Going to see a marriage counselor isn’t an easy thing to do for any couple who are figuring out how to save a marriage from divorce. There is a commonly held belief that going to marriage counseling is almost akin to admitting defeat in a marriage. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Marriage therapy should be a regular part of any marriage because matrimony is something that needs to be worked on consistently in order for a union to prosper. Just as football players need to practice in order to stay sharp, married couples need to sustain their relationship by attending marriage counseling on a regular basis. An experienced marriage counselor will have helped hundreds of couples deal with issues in their marriages, so she has the expertise required to help.
Making a Mental Shift: Saving your Marriage from Divorce
Marriage counseling is like going to the doctor. You go every year for a checkup, even if you’re feeling fine. This is important because you don’t want a problem sneaking up on you.
Keeping your marriage healthy and saving your marriage from divorce entails paying attention and working on it.
There are a number of cultural and personal influences that have given the idea of getting counseling a bad name. Let’s look at them and see what they’re really all about.
- “Counseling means your about to get a divorce.” – Not if you’re smart. The reason that this might seem true is simply that that’s how long everyone waits. If you get counseling when things are pretty good, but not great, you’ll find that you’re much happier.
- “Only wimps get counseling.” – Right. And only wimps get their leg set by a doctor when it’s broken. Your marriage is more than just a sacred vow; it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do. Don’t treat it lightly.
- “Tough guys (or gals) don’t get counseling.” – That depends, who are you considering ‘tough’? The divorced dad who sees his kids every two weeks and is paying half his income into a house that he doesn’t live in. The divorced mom who is struggling to take care of her home and her family because she’s having to fly solo, even when her ex is nearby because he’s her ex. That sounds more stupid than tough.
- “My parents didn’t get counseling. They stayed together.” – Yes, and were they really happy or did you just think so when you were a kid? Your parents also had a rotary dial phone and an antenna on the roof. Times change and we get better at taking care of things.
- “There’s nothing wrong.” – If your spouse is telling you that there’s something wrong, then there’s something wrong, even if you don’t believe it.
Stop lying to yourself. In fact, if you’re reading this, you’re either a spouse trying to figure out how not to get counseling or you’re a spouse trying to convince your partner that you need it. Either, follow the rules below and get counseling if one or both of you aren’t happy and save your marriage from divorce.
Considering 50% of first marriages end in divorce, these 8 tips can help save your marriage:
1) Listen to your Partner
Whenever a marriage breaks down, it is often the case that both parties have issues that need to be dealt with. This is where marriage counseling becomes vitally important. An individual receiving marriage therapy will likely only result in a short-term solution because both people need help in order to figure out a way to mend the relationship. Sometimes, simply listening to the other person can help you understand what is wrong with the relationship, and you may even hear some recommendations on how to save a marriage from divorce. A communication breakdown is often the root cause of relationship problems, so repairing it can be extremely beneficial when learning how to save a marriage. Listening to your partner also gives some understanding as to how he/she is feeling, and it may change the dynamics of the relationship once all the problems are laid bare on the table. This is at the heart of saving your marriage from divorce.
2) Express your Feelings
In addition to listening to your partner’s feelings, you also need to be able to express your own feelings, so your partner can understand your point of view. It is never an easy thing to express frustrations and difficulties with the person you love most dearly, so having a marriage counselor, who can mediate and also participate in these exchanges, can give you the confidence to speak your mind while keeping the discourse rational. You should never disrespect or put down your partner because that will just create further animosity and resentment. Marriage therapy is designed to work through the problems you have with your spouse; it is analytical but never critical. How to save a marriage depends on many different factors, but the ability to listen and then share your own feelings can help to address some of the problems. Marriage counseling is a great place to do that because the marriage counselor acts in guiding the discussion between you and your partner.
Related Article: How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost?
