking things over with them.
3. Let go of the little things
If you’re struggling in your marriage, it’s all too easy to start picking out the little things that irritate you. If they always leave the toilet seat up, or always get the facts wrong when they tell that one story, you can soon find yourself quietly simmering.
But this won’t help save your marriage.
Learning to let the little things go takes discipline, but the results (less tension all round!) are worth it. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and simply remind yourself that some things don’t really matter that much.
4. Learn healthy conflict techniques
If you’re having marriage problems, the chances are you’re dealing with a lot of conflict. Points of disagreement can so easily escalate into arguments that leave both of you upset. Constant conflict will quickly make you feel like your marriage is doomed.
That’s why learning healthy conflict techniques can help save your marriage. If you can learn to listen without judgment and focus on resolution rather than winning, you’ll see a big difference. Make a conscious choice to speak respectfully, listen kindly, and refrain from dragging up the past.
5. Commit random acts of kindness
Would you respond better to someone who ignored you and treated you like an annoyance, or someone who treated you kindly? It’s so logical, but it’s easy to forget that your actions affect the outcome you get.
Show your partner some love and kindness, and you might be surprised at how much healing occurs. Take over a chore they hate, surprise them with a favorite meal, or arrange a nice night out for the two of you.
These little things won’t single handedly save your marriage, but they will foster a kinder environment that’s more conducive to tackling the bigger issues together.
6. Acknowledge the good
Acknowledging the good in your marriage will help you feel more hopeful about it. You might even get a notepad and make a list of good things. Maybe you’re a fantastic DIY team. Perhaps you share plenty of core values, or know how to make each other laugh.
Looking for the good will train your mind to see more of it. When you get into this mindset, the bad things become easier to deal with, because you’re not overwhelmed by them.
Search for ways to boost the good in your marriage by spending time doing activities that bring out the best in you both – and don’t forget to tell your partner all the things you love about being married to them.
7. Mind your own reactions
You can’t – and shouldn’t! – control your partner’s words and actions, but you can keep an eye on your own reactions.
Our own reactions can make a tense situation so much worse. If you catch yourself bristling or getting a sarcastic retort ready, take a deep breath and step back from the situation. If you need to, do some self care such as meditation, yoga or having a quiet cup of coffee to restore your balance.
If you can approach problems with calm, they won’t seem so insurmountable.
Sometimes what saves a marriage isn’t one big thing but lots of little things that add up to a healthier relationship. Try these techniques today – you can use them to build a more nurturing and respectful base from which to step forward together.