“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin
Some days, you wake up next to your spouse and feel full of love and life. You greet each other with an “I love you”, start your day holding hands, and leave for work feeling fresh and alive. Throughout the day the thought of your spouse brings a smile to your face, and when you get home to find him or her napping on the couch, you feel your body burn up with love.
Other days however, you wake up with a cold and empty feeling in the pit of your stomach. As you turn to look at your spouse you feel a sickening anxiety and thoughts of the previous night’s argument flood your mind – ugly images of fighting and bickering. The negativity clings to you throughout the day, and you can’t help but think “What’s wrong with my marriage?”
If you’re going through a rocky or stagnant period in your marriage then you’re in luck. In this article I’m going to reveal some of the most powerful tips and tricks that you can use to save your marriage. Even if your spouse is unwilling to talk about the issues or to try and work things out, these tips will work.
How can I make such big claims?
Over the years I’ve coached several hundred couples, some of which were on the brink of divorce, others that had cheated on one another, and even some that had seemingly no hope for reconciliation. Of course, not every single marriage I’ve come across has been salvageable, but over time and through experience I’ve developed a powerful system that’s capable of saving almost any marriage, regardless of the situation.
Of course, the topic of ‘how to save a marriage’ is pretty broad. Depending on many different factors, this can be as complicated as solving a Rubik’s Cube while blindfolded or tightrope walking with crutches. That said, regardless of whether your marriage is experiencing money problems, infidelity issues, sexual dilemmas, or kid trouble, I do have solutions that are applicable to your situation.
But first, some facts.
Approximately 2.3 million couples get married each year in the United States. Of these marriages, over half end prematurely in separation or divorce. As these rates continue to rise and sites such as Ashley Madison play host to millions of married individuals seeking extramarital affairs, you can’t help but wonder: “Is marriage really all that difficult? How can two people go from being in love and wanting to spend their lives together to calling it quits in just a matter of years? How do the remaining couples – the ones that stay together for 20, 30, 40 years do it? How do they remain loyal, committed, and in love?”
You’d think that it would all come down to proper communication, right? Wrong.
Based on a study by The Gottman Institute, researchers have identified the two most important traits for a long, lasting marriage. Here’s how they did it.
Working with hundreds of married couples, partners were hooked up to electrodes and asked a series of basic questions such as how they met their spouse, what they had done that week, and what they had for dinner. As the couples answered the questions, the subjects’ heart rates, blood flow and sweat production were closely analyzed. After the data collection was over, all the couples were sent home. Six years later, the Gottman Institute followed up with the couples involved to see which had stayed together, and which had broken up.
The results were pretty fascinating.
The researchers divided the subjects into what they called the “Masters” (the couples that stayed together), and the “Disasters” (the couples that had broken up). When looking at the data collected, researchers saw that the “Disasters” had shown signs of physiological arousal during the partners’ Q&A session – that is, when they were asked simple questions about their marriage in the presence of their spouse, their heart rates increased and they were essentially put into “Fight or Flight” mode. They were fearful and terrified of their partner’s responses, and instead of expecting to receive the tenderness and kindness associated with a positive relationship, it showed that they expected to be berated or belittled by their spouses.
The “Masters” on the other hand, showed extremely low levels of physiological arousal during the interview period. This calmer energy translated into more affectionate behavior, even during times of argument. The “Masters” were able to create a sense of comfort and ease that resulted in a more relaxed environment, and instead of expecting to be attacked during the interview period by their spouses, they expected kindness and respect.
The Gottman Institute said the two most important traits for a long, lasting marriage are generosity and kindness. So how does this affect you and your marriage? Will being kind and generous all of a sudden fix all of your problems? Unlikely, but it will help.
One of the things that I teach in my system is called the Dispute Defusing System. More than just a catchy name, this system is designed to ensure that any argument you have with your spouse is handled calmly and politely, and in doing so will prevent your spouse from feeling that “Fight or Flight” response. Here’s a brief overview of the Dispute Defusing System and how you can use it to help save your marriage.
The Dispute Defusing System
Arguing is completely normal and even the healthiest of marriages have the occasional dispute. In fact, arguments can actually be productive and an opportunity for bonding if they don’t cause lingering resentment or conflict. The key is how you handle them.
By knowing how to reduce harmful fallouts (what I call “Marriage Murdering Arguments”) you stand a better chance of rebuilding a broken marriage.
To get you started, let’s look at some of my main Dispute Defusing tips.
