How to Strengthen your Marriage: 10 Steps
Is your marriage in jeopardy? It seems like such a subtle change—the change in dynamic, that goes from relaxed and in love to frustrated and imploding from the inside.
Why do many marriages end in divorce? Former couples may attribute the split to any number of reasons including financial trouble, infidelity, boredom, growing apart or even abuse of some kind. However, long before infidelity or violence erupts, there is some serious breakdown internally. Emotions have been betrayed and secrets have been held back.
The only way marriage can work is if there is communication. So let’s consider 10 steps on how to strengthen a troubled marriage.
Step 1: Accept responsibility and admit who you are.
No marriage can work if both partners are constantly blaming the other one for all the troubles in the marriage. You must take responsibility for your actions and accept your own identity. This also involves admitting to past mistakes, perhaps major mistakes that has left the marriage rocking at its foundation. The first step is to stop playing the blame game and to simply accept what is.
Step 2: Negotiate do not argue.
Now is not the time to argue, because you are both long past the point of arguing. You are at the crossroads now and your entire marriage could be at stake. Now is the not the time to scream, yell or be overly critical. Now is not the time for emotional outbursts, regardless of how much better it makes one or both of you feel. Now is not the time to simply negotiate. Relax and discuss matters calmly and with a rational mind, allowing the other person to be and to act naturally. Agree to disagree. If necessary, you can start rebuilding a foundation of agreement. Calmly discussing your wants and needs from the other person can minimize emotional outbursts. Instead of talking about whose fault it is, explain feelings.
Step 3: Be kind and never speak in anger.
Good parents try to avoid disciplining or even speaking in anger. A troubled marriage must likewise refrain from sharing angry, abusive or defensive thoughts. When nations are at war, you can bet that diplomats phrase their words very carefully, and the same is true in a marriage in crisis. Never speak out of anger. Speak out of logic, and assign your mate respect—if not as a lover or confidant—then as another human being with his or her own heart. Be very careful with your words. Hurtful words can destroy all of the mutual respect you build. Whenever you speak, speak with love.
Step 4: Allow your partner some space.
So often in troubled relationships, the conflict results because one partner is overly dominant or aggressive in talking problems out. This does not always work. If a partner feels smothered, then space should be provided. A time out or “breather” is always a productive option. Instead of continuing to yell when negotiations get tough, simply go for a walk or a drive. Allow time for the anger to dissipate.
Step 5: Communicate honestly.
A lack of communication can unravel so many relationships—even strong relationships that would ordinarily never be subject to boredom or infidelity. However, when there is no honest communication, there is no trust. When there is no trust, there is hardly a marriage. It becomes an illusion, a façade for the world. Therefore, communication is a necessity in order to keep the relationship going. Without discussing your problems and without communicating feelings (at the root of these problems) there is no way to know what’s really happening. When there is no communication there is only guesswork and this is disastrous. You may assume things of your partner that are completely untrue and this only spirals the cycle of mistrust.
Step 6: Forgive freely.
Forgive freely and forgive often. There is no other way to expound upon the critical issue in marriage: forgiveness. You cannot hold grudges and remain married. Despite the fact that your partner can hurt you deeply, you must forgive without resentment. Otherwise, you will never fully trust that person. And every conversation will be affected by sarcasm, by resentment or by silent frustration. It will cause things to escalate quickly and possibly even affect your health, if you are bottling up such anger. Let go of these negative emotions or divorce immediately—it’s that simple. Keeping a partner that you secretly hate or resent is cruel. Marriage is all above love and understanding—sympathy that your partner deserves. See your marriage partner as someone who loves greatly and hurts deeply. Understand the pain he or she is going through, even behind those vehement words.
Step 7: Do not withhold romance, affection or sex.
The seeds of infidelity are introduced with a lack of sexual activity and intimacy. When two partners are resentful at each other (and when they choose to not talk things out) they usually withhold all forms of intimacy. Intimacy is a form of communication. Withholding these fruits of marriage is tantamount to manipulation and it can be dangerous. If you can’t even love the partner you are married to, then where is that energy, that desire, going? Probably outside the bonds of matrimony.
Step 8: Become a united team.
A good marriage works because of teamwork. It requires a commitment from both partners. If trouble in the marriage is peaking, then trust must be built up from the ground up so that both partners can be united once again. Frankly, there is no way a marriage can survive by just the willpower of one person. Both partners must be united about the way they feel.
Step 9: Be patient.
Don’t expect overnight miracles but be conscious of new feelings, new progress (in the way of trust and communication) and new attitudes. Accept change and allow yourself to love your partner without reservations.
Step 10: Allow your partner to be his/her own person.
Compromise is everything in marriage. You must allow your partner to be his or her own person, and give them space to pursue hobbies, interests, dreams and work schedules as they see fit. You cannot micromanage this person. On the contrary, you can only support him or her. Accept that love evolves over time, and don’t try to stifle change. However, with a supportive arm you can save your marriage by allowing the other person full ambition to live the life he/she wants.
It can be done, it just takes a strong will!
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