How to Save a Marriage, in 7 steps     

Posted by: Rose Tol, R&I Life Coaching, March 14, 2013; How to Save a Marriage in Relationships

how to save a marriage

Are people asking themselves the question: how to save a marriage?

In Australia, every third marriage end up in divorce.

In America almost 50% of married couples divorce.

The numbers of people divorced within 5 years of their marriage is staggering. How come that so many people find that passionate love and willingly walk down the aisle, making promises to each other, only to file for a divorce and walk away from the promises they made?

What if more people would ask the question how to save a marriage. Would people find a way to save theirs? Well you are here so let's get to it!

How to save a marriage step #1

Do you have the desire to know how to save a marriage? Well you are this far, so assume you do. What about your partner? It is important that you both have the desire to want to save it. If you are not sure you have to work on this step and make sure both of you have a good amount of desire. If you do not have enough desire you will not be able to put the effort into the following how to safe a marriage steps and your marriage might not be saved.

Ways to get in touch with your desire and/or increase it.

Get together with your partner and take each time apart and write down the questions to the following questions. Once you have written down the answers, come back together and share with each other the answers to the questions. Your desire to save your marriage should get ignited; hopefully enough so you will find the way to save it.

  1. What was the first time you fell in love/felt great love for your partner?
  2. What was the happiest, greatest moment you remember with your partner?
  3. Find another moment of great joy and happiness with your partner
  4. Where did you propose to each other?
  5. What is the one quality you really appreciate about your partner?
  6. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to save your marriage? Where are you at on a scale of 1-10?

IMPORTANT: In most cases your desire to be together, to save a marriage, might be covered over by the hurts and disappointments that happened along the way. Remember, that original spark of desire and attraction that was once there is still there. You just have to uncover it again. If this is the case you might need to work extra hard on the above questions. Trust me, it is there...if you care enough you will find it.

Good, if you are both above a 5 on the scale I think there is a chance for you both to make it. The journey on how to safe a marriage is not easy, but it will be well worth it. Remember that spark and excitement that was there in the beginning? And that feeling that you would do anything to be with each other? Well you can have that again and so much more as you are both further along the path. Ready for step 2?

How to save a marriage step #2

Get together with your partner and both read the following article on The 6 Basic Human Needs.

  1. Once you are done, again take some time apart and each individually write down what you believe are your 2 main Basic Human Needs according to the model explained in the article. I know we have all of them to one extend or the other but which 2 of the needs drive you, shape you, motivates your actions. Take your time to think about this. You want to get these right as this will be 75% of the crux of the matter on your way to learn to how to save a marriage.
  2. What do you think are the 2 main Human Basic Needs that drive your partner, that motivates their actions?
  3. How well do you feel your spouse is meeting each of your needs on a scale of 1-10?
  4. What are your 'rules' for fulfilling these needs? In other words, what has to happen for you to feel that your needs are fulfilled?
  5. How well do you feel you are meeting each of the 6 needs of your partner on a scale of 1-10?
  6. What do you think your spouse's rules are for fulfilling his/her needs?

Once you have written down all the answers find each other and sit together and share with each other your findings. I suggest you take time to do this, do not run over this.

When you understand which are your two top needs and their order, you can understand many of the decisions you have made in your life: "Oh, because I valued Significance over Love, I couldn't feel Love until I felt I had made a lot of money," or "I cling to Certainty over Significance, so I always chose the safe , cowardly situations in life instead of taking risks and achieving."

These 6 basic human needs play a very important role in your strategy on how to save a marriage, so take as much time you need for these first 2 steps.

How to save a marriage step #3

In this step on how to save a marriage, it's time for reflection, contemplation and creating some strategy's.

Both you and your partner, take some time alone and contemplate the following questions. The questions should help you to start to create some strategy's to help fulfill each others needs more. I suggest before working on the questions that you read the article on the 6 Basic Human Needs one more time.

