Don’t Remain Unhappily Married: Read these Tips and Turn Your Unhappy Marriage Around
Many young people base their ideas of happy coupledom on the simple, blissful images seen in animated films and old-time movies. These stories, while compelling, don’t really represent what it takes to build a fulfilling partnership. Unfortunately, when they grow up, some individuals end up unhappily married and feel disillusioned as a result. If you count yourself among this number, the fifteen tips in this guide are especially good for you. You never know: applying them to your love life could help you—and your spouse—find genuine bliss.
Learn more on how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.
1. Consider What You Need
This tip applies equally to unhappily married men and unhappily married women: what you need may not necessarily equate to what you want. For example, you might want a bigger house or a slimmer spouse, but you do not need these things. Taking the time to consider what you actually need to live happily can help build the foundation for marital recovery.
2. Set Reasonable Goals
Perhaps you want to increase the amount of affection in the relationship; maybe you need to feel heard and not forgotten. These things—and more—are achievable, regardless of your income level or your health. Realistic aspirations create truly motivational goals.
3. Time for a Moral Inventory
Consider how your actions and expressions have affected the relationship as well as how your spouse’s actions have affected you. Some marriages are very one sided: one partner is clearly a bully, and the other partner dashes about in damage control mode. However, many other unions are gradually taken apart by both members of the couple. If both you and your spouse identify—and curtail—unhelpful words and actions, you may find it easier to move forward into healthy marital territory.
4. Therapy Helps to Heal
Therapy can be a great way to tackle marital problems in a safe space. If you’re worried about your partner’s reactions and want the guidance of an experienced psychologist, couples counseling may be particularly effective. Therapy could also cast your—or your partner’s—traits in a new light. Many unsavory behaviors are the result of events in early life: if those incidents are revealed in a therapeutic setting, you might find it easier to reconnect with your spouse.
5. Get to Know Your Spouse
You may not know your spouse as well as you assume. People are incredibly complex beings who change over time. Look at—and listen to—your partner. Try to take his or her concerns, interests, questions, and emotions seriously. Doing so may remind you just why you fell in love with your husband or wife in the first place.
6. Avoid Bridge Burning
Bridge burning is not very effective means of communication: in fact, it usually alienates the individual to whom you want to connect. Before you throw down the gauntlet and strut away like a scorned movie hero or heroine, consider the impact of your actions on the other person and on your relationship as a whole. Bare-knuckle fighting—even in an emotional sense—causes significant damage.
7. Build New Bridges
If those metaphorical bridges have already burned to the ground, don’t fret. After all, they can be rebuilt. Renewed bonds are often stronger than those lost in “battle”—especially if they’re built with genuine love, honesty, and respect.
8. Plan Ahead for Tough Times
Alas—it’s true: marriage is not always a rose garden. Sometimes, partnerships are wedded bliss. On other occasions, your nuptial boat will sail over rougher waters. Here’s a nifty trick: if you expect those tough times, they won’t come as such a rotten shock. Make time to discuss potential difficulties with your spouse during good times and create an action plan in advance.
9. Embrace and Enjoy the Good Times
When you are married unhappily, difficult periods are often scattered with calmer intermissions. If you’re unhappily married, however, you may find it hard to properly appreciate periods of relative calm. If you find yourself in this type of energy-guzzling trap, try to escape from it as soon as possible. Remember those emergency sick days you saved? Now is the time to use them: get back on track and you may actually be able to enjoy calmer waters with your spouse.
10. No Nitpicking, Nagging, or Nastiness
In stagnant relationships, people often point out their partners’ bad points or mistakes more often than their positive traits and achievements. Unfortunately, this tendency is often mutual, and it can become an unhealthy part of the relationship dynamic. If you can avoid nagging, nitpicking, and nastiness in general, the ambience in your home—and in your mind—will improve dramatically.
11. Define and Celebrate the Best Parts of Your Spouse
If you and your spouse have fallen into a negative routine, try a new approach: pick out the best parts of your partner and celebrate them. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool and can help even the most unhappily married couple. Praise your partner’s strengths and cultivate happiness and mutual appreciation. Many marriages flourish in the light of constructive, nourishing change.
12. Be Kind and Honest
As a child, your parents, teachers, and idols probably encouraged kindness and honesty. Awards were never given for meanness and shrewd, underhanded tactics. As an adult, you are in charge of your own behavior and under your own supervision. Try to encourage the same positive, truthful behavior in yourself now—particularly in regards to your marital interactions. You have the power to foster real love, to nurture friendship, and to help your spouse heal.
13. Be Patient and Fair
Snap judgments are easy to make under strained conditions. That does not mean, however, that your—or your spouse’s—conclusions are correct. In difficult situations, a deeper level of insight is essential. Challenging circumstances tend to create bias, which can taint your perspective. If you remain aware of this and seek advice from trusted friends or family members, you may be able to retain a clear, fair point of view.
14. Seek Advice from Happily Married People
In the days of marital yore, many newlywed couples had access to support systems designed to strengthen nuptial bonds. Usually, the couples’ parents and many of their peers were married and were able to provide insight into common problems and offer tips for long-term happiness. The modern world is very different—not to mention very busy—and those tight-knit communities are harder than ever to find. Thankfully, there is a solution. If you seek guidance from happily married friends and family members, you can cultivate your own circle of wisdom and strengthen your marriage.
15. Love is a “Doing” Word
Perhaps the most vital piece of advice for unhappily married people is this: tangible love really is a verb—a “doing” word. You can tell your partner of your love on a daily basis without making a connection. In tough times, words often seem hollow. Learn your spouse’s love language, however, and you may gain the power to turn your unhappy marriage around. Small, appreciative gestures, kind remarks, unexpected smiles, and tender actions have profound healing potential.
16. Take a Break Together
Often, when people are struggling in their marriage, they decide it’s time to take a break from each other. They will go on separate vacations, start doing things separately, even start making separate friends. Now is not the time for separating your lives. Now is the time to step away from life for a few days and try to create a safe zone for the two of you to take a breather together.
17. Quiet is at the Heart of Love
Try things like having dinner together alone, sitting down to breakfast, and making a point of getting coffee together once a week. Turn off the TV, cell phones, etc. The goal is to have time to speak to each other directly and quietly. It’s about having an opportunity to look into each other’s eyes and keep the conversation going.
18. Forgive – Both of You
Forgiveness is important. The part that most people forget is to forgive themselves. This doesn’t mean that you can ignore the things that you might have done poorly, but it means that you need to give yourself time to look at what you’ve done and try to make it right. Forgiveness is the start of all helaingh.
19. Breathe – It Works
20. Say Something Nice Every Day
Want more tips? We recommend Mort Fertel’s 7 Secrets for Fixing Unhappy an Marriage.