1.) Accept the fact that you might not find a resolution to your argument.
When you and your spouse get into an argument it can feel like it’ll never end. When this happens, it’s important to take a moment to stop and analyze why the argument isn’t going anywhere. Are you unwilling to negotiate? Do you feel like your partner is being too stubborn? By continuing a pointless argument, you run the risk of escalating it into something bigger and more terrifying – this is how things get blown out of proportion.
2.) Go to bed angry, sometimes.
Conventional wisdom tells you otherwise, but when you go to bed angry chances are you’ll wake up less angry than you were the night before. If you find the argument escalating into a “Marriage Murdering Argument”, simply go your separate ways for a while. Giving yourselves time to cool down means that when you wake up those smaller causes for arguments will have melted away overnight, and you can revisit the bigger issues with a calmer, more rational mindset.
3.) Wait before you bring up issues.
This can be tough, especially when you feel that what you’re holding back is important. However, the problem with blurting out your opinions instead of waiting a while is that when something irks you, emotions can take over and you’ll say things without thinking. The correct course of action when this kind of situation comes up is to bite your tongue. By holding in your grievances for an hour or so, two things will happen. First, you’ll be able to calm down. When you’re calm, your partner will be more receptive to you and you and they will be less likely to blow things out of proportion. Second, you’ll be able to frame your argument in a more constructive manner, which brings me to my next point.
4.) Frame your arguments better.
There are hundreds of ways to frame your arguments, but for all intents and purposes I’ll cover a few here. Changing just a few words during your argument can make all the difference. In fact, a Harvard professor advises that starting statements with “I” instead of “You” can have a profound impact on how your spouse perceives you and your argument. For example, if your spouse is always late for social gatherings and this annoys you, then you could say:
“You’re always late and our friends are always annoyed because of it.”
That doesn’t sound very pleasant though, does it? Now look what happens when you change the way you bring up this grievance:
“I would appreciate it if we weren’t always late. I think our friends wouldn’t be as annoyed with us.”
See how the second sentence sounds much less accusatory? Again, small changes in the way you say certain things can have a big impact on how your comments are perceived. If you want to learn more about the many ways you can shift your language to make your spouse more receptive (and attracted) to you, then head over to my website to watch my free video presentation at www.MendTheMarriage.com.
5.) Inject some humour into your argument.
Sometimes, a big argument can be almost impossible to avoid. In situations where you have to discuss something really important, it can be helpful to make a small joke if things start to get out of hand. For example, let’s say your spouse hates one of your best friends and never wants to be around them, but you want to convince them to give your pal another shot. If things start getting heated, you could say something funny like…
“Would it help if I asked Rob to wear some deodorant so he doesn’t stink so much?”
Adding in a hint of humour can decrease tension and make you and your spouse feel closer. To avoid escalating the argument, be cautious of when and when not to make light of an issue.
6.) Let go of the desire to always be right.
It’s human nature to want to be right, but when you and your spouse are fighting, there’s usually no “winner” at all. When feelings are getting hurt and ugly words are being thrown around, you both lose. The only way you can truly win is if you both come to a mutual agreement in a civilized manner. When one spouse becomes obsessed with the idea of always being right, that’s when arguments can turn into all out wars. The next time you feel like you could be wrong, take a step back and breathe. Then say something like:
“You know what, you could be right, actually.”
It’s hard, I know, but it can end a lot of pain and heartache.
Since arguments can be the backbone of marital problems, learning how to deal with them properly can make or break your marriage. Still, learning how to argue better is only part of the solution. Sometimes, you need to learn what not to do if you want save your marriage…
Common ‘Marital Mistakes’
When trying to fix your marriage, it’s common to get desperate and unknowingly make mistakes that worsen your situation. When this happens, it can shift your position from bad to worse, which is why one of the first things I tell my clients before trying to save their marriage is what not to do.
These are the Big Marital Mistakes.
Marital Mistake 1 – Initiating needless conflict with your spouse.
While communicating is important when it comes to rebuilding a broken marriage, what your marriage does not need is additional arguments or conflict. Before you try and fix things, plan your discussion in a rational and meaningful way. If you know your partner won’t react positively to what you’re about to say, think of ways to better frame your argument. Little changes in your language and gestures can have a profound effect on how your spouse perceives you.
Marital Mistake 2 – Begging, pleading, or being highly emotional.
