9 Ways You Can Be the One to Save Your Marriage
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., says that “It takes two people to couple up and get married.” Lerner is also the author or “The Dance of Anger,” and says that even though two people are required for marriage, it only takes one person to improve the relationship. According to Lerner, if you wait for your spouse to make the first move, you’re basically waiting for divorce and volunteering for unhappiness.
Dr. Lerner has also written a book called “Marriage Rules,” and lists several ways that you can improve your marriage, starting with getting control of your own behavior. Here are 10 of her points that really stood out.
1. Describe The Problem In Three Sentences Or Less
Your mate may tell you that he/she doesn’t feel like talking or isn’t good at verbal communication. However, the real issue may be that your spouse gets easily overwhelmed when you present him with too much information and shuts down. When you need to bring up an issue, try to keep it to three sentences or less.
For instance, instead of going on a rant for 10 minutes, simply tell your mate that you’re upset because he said he’d clean the kitchen but didn’t. Don’t add extra information, like the fact that you don’t like that your husband “never” does what he says he’s going to do.
2. Don’t Make Insincere Statements That Start With “I”
When you make an “I-statement,” you’re owning your feelings instead of blaming how you feel about your partner. For instance, if your partner is always late, instead of saying “It’s so rude that you’re not on time for events,” you should say “When you’re late, it’s difficult for me to plan dinner.” This helps you to talk about the issue without your spouse feeling attacked. Remember that your statements don’t have to start with “I” in order to be “I-statements.”
Don’t simply add the word “I” just to make a point that will likely start a disagreement. Avoid saying things like “I think you’re treating me like you’re a controlling mother” unless you’re ready for a huge fight.
3. “Confuse” Your Mate With Compliments
Surprise your mate by praising him/her when he/she is expecting to be criticized by you. For instance, if your wife has a tendency to be overbearing when talking to her younger sibling, and you and your mate have fought about this, wait until you hear your wife and her sibling talking on the phone. After the conversation ends, say something like “I like the way you use humor to lighten the mood. You two are so funny together.” This is disarming, but it prompts your mate to start exhibiting a new behavior—with her sibling and in your marriage.
4. Welcome The Things You Dread
If you’re tired of hearing about the things that your partner is afraid of, it may be time to initiate the conversation. Don’t focus on coming up with a solution or cheering your spouse up. Just be there to listen.
5. Don’t Mention Foreplay
While it’s true that most couples need to have more conversations about sex, it’s important not to use the term “foreplay.” The term suggests that it’s just a prelude to intercourse and isn’t true intimacy. This cheapens any type of affection you show to each other, and this could cause serious issues in your relationship.
6. Limit Your Listening
Listening is a very spiritual act. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our spouses, and we could probably stand to listen more to our partners, and have them listen more to us. However, it’s important to be discerning when listening to you partner. If your husband wants to talk about, about the fact that the two of you aren’t spending enough time together while you’re in the middle of making dinner or watching the kids, you may be tempted to say that you don’t have time for the conversation.
It may be more effective to tell your partner that you’ll be able to listen more attentively later. This will let your spouse know that you’re concerned and want to give your full attention to the matter when you can.
7. Give Specific Compliments
Your partner will likely enjoy hearing that he/she is the best and that you love him/her. However, your mate needs to know the specific reasons why you love him/her. Tell your husband that you love his sense of humor or the way he makes guests feel welcome in your home. After all, your criticisms are specific and detailed, so make sure that the praise you give your spouse is just as descriptive.
8. Don’t Correct Your Partner Unnecessarily
Don’t correct your spouse on issues that aren’t really important. It really doesn’t matter if your mate says it’s 70 degrees outside when it’s actually 65. Also, don’t try to use your partner's errors to his mistakes. Don’t use his miscalculation of the weather to bring up the fact that he drank too much at the Christmas party.
9. Invent a Houseguest
The truth of the matter is that we have more behavior over our actions than we care to admit. For example, if you had a distinguished guest at your home, sleeping in the room right across from yours, you’d be much more polite to your spouse. If someone else were staying in the house with you, you’d be more patient and kinder to your spouse, because you don’t want other people to hear you speaking harshly to your mate. Imagine that you’re not at home alone as a way to help you treat your mate with more respect.