No one gets married with the intention of getting a divorce, but the sad truth is that marriages frequently fail. Nevertheless, having the option of a divorce is far preferable to being condemned to a life of unhappiness, locked in a marriage that is making you miserable.
Marriages, like other relationships, can reach a point where they become damaged beyond repair. Clearly, you don’t want your marriage to reach this point, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. If you’re wondering how to save a marriage when only one is trying, you’re already ahead. Until both partners have given up, there’s hope.
Saving your marriage will be hard work, but it’s not impossible. As long as you’re determined to do whatever needs to be done to mend your relationship, you have reason to keep going.
Here are some helpful tips to make your efforts easier and more likely to succeed.
How To Save A Marriage When Only One Is Trying?
When one partner wants to leave a troubled marriage and the other one desperately wants to save it, it may seem that there is a rift between them that’s impossible to repair. How to save a marriage when only one is trying?
Because every relationship is different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. Still, the following tips should lead you towards defining the exact steps to take as long as you’re willing to do your best.
1. Ask yourself why you want to save your marriage
Saving a marriage with the full cooperation of both partners is difficult. Saving a marriage alone is an enormous task. Your first step should be to make sure you’re determined to do this for the right reasons.
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to save my marriage?”
• Is it the vows you’ve taken?
• Do you want to stay together for the kids?
• Is it that you don’t want to go through divorce?
• Are you ashamed of your marriage failing?
All of these reasons are wrong because if you think this way, your heart isn’t in it. The only real reason you should endure in your efforts to save your marriage is if you and your spouse love one another and you believe that a happy marriage between you is possible.
If you believe that you must stay married for any reason that isn’t about choosing your spouse as someone to share your life with, happiness will always be out of reach. None of those external factors can make up for a lack of love and commitment.
You should be with someone who chooses to love you, even if at this point they’re not taking part in saving your marriage.
Think about whether the both of you were ever fully committed to your marriage and given it your all. If you have, where have things gone wrong and what should you do to fix them?
2. Think about whether your marriage can be saved
After you’ve thought about your reasons for saving your marriage and decided that you want to keep going, you must ask yourself whether or not your marriage can be saved at all, especially since you’re the only one who is trying.
Marital problems happen in every marriage, but if you have a healthy relationship, they can be fixed. A toxic marriage can’t be saved. Sure, it can be patched, but it would take a lot of effort on both sides to really heal it.
• Is your relationship toxic or has it simply started dissolving from neglect? Even small problems unsolved for too long can drag out and contaminate other parts of your relationship. Figuring out if the marriage can be saved must start by considering if the problems can be fixed.
• Is your partner even aware that your marriage is failing? If your partner isn’t paying attention, they might not even be aware that you feel like your marriage is in danger.
Marriages don’t end only in explosions – sometimes they fade away until they stop being marriages. When things come this far, things end or go on without being a real marriage for years, making both partners miserable.
• If your partner explicitly wants out, do you know why? Is it something you’ve done or a change in their feelings? If either of you is constantly criticizing the other or showing contempt, you might be moving from a troubled towards unhappy marriage.
Why ask all these questions and think about it so much? Because it’s important to establish whether your marriage gives you more happiness than misery. No relationship is always harmonious, but the good must outweigh the bad so that your marriage becomes worth saving.
3. Identify the real issues
To be able to solve marriage problems, you must learn what they are in the first place. When insignificant little things you disagree about turn into fights with your loved one, there must be underlying causes you’re either not aware of or not acknowledging.
There are two types of problems in a marriage:
1. Problems that can’t be solved.
These problems are often related to differences in values or actions of one or both partners. If your non-negotiables – core values you can never budge on – don’t match or if either of you has betrayed the other in ways that can’t be forgiven, it’s nearly impossible to have a happy relationship.
For example, if one of you has dreamed about being a parent and can’t part from that dream, but the other one can’t have children, can you find a way to compromise on this issue?
These are some problems which are either impossible or difficult to solve. If you’re facing these, there’s a high chance that your marriage might end in divorce.
• Abusive behavior on either side. If either of you is using emotional abuse or going so far as to subject the other to physical abuse, your problems might be too difficult to solve.
• Money issues. Financial problems can do a great deal of damage to a marriage. Difference in earnings, debt, spending habits, decisions about making big purchases, etc. can have a detrimental effect on a marriage.
• Communication problems. Unless you start working on your communication skills, your marriage will remain on shaky legs.
• Lack of affection and intimacy. Loss of emotional and physical intimacy makes a marriage feel cold and unwelcoming. This often leads to infidelity and other hurtful behavior.
• Fighting all the time. Constant arguing without finding a solution is a sign of communication issues and unwillingness to deal with your problems.
• Different values. Unless you agree on your most basic values, it’s difficult to understand each other.
