Lots of married couples paint themselves into corners and feel hopeless. They had a great marriage but somewhere along the way they got caught in a bind. Instead of untying it, the knot got bigger, tighter and more pronounced. They start to think divorce is the only answer, but there are some ways to loosen the tension, untie that knot and smooth things out again. Sure it isn’t an easy process. But here are some tips on how to salvage your marriage and get things back on track again. The first thing you can do is to sit down calmly together and draw up a list of every single issue that you two argue about. Concentrate on each one and figure them out together. Each one should have a win-win solution. Of course some compromise is bound to occur, not an absolute win-win but solutions you can both be happy with. You should through this process be able to develop the needed skills to mitigate future disagreements. Don’t focus on changing your partner. Instead, focus on changing yourself. Any attempt to change your partner is going to make them defensive and weaken the trust bond. Instead, when your partner does something you don’t like fix your reaction. Try to be good-natured about it and realize that that is how they are. Perhaps approach the issue in a new way. Write a funny note, send an email, or perhaps accept the fact that your partner just can’t change. If it is a slight faux pas that you can overlook, do.
If you are using negativity in your relationship, cut it out. Sarcasm, passive-aggression, blame, anger, criticism, negative remarks or digs will only make things worse. They will never make things better. So get rid of them and convince your spouse to do so, too. Talk about your concerns in a constructive manner. You can even use the verbiage, “I would like to…” or “My concern is…” Cooperate on the decision making process. If one person is acting like a dictator who needs to get their way, this autocratic rule will forever be undermined, as well it should be. Marriage is a partnership full of give and take. No one should be getting their way. Instead, both parties should be satisfied. There should be an equal balance of power. Both people need to feel loved, cherished and respected. Look out for anger, addiction and affairs. These will definitely sink a marriage. If either spouse is involved with any of these they need to cut it out and seek counseling, or in the case of infidelity perhaps marriage counseling. Increase the positive energy in your relationship exponentially. Increase the hugs, kissing, hand holding, positive comments, appreciation and sex. Get rid of negativity. Laugh, have fun, act silly, praise each other and show gratitude for what your spouse does for you, for the kids and for your relationship. For more in-depth advice, pick up the book The Power of Two by Susan Heitler, Ph.D.