There are lots of men and women out there who can’t seem to understand why their partners left them in the middle of the relationship. What could they have done differently to have a better marriage situation at their hand?
Common scenarios include “My husband moved out, won’t talk to me; long do I wait?” “My wife left me in silence,” or “My husband and I are unhappy and we have decided to divorce.” And that's obviously not the scenario in a better marriage.
Some partners give up and disappear without a closure. In that case, you may have to be the one to provide the closure so you can know what you can count on.
Is that it? Do all marriages end up like this? Should you give up on the idea of better marriage?
These questions may be echoing in your head right now. The truth is, nobody gets married only to end up in a divorce, especially when they are heads over heels in love.
What happened after 5 or maybe 10 years of marriage, no one can really recall that well.
Over time, as children are born, your jobs become your priority, and you are hit with a new kind of reality. The person you loved becomes a person you have to tolerate now.
Before marriage, you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and now, you don’t even hug to say goodbye as you leave the house.
Your spouse simply becomes your roommate. Some couples keep on living their lives like this while others think it’s best to get a divorce.
If you have found yourself in a similar relationship, you are not alone. Love isn’t easy and creating a better marriage situation isn’t even remotely a bed of roses.
It starts with love, but then resentment and regrets are all there’s left.
But if you truly loved your partner, there may be a way back. You can still turn things around if you two work together as a team.
How do marriages start failing?
All marriages end up in the roommate zone at some point. The question is how did yours end up so soon?
Marriage is like a plant; it needs the right amount of water and sunshine to grow. The moment you forget about nurturing the plant, it dries or simply dies.
The founder of the Chicago Relationship Center, Michael McNulty, Ph.D., says that marriages die by ice than by fire.
It’s mostly the distance and isolation cascade that slowly takes a marriage down to the road of dissolution. McNulty presents four stages towards a failing marriage:
Stage 1: Negativity > positivity
Whether it’s verbal statements or body language, during conflicts, partners tend to express negativity. Even the silence is taken negatively.
Stage 2: The 4 horsemen of the apocalypse
Contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling are the horsemen of the apocalypse in a marriage. The worst of all is contempt.
Stage 3: Flooding
It’s the stage were anger takes the better of you. Whenever you talk about a conflict, your body goes into fight or flight state.
Stage 4: Emotional disengagement
It’s the stage when you think it’s too hard to make the marriage work. It happens when one or both parents are disconnected from the entire relationship.
That’s when you start to live like roommates. Couples start seeing their marital problems severe and hence they leave them as they are.
In other cases, partners try to solve problems on their own. Eventually, both start living parallel lives and loneliness sets in.
If you are thinking what worse can happen after this, then the answer is not divorce but an affair.
One or even both of the partners may start having an affair. This type of betrayal is rarely the cause of the dying marriage. In a situation like this, it’s actually a symptom.
#5. It’s time to evaluate yourself if you truly wish to have a better marriage situation.
What is your role in the failing marriage? You or your spouse could be guilty of the following:
#6. Lack of attention and affection: When was the last time you paid attention to your spouse? When did you compliment them?
What about giving them what they want in bed? When you stop paying attention, your partner starts seeking it from someone else.
This leads to emotional affairs, one-night stands and even affairs in which two people start loving each other.
At that point, it’s useless to track your partner with the help of spouse monitoring apps because the actual problem is not the affair but what caused the affair.
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#7. Lack of forgiveness: Are you stuck on your partner’s past mistakes? If so, it will affect what you feel about them now.
#8. Unspoken expectations: We all have expectations from our partners. But have you ever communicated these expectations?
Your partner is not a not mind-reader. Men and women are two different species. They think differently, act differently and feel differently. Your partner will never know what you want unless you tell them.
#9. Lack of support: Are you there to support them? It’s not just financial support, moral support counts in a marriage big time.
Your partner must know you will there to support them no matter what. Both your presence and words of affection count.
#10. Does that mean it’s the end?
Ok, so your marriage is in trouble. Is divorce the only solution? Sometimes, yes, but not always. Lord Byron said, “Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.”
If there is even an ounce of love and respect left between the two of you, there is still a way back for creating a better marriage situation.
It will only happen if you try to make it work together. It is tricky to reconcile. If you follow the wrong advice, you can break everything.
Mort Fertel, a relationship expert, says that the worst advice you can give to a couple is “tell them how you really feel.”
Expressing exactly what you feel can be hurtful to your partner.
Yes, you should be honest about your feelings but if honesty can hurt the other person’s sentiments, it’s a stupid thing to do.
Fertel also says that seeing a marriage counselor is an ineffective approach to mending a broken marriage.
Marriage counseling isn’t all bad. It’s great that you attend sessions to understand each other’s point of view but if you are not taking any actions to fix your problems, there is no point in seeing a counselor.
Often, a broken marriage needs leadership than counseling. Someone has to take the lead to step up and fix things.
Marriages aren’t successful because of how well you listen; marriages are successful because of what you do.
Fertel says a couple should take the unconventional approach to fix things such as:
#11. Go it alone: Yes, you can mend your relationship better if you two try together. But even a single person’s effort can change a marriage’s momentum.
Start alone, if you must, and it will automatically motivate your partner to join you in the process of saving your marriage. Don’t be afraid to take the first step for creating a better marriage situation again.
#12. Stop asking yourself the wrong question: Did I even marry the right person? You will ask yourself this question almost every other day but it’s actually the wrong question to focus on.
There is no such thing as the right person; you simply have to learn to love the person you have.
There are some laws in a relationship which dictates the whole outcome of your marriage, depending on your behavior. Love does not come by luck, it comes by choice.
