How to Repair A Broken Marriage

by Carrie Stemke

When your marriage is on the rocks, it can be a struggle just to get through the day with your spouse, and even harder to remember why you married this person in the first place. If you do decide that you want to try and salvage your marriage, you should be aware that you and your spouse have a lot of work ahead of you, and that you'll both need to believe in the marriage in order for it to be rescued. Whether you decide to seek professional help or go it alone, there are many different methods that you can try. You just need to find the methods that work for you.

Don't Be Afraid to Work Alone

Conventional wisdom says that both spouses need to be putting in an equal amount of work in order to save the marriage. Not so, writes relationship expert Mort Fertel in an interview with Huffington Post. Actually, the efforts of one person working toward a positive change can have a big effect. So if your marriage is suffering because of frequent criticism or due to a lack of quality time together, go ahead and compliment your spouse on a daily basis, or plan a date and surprise your partner. "[V]ery often, it's that effort that motivates the obstinate spouse to join in the process of saving the relationship," adds Fertel.

Break the Cycle of Fighting

People whose marriages are in distress often feel as though they spend all of their time either fighting with or being quietly angry at their spouse. Getting the marriage back on track will involve breaking the cycle of arguing and negativity. The key, writes therapist Dr. Jeffrey Rubin in O, The Oprah Magazine, is compassionate listening. It’s the listener’s job to let the other person speak without interruption or criticism, and then to repeat what the speaker said when she’s finished. It’ll require both of you to practice and Dr. Rubin suggests a helpful technique for the listener when he starts to feel upset about what the speaker is saying: Shift your focus to your breathing for a few seconds, and exhale slowly.

Limit Yourself to Three Sentences or Less

In any relationship, there are going to be arguments and complaints. Having a healthy marriage doesn't mean that you never fight, but it does mean that you learn to fight better. One great way to start is by learning to limit yourself to three sentences or less when you're bringing up an issue to your partner, says clinical psychologist Harriet Lerner in an interview on So when he forgets to stop by the supermarket on the way home (again), say, "You said you'd bring home milk, and you didn't," and stop there. Resist tacking on those seemingly related extra issues, like, "I can't trust you with anything" or listing the other things he's forgotten to do that week.

Seek Professional Counseling

If you and your spouse both want to save the marriage but are having difficulty making any headway, you may want to consider seeking the aid of a professional marriage counselor. A trained therapist can help you see your relationship more objectively, interact with each other in a healthy way, and express personal emotions that you might have been holding back from each other, writes psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne in "5 Principles of Effective Couples Therapy" in Psychology Today. She recommends looking for a therapist who will follow an evidence-based approach rather than someone who is stuck on one theory or who wasn't professionally trained.

About the Author

A New York native, Carrie Stemke is an avid writer, editor and traveler whose work has covered many different topics. She has had a lifelong fascination with and love of psychology, and hold's a bachelor's degree in the subject. Her psychology research articles have been published in Personality and Individual Differences and in Modern Psychological Studies.

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