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10 Things to Try Before Giving Up on Your Marriage

Broken gold wedding band

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Marriage can be challenging, and many couples find themselves at a point where they are considering divorce. However, giving up on your marriage should not be the first solution. There are steps you can take to improve your relationship and give it a fresh start. In this article, we will explore ten things you can try before giving up on your marriage, based on the work of Dr. John Gottman and other relationship experts.

1. Take Responsibility for Your Part

A radical shift in mindset is necessary to break the cycle of an unhappy relationship dynamic. Start by taking responsibility for your part in the conflict or dispute. Studies show that one of the most common reasons couples develop serious difficulties is the withdrawal of one or both partners due to hurt, anger, and resentment. By recognizing your role in the relationship issues, you can change the entire dynamic.

2. Stop the Blame Game

Playing the blame game only leads to a pursuer-distancer dance, where one partner chases the other around. Instead of focusing on blame, lean towards each other and take action on your own behalf. Relationship expert Dr. Harriet Lerner advises against waiting for the other person to change. Increase positive reinforcement and express admiration for your partner's positive qualities. This can help warm things up between you and bridge the gap.

3. Practice Emotional Attunement

Emotional attunement, as described by Dr. John Gottman, involves "turning toward" one another, listening, and showing empathy. Instead of turning away from your partner, strive for a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. This means for every negative interaction, aim for five positive ones. Emotional attunement can help you stay connected, even in the face of differences, and is a key factor in marital success.

4. Complain Without Blame

When addressing issues in your marriage, avoid criticizing your partner. Focus on specific issues rather than attacking them personally. A complaint is more effective than a criticism. For example, instead of saying, "You never follow through, you're so selfish," try saying, "I was worried when you didn't call me. We agreed that we'd check in when one of us was running late." This approach promotes productive communication and problem-solving.

5. Repair Conflicts Skillfully

Resentments can destroy a relationship if left unresolved. Dr. Gottman's research reveals that 69% of conflicts in a marriage never get resolved. Instead of avoiding conflict, focus on managing it successfully. Learn to bounce back from disagreements and find ways to compromise. By skillfully repairing conflicts, you can prevent stagnation and foster growth in your relationship.

6. Stay Focused on the Issues at Hand

During conflicts, it's essential to stay focused on the issues you're trying to resolve. Avoid name-calling and personal attacks. Anger is often a symptom of underlying hurt, fear, and frustration. Ask questions that go deeper to understand your partner's positive needs. Practice active listening and avoid defensiveness or contemptuous behavior. By staying focused and respectful, you can create a healthier environment for conflict resolution.

7. Boost Physical Affection

Physical affection plays a vital role in maintaining a strong connection in a marriage. Holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin, also known as the bonding hormone. This hormone promotes a calming sensation and reduces stress levels. Make an effort to increase physical affection in your relationship, whether through simple gestures or intimate moments. It can help rekindle the romance and strengthen your bond.

8. Nurture Fondness and Admiration

Remind yourself of your partner's positive qualities, even when faced with their flaws. Express your positive feelings out loud several times a day. Instead of insisting on getting your way during disagreements, search for common ground and listen to your partner's point of view. Cultivating fondness and admiration for each other can help sustain a deep and meaningful bond.

9. Spend Quality Time Together

Make a conscious effort to spend time with your partner on a daily basis. Engage in activities that bring both of you pleasure and create shared experiences. Consider adopting a new structure for your daily conversations, focusing on empathy, understanding, and validation of emotions. Feeling like your partner is on your side can strengthen your connection and foster a sense of unity.

10. Communicate Honestly and Respectfully

Open and honest communication is crucial in any relationship. Be forthcoming about your concerns, thoughts, feelings, and wishes. Avoid sweeping issues under the rug, as this can lead to resentment. Practice vulnerability and express negative feelings in a respectful manner. By fostering open communication, you create a space for understanding and growth.

Check out the full article here.

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