Marriage crisis? Try these 5 simple steps
Divorce rates have increased by 5.8% over recent years with many more over-50s couples untying the knot. Although you may feel that your marriage is coming to an end, you could just be in a rough patch. A marriage crisis doesn’t have to be the end of this life-long commitment you both made. With hard work and desire, you can mend the cracks and end your marriage crisis.
From my experience in couples therapy, I have discovered the most effective ways to help resolve a marriage crisis. Follow these simple tips to start the healing process that could save your marriage, or help you to end the relationship knowing that you both tried your hardest to make things work.
Take Some Time Apart
Marriage can be overwhelming. You are with this one person before work, after work and during the day. Sometimes, this can make you feel trapped and like you don’t get any time to yourselves. Taking some time apart can give you the alone time that you or your partner might have been craving and gives you the chance to think things through.
Also, allowing yourself to have some time apart encourages individual development. Couples who have been together for a long time often realise that they are in a codependent relationship. This isn’t healthy as you don’t have personal interests or the opportunity to express yourself outside of the marriage. This can make you feel as if you aren’t your own person anymore. Join a class, a workshop or the gym and set yourself some time to enjoy your own company and meet other people. If you aren’t comfortable in group environments you should still try to get some alone time even if this is by locking yourself away to read, listen to music, or watch the Netflix shows you normally don’t have time for. By taking time apart you can both develop your own interests and hobbies. This can kickstart better communication as you have a wider range of topics to discuss over dinner. Though similarities are beneficial, feeling that you are becoming one person can lead to the marriage dissolving in order for you both to feel individual again.
Giving each other some space also presents the chance to miss your partner. Taking a few days apart can help you to decide whether the relationship is worth saving. If you find yourself missing them, then you know that saving the marriage is something you really want to do. Or in your new found space you may realise that you feel more comfortable without them around and realise that the relationship is too damaged to save. Either way it can help you to realise what your next course of action should be.
Good communication is essential to keeping a relationship alive. Everyone emphasises healthy conversation for long-term couples. But it’s even more important when you are facing a marriage crisis. You may feel that limiting your communication to avoid arguing is for the best. But, encouraging conversation will help to save your marriage. You may not understand where your relationship problems stemmed from as the communication between you broke down. But by taking the time to sit and discuss your feelings, you can work together to find a solution. In a sense it’s like adding wood to a fire – as soon as you stop communicating how you feel the relationship starts to dim and eventually it’ll die out.
Think back to your first date with each other. It may have been dinner or coffee. But, what is the thing that all couples do on a first date? They talk. They learn things about each other, such as their dislikes, passions, embarrassing stories and childhood anecdotes. You fell in love with each other whilst talking about yourselves and your shared interests. You debated and disagreed with each other but it all contributed to the relationship’s growth. When you stopped talking to each other properly, you cut off any chance to repair and develop the relationship. Fall in love again by encouraging communication. Schedule a date night to discuss a variety of topics over dinner. This can bring back nostalgic memories from your first date whilst also helping you both to talk openly again.
Acknowledge Your Part in the Crisis
A marriage takes two people, and recognising your part in any arguments is an important step. This helps you develop as a couple as you both become aware of the impact of your actions. Take time to address your actions and apologise for them if necessary. It is important to still stand up for yourself and not apologise for actions or words you feel are justified. If you apologise for everything your partner dislikes, you are doing the opposite of solving your problems. It can feel insincere and even cause more issues. Just admit your mistakes but also explain the actions that you stand by.
By recognising your part in your arguments, you can understand the full impact of them. This helps you learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future. If you don’t talk about and recognise the stem of your issues, then you can never move on. But, it’s also okay to ask your partner to apologise for their actions. If you believe something your partner did affected your relationship negatively, then you can ask them to explain their actions. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to take some responsibility, especially if it is justified.
Reflect on the Good Times
Another key step to take is to reflect upon happy memories. By remembering the good times you can decide whether you want to make this work. Take your mind back to the moments of happiness you shared together and compare them to recent memories. If you feel sadness over the way your marriage has turned out but want to return to how things were, then you know that it’s worth working on your marriage.
Share these memories as a couple. Discuss your favourite dates or happy moments that make you laugh or smile. This can help you to remind each other why you got married in the first place. Don’t let the marriage crisis you are facing overcome the good memories. Make time to sit down and share the reasons why you fell in love with each other. Remembering the times you both felt happy and in love can help inspire you to work harder for your marriage.
Try Counselling to Talk About Your Problems
If you find it hard to work by yourselves on your marriage and every conversation ends in arguing, seeing a counsellor that specialises in couples therapy may be the best option. Couples therapy is beneficial for your marriage as you are gaining expert advice and able to communicate in a supervised environment where you can speak honestly and openly. Your counsellor is an expert who will have experience in dealing with couples in similar situations and will already know techniques to help both of you to come to a resolution you are satisfied with. A counsellor can help you and your partner to identify and address the real issues behind your marriage crisis and find the best way to move forward.
Another benefit of a counsellor is that they an outsider and although they become aware of your history throughout your sessions, they remain impartial. Advice or mediation from friends and family would often be biased and can cause long-term friction. Seeking out someone who isn’t associated with either of you allows for equal respect, a fair discussion and support for you both to share your feelings.
Look for Deeper Problems
In Couples Therapy, it’s not uncommon to find that the cause of the problems in your marriage is actually nothing to do with your relationship. When you have an area of stress in your life, and it is not dealt with, it can affect other areas of your life. Issues like work related stress, bereavement, depression, and many other things can lead to the detached behaviour that usually starts a marriage crisis. Identifying and dealing with the source of your, or your partner’s, unhappiness is essential before trying to fix your relationship. Communication is key and working together to overcome any individual issues will help you both to reconnect and focus on each other.
Fixing a marriage isn’t easy but the longer you let your issues fester the harder they become to repair. If you would like some expert help, I have experience in couples therapy and can work with you both to find the best solution to end your marriage crisis. Contact me for some more information.