3) Be Willing to Compromise
As with any relationship, compromise plays a large role in the ultimate success or failure of the endeavor. Saving a marriage from divorce also depends on how much each party is willing to accommodate the other person. At the same time, your partner should also be open to your ideas and views. A result of two people willing to bend to the needs of the other is the discovery of a middle ground where they can both be pleased with the dynamics of the relationship. A marriage counselor can act as a guide on this odyssey. Marriage relies on each party being able to put aside individual desires and wants and encompassing each other’s. Putting primacy on your own ambitions will likely only annoy and frustrate your partner, so how to save a marriage from divorce is all about making sure both people in the relationship are happy.
4) Stop Blaming the Other Person
Not assigning blame to your partner is one facet of how to save a marriage from divorce. Pointing the finger at your partner will only make him/her feel further disconnected from you and he/she may not want to repair the marriage as a result. There is an old cliche that it takes two to tango, and this is also largely true in the breakdown of a marriage. It is very rare for one person to be solely responsible for the problems which can arise. Both people in the relationship often have grievances, which they believe were caused by the other party either through a lack of communication or unrealistic expectations. Blaming your partner for all the problems is counterproductive and doesn’t contribute to restoring the relationship to a state of equanimity.
5) Spend Some Time Apart if Necessary
Depending on the current state of the relationship, it may also be a good idea to spend some time apart, so you and your partner can organize your thoughts and feelings. Most people don’t realize that taking a break in a relationship can be exactly what is needed when thinking of how to save a marriage. If the marriage has been stressful for quite some time, then spending some time away from each other can help you to reevaluate where things are in your relationship and what you would be willing to change in order to save it. Likewise, it can give your partner time and breathing space to think. After taking some time apart, it may be that you or your partner come to the realization of what it is like to be without the other, and this could be just the impetus needed for both of you to give the marriage another go.
6) Learn to Forgive and Forget
One thing that can drag a relationship down is holding onto the past wrongs your partner may have committed against you. Everyone makes mistakes, but learning to forgive those wrongs will pay dividends on your odyssey of learning how to save a marriage. It isn’t useful or conducive to harmony to keep digging up the past whenever you feel aggrieved by something your partner does that upsets you. Giving your partner a clean slate each and every day will help your marriage to flourish. Nobody likes being reminded of past slights, whether real or imaginary, and your spouse is no different. Learning to forgive and forget can help to restore the balance to your marriage. Saving a marriage also depends on whether or not your partner has the ability to apologize. In an ideal world, both people in a relationship should ask for forgiveness from each other, but even if this doesn’t occur, it is still important to let go of past mistakes for the sake of the future of your relationship. To learn how to forgive and forget, check out Mort Fertel’s article “How to Get Over the Past and Past the Hurt.”
7) Find Some Common Goals
One method, when learning how to save a marriage from divorce, is by finding some common goals you share with your partner. Getting guidance from a marriage counselor can be very helpful because he can put forward some suggestions that are acceptable to both parties in the relationship. Of course, doing this may mean that some compromises will need to be made in order to preserve the relationship, but the ability to compromise is one of the anchors of a solid marriage. There may no longer be many things you have in common with your partner, so agreeing to goals that are acceptable to both of you may take some hard work. Also, if you have kids or plan to have some in the future, it might be good to work out how that situation would play out. In other words, who will stay home to look after the baby and who will continue to work, or will both of you continue to work, and the baby can be placed in childcare? Figuring out some of these key issues before they become a problem can be worked through in marriage counseling sessions.
Related Article: Help Your Relationship with Free Marriage Counseling
8) Display Random Acts of Kindness
How to save a marriage from divorce also depends on your actions toward your partner. Even though you may not feel like doing it right now, performing a kind act for your partner can help to rekindle the relationship. The appreciation of kindness is universal, especially when someone isn’t expecting it. If your partner has a negative attitude toward you, then don’t reconfirm that by doing nothing; instead, show your partner how much you still care, and that you still love him/her somewhere deep inside. Also, displaying kindness for your partner can also help to change your own attitude because you may start to see your partner in a different light. Kindness should be the foundation of any relationship, particularly when learning how to save a marriage.
And always remember what Joseph Campbell said:
“When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.”
Learn more on how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.