It’s not too late. I know that sounds trite, but in many cases, the hopelessness you feel surrounding your marriage, though all-consuming, does not have to be forever and does not have to end in divorce. In fact, there are real, actionable changes you can make in your relationship today to not only improve the trouble in your marriage, but set the stage for brighter days ahead.
- Recognize Your Own Power to Change the Relationship
One of the most draining aspects of a troubled marriage is the feeling of being trapped or “not yourself” within the relationship. While it is common to “lose” part of ourselves from time to time, it is essential to gain back a relationship with yourself first — no one else needed. You must also recognize that, by tapping into you, you unleash the power to change your relationship.
This is true even if you feel like a victim. Remember, you set the stage for what is and is not acceptable in your relationship. It is only through consciously redefining those boundaries and learning to love and advocate for yourself that you can affect the changes you seek.
To Do: Recognize your own power, your own self-actualization, and use it.
- Learn What Makes a Successful Marriage
Successful marriages have very little to do with luck and a lot more to do with conscious, unending hard work. First, you need to learn what makes a marriage successful and then you need to start integrating those practices into your life and your relationship.
A good marriage must include:
- Humor and Fun
Work on including these aspects of a good relationship into your marriage every single day. It is only through this type of constant diligence that you build the bonds that make the tough times tolerable. [Related: Ways to Improve Your Marriage]
To Do: Laugh together, nurture one another with small gestures of gratitude, and, above all, focus on the love that brought you together in the first place.
- Accept Your (and Your Partner’s) Limitations
Humans are flawed and fallible. There are many cases where our opinions can be swayed, where a compromise can be reached, but there are also times when that just isn’t going to happen, or it isn’t going to happen any time soon. To be successful in any relationship, you must accept these limitations of thought and emotion and learn to work past them for the benefit of the relationship itself.
You need to let go of the need to change your partner and learn to accept that you may never feel “good” about those aspects that you cannot change. Acceptance isn’t about feeling good. Acceptance merely recognizes your partner’s flaws and limitations along with the fact that you may never be able to truly change them. In fact, integrative couple’s therapy is a specific practice by which couples use these differences and limitations as a mode for deeper intimacy.[Related: Why Solving your Spouse’s Problems Doesn’t Help]
To Do: Focus on acceptance rather than change.
Making Improvements Today
Making long-term improvements to a troubled marriage is not an overnight thing. Rather, partners need to take the time to work on major issues a little bit at a time or with the help of a counselor. As well as make little shifts in perspective and active changes today to change the ultimate outcome of this trouble.
The most important “change” you can make, however, is your attitude. You need to see your marriage as worthy and capable of surviving any rough patch. It is only through this shift in focus that real intimacy and improvement is possible.
To Do: Make improvements one step at a time and/or via the aid of a counselor.