Every healthy relationship goes through problems, so when you’re learning how to save your marriage from completely dying, where do you start?
Are you wondering to yourself, “Is my relationship healthy?” Are you afraid that your marriage or relationship may be in so much trouble that it’s too late to come back from it and fall in love again?
Just like our physical health, our relationships need daily attention to stay healthy.
Married life is not devoid of relationship problems. But, that doesn’t mean couples don’t make mistakes that can turn deadly — and they don’t even realize it!
It’s not too late to fix things and still have a good marriage or relationship. First, you need to start by knowing what these mistakes are and then start nurturing love and intimacy in your relationship.
Here are those 3 mistakes.
1. Sweeping conflict under the rug
Many of us think that conflict will just go away if we ignore it. This is understandable. After all, if it seems like the fiery feud has died down, we probably don’t want to keep stoking the flame.
Even if it seems like the heat of the moment has combusted to just some burning embers, what we don’t see is that contempt can be simmering under the surface in our partner for many months after. That can lead to passive aggression and more saboteurs of the bond to which you both committed to tending.
Let’s zoom in on a scene that illustrates this.
Paul and Stacey both worked long hours and spent their downtime separately. And although they were cordial, they started to feel like roommates, drifting further and further apart.
They didn’t share their feelings. They pretended everything was fine while under the surface they felt lonely and resentful. It was “easier” that way
One day, he asked her to do one small errand and she blew up at him, “How dare you ask me to do one more thing so you can just go watch TV when you don’t lift a finger around here!”
They hurled insults at each other until they were exhausted. And he slept on the couch for a few days.
Then, they had hot make-up intimacy. She said, “I think the solution is to fight more often. Then, at least we’re real with each other!”
Unfortunately, when couples stay in a cycle of avoiding conflict, fighting, and make-up sex, the fights get more hurtful over time and the marriage slowly dies in the process.
But, there are other ways to create passion! You need to share your feelings before they turn into big arguments.
However, sometimes, when couples try to share their feelings, they make the second deadly mistake:
2. Blaming your partner for the problem
Let’s face it, your partner is wrong sometimes. Things would be better if they changed their negative behavior, wouldn’t they? The question is, what motivates people to change?
When you criticize your partner for their behavior, even if it is causing a problem, how do you think it affects them? To answer this, how do you feel when they criticize you?
If your significant other blows up at you with “You never clean up after yourself! What’s wrong with you?” How do you react? Perhaps, you feel attacked and controlled and then they wonder why you’re criticizing them or ignoring them later.
Now, let’s flip it. You want someone to adjust their behavior. Even if you blame your loved one in a “nicer” way, this doesn’t motivate them to change because although people may be motivated by rules and punishment in the short term, it costs you love and connection.
But, what would motivate your spouse to change is the same thing that motivated them to do those wonderful things they did for you when you were falling in love!
Remember when you were deeply in love and it naturally made you feel good to do things that made them feel good? You can get that feeling back and learn how to do that later in this article.
3. Trying to win an argument
So you might be saying, “Well, what if my style isn’t really to blame my spouse?” That’s a fair point. Even if you’re not blaming, you’ve most likely tried to prove you’re right when you’re in an argument, haven’t you? It’s human nature; it just feels bad to be wrong, right?
And that’s just the point: Let’s say you win and your partner feels wrong. It’s nearly guaranteed not to be a fun, sexy night later on! (I had to learn this the hard way.)
You know that feeling when you’re both so in sync, basking in the enjoyment of each other’s company? You’re giving that up if you try to win. Then, both spouses are left feeling hurt and disconnected.
There are always two sides and two points of view.
What you want is to create a win-win solution that gets both of your needs met. Then you’re both on the same team. Maybe now is a good time to uncover just how to do that.
Here are 3 ways to save your marriage and have a healthy relationship.
1. Share your feelings and needs and make time to talk about them
One of the best ways to prevent a landmine of conflict from sabotaging a lifetime of love is to commit to courageous communication. This means challenging yourself to air out what you need and what you feel.
At first, you might feel vulnerable. After practice, this can become easier and save your marriage.
For example, you can try, “Honey, when you leave dishes in the sink, I feel stressed out with all we both have to do when what I want is to trust you and relax more. How can we solve this together?”
Then, after you open up the line of communication, you might follow this up with, “Thank you for hearing me. What would make washing dishes or putting them in the dishwasher quickly work for both of us?”
2. Appreciate your partner for everything good
Like we covered earlier, people who do something out of criticism are not going to be motivated in the long-term. Behavioral studies show the power and effectiveness of positive reinforcement for long-term behavior change.
Sometimes our pride gets in the way of pointing out the good deeds our significant other does-especially if we were angry at them. If we don’t snap out of this spell, we’re sabotaging our own relationship.
Giving someone some positive reinforcement is not a way of saying, “You pissed me off, and now I’m going to tell you how great you are.”
Instead, it’s a way of saying, “Whether or not I was angry at you, I’m going to change our dynamic by telling you what I like. And I’ll start by appreciating that behavior whenever you show it.”
Every day is an opportunity for you to shift your relationship into a more blissful place when you make it a point to find the good that is already happening around you and draw your spouse’s and your attention to it. What you appreciate appreciates.
3. Connect over non-logistical things each and every day
Some spouses get in a rut where they’ve stopped nurturing romance and, instead, are running their marriage like a business.
Healthy relationships and marriages need a balance of collaborative decision-making as well as delightful moments of fun, pleasure, mirth, silliness, or sharing stories. You can put the balance back in your relationship by creating more of these highly connective moments that weave you together.
No matter how busy you are, there are many ways to create positive experiences for you and the person you married or are in a relationship with.
These make you feel like you’re on the same team again, that you want to do things for each other — not out of obligation, but out of love.
Isn’t that the goal?
So, if you want to put some joy back in your marriage or your relationship, you can try these:
- Spend 5 minutes giving/receiving affectionate touch, like a foot rub or a caress on the face.
- Create ways to connect before you leave or when you come home, even if it’s just sharing what you’re looking forward to, or asking your spouse about the highlights of their day.
- Make a ritual of connecting for a few minutes before bed, even if you have different bedtimes. You can talk about what you’re grateful for or what you hope to dream about. Pillow talk helps you get out of your head and feel connected.
Deciding that today is the day to start implementing some new directions in your relationship can make these become easy habits that keep your love alive for a lifetime.