  1. For each of the 6 needs: write down 3 ways you could meet this need for your spouse.
  2. For each of the 6 needs: write down 3 ways your spouse could meet this need for you.
  3. Contemplate the following: Do you Value Certainty over Connection/Love? Or do you value Uncertainty/Variety over Significance? What if your driving force was growth? How would that be different from valuing Significance over anything else? There are no right or wrong answers. Learn more about yourself.
  4. Can you identify some ways and habits that has you trying to fulfill one of your needs in a negative way? How can you change this way into a habit that is a positive way to meet this need?

Once you have both taken the time to reflect on these questions then come together and share with each other your realizations. Listen to each other intently, learn from each other. Discover what you need to know to make each other happy. Make sure you take the time to thoroughly do this step. If you know what makes you happy and what makes your partner happy you would not be in the position to find out how to save a marriage.

How to save a marriage step #4

Trust is defined in the dictionary as: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

Trust is a feeling. You can love your spouse but not emotionally trust him/her. When you trust your spouse you deeply feel and believe that they have your best interest at heart and they truly care about you. Trust means you will think about the other before acting.

Trust is not something that is built in good times. It is in times of crisis, conflict, frustrations and heightened emotion that you learn whether you can trust someone or not. If someone continues to respect, appreciate and prioritize your needs in times of crisis or even anger, this raises the level of trust. On the other hand, when you respond to your partner with criticism, scorn and harsh language or stonewalling, this instantly decreases trust, even if it has been built up for a long time. Some couples can spend months or years building up trust, only to lose trust in a moment of ill feeling.

Broken trust can take years, even decades to repair. The way to restore trust the fast way is to learn to become completely present for your spouse, no matter what is being asked or said, your job is to stay present with an open mind and an open heart.

Respect is something that has to be practiced on a daily basis. Without trust and respect, relationships won't last, no matter how passionately it may have been at the start. You need to have feelings of unconditional trust in your partner as well as respect for who they are and what they need. This means doing away with being suspicious and critical. It is well known to us all that insults and degrading remarks have a destructive power. Less known to us is that stonewalling - not listening, not being present - has been proven to be an important predictor of divorce.

Trust and respect for the other is of great importance as well as great respect for yourself. Self hatred and lack of self respect can prevent others from seeing who you really are and gets in the way of your spouse being able to respect and trust you. So let go of self-hatred and let your true self shine through.

Here are some questions to help you in the area of trust.

  1.  How do you express trust and respect in your relationship?
  2. How do you think you could increase trust and respect with your spouse?
  3. If you are feminine: How does your spouse react to your "storms"? How does that make you feel" What do you want from your partner during times of stress or unease?
  4. If you are masculine: How do you react to times of stress and uncertainty? Are you able to stay present during the "storms"? How could you become and stay more present during the "storms"?

Share your findings with your partner. Listen, learn and grow with each other.

During the week, focus your attention on eliminating threats, judgment and blame from all communication with your spouse. Start to practice expressing trust in your spouse's positive intentions.

If you feel anger and frustration you need to learn to let go of these feelings. They are not you, they are just emotions that will pass. When your spouse makes a mistake, be compassionate and treat them the way you would want to be treated.

With trust and respect present in your marriage you are well on your way to how to save a marriage.

How to save a marriage step #5

Good communication creates true care, respect and love. It is a most powerful skill and a must have to cultivate relationships that are sustaining, meaningful, rich and lasting. Communication has the power to break or make a relationship thus it is important you learn to keep clear with your communications and keep sharpening your skills in this area as an important step in how to safe a marriage.

  • If you have build up resentments, anger, frustration, fear and regrets from the past then it is important that you clear the air with each other. Best is that you have a session with a counselor who can help you through this in a thorough way, where you both feel heard and gotten by each other and you can let go of it. This kind of work canbe done in about 3 hours and the gift of it is you will have so much more love and respect afterwards for each other.
  • Communicate daily with each other about important things in your relationship. Share about your needs being met, or not. Share the successes and the areas where you can improve. Learn to listen to each other and learn so you can grow together.
  • Learn to communicate how you feel instead of what you think. This is especially an area for the men to pay attention to. Sharing your deeper feelings with each other grows trust, clears the air and creates intimacy. And remember when your partner shares their feelings...they are just feelings...they are not you.
  • Discover your non-verbal habits of communicating. Do you know the comment: "But you were judging me? No I wasn't, I was just trying to help!" Well most of the time these interactions are born from the most important dynamic at times , and that is what is not said or what is said through our body language or tone of voice. Learn to detect these ways of communicating in yourself and others and will help you to communicate in a way that positively moves things forward. 

