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If you’re going through a rocky period in your marriage, you may want to repair things on your own before taking the leap right to counseling. It can be intimidating to try and fix things yourself, but so long as you and your spouse work together, there’s no reason you can’t improve your marriage without professional help. However, keep in mind that certain issues do require a professional touch, and if your marriage feels like it’s still struggling after you and your spouse gave it a shot, you may need to reach out to a counselor for help.

This article is based off an interview with our licensed marriage and family therapist, Jin S. Kim, MA. Check out the full interview here.

Method 1
Method 1 of 12:
Self-reflect and begin working on you.

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    You can’t fix a marriage if you still need to fix yourself. Take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Is there something I need to change?” If there is, start working on it now. Whether it’s an anger problem, difficulty communicating, or something else bothering you, take the steps you need to take now. Developing some resiliency and healing whatever open wounds you may have will make it much easier to work on your marriage.[1]
    • Open yourself up to the way you feel. It’s easy to ignore certain emotions or pretend things are better than they are, but your emotions contain important information, and you shouldn’t pretend they don’t exist.
    • Everybody can be better, and nobody should be ashamed if they’ve got something to work on. Even if it’s just trying to be the kindest version of yourself, there’s always room for improvement. The better you are, the better your marriage will be.[2]
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Method 2
Method 2 of 12:
Make a choice to prioritize your marriage.

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    A marriage, like any relationship, requires effort and work. Make space for that effort and work by deciding to put your marriage first. Every day, check in with your partner, really sit down to talk to them, and engage in the daily rituals of life together.[3] It’s easy to get caught up in whatever interests you and go through the motions everywhere else—especially if your marriage isn’t particularly great right now—but you have to commit to working on what you and your spouse have.[4]
    • This is more of an attitude than anything else; approach conflict with a “us vs. the problem” mindset, not “me vs. you.”
    • It can help to remind yourself of all of the good times you and your spouse have had together. It’s easy to let things continue to fall apart when you’re caught up in the momentum of a bad cycle, but try to shake yourself out of that by stepping back and remembering the love you have.

Method 3
Method 3 of 12:
Diagnose the underlying problems together.

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    Sit down with your spouse and kindly talk through the key issues. Choose a time when the two of you are in a productive headspace. Calmly discuss what your main problems are, and try to come to an agreement on what the two of you need to work on.[5] Whether it’s communication, kindness, or finding time to reconnect together, you can’t fix your marriage if the two of you aren’t on the same page.[6]
    • There may be practical issues driving a wedge between you, like financial problems or conflicting schedules that lead to a lack of quality time together. In these cases, making a gameplan together to alleviate the issue can help relieve a lot of the pressure.
    • It could be that the two of you are overly defensive or critical of one another. In these cases, changing the way you communicate can make a big difference.
    • If there are issues with trust, talking about what the underlying fear is can help set the stage for some healing to take place.
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Method 4
Method 4 of 12:
Set concrete goals together.

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    Once you understand the problems, develop plans to solve them. You aren’t going to fix your marriage overnight, but creating a road map together can make things a lot easier. If the two of you can agree on the nature of your problems and identify the potential solutions, you’ll be able to start working on them together.[7]
    • You might agree to sit down every day and communicate without any phones, TVs, or distractions if the two of you just aren’t sharing enough.
    • You could set ground rules for future arguments, like no personal attacks, or set a safe word for when things get out of hand.
    • You can agree to give one another at least one compliment every day to try and pump some kindness back into your relationship.
    • Alternatively, you might just agree to keep the conversation going and make a pledge to continue discussing what you two need to work on. Sometimes, just knowing the problems are being worked on can make things easier.

Method 5
Method 5 of 12:
Schedule restorative conversations.

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    Set time aside on your calendar to give yourselves structure. It’s easy to say, “Yeah, we’ll talk about it later,” but one (or both) of you may just avoid tough conversations or forget. Scheduling time to discuss your issues ensures that nothing is going to go unresolved. It also sets the stage for more productive conversations, since the knowledge that the conversation is going to take place can give you time to figure out what you want to say.[8]
    • How often you schedule these convos is up to you, but start off with one every week or two. If you do this every day, it might wear you down. If you space things out too far though, you might forget things from your previous conversation.
    • This is especially important if your fights and disagreements tend to get out of hand. Giving yourself some time to emotionally prepare can really keep you from getting defensive or angry in the moment.
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Method 6
Method 6 of 12:
Rely on “I” statements when discussing problems.

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    Frame things by focusing on your feelings, not your partner’s behavior. If your partner keeps hearing “you never…” and “you are…” it can begin to feel like you’re attacking them. Framing things around the pronoun “I” can take a lot of the pressure off of your partner, and it can dramatically improve the quality of your conversations when things aren’t going great.[9]
    • For example, something like, “You never pay attention to me,” presents the “you” as the key problem. Saying, “I feel like I don’t get a ton of attention,” frames the issue around your experience. This can go a long way towards defusing tough conversations.

