When you first get married, there’s the inevitable honeymoon phase. In addition to going on the actual honeymoon, you’ll likely play house, spend tons of time together, and ooze love for one another. Over time, as you reach the five- or 10-year mark, your relationship may evolve. Maybe you have children or a new career. It’s possible there are new stressors in your life, creating tension in your marriage. You’ve begun to fight with your partner more frequently and spend less time together. Date nights have fizzled, and you begin to eat meals in silence to avoid arguments.
For some, marriage can reach a breaking point. If you’re thinking about separating or divorcing, but you also feel it’s important you attempt to repair the relationship, know that you can not only mend the partnership, but fall back in love—if you put in the work.
Here are seven ways to repair a broken marriage and fall back in love:
1. Identify the Reasons You Got Married
There was once a time when you were so in love with your partner that you stood in front of your friends and family to proclaim “I do!” Put yourself back in that moment. What were the reasons you fell in love with your spouse and decided to tie the knot? Write them down and share them with your partner. Thinking back to those original sparks can help you rediscover them again. This exercise may also put you in a positive mindset as you begin to actively work on your marriage.
2. Reflect on the Causes of Disagreements & List Any Issues
Identifying the cause of the broken feeling is the next step toward repairing the relationship. Why do you both feel the marriage is failing? Have you grown apart? Has your family gone through a crisis or traumatic event? Have you maintained communication, care, and affection? Has your relationship suffered infidelity?
Make a list of all the subjects that incite arguments or you’re afraid to talk about for fear they’ll lead to fights. During your reparation journey, focus on creating mutually-agreed-upon solutions to each, and obtain the skills to deal with future issues.
Only when you lay it all out on the line can you and your significant other move forward.
3. Focus Solely on the Relationship
When working to repair your marriage, it’s important to focus solely on the relationship. Don’t let distractions such as children, careers, friends, or other relationships interfere with the healing process. Set aside time to learn new communication skills, reconnect through activities, or talk things out.
4. Practice Listening & Communication Skills
If every conversation with your spouse—whether you’re talking about the weather or your finances—turns into an argument, it’s time to practice listening and communication skills.
Work on active listening by:
- Paying attention to the speaker and avoiding being distracted by side conversations or preparing a rebuttal.
- Acknowledging their message by nodding, smiling, or encouraging continued conversation.
- Providing feedback or asking questions about what is being said.
- Responding in a respectful manner after the speaker is finished with their thought.
Work on communication by:
- Communicating your observations as just those—observations. Don’t express your interpretation. It comes across as an assumption, and could be incorrect.
- Expressing your feelings in a constructive manner. Start sentences with “I feel…” or “My concern is…” or “I would like to…”
- Describing your needs to give your partner the chance to meet them.
- Making requests rather than demands.
5. Learn to Make Decisions as a Team
Instead of thinking about decisions or arguments as you versus your partner, think of them as you and your partner versus the decision. You and your partner are a team working together through a decision. To do so, you must utilize your active listening and communication skills. Understand each other’s perspective and ensure your partner knows their view is valuable to the final outcome.
In addition to listening, men’s lifestyle magazine GQ suggests you should consider the power dynamic. If one partner has more societal power than the other—whether due to gender, sexuality, race, citizenship, or other—the dynamic can quickly shift to the one with more power, disregarding the other’s opinions. The article also recommends taking a collectivist approach toward the issue, rather than individualist. Ask “What’s best for the relationship?” rather than “What’s best for me?”
Here’s what you shouldn’t do:
- Repeat your viewpoint again and again until your partner concedes.
- Claim your partner is wrong for disagreeing.
- Use your partner’s love for you against them.
6. Create Positive Moments & New Ways to Connect
In broken marriages, positive moments don’t typically happen organically. They must be created and worked for. To find new ways to connect, schedule date nights or plan a getaway just for the two of you. Take up a new hobby together such as cooking or biking. Committing to spending several minutes together daily can significantly help your relationship. Sweethearts Robert and Sarah told Today’s Parent magazine making sex a weekly habit helped the couple recreate lost intimacy. In the same article, teammates Christopher and Natasha shared they sit “shoulder to shoulder working on something, listening, talking through things” instead of planning specific date nights. These newfound connections can be whatever you and your partner need to rekindle the love.
7. Find a Couples Counselor
Enlisting a professional such as a couples counselor, marriage therapist, or life coach can help save your marriage. Such experts are specifically trained to provide a safe space where spouses can hash out their issues, discuss solutions, and work on their marriage. Family therapists can teach you proper communication and connection skills to reignite the relationship. They can also give homework and exercises for you to complete outside of the sessions so you’re consistently putting in effort.
Find a local mental health professional through DivorceForce to help you and your partner fix a broken marriage. Browse available experts today!
Gregory C. Frank is the CEO and Founder of DivorceForce.