When you are a child and dream of your “happily ever after,” it never dawns on you that your marriage might not end up that way. I mean, let’s face it – all the Disney movies in the world never, ever hint to the fact that Cinderella and her Prince Charming would ever have any problems, right?
Well, Disney movies aren’t real life. Although we all know this on a conscious level, we still – in our hearts – hope that we will be the exception to the rule. We think that we will be one of the lucky ones who have a lifelong, happy marriage.
However, for many couples, it simply doesn’t happen. Why is that? Well, the reasons are many, which I will go into in a minute. But no one teaches us how to have a loving marriage. And if we didn’t see our parents living happily together, then we really have no model for it.
So, what if you find yourself in an unhappy marriage? How to fix a broken marriage and save your relationship?
Reasons that Lead to a Broken Marriage
I really wish all of us could take a class in school called Relationships 101. But no one is ever formally taught how to have a good marriage (or any relationship for that matter). What is the result? The result is that all of us just sort of fly by the seat of our pants and wing it when it comes to relationships. But if you want to have a happy, healthy, successful marriage, you can’t do that.
Here are some of the causes of a broken marriage.
Everyone says relationships are hard and take a lot of hard work. Well, think about it. Anything in this life that is worth having takes effort, right? I mean, unless you win the lottery, you won’t become rich without hard work.
Relationships are no different. You have to put in effort into your marriage. If you don’t, and are too lazy to keep it alive, it will die.
Many people are selfish to some extent. But when it comes at the price of a healthy marriage, then it’s a problem. You can’t always put your needs first. You have to put your partner’s needs at least equal to – or before – your own. Otherwise, resentment will keep building endlessly.
This goes hand-in-hand with laziness and selfishness. If you are lazy and don’t put in effort, and you are constantly selfish, then you are neglecting your partner – and your relationship as a whole.
Relationships are like plants. If you don’t water a plant, it will die. If you neglect a marriage, it will eventually end as well.
As much as we love them, children are hard on a marriage. If you are honest with yourself, you know it’s true. Children take a lot of time and energy – time and energy that could spent on your marriage. So, when couples don’t stay connected because children get in the way, then your marriage will break down.
Poor Communication Skills
Knowing how to talk to your partner to express your feelings and needs is essential. However, both people need to do the same and have empathy for the other person.
If empathy (the ability to identify with and see the other person’s point of view) doesn’t exist, then it’s virtually impossible to have a healthy marriage.
How to Fix a Broken Marriage (without Couseling)
Sometimes, we feel hopeless when we’re in a bad marriage. You wonder if it is ever possible to rediscover the good relationship you had in the beginning. The answer is yes, but you have to put in some work.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have the financial means to go to counseling. However, if you do, I would suggest that as a first step.
Even if this is not an option, here are some steps you can try:
1. Take a Good Look at Yourself
It takes two to tango. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. In other words, problems in a relationship are rarely the sole responsibility of just one person.
Take a look at your behaviors and speculate how they might have contributed to the state of your marriage.
These tips are useful for you: How to Save a Marriage That Is Falling Apart
2. Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions
Now that you know what you did to contribute to your marital problems, own up to them. Tell your spouse how you feel, and then commit to changing your behavior immediately.
3. Be Honest with Yourself and Your Spouse
Sometimes it’s easier to put your head in the sand and ignore the problems. But your marriage won’t get any better if you do this!
Sit down and be honest with yourself about the state of the marriage. Then, take your feelings to your spouse and have a deep, heart-to-heart talk.
4. Have a Talk
This is an obvious step, but it needs to be done. You can’t map out a plan for the future if you don’t even talk about your problems to begin with.
5. Each Partner Explains His/Her Perception of the Problems
. In other words, your spouse probably sees the marriage in a very different way than you do. So, you need to listen to your partner’s point of view.
6. Just Listen
While your spouse is explaining their point of view, just listen to them. Don’t talk. Don’t interrupt them. Instead, stay calm and don’t get defensive.
7. Make a List of Things That Both People Want to Change
In order to rebuild your marriage, things obviously need to change – on both sides. So, both of you need to write down, and talk about, what needs to be changed in the marriage.
8. Write out a “Contract”
It’s easy for people to say they are going to change, but it’s another thing for them to actually follow through with it. So, it’s best to write a “contract” between the two of you and sign it. This shows commitment to each other for change.
9. Spend Quality Time Together
You can’t rebuild your marriage if you aren’t spending time together! It seems obvious, but you need to rediscover each other, and spending quality time talking and doing things is imperative.
10. Ditch the Technology
Believe it or now, technology is a huge culprit in the downfall of relationships. Whether it’s the TV, cell phone, or video games, spending too much time with technology and not each other is the kiss of death. Make sure you put that down and talk to each other on a regular basis.
Can You Fix a Broken Marriage Alone?
This is a very common question that I am asked, which does not have an easy answer. In fact, my first instinct is to answer “it cannot be done.” I truly do believe it takes two committed people to rebuild a marriage. However, if you don’t have a willing spouse, you can try these steps if you are desperate enough to try to go it alone:
Take a Look Back at What Happened in the Marriage
Do a “relationship autopsy.” In other words, how did the marriage die? Just like a literal dead body is dissected after death, you can look at your marriage and see what went wrong.
If you find that a lot of the causes were because of YOU, then you can change your actions.
Notice Any Common Patterns That Have Emerged over the Years
Relationships always develop patterns. Some are good, and some are bad. So, you need to look for recurring themes in your marriage that may have gotten you into trouble. Once you identify them, try something new instead of repeating the same actions in the future.
Rebuilding a marriage is not easy, but it can be done. The easiest way to have a healthy relationship is to not let it break down in the first place. However, since that’s not an option, all the tips in this article will definitely put you both on the path to resurrecting what was lost.
More About Marriage
- What to Do If You Find Yourself in an Unhappy Marriage
- How to Set Marriage Goals That Make Your Relationship Stronger
- Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor
Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com