The phrase “how to save your marriage” gets searched 3600 times per month on Google. That is a lot of people in struggling and unhappy relationships looking for ways to save their marriages. And it’s always tempting to think there’s some magic solution or overly complicated answer which we’ve somehow missed that will fix everything, but the truth is actually much simpler and practical. Boring even. Because, ultimately, learning how to save your marriage, almost always comes down to only ONE simple strategy …
Nurture Your Marriage!
Now, just to make sure you really get what I’m saying here, let me add that to nurture your marriage is in fact about ACTIONS.
What you do.
And also, what you refrain from doing or choose not to do.
I’m sure you expected something far more earthshattering than that, didn’t you?
But why would you?
When did we start making having an intimate relationship with another human being so flippen complicated?
When things start going South, it’s like we’re suddenly at a loss at how that could have happened, while simultaneously hoping there’s some magical cure for our shitty situation and marriage falling apart.
But, the truth is, we know.
In our hearts, we know why things are the way they are.
We know how we got to where we are.
It’s just that we don’t want to acknowledge the realities of what got us to where we are because they suck.
But, that still doesn’t mean to save your marriage or fixing a relationship is or should be, complicated.
As human beings, we’re actually fairly simple when it comes to the matters of the heart.
When we feel loved, we tend to reciprocate.
When we feel hurt or our trust was broken, we tend to want to leave or retaliate.
The hard part is acknowledging how we got to where we got, and mustering the courage, humility, and commitment to turn things around.
That’s the difficult part.
And not because it’s actually difficult but because we tend to be proud and want to be right.
We love the weird sense of perverse satisfaction we get from being “wronged” and constantly rubbing that in the guilty party’s face.
Like our husband’s.
Many of us like to find some crazy sense of power in victimhood and we remind everyone around us of it, all the time.
That way, we don’t have to put our big boy pants or big girl panties on and fight for what we actually want.
It’s easier to constantly bring up the wrongs that were done to us.
Your husband’s a dick sometimes … so?
Your wife doesn’t like your mates … and?
Listen, as long as you choose to stay in your marriage, for whatever reason, you have one of two choices:
- Stay, commit, and fight for what you want (this post will show you how), OR,
- Move on.
But, sitting on the fence and complaining about how much your marriage sucks is NOT an option.
You will not save your marriage by being a complainer.
You will not save your marriage by dancing around the actual issues (including those YOU bring, create, or help keep alive).
You will not save your marriage by thinking about it.
You will not save your marriage by talking about it. Yes, read that again.
You will only save your marriage when you choose to NURTURE it!
Now, there are many important ways that you need to nurture your marriage in order to save it, and we will cover those soon.
But, for now, just realise that learning how to save your marriage ultimately comes down to one simple thing … nurturing it.
And I will show you seven simple actions you can start taking today, to actually save your marriage.
But, it starts with you.
You need to choose to want to save your marriage.
I cannot do that for you.
Your spouse cannot do that for you.
Only you can.
And I hope you do.
So, let’s get into it.
How to save your marriage: 7 actions you need to take
1. Maintain realistic expectations.
Getting married doesn’t automatically make you happy, but it can add to your contentment in life.
Expect to run into some conflicts and hard times.
You won’t always agree on everything, but you can make a commitment to deal with your conflicts constructively.
A big part of having a successful relationship is maintaining reasonable expectations.
When your expectations are unreasonable, they will frequently go unmet.
When someone fails to live up to your expectations, you become upset and angry.
Having realistic expectations will enhance your relationship.
But unrealistic expectations will suck the life out of your marriage for sure.
Here’s a list of unrealistic ideas and expectation you need to avoid if you want to save your marriage from choking to death:
- My partner should be able to read my mind.
- Zero fighting.
- The right partner will make my life perfect.
- My partner will always be available when I need them.
- I will always be the only important thing in my partner’s life.
- Everything should be 50/50.
- All we need is each other.
- Good relationships are easy.
Make no mistake – marriage and romantic relationships are challenging.
And the longer you’re with someone, the more work it takes.
Not to love the person, but to make the whole thing feel alive.
Do you know what I mean?
