10 Strategies to Restore an Ailing Marriage
Many good marriages slip into crisis because we don’t, or won’t, believe how much work it takes to keep relationships humming at optimal levels. Another reason is a simple failure in imagination.
But if marriage requires commitment, hard work and imagination, then why does it surprise us when neglect hurts relationships?
Here are 10 strategies to restore an ailing marriage.
1. Get back to the fundamentals. Show basic kindness to your spouse just like you would to a friend. When your spouse calls, maybe it’s a “Hi! How is 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. Say “thank you” for that cup of coffee. Celebrate anniversaries. Tell her how much it means to you that she cooks a great meal – or vice versa. Notice the haircut. Ask him out. Clean her car. Pay attention to the little things and act like someone who values the relationship.
3. Put your spouse’s interest ahead of your own. Putting our spouse first nurtures trust, gratitude, generosity and affection.
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… even golf, football or drinking…” Marriages don’t work well when our partner plays second fiddle to anything – even the children. It’s a fact – the happiest kids are those with parents who love one-another best.
5. 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? Get silly about one-another. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway, then you’ll remember why.
6. Choose to love. Love is as much a choice as it is an emotion. Choosing to love is an act of maturity.
7. Surround yourselves with people in healthy relationships. Sometimes, negative patterns in marriage involve friends. Spend time with couples who value marriage.
8. Change the patterns. Do you always come home angry? Choose to leave that attitude behind before you walk in the door. Do you always fight about discipline? Sit down with each other before you disciple and agree on a course of action. Then, support each other 100% – you may find the kids act better because you’re not fighting.
9. 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. For guys, a willingness to talk in that context sends a huge positive message to your spouse. But 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.
10. Follow the counseling with an action plan. Just like a personal fitness program, counseling comes with homework and an action plan. Draw up the plan, ask friends you trust to help hold you accountable, and then follow through.