Discover expert advice and practical strategies to save your marriage.
The festive season can place immense pressure on couples. The build up and administrative tasks surrounding Christmas are often unevenly distributed, leading to resentment and unmet expectations. Moreover, there is a considerable amount of societal and extended family pressure, and as human beings, we naturally strive to please others, so tend to overcommit ourselves. All these factors can leave us feeling utterly exhausted as we enter the new year, which coincides with the depths of winter when our energy levels are naturally low and we battle the urge to hibernate. Consequently, the post-holiday reality can have a detrimental impact on our self-perception, emotional well-being, and relationships.
Another significant contributing factor is the financial strain that follows the festive season. Financial difficulties remain one of the leading causes of divorce, and after the financial crisis of 2023, it is not surprising that couples are feeling the strain.
Moreover, the onset of the New Year serves as an opportune moment for introspection and resolutions, compelling us to assess our lives and aspirations. It is during this time that any underlying issues within a marriage, which have been left unattended, tend to come sharply into focus.
If you find yourself teetering on the brink of divorce, but still hold onto a glimmer of hope for salvaging your marriage, this article is here to help. The faster you start working on fixing your marriage when unhappiness creeps in, the better. It's likely that these feelings have been building up inside you for a while. Take comfort in knowing that you're not alone. Many of us grapple with keeping love alive amidst life's hurdles, especially when raising kids.
Each couple's circumstances and dynamics are unique, just as the reasons for their growing apart vary, ranging from communication breakdowns to acts of infidelity. Nonetheless, there are specific exercises that couples can engage in, both individually and collectively, along with small but meaningful steps that can be taken with your partner to foster love, trust, and intimacy, with the ultimate goal of preserving your union.
Individually and as a couple, jot down the following:
While you can't recreate the exact marriage you had in the beginning, you can strive for a renewed and revitalised relationship. Consider it as "Marriage 2.0." To embark on this journey, however, you must first envision what this new chapter would entail. Try creating a vision board together which you can focus on each day.
Thanks to romantic comedies, we often have unrealistic expectations of love. Instead of relying on your partner to fulfil every aspect of your life, focus on finding your own personal fulfilment. Your partner shouldn't be responsible for "completing" you.
Take a deep dive into self-reflection: Why do you expect your partner to meet all your needs? Was it influenced by your parents' relationship or societal influences? Are expectations and beliefs around love are formed way before we meet our partners by our parents? What did your parents relationship teach you? By asking yourself these questions, you can uncover the work needed to become a happier version of yourself, which in turn contributes to a happier partnership.
We all snap at our partner in response to a seemingly innocent question at times, there is no judgment here but have you noticed that is happening a lot more lately? Perhaps you assumed they were implying something negative about your contributions to household chores. Over time, couples tend to make assumptions about each other's thoughts and motivations, leading to anger and reactivity. Here's the truth: the anger may stem from an internal argument rather than the reality of the situation. Make a commitment to stop these assumptions, and if you suspect a hidden meaning behind a question or comment, simply ask for clarification. This will pave the way for better communication and the potential to revive your unhappy marriage.
Mutual respect and trust are crucial for a happy marriage. If these elements have waned, it's essential to rediscover them. Couples often fall into patterns of interaction without questioning their impact. To minimise conflict and hurtful remarks, establish guidelines for communication within your relationship. When you truly love and respect your partner, there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed," For example, when disagreements arise, make a promise to avoid swearing or resorting to name-calling. The more constructive your communication, the better your chances of addressing underlying issues. Utilise this comprehensive step-by-step course to build a strong foundation.
You both need to reconnect and enjoy each other's company, just like in the early days. Set aside time once or twice a week for a date where you intentionally steer clear of discussing problems (or children, if you have any). Revisit the basics. What did you enjoy doing before marriage that you've neglected? What activities brought you closer when you first fell in love? If going out for a date night is not feasible, an intimate evening at home can be just as meaningful. Cook a meal together, share a relaxing bath, and adhere to a "no kids, no life admin, no work" policy. Stay present, ditch the TV and technology, and focus on each other.
Intimacy goes way beyond sex. Try simple gestures like holding hands, giving warm hugs, affectionate kisses, or dancing cheek-to-cheek. Don't underestimate the power of touch, especially if it speaks to you or your partner's love language.
These simple acts can unleash a surge of pleasure and bonding hormones like oxytocin. They can reignite the intimacy that might be lacking in your relationship and strengthen your connection, making physical intimacy more likely.
Think about having an affair with your partner, but not in the traditional way. Treat them like you can't get enough of them. Start by appreciating and being grateful for the little things. Compliment their new haircut, send them a text showing your excitement to see them later—do all the things that couples say during the passionate stages of romance. Sometimes, you might have to fake it until you truly feel it, but fanning the flame can really reignite the fire.
Resolving long-standing resentment that may have built up over the years doesn't happen overnight, but a good place to start is scheduling a designated "meeting" with your partner, keep it short and sweet (e.g., Tuesday from 7:30 to 8). During this time, have an open and honest conversation. Start by sharing why you're upset or holding a grudge, and then ask for a change.
Then, give your partner a chance to express their own resentments, and promise yourself not to react angrily or defensively. To help with that, imagine holding their anger in a container as they speak, just observing instead of attacking.
Having shared values, dreams, and life goals is crucial for a loving and healthy marriage where you are growing in the same direction and not apart. Make time to sit down and chat about your future together and how you can support each other. This is an ongoing conversation, even after saying "I do" or starting a family. A great tool for this is making a vision board together you can display in your home.
If you're ready to make these strategies work, I've got a free course called The Balanced Relationship Blueprint. It gives you step-by-step guidance on building a strong foundation in your relationship, plus a workbook to help you out at every stage. You can access the course for free at this link.
If you want to save your marriage, but your partner doesn't share the same sentiment suggests planning a structured break. This approach isn't meant to be vindictive; it's a way of saying, "I want to save our marriage, but I recognise that you don't feel the same. Let's take some time apart." This break could be as short as one night, but usually, four to six weeks provide the necessary wake-up call.
It's important to note that this break is not a punishment, but rather an opportunity for your partner to miss you. During this time, refrain from calling, texting, or engaging in any sexual activity.
If the break doesn't yield the desired results, seeking counselling or coaching is always a wise step. It's also crucial to re-evaluate whether your lifelong partner truly lives up to their vows. The hard truth is that not all marriages are meant to be saved, but the decision ultimately rests with you when you feel ready. If you wish to book a one-on-one session with me, you can do so here.
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These tips can help to establish, strengthen, and rediscover connection, passion, and joy in your relationship.