It’s easy living with someone for 10 years, but it’s a completely different story being happy, healthy (together) and intimate for all that time.
That takes some effort.
And, when your expectations are unreasonable, that type of romantic relationship becomes impossible.
Not only are you constantly dissatisfied, but your partner is also likely to become frustrated with you.
Take a look at what you expect from your partner and determine if it would enhance your relationship to make a few adjustments to your expectations.
Chances are it would.
The second way to nurture your marriage is to …
2. Focus on the good qualities that your spouse possesses.
Listen, it’s super easy to focus on the negative and what’s annoying with your spouse.
But, that’s also a sure way to marital dissatisfaction and eventual decay.
What you need to consider, instead, is to start focusing on the good qualities your spouse possess.
Without doing that it will become very difficult to maintain a positive attitude about your spouse and marriage.
Chances are your spouse will have habits that annoy you, but happy couples tend to focus on the things they like about each other whereas unhappy couples don’t.
If you want to nurture your marriage you need to learn how to overlook minor irritations, like leaving the cap off the toothpaste, and start paying attention to qualities that matter more, suce as their integrity and kindness.
Which leads to number three …
3. Express your appreciation for your spouse.
As long as you focus on your spouse’s habits that annoy you, it would be very difficult to feel and express appreciation for your partner.
The only way to be generous and specific about praising your spouse is to actually focus on the actions and traits you truly appreciate about your spouse.
For example, let your wife know if she made a busy week less stressful by volunteering to do the grocery shopping without you.
Now, this is a lot easier when you feel positive about your spouse, but not so much when feelings aren’t all that positive.
When your marriage has some negative feelings in it, focusing on and expressing your appreciation for your spouse becomes a lot harder.
But, this is where the challenge is.
It is exactly when things are difficult when you need to look beyond yourself and praise the one good thing about your spouse.
The next important part of nurturing your marriage is to …
4. Show your affection.
Showing affection is an action.
You cannot talk about showing affection and hope your spouse feels it.
You DO affection.
And it is through these frequent gestures of affection that deeper connection is created and maintained
It also doesn’t need to be overly complicated.
Showing affection is not complicated.
Greet each other with a kiss or a hug when you leave or return home, even if you get home from work in a bad mood.
Always kiss each other good night.
Walk hand in hand when out and about.
Make it simple, practical and part of your everyday life.
If you only wait for special occasions to show affection, something’s wrong.
No, aim to show affection as much as possible.
Even when you don’t necessarily feel like it.
5. Be supportive.
An unbelievable amount of people feel lonely in their marriages.
I wrote a whole article on it which you can read here later.
Therefore, it’s only natural that to feel validated and supported is one of the most important benefits of marriage for many people.
Again, this doesn’t need to be complicated.
You know your spouse and you know how and when they need to be supported by you.
Now, it’s important to understand that you can’t always solve each other’s problems, but you CAN be present, a good listener and reassure your spouse that you care.
And none of these things cost you money.
Only a little bit of time and effort.
But that’s the name of the game.
That is the price of admission if you want to create and have a happy, healthy, and intimate love life.
It doesn’t just happen.
We are not in the movies we people don’t have morning breath.
No, this is real life.
Creating a happy relationship actually takes some work.
And sometimes, that means supporting one another even when one of you don’t really have the energy yourself to do so.
Which is when you need to dig deep.
It is also in these challenging times when a lot is required of us that conflict can happen pretty easily.
And that’s fine.
But part of nurturing your relationship is to understand “conflict” in the right way.
Which brings us to the next point …
6. Address conflicts constructively.
In order to nurture your relationship to save your marriage, you must learn to practice patience with one another.
The aim is to look for constructive solutions together, rather than stab holes in each other’s arguments and hearts.
It is especially crucial that in times of conflict that you find ways to defuse your anger so that it doesn’t sabotage your relationship.
It is also important to understand the difference between men and women on this point.
Men, by default, like to come up with solutions.
The problem with that is that women don’t tend to want solutions when they are upset, but rather an attentive audience that understands.
The problem with talking emotionally, however, is that one can easily end up saying things you didn’t really mean but was said nonetheless.