When emotions run high, people can say or do things that they don’t mean or will regret. If your spouse makes you angry enough to want to explode or punch walls, simply don’t. When you feel emotions growing from the pit of your stomach, it’s important to hold back, take control, and stay calm. This is easier said than done, but preventing yourself from lashing out could save your marriage.
Marital Mistake 3 – Making drastic changes to your life or work habits.
When you begin struggling with issues in life, your marriage will feel the effects. On the other hand, if you let your marriage affect your work or other areas of your personal life, your marriage will suffer even more. Do your best to keep your issues separate and don’t let your entire life suffer when one aspect of it hits a rough patch.
Marital Mistake 4 – Nagging your spouse.
Similar to mistake number one, avoid any sort of conflict wherever possible. It’s normal to get annoyed at your spouse for certain things, but small confrontations usually lead to bigger ones. If you allow these issues to build up, it won’t be long before you create massive rifts between you. Instead of nagging any time your spouse annoys you, find the willpower to hold it in for now. These are the times when you can start fixing your marriage on your own, without your spouse’s help.
In my free presentation on my website, www.MendTheMarriage.com, I’ll teach you how you can change your spouse’s behaviour without nagging or arguing.
Marital Mistake 5 – Being negative.
A big part of saving your marriage is keeping your spouse attracted to you. This doesn’t mean just sexually, but emotionally attracted to you, too. By thinking and acting positively you’ll not only become a much more attractive person physically and emotionally, but you’ll also reduce stress, lower depression, and find yourself better equipped to deal with hardships should they arise. When done properly, your spouse will feel genuinely attracted to you and only you.
While this isn’t the complete list of marital mistakes, it’s a good start! Now that you have an idea of what not to do, let’s move on to one of the most powerful marriage destroyers known to man – complacency!
Complacency – Marriage’s “Boring Mode”
When you first met your spouse everything was magical. You thought about them all the time and could feel the chemistry and passion between you. The “spark” was alive and well.
Yet with time, things began to change. The two of you fell into a routine, sex got boring, and there just wasn’t a lot happening. In short, you got complacent. You stopped putting in the effort to make your marriage new and exciting – and your spouse stopped caring too.
Humans, by nature, tend to get accustomed to their environment. Sometimes we stop appreciating the things that make our lives so great. When that happens, our spouses can become victims to that lack of appreciation. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way, and there are many things you can do to make sure that complacency never rears its ugly head in your marriage.
Consider these five tips.
1.) Force a conversation once in a while.
When you’re with someone for years on end, it can sometimes feel like you’ve exhausted every topic of conversation. Believe me, you haven’t. Having an open, intellectual conversation with your spouse every now and then can keep you feeling connected and even bring the two of you closer.
2.) Take care of your body.
Don’t just do this for yourself, but do it for your spouse, too! If you’re not going to the gym, eating well, maintaining your hygiene, or working towards bettering yourself then now is the time to start!
3.) Show love and affection on a regular basis.
Saying “I love you” isn’t always enough, so instead of using words, show your spouse that you love them. Hold their hand, run your fingers through their hair, kiss and massage them; even simply looking at your spouse when you talk to him or her sends a strong “love” signal. If you aren’t currently in a position to show your affection to your spouse, keep these in mind moving forward.
4.) Plan exciting adventures.
Many relationship and marriage experts will stress the importance of regular date nights, and they’re right. However, while going out with your spouse regularly is important, you’ll also want to plan extraordinary adventures every once in a while. You don’t have to break the bank doing it – in fact, there are a ton of really inexpensive ideas you can come up with if you let your imagination run wild. For instance, you could pack a picnic for the park, rent scooters and head to the beach, go skinny dipping in the lake…. Whatever you choose, just remember that when you get outside your comfort zone things will start to feel new again.
5.) Surprise your spouse.
Since routines are boring, surprising your spouse is a great way to make your marriage feel fresh and alive. Awe your spouse with a gift, woo them with dinner, or fuel the flame by trying some new sex moves. When you do things your spouse would never expect, that’s when your marriage will start to feel like it did in the beginning.
Once again, this isn’t an exhaustive list of complacency killers, but it is a good place to start. If you want to learn more about how to kill complacency and save your marriage, then simply head over to www.MendTheMarriage.com and watch the free video presentation. Here you’ll learn the top three effective ways to make your spouse obsess over you again, as well as ways to re-ignite that passion that’s been long forgotten.
Don’t spend any more time reading this, head to www.MendTheMarriage.com and watch the video now!