• Substance abuse. When either partner has a problem with drugs or alcohol, they come first. Until this is dealt with, it’s impossible to work on the relationship.
• Sexual incompatibility. If, for example, one person is adventurous and the other prefers routine, lack of sexual compatibility might lead them to look for sexual companionship elsewhere or leave them unhappy with their sex lives.
• Difference in goals. The paths you walk on must align, otherwise it will split into two and take you with it.
• Mental health and personal problems. Getting help from your loved ones is useful when struggling with mental health issues, but marriage problems can’t be dealt with at the same time.
• Problems with each other’s families. Hating each other’s families can cause conflict in multiple ways.
• Infidelity. One spouse cheating on the other once is bad enough, but an affair can ruin marriages even more easily. Staying together after infidelity is possible, but it takes dedication and hard work.
• Choosing something over each other. For example, choosing a job in a different city while your spouse is unable to follow you is a sign that you value it over them.
• Falling out of love. Unfortunately, it happens when both spouses aren’t focused on making the marriage thrive. Unless you’re making an effort and working on your marriage every day, passionate love of the early days won’t have a chance to turn into stable love and partnership, but it will simply fade away.
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2. Problems that can be solved
These kinds of problems involve disagreements over something you can compromise on. These are normal problems, often caused by stress, which happen in all healthy relationships, not only in failing marriages.
Work on problems that can be solved.
Often, a number of small problems accumulate over a long period of time and create a distance between spouses. No matter how seemingly small these issues are, they still can’t be ignored.
Luckily, solving these kinds of problems doesn’t take too much hard work – as long as you decide you want to change this, it only takes a little effort. If you share values and love each other, saving your marriage is possible.
4. Realize what won’t help
Forcing your partner to stay will just push them away quicker. Any method which makes your spouse feel tricked or coerced into staying won’t give you the happy marriage you should have. Trying to force reconciliation won’t work.
Besides, you deserve to be with someone who’s with you because they want to be and not because you made them stay.
The following methods never work:
• Manipulation. Lying, guilt trips, pressure, and controlling behavior will push your partner away even sooner. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated either.
• Desperation. Doing everything your wife or husband wants, begging, being clingy and other kinds of behavior to emotionally blackmail your spouse.
• Involving other people. Apart from your marriage counselor, no one should be involved in your relationship, especially while you’re trying to save it. Friends, in-laws or family will always be biased and only make the situation more difficult.
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5. Work on yourself
Both partners play a role in most relationship problems. Instead of putting it all on your spouse, accept your part of the blame. Don’t only think about your marriage problems as something you need to change your spouse’s mind about, but consider in what ways you should change your behavior to help.
Own your role and figure out what you’re doing that hurts your marriage. Find out how you’re responsible for your situation instead of thinking about how your partner has to change. You’re powerless in that regard, but you can do a lot by focusing on yourself.
Become aware of your own feelings. Don’t indulge in negative thoughts and blame your partner internally.
Change what needs to be changed to make you like who you are better. Go back to who you are as a person without considering your love life and without expectations from your spouse.
Work on yourself first and focus on becoming yourself – coincidentally, it’s the person your spouse fell in love with. By shifting focus from your spouse to yourself and making positive changes, their behavior will start to change as well.
6. Communicate with your spouse
If your problems have come this far, you definitely have a communication issue in your marriage. Lack of communication skills might have prevented you from solving various issues which could have been dealt with easily if only you had known how to address them.
If you never talked about your issues or not enough or not in the right way, no matter how small they might seem, they still linger, causing further problems. It’s possible that your spouse doesn’t even realize how far your problems have gone, so they can’t help you save your marriage even if they wanted to.
• Good communication skills start with seeking to understand first and be understood second. Try to understand each other’s perspective instead of proving a point or being defensive.
• Listen actively, making your spouse feel heard. When they do, they’ll be more eager to talk to you.
• Don’t focus on blaming each other, but on solving your problems. Righting every wrong isn’t important, your relationship is.
• Don’t insult your spouse, don’t be condescending and don’t make your spouse think that you feel contempt for them. Be accepting and understanding, showing empathy and willingness to forgive.
• Learn to fight productively and fairly. Fighting is normal, but it’s important that you know how to fight.
• Don’t raise old issues which have lost their meaning by now. If you keep rehashing the same issues, however, it means that there’s an underlying problem. Resentment kills marriages.
• Don’t focus on the negative – instead, be kind and considerate, giving your partner a sign of your good will and love.
• Make sure your spouse knows that you’re being honest. if you’re completely open with them, they’ll understand you better and might decide to join you in saving your marriage.
7. Take time and give them space
When a married couple mentions the word ‘separation’, it might seem like a signal that they’re giving up and getting ready for a divorce, but it’s not true – it doesn’t have to mean that your marriage is over.
