What does it mean when some
one asks “please help save my marriage?”

Are you fighting?
Not getting along anymore?
Does your marriage need a rescue squad to revive it?

Life Buoy For The Heart

Couples I see who ask me this question often answer yes to the above questions.  They come to see me for a rescue remedy of sorts.  Let me assure you that every married couple faces problems and deals with difficulty from time to time. Just because you hit a rough spot doesn’t mean you should leave the marriage nor does it mean that you stay in a relationship that isn’t working or isn’t worth saving.

A happy marriage is not a myth; even after years of marriage to the same person, you can maintain happiness. To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s easy; both partners need to work at it. If you are suffering in a rocky point in your relationship take a deep breath and follow the tips below. Using them, you may gain some helpful information that might assist you in saving your marriage.

In full disclosure, I am married for the third time and in each marriage there are/were different things that created our happiness. I don’t think of my past relationships as having failed. Each of my prior marriages provided deep lessons for me.  Even though they ended, they were great relationships. Let me lay out what has worked for me as well as what hasn’t.

“Clean and Clear Communication Can Save My Relationship?”

First and foremost communication is very important. Although this seems obvious and is probably one of the most mentioned tips, I can’t stress its importance enough. To maintain the health of my relationships I discovered just how necessary it was to communicate with my partner. In the past, I would get charged (i.e. upset) and then begin to shut down. My face would turn to stone and I would stare at my partner while she would light into me. I didn’t want to fight and felt there was no use arguing. However, by shutting down in the manner which I did, I wasn’t engaging with my partner in a way that she felt respected. The result was a feeling of resentment which continued to build in an unhealthy manner.

While I’m not saying you should engage in unnecessary heated arguments, I think there are benefits to arguing in a way that is healthy and constructive; those not destructive to self or other. To this day, my first instinct is to shut down. This happens less and less as I value the exchange between me and my partner and look for the lessons they offer.  I too am still learning.

Developing good communication skills through a variety of educational arenas has helped save my marriage. I have attended a number of courses that have taught me how to listen with empathy and compassion, to acknowledge my partner, and to meet her where she is at. Communication is about listening too. Most of us don’t see it that way, but if we each became better listeners, a lot of problems would be solved.

When my wife feels frustrated or upset I have a choice to put my emotions to the side, for the moment, to hear her and let her energy dissipate as she shares what’s going on. Afterward, I am less reactive which assists in having a productive discussion together. It also helps me to be cleaner and clearer when I speak. I have a tendency to be fairly brief in my statements which often can be misconstrued. By explaining this to her, my wife now understands my brevity without becoming upset. Sharing and being sensitive to the needs of each other and how we communicate is a marriage saving device that continuously ranks high among the advice tips. It certainly is one way I am helping to keep this marriage strong.

Compromising To Save a Relationship without Compromising my relationship

Let me be clear that you are not compromising your relationship by compromising to save your relationship. There is a difference. To “save my marriage” on a daily basis I needed to let go of my ego. I am not emasculating myself in order to save my marriage, but learning to recognize what is important to me and identify where I might negotiate to “win” versus realizing an actual need. Going straight for the win without paying attention to the consequences will not save my relationship, only my ego.  Learning how to compromise, which involves negotiating between your needs being met versus those of you partner will solve half of the problems existing in your relationship.  It’s about give and take.  We each need to give a little bit more and take just a little bit less.

As I said earlier, saving my marriage requires work and is certainly easier said than done. No one is perfect. I continuously am learning not only how to save my marriage, but all of my relationships.

“How do I Find Solutions to Save My Marriage?”

One very telling thing is to observe how often you complain. When I complained about my first wife all I did was put her into a no-win situation which built resentment between the two of us. I would complain about everything. To save my marriage, I had to learn that often what I was complaining about was something about me; something I couldn’t deal with or handle. When I complained I was using “you” statements, blaming it on my spouse which of course put her on the defense. I learned that to save any relationship I needed to come from within myself and use “I” statements rather than making the upset about my wife or anyone else.   Once I began this process and started using the communication tools I had learned my spouse noticed these efforts. She then began to save our marriage too after learning these tools.

How a keeping a Calendar Helped Save my relationship

Once we were able to get past the complaining, began compromising and learned to communicate more effectively, we needed to add an element of fun to the mix. Couples need time to relax, to play together and to set aside time for each other more so than they do right now. I know lots of people think that sex and intimacy should be spontaneous, but that isn’t the reality with these busy lives we lead these days. diary-entry We schedule ourselves down to the very minute.  If we don’t schedule time for private time together, regardless of whether it is to relax or have a sex date, in the blink of an eye we become over-scheduled and there’s no room for “us”. Make it a priority and schedule time for yourselves.
If you have kids and you want to be intimate, choose an appropriate time and explain that you are taking some private time together. Lock your bedroom door and tell the kids not to disturb you for a while. Some couples I have coached are concerned that their kids will know they are having sex. So what?!?! It is healthy for them to understand that you need time alone to be together and connect.  It is good for children to see their parent’s exchanging appropriate and healthy amounts of care and affection toward each other.  Being an example of a loving and affectionate couple is far better for a child to see that one who witnesses coldness and distance between his or her parents.

How I Save My Relationship through Learning

How I save my relationship comes from education and practical experience. My first marriage ended because I didn’t take that effort and did all the wrong things I talked about. My second marriage ended because we just wanted different things in life. That happens. No marriage counseling would have saved that marriage without one of us compromising more than we were willing to. My third wife is on a similar path of learning and we practice all of the tips listed above together. She is a therapist by trade while I have an extensive education from a variety of sources. Some of these sources include Landmark Education, which is a great way to explore how we have lived our lives based on our past history and let go of those things that we think drive us. I have also done a lot of classes around non-violent communication, which taught me to let go of my ego, support my partner while she was emotionally charged and then after that energy has dissipated communicate in a functional and productive way.
While these tips are simple and pretty obvious, I believe they need to be called out in order for them to sink in. It isn’t always easy for me and I still might disconnect, but I’m working on it. I have to because while my current marriage doesn’t need rescuing, I work hard so saving my relationship is a measure of prevention rather that a last ditch effort.  If we all put effort in to saving our relationship every day, that would build quite a strong foundation for lasting happiness.  Give these tips a try and see how strong your relationship can be.
Author: Daka Dan