Many good marriages often go through times of tension, difficulty or pain. It’s important to remember that just because your marriage is ailing doesn’t mean it’s failing. With the right prescription, your marriage can be healed from those small cuts or even open wounds. But it’s going to take some work, patience, and perseverance.
It’s important to remember that just because your marriage is ailing doesn’t mean it’s failing.
Here are 10 strategies to restore an ailing marriage:
1.Get back to the fundamentals. There have been seasons in my marriage when Susan and I have been nitpicking each other or even indifferent toward one another. The daily grind of life just seemed to wear us down. During those seasons, we noticed that basic courtesy was mostly absent. We found that one of the best ways to remedy the problem was to be intentional about showing basic kindness toward each other — the kind of kindness that you’d show any friend.
So, when your spouse calls, instead of saying, “Hello, what’s up” in a short tone, maybe it’s a “Hi, honey! How’s your day going?” Or, when you wake up in the morning, greet your spouse with “Good morning, how are you feeling today?”
2. Stop taking one another for granted. Express gratitude to one another. Say, “Thank you,” for that cup of coffee. Really celebrate anniversaries by planning something special or out of the ordinary. Tell her how much it means to you that she cooks a great meal – or vice versa. Pay attention to the little things and act like someone who values the relationship.
3. Put your spouse’s interests ahead of your own. You have a place you want to go to for dinner, but you know your spouse would rather go to another restaurant. Go to your spouse’s restaurant. Or, maybe you’d like to relax and watch some television after a long day, but you know your spouse is even more tired than you and needs help with the kids. Choose to help your spouse.
4. Put the relationship ahead of everything, including your children. It’s unfortunate, but time has a way of eating away at our priorities. “You’re the most important thing in my life” gives way to “My work… the family business…the children… my aging parents… or even golf or football.” There is not much harmony in a marriage when one spouse feels like they are always playing second fiddle to everything and everyone, even the children. The happiest kids are those with parents who love one another the best.
5. Seek forgiveness and really forgive. If you have wronged your spouse in the past in some way, say, “I was wrong…I apologize…will you please forgive me? And, if you’ve been the one who has been wronged, be sure to really forgive your spouse.
6. Start over from scratch. Make sure you remember the early years and build from there. When did you last talk for hours or hold hands at a movie? When did you last dance? Get silly with one another. Lighten up and laugh. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway, then you’ll remember why.
7. Choose to love. Love is not just a feeling, it’s a decision. It’s a decision to be patient and kind to each other. Love is all about giving selflessly and sacrificially to your spouse. And remember, love is unconditional. It’s an I will love you no matter what kind of thing.
8. Surround yourselves with people in healthy relationships. If you hang around other couples who bad mouth, criticize or put each other down, it will influence you and your spouse. Instead, be intentional about spending time with couples who value one another and value the institution of marriage.
9. Change the patterns. Do you have the same old marriage fights over and over again? Do you often come home angry from work? Choose to leave that attitude behind before you walk in the door, rather than take it out on your family. Do you fight about disciplining your kids a lot? Sit down with each other before you discipline and agree on a course of action. Then support each other 100% – you may find the kids act better because you’re not fighting.
10. Get counseling. You say you can’t afford it? Well, it’s worth it. Most counseling simply involves a few sessions to get the communication flowing again. A willingness to talk in that context sends a huge positive message to your spouse. Please note: Make sure you do everything you can to identify a good counselor. There are good and bad in any profession. Maybe start with your pastor or priest. And maybe read 4 Ways to Know When It’s Time for Marriage Counseling and Finding a Good Marriage Counselor.
Have you had difficulties in your marriage? What are some ways you worked through them?