Method 7
Method 7 of 12:
Maintain a standing date night.

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    Reconnecting with one another and making time for romance is huge. If things are rough, it can feel like the two of you are just roommates. Pushing yourselves to do something romantic together at least once a week (or two weeks) can do wonders for your relationship. This can rekindle things if your marriage is lacking a little spice, and remind the two of you how rewarding your marriage can be.[10]
    • Try to do something new every week. Try different restaurants, go dancing, or take a day trip somewhere you’ve never been. The more variety there is, the more exciting your date night will feel.
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Method 8
Method 8 of 12:
Write each other a letter.

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    Writing your feelings down is an effective way to express yourself. You can do this after a disagreement to process how you feel and share it with your partner to communicate without the back-and-forth of a conversation. Alternatively, you can write them a love letter and explain how much they mean to you just to remind them how important they are. These little random acts of kindness can dramatically improve your relationship.[11]
    • Putting your feelings on paper can also be therapeutic for you! Sometimes, putting messy or complicated emotions into words can really help you explore the way you feel.

Method 9
Method 9 of 12:
Lean into your spouse’s love language.

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    Everyone experiences love differently, so meet your partner on their grounds. The five love languages refer to the unique ways people prefer to receive and give love. If your spouse feels unloved, neglected, or ignored, pushing yourself to meet your spouse on their grounds can really help the quality of your marriage.[12] The five love languages are:
    • Words of affirmation. People with this love language like being told how loved they are, and rely on verbal communication to experience love.
    • Quality time. This language is all about shared experience. Your spouse may want to just sit on the couch together and chat over a cup of tea, or go for a walk and discuss their day.
    • Physical touch. This includes sex, but hugs, backrubs, and playful head scratches all qualify.
    • Acts of service. People with this love language express and receive love through charitable acts. You might clean the house for your spouse, cook them dinner, or go out of your way to make life easier for them.
    • Gifts. This love language is pretty straightforward—people who love gift-giving feel cared for when they receive gifts from their loved ones. Even if it’s something tiny, it can really make their day!
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Method 10
Method 10 of 12:
Do the little things together.

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    It’s easy to lose touch when the two of you are so busy. Go grocery shopping together, clean the dishes together, and read in bed together before bed. All of the little moments add up, and if the two of you aren’t feeling particularly close to one another, the little stuff can matter a lot. It gives you the opportunity to share a laugh, tell a story, or just tackle a task together. All of that can go a long way towards repairing a rift the two of you are experiencing.[13]
    • This is especially important if the two of you have young children. You may be alternating the childrearing tasks so that each of you gets a breather every now and then. Try splitting the difference. Just spending more time as a family can really improve the quality of your marriage.

Method 11
Method 11 of 12:
Go on vacation.

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    If the two of you are stressed or stuck in a rut, take a break together. Start planning a trip as a couple! Take a week off of work and go explore something new. Take that bucket list trip to Paris, or keep it simple and take a road trip. If the two of you are super stressed, a vacation should alleviate some of that stress. If the two of you are stuck in a rut, a vacation is an opportunity to reconnect and fall in love all over again.[14]
    • Plan the trip as a team. This way, the two of you can bond and connect over the activities you choose. Besides, planning the trip is the best way to build excitement about your vacation!
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Method 12
Method 12 of 12:
See a counselor if you need one.

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    As admirable as it is to want to fix this on your own, you may need help. A marriage counselor can help mediate complex and difficult conversations. On top of that, a professional will be able to teach you and your spouse the skills you need to repair things.[15] These are not things that you can always do on your own—especially if the two of you have no formal training here. If you can’t repair your marriage on your own, you may just need to get some help.[16]
    • If you don’t want to go to counseling because it feels embarrassing, rest assured that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to therapy or getting counseling. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure. In fact, it takes courage to get the help you need!
    • If money is the main barrier here, look into online counseling, which is often cheaper. There are also low-cost and scale-based options out there for couples who don’t have a lot of disposable income.

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      References

      1. Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC. Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 7 August 2019.
      2. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      3. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      4. Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC. Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 7 August 2019.
      5. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      6. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      7. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx
      8. https://time.com/5402188/how-to-fight-healthy-partner/
      9. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      1. Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC. Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 7 August 2019.
      2. https://www.marriage.com/advice/save-your-marriage/write-a-letter-to-your-husband-to-save-your-marriage/
      3. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      4. Allen Wagner, MFT, MA. Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 24 September 2021.
      5. https://www.jpost.com/magazine/lifestyle/why-couples-need-vacations
      6. Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
      7. Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC. Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 7 August 2019.

      About This Article

      Jin S. Kim, MA
      Written by:
      Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
      This article was written by Jin S. Kim, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure. Jin Kim is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based out of Los Angeles, California. Jin specializes in working with LGBTQ