#13. Absence is not good for the two of you: You will hear a lot of people say distance makes a relationship stronger.
Not really! How did that long distance relationship after high school turn out? You broke up after a few months, right?
Same goes here. When your marriage is already breaking, staying apart makes things worse. It creates more distance between the two of you.
The idea is to try to create closeness so never believe when someone says you should take a break.
#14. Don’t talk to friends or family about your situation: Talking to a friend helps but don’t compromise the privacy of marriage.
No matter how great of a friend they are, don’t discuss your partner. Sometimes, all people are looking for is an excuse to break your marriage.
Letting your secrets out means you are handing over your peace to someone else.
#15. Falling back in love isn’t easy but it’s possible
Do want to stay with your partner and make it work? Great.
Chances are you do love them but not the same as before. I hear you. It’s totally natural. When it comes to love, we don’t stay in the same high place all the time.
Some days are cloudy, some are stormy, some are gray, and sometimes, the sun shines.
Relationships are seasonal and cyclical, and the statement,
"I don’t love my husband or wife anymore" can mean many more things than "it's time to leave."
Yet it seems that for so many people, that feeling is interpreted as the end of the relationship—or at least the marriage is in trouble.
Franklin Porter, a Ph.D. and a psychotherapist in New York, says that relationships grow stale mainly because partners avoid confronting things that bother them.
But hey, falling back in love is possible. Relationship experts have the consensus that falling back in love is actually an intentional act.
There are plenty of things you can do to start feeling meh again.
Maybe it won’t be the same as before and it will come and go since that’s the reality of life.
Here are some of the ways you can do so, as suggested by relationship experts to change your marriage situation to something better, worth and amazing.
#16. Stop being critical
Often, we start observing our partners through a critical lens. That’s not fair since you promised to love them for who they are.
Their habits will annoy you but you saw something above all their flaws when you fell in love with them for the first time.
The critical inner voice of yours is your internal enemy. It can bring your relationship down.
This inner voice often exaggerates and offers poor advice. So stop listening to it and stop being critical.
Whenever you become critical, think of at least 5 things about your partner that you absolutely love to calm yourself down. You will be surprised how this works.
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#17. Be kind
The more loving actions you take, the more in love you feel. Don’t raise your voice, try to control your anger.
These little moments of kindness will get noticed and it will actually soften up your partner.
Love and generosity can pay you big time. You feel good about yourself and it finally creates some space in your heart to move closer to your partner.
#18. Take advantage of what you love about your partner
One way of appreciating your partner more is to reflect on their good qualities. Is it their sense of humor that you admire or their leadership skills?
Do you love their smile? Pay attention to such qualities all day and it will enlighten your mood.
#19. Share the non-routine experiences
Break from the routine and do something different together. You and your partner deserve a break from household stuff, kids, and even financial responsibilities.
Take a pottery or a painting class together. Keep on making time to do new things together. Use it as an excuse to spend time and make new memories.
These are the new memories that you will cherish moving forward.
#20. Leave work at work
Don’t come back home with office baggage—it is bad for your relationship.
Of course, you can vent about work with your spouse but don’t make it the focus of your conversations every day.
Otherwise, work will be all that’s left to talk about and eventually, you or your partner will get tired of this conversation.
Make an effort to talk about things at the dinner table that interest the two of you.
#21. Listen too as you speak
Let your partner feel important too. One way of doing this is to listen to what they want to say.
When we don’t listen, we tend to formulate our own responses and that’s when things take a wrong turn.
In the beginning, it may seem intentional, but eventually, you will learn a lot about your partner.
#22. Agree to disagree
We are all guilty of agreeing with our spouses just to avoid conflict. If you and your partner have separate personalities, it’s hard to keep up.
You have to agree to disagree. As counter intuitive as it seems, a disagreement can actually help you remember that your partner has their own thoughts.
Sooner or later, you start taking your partner’s need in consideration.
#23. Let yourself be vulnerable
Don’t hesitate to be vulnerable in your relationship. It is an important ingredient to form a secure bond with your partner.
#24. Let go of the resentments
To have a better marriage and get the excitement in your relationship back, you first have to get over all the past resentments.
Don’t let the bubble grow under the surface. Talk to your partner and establish an open and honest environment.
If you don’t start a dialogue, these feelings will keep on coming between the two of you.
#25. You are in this together
The very definition of a relationship is “the state of being connected,” so it is impossible to be alone when you are in a relationship.
If you enter a relationship with the goal to satisfy your personal needs, it’s going to be a recipe for disaster.
It simply means there wasn’t any love, to begin with. Even if one of the partners had genuine love, they would suffer on their own because the other person is selfish.
Love teaches us to be humble and selfless. In practical life, love isn’t enough to survive but its presence can make a huge difference.
Love may not resolve an argument but it can give you the patience to make things work.
Love doesn’t stop you from saying hurtful things to your partner but it makes you present a heartfelt apology.
Love doesn’t make you forget about the annoying habits of your partner but it can help you focus on the things that actually matter. Love doesn’t protect you from hurt but it allows you to forgive.
It was because of love that the two of you got married and it is love that will bring the lost souls together.
Even if you are on the verge of having a divorce or you think you will live like roommates the rest of your lives, there is hope as long as the two of you love each other.
A successful marriage has the same key ingredients as a happy life. You will need selflessness, gratitude, forgiveness, common goals, and lots of date nights. Good things take time and so will your relationship.
You can either let go of it or turn it into something beautiful that you will cherish the rest of your life. The success of your relationship lies in your hand.
In the end it's only you who must take charge of the situations positively to help you and your spouse have a better marriage.
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