While you don’t have to move out and get separated fully, giving your spouse space can help save your marriage.
Creating distance for the purpose of having and giving space makes it possible for your spouse to think about you and your relationship on their own and make decisions at their own pace. Be patient and let your spouse do what they need to do.
You might feel like you’re running out of time if your spouse has decided to stop trying. There’s a ticking clock somewhere, it’s running fast and you can’t see it. If you’re lacking time, let your spouse know. Tell them you need more time to deal with everything.
Use this time not only to come to terms with your marriage problems, but to focus on your own goals and change your behavior.
Don’t do it because of the expectations you’re placing on your spouse, but for your personal development. By becoming someone you like more, you’re giving your spouse a chance to appreciate you more.
When you’re both willing, make time for each other to talk or to reconnect to each other.
8. Reconnect with your spouse
Relationships are alive and need nurturing. Being happily married needs work every day to maintain the relationship. If you’ve been neglecting your relationship, it’s reasonable to expect that it’s going to weaken.
To save your marriage, you must make your spouse want to try again. If you’ve been working on yourself and learning how to communicate, after giving your spouse space, try to reconnect with them when they’re ready.
• Decide to start fresh. Talk about your problems and work on solving them, but leave behind grudges and thinking about who’s to blame.
• Try to understand their point of view. What personal issues does your spouse have? Be accepting and kind.
• Be honest and transparent. Communicate openly: honestly and fully tell your spouse how you feel. Tell them everything – don’t omit thoughts and feelings or avoid talking about actions you wish you could ignore. Complete honesty is necessary when you’re rebuilding trust.
• Take it step by step. Small steps forward over time will bring you closer again, the same way small problems have pushed you apart. Show appreciation for every step forward.
• Focus on the positive. The basis of working on saving your marriage is working on your problems and finding solutions that will make both of you happy.
However, instead of placing your entire focus on the negative aspects of your relationship, your focus must be on the good things that are still between you: the love and the will to have a life together.
• Learn to love each other again. Relive your most precious memories with each other, not by lamenting the way things were, but to remember the feelings you once showed each other freely. Remember why you’re in the relationship.
The intensity and flavor of yours or your spouse’s feelings might have changed, but as long as there is love between you, keeping your marriage alive is possible. Show your love, through words and actions.
• Reawaken attraction. Human beings are drawn to each other: when physical and emotional attraction are at a high level, we fall in love. Reconnect with each other by building a connection between you once again.
9. Go to couples counseling
Visiting a couples therapist is useful even if your spouse refuses to attend. It’s your best shot of finding the best solution to your relationship problems. Individual counseling provides as much of marriage help as couples counseling.
Approach it as a way to learn and work on yourself instead of finding the answer on how to convince your spouse to stay. A relationship expert is equipped to lead you in your personal journey as well, specifically focused on how you feel and behave in your marriage.
RELATED: 10 Questions To Ask Your Spouse Before Going To Marriage Counseling
10. Accept it if you don’t succeed
Whether you’re the only one trying or you’re both working on your marriage, sometimes it just isn’t meant to happen. When couples therapy doesn’t help, when communication problems can’t be overcome and you can’t reach each other, if it comes to it, accept the end.
If after doing all you can to fix a broken marriage things don’t work out and you decide to end things, keep in mind that divorce is a far better option than being trapped in a loveless and unhappy marriage.
Some reasons to stop trying are:
• If your marriage is nothing but struggle. When the bad outweighs the good, it might be time to call it quits.
• If you think your spouse’s reasons for distance are wrong. If you disagree with the reason they feel this way, you might have some issues which can’t be fixed.
• If your spouse thinks your attempts at fixing it are ridiculous. This means that they don’t intend to try at all and the very idea is laughable to them.
• If you’re not friends any longer. Spouses are supposed to be best friends, but if they’re not friends at all any more, the distance has grown too far.
• If thoughts of the future fill you with dread. If you can’t smile while thinking about where you and your partner will be in a year’s time, you’re not looking forward to spending time with them.
• If you never have sex. Barring any issues that both of you are aware of and accept, lack of intimacy with your spouse is a cause for concern.
• If you’re close to someone else. If either of you is getting close to someone else, your priorities have probably shifted away from the relationship.
How to save a marriage when only one is trying before it’s too late?
First, make sure you know why you want to save it and be honest to yourself whether it’s worth saving or not. Sometimes people stay married for the wrong reasons, but if you’ve decided that your marriage must survive, you have a difficult task ahead of you.
Marriage counseling should be one of your first steps. Regardless of whether or not your partner attends, a professional can steer you towards identifying the real problems in your marriage and help you to find solutions.
Working on yourself and improving your communication with your spouse will do more than you might think for your marriage. Be accepting of your significant other and try to see their side to make it possible to reconnect.