How To Fix A Broken Marriage
Once a marriage is considered broken, is it really possible to fix it? Yes; we're not saying it's easy, but it is possible. It takes work, patience and learning. Marriages don't often break overnight, it's a gradual process; small things that become mountains which suddenly feel insurmountable. But as with breaking them, so can you fix them the same way: with small things that become something big -- a strong and healthy marriage.
What is a broken marriage?
Unfortunately, if you're in one, you'll know. It can be heartbreaking to live with and the decisions that lie ahead can feel utterly overwhelming.
Typically in a broken marriage, at least one person is beyond the point of wanting to be together; they’re done, they want out. Sometimes both partners want out and under these circumstances it’s extremely difficult to fix your marriage. It’s only really possible if both partners are willing to put their all in one last time. The trouble is that once a marriage gets to the point of broken, the couple has usually tried many things already and so the thought of attempting more; or even one last thing is simply too much.
However there are some couples who do have some strength left. And if you’re reading this then I suspect you are one of those. You might be hanging on by a thread but you are still there.
Perhaps you are sticking around for the children, fears of being alone, financial concerns, perhaps you haven’t yet lost all glimmers of hope, perhaps love remains despite your difficulties. Perhaps you’re too stubborn to let go, perhaps you have spiritual reasons to keep going. Perhaps you came from a broken home yourself and you’re determined not to continue the cycle. Perhaps life has thrown you some curveballs, handed you some crap to deal with that the two of you just weren’t prepared for; there are some trials in life that either make or break even the strongest of marriages. Perhaps you love your partner, you just don’t love who you’ve become together. Either way, whatever is causing you to hold on; well done. Holding on when you’re broken is hard, it’s exhausting and it can feel easier to let go. But for your own reasons you do not yet want to and we’re here to help you loosen that grip as you start to take our 8 steps towards fixing a broken marriage.
Before we get started, these are recommendations but if they don’t feel comfortable then move onto the next step or seek help. We can never assume to understand every relationship but we do hope this helps some. We hope this helps you and where you’re both at now. This is also written on the assumption that both partners are willing to try something new. If only one of you is prepared then not all of this will apply but by all means please read and perhaps something will spark an idea in which you might start to make the changes yourself which are necessary to change your marriage.
8 Steps To Fixing A Broken Marriage
Step 1: Admit you're broken
This might sound obvious but believe me people do not like to admit to their faults or pain. They like to hide their fears and their pain from the world, from you and from themselves. If you struggle to talk about the big stuff; this is one of those times where you just have to. If your partner doesn’t like to talk about the hard stuff; lead the way, start that conversation, and be really, really honest.
How can we fix something when we haven’t even admitted that it’s broken? After all, we can continue to use a teapot with a hairline crack; technically broken but not enough to really notice or dispose of. However we keep using it, keep taking from it, keep putting a strain on that crack and eventually the teapot will end up split in two. You have to first see the cracks in your marriage and be willing to speak about them to prevent the two of you also splitting in two.
Step 2: Create a safe space, and talk
Now that you’ve admitted you’re broken, it’s important that you explore this further. If done tenderly this can be the beginning of healing. (We must stipulate that our recommendation is that you really do this with an expert but we also understand this isn't always possible)
Carve out some time, some regular time where you can sit together and share what’s going on. This bit is really important: you must listen to each other completely. Take turns to share what you’re finding difficult. ‘Listener’: you must not interrupt. We know it’s hard to listen to someone blaming you; but try to see it as insight, information rather than blame. Talker: try not to blame! Talk about your own mistakes as well as your partners. Don’t raise your voice, if you feel anger rising, stop. Take some deep breaths, take a break and start again.
This won’t be easy. But with practise it will get easier.
This space, this opportunity is designed to get you talking and listening. You’ve already admitted that you need help, this step helps you towards recognising how and why you got to where you are. It’s a crucial step in the right direction.
Step 3: Remember the good bits
Again, this isn’t easy; no doubt one or both of you are hurt but in order to fix your marriage then at some point you will need to move beyond the mistakes.
What was it about your partner that attracted you? What parts - or part - of their character do you love? What do they do well? What are you grateful for? Make a list of the positives. You don’t need to share this but you do need to remember it, read it often, if possible make it the first thing you do each day.
Why are we suggesting this? Because by the time your marriage gets to being broken, you’re very much focused on the negatives, the faults, the mistakes. Holding onto those things every day will continue to kill your marriage. Spending time remembering and looking for the good will start to help you move from resentment to appreciation.
Step 4: Marriage Meetings
Have regular marriage meetings. We’re asking a lot we know. But at work it’s commonplace to have appraisals and receive feedback in order to grow. And that’s what we’re suggesting now.
Have a weekly meeting. During the meeting you must try to focus on the good in each other. What is your partner doing well? In what ways have they improved towards you or around you? One of you starts and lists all the positives; only then can you make a request for one change. What one thing would you like your partner to do better? And swap. Remember step number 2: don’t interrupt, don’t defend; simply listen. This again must be a safe place for you both.
You’re both showing up for this meeting, therefore you must show up authentically and honestly -- and you must be ready to hear the hard truths along with the positives.
If this can become a habit, it never really needs to stop. Regular meetings such as these really strengthen a marriage.
Step 5: Time
Spend some time with one another. Do you know how much time couples spend together these days? According to the Office for National Statistics, it’s 2 to 2 and a half hours per day; that’s not much more than the length of a decent film. And what do most of us do in the evenings when we have that time together? We stick on a movie, we escape.
What we’re suggesting is to spend a small amount of quality time. Talk. Ask questions. Get to know one another again. It’s important that you’ve completed the first 4 steps so that you are able to be as free from bitterness as possible during your time together. Try not to watch a movie, leave your phone in a different room and just focus -- on your partner.
Step 6: Explore touch
Before you explore touch, ask your partner what they like. To be clear, we are talking about non-sexual touch. Does your partner like to hold hands, hug, lie or sit together. How about you? Do you like a foot rub, back scratch, hair fondled. Be honest about what you like and show one another gentle forms of these contacts throughout the week. Being touched releases endorphins; it’s good for us. And most of the time it’s good for our marriage. It should be done regularly and without motive. It should be tender and about them, not you.
Step 7: Be kind
When marriages start to break down, intimacy often stops, communication feels difficult and kindness towards each other feels impossible; a distant memory. But now we’re rebuilding: building trust, respect, tenderness and now kindness. Lao Tzu very aptly said:
"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
Kind gestures can be small, they do not need to be grand. It can be holding your partner's hand during the sad part of a movie. Doing a chore that they almost always do. It might be cleaning their car, preparing their lunch, paying them a compliment or showing sincere gratitude. What would your partner enjoy? How do they tend to feel the most loved? Think of them and be kind.
Step 8: Start anew everyday
Try not to hold a grudge against yourself or your partner. You will make mistakes, so will they. But a big part of being married is being open to frequent forgiveness. Forgive yourself and forgive your partner. Wipe the slate clean each morning, build your partner up in your mind, read the list you made in step 3 and move forwards with hope, gratitude and kindness towards your partner.
If you're marriage is broken but you're not ready to walk away then give our 8 steps to fixing a broken marriage a try. But please, don't stop there. At The Marriage People we firmly believe that if you stop working on your marriage; your marriage stops working. So don't stop, don't read this list and do nothing, don't do all of this list and think you're safe. Keep growing, keep learning, keep talking. These regular steps keep your focus on one another, and if what we focus on grows, then what better thing to focus on than your relationships; your marriage.
We wish you the best of luck.
If you require further learning resources please take a look at our online marriage course which is currently free and can be done from the comfort of your own home.