So when it comes to stressful situations and addressing conflict, men and women deal with it differently.
However, understanding how men and women deal with conflict differently (uniquely), will help you resolve issues much easier.
Additionally, there are also a few strategic conflict skills you can use to address conflict constructively.
Here they are:
The first skill you must learn is to de-stress and look at the situation from outside yourself.
This helps you to stop from becoming emotionally overwhelmed and to make strong decisions quickly.
But, learning to destress in a stressful situation requires that you practice in other situations.
You must practice learning to reduce your stress when you aren’t being stressed.
In other words, practice reducing your stress and situations where the stakes are not that high, and it doesn’t matter if you struggle with it.
Also, most people respond well to a sensory trigger to de-stress, such as a scent, sound, taste, smell or touch.
Therefore, think about music, deep breathing, sniffing peppermint or another scent that is soothing to you, and put them into practice.
The next skill is to recognise when your emotions are beginning to escalate and learning how to manage them.
This is emotional awareness, which is sometimes difficult and challenging.
One way to keep track of this is to start keeping a notebook and learning to check in with yourself several times a day.
Write down how you are feeling at the time.
Then come back to it at a later stage to reflect on it.
This simple exercise will eventually help you to learn to recognise your emotions as they occur and then manage them because before you can manage something you have to recognise that it’s happening.
Your third skill is to improve your nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication is your body language, or what others learn about you from the way you act, your facial expressions and the way you hold your arms.
What we communicate through non-verbal communication contributes a heck of a lot to how we are heard by our partners, or, whether we are heard at all.
I’m sure you’ve had the interesting experience where your partner wasn’t saying much verbally, but, nonverbally they were saying more than enough for you to understand what they were feeling at that moment.
Improving your non-verbal communication will go a long way in dealing with conflict constructively.
So, when you are in the middle of a conflict watch your own and your partner’s body language carefully.
When they are angry it is better to offer a reassuring touch, calm voice and concerned face than it is to get angry right along with them.
And the last important skill to learn is to use humour.
At the start of any conflict, you can diffuse it quickly using humour and visit the situation without angry – increasing the potential for successful resolution.
Now, this does NOT mean that you laugh at your partner or smirk at their behaviour.
It means that you can use self-deprecating humour or say something that you both might find humorous at that moment to break the rising tension.
When you practice these skills over time, they will help you resolve more conflicts successfully without hurt feelings.
Dealing with conflict constructively is a powerful way to nurture your relationship.
Which brings us to the last strategy for nurturing your relationship in order to save your marriage …
7. Maintain your own identity.
This one is slightly different than the others.
This is about YOU, and not so much your partner.
Many couples think it is healthy to love their partners so much that they lose themselves in the relationship, but that’s a mistake.
No matter how much we love someone else, we must work hard to maintain your own identity.
Losing yourself in a relationship is not only unhealthy, but it’s also potentially toxic.
You can enjoy your unity and intimacy all you want, but still, be your own person.
In fact, maintaining your own friends and interests will not just help you feel more interesting, but it will actually make your marriage stronger.
And the most powerful way to maintain your own identity is to value yourself.
Self-love, in other words.
If you’re like most people I know, you’re probably also too hard on yourself.
You feel that you fall short somehow and so you try and compensate for it by giving so much of yourself that you end up burning out.
You literally and up in a situation where you are empty and have very little left to give.
But, here’s a different idea …
It’s much easier to make your way through the world if you love yourself.
It is much easier to nurture your relationship and love your spouse when you love yourself.
You cannot give love to someone else that you don’t have for yourself also.
Now, I know that many of us struggle to accept and love ourselves because of our many flaws.
And so we opt for some type of self-sacrifice to somehow make up for a debt that doesn’t actually exist.
No, if you’re actually serious about nurturing your relationship, you need to become serious about loving yourself.
Not just in thought, but also in practice.
I’ll give you a few ideas.
Love yourself more each day with these strategies:
Give yourself an earnest compliment each day.
Have you ever felt like you needed a compliment?
Or maybe you struggle to receive one when offered.
So, go ahead and give yourself one now!
No permission needed.
Think about all your great qualities and congratulate yourself on one of them.
And truly feel it.
There’s no reason to wait for someone else to get around to saying something nice.
Give yourself a nice compliment right now.
Make a list of your accomplishments.
You’ve accomplished plenty of great things.
Make a list of all of them.
Be creative and give this exercise some thought.
And don’t underplay any of the things you’ve achieved.
If you can speak two languages, you’re able to do something only 18.6% of people in New Zealand can do (2013 census).
If you’re a contributing citizen to society, awesome, not everyone can say that.
In fact, if you’ve learned how to walk (one of the hardest things to learn), you have achieved something.
We have ALL achieved something we can celebrate.
You’ll find that your life has been more impressive than you realised.
So make the list?
Eat in a healthier manner.
Take better care of yourself by making some changes to your diet.
We could all use a little improvement in this department.
You know which foods are healthy, and which are not.
Add a few of them to your diet and drop a few of the less healthy foods.
This is a practical way to show you love yourself enough to take care of your body.
Show yourself that you’re important.
You wouldn’t feed poison to your child or beloved pet.
Give yourself the same level of importance.
Stop filling your mind, heart and soul with toxic shit.
Stop poisoning yourself.
Value yourself enough to give yourself the best you deserve.
You are important, so act that way.
Support a cause you believe in.
Spending time on something you think is important is a great way to show yourself that you’re a good person.
You’ll feel better about yourself and put a smile on your face.
Another great way to love yourself … and others.
Appreciating what you have makes it easier to love yourself.
Think about your life and make a list of the things and people that fill you with gratitude.
It’s surprising how much of a great life you already have.
There is so much to love, even with the bit of crap.
Forgive your past self.
Sure, you’ve made some mistakes and probably done and said a few awful things along the way.
But that period of your life is over now.
Why drag the past into the present?
You can make a fresh start each day.
So, love yourself enough to let it go.
And move on.
Here’s how …
Make one small improvement.
As great as you are, you can be even better.
But, you don’t have to do it all at once.
No, just make one small change that will enhance your life in some way.
Maybe it’s exercising for a few minutes each week or taking your spouse out on a date once a week.
Show yourself that you can grow and become a better version of yourself.
You can also try some of these easy ideas:
Pay all of your bills on time.
Be more patient with your family.
Be on time for work each day.
Do fifty pushups each morning.
Each accomplishment pays a little bit into your self-love-account.
Do one thing each day that makes you happy.
If not today, when?
There’s no time like the present to begin enjoying your life.
Start taking those Brazilian Jiujitsu lessons, get a dog or volunteer at the local food bank.
Start loving your life and yourself.
Avoid people that drag you down.
Odds are that at least one of your relationships is poisoning your life.
Hopefully not your marriage, but even if it is, you can do something about it.
It might be a friendship, romantic relationship, or a relationship with a family member.
Whichever one it is, value yourself enough to either fix or eliminate negative people and relationships from your life.
There you have it, seven actions you can take to nurture your relationship and save your marriage.
Again, it all comes down to two things:
- intent (wanting to), and
- behaviour (backing the desire up with actions).
Talk is extremely cheap in this instance.
Complaining even more so.
The truth is that irrespective of how you might be feeling about your marriage right now, chances are you and your spouse have many wonderful opportunities that you’ve been overlooking.
You just need to discover them again.
Start by believing that both you and your spouse deserve love from yourself and each other.
And make sure to give it.
If you truly want to save your marriage, there is no time like the present.
Don’t wait for your spouse to make the first move.
This is not a game to see who can hold out the longest.
This is your life!
Make it happen.
This is one of the BEST relationship books I have ever read!
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray will blow your mind and change how you look at your love relationship FOREVER!!!
If you’ve only heard of it, but never actually read it, get it on Amazon here.
This book will change your love life for good.
Chapter 3 alone, “Men go to their caves and women talk,” is worth every bit of time and money you will spend on this.
Every single couple I’ve worked with have struggled with communication because they didn’t understand how men and women communicate completely differently.
Reading that one chapter would have saved them months (even years) of frustration and arguments.
And there are many other chapters like that one.