For more help then what is giving in this article on how to save a marriage the following articles might be of great help:

Good communication skills for Relationships: Increasing Care, Respect and Love;

Listening: The Power of Conscious Listening;

Venting: Get it Out - Let it Go - Get Freed Up!

How to save a marriage step #6

Sex, sensuality and intimacy are important areas that you need to be able to communicate clearly to each other about. If you have dissatisfaction in these areas, do not hesitate to find help. Life is too short to not fully enjoy it. Sex is healthy, it is good for you. The body needs touch. And without intimacy your relationship most probably won't last. So, do not let fear or shame or guilt stop you. Find the help you need to open up, heal and enjoy these area's of your life guilt free. I can write a whole book about it but for this article on how to save a marriage, I just give some thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Regarding your sex life, what are you missing? What is not working? What is working?
  2. Are you receiving the amount of touch you need?
  3. Is it easy for you to be intimate? If not, why not? What do you need from your partner to open up more, to feel safer so you can find that intimacy.
  4. Do you exercise? Do you eat healthy? These areas all relate to having the energy and the desire to have sex.

It is important that you keep physical intimacy alive. 

Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Studies on infants have brought to light the importance of regular, loving touch and holding on brain development and emotional development. These benefits do not end in childhood. Life without physical contact with others is a lonely life indeed.

Studies have shown that affectionate touch actually boosts the body’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment. In a committed relationship between two adult partners, physical intercourse is often a cornerstone of the relationship. However, intercourse should not be the only method of physical intimacy in a relationship. Regular, affectionate touch­—holding hands, hugging, or kissing—is equally important.

Be sensitive to what your partner likes. While touch is a key part of a healthy relationship, it’s important to take some time to find out what your partner really likes. Unwanted touching or inappropriate overtures can make the other person tense up and retreat—exactly what you don’t want.

How to save a marriage step #7

It is important that you value yourself and who you are and what you stand for. If you and your spouse have clarity on what your most important values and goals are then you can discover if there is alignment in your marriage. Alignment is crucial to have your partnership be lasting and sustaining. A marriage where each others values and goals are lined up has a way higher chance to succeed. A spouse that ignores their values and fails to communicate what they want or tries to fit in with their spouse to 'make it work', come from a place of fear of having the relationship not work; when essentially, the relationship may not be “right” in the first place. When you put off sharing your values you will get in danger of your needs not being met and that can lead to hurtful outcomes.

Sharing what you want, what you value, what you want from life is  giving your spouse the gift of understanding where they can meet you. Having all the wants and needs in the open like that is an important platform where you will fall less likely for the trap or "trying to change" each other.

I have personally experienced when a part of the alignment of values and goals is a giving to the higher good, contributing to something greater then the relationships itself it has a 75% higher rate of succeeding then when the values are all focused on oneself/itself.

Some questions for you to reflect:

  1. What are each of your values, goals. What do you want from life. The more specific you can get the better. Write it down, work it. This is so important to take this time now and ongoingly revisit and see where you are at. Share the lists with each other.
  2. Is there alignment with both of your lists of values and goals?
  3. How can you support each other with each others values and goals?
  4. Do you have goals for your marriage? You as a couple, what do you want to achieve?

I hope that this guide on How to Save a Marriage gave you hope, a direction to go into and some tools to get right into action. Now I know it is not easy to go through this process with your spouse by yourself. I want you to know that I am here for you, whenever you need support, feedback or help to get through this. Just schedule a half an hour free appointment to see if you like to work together. Good luck saving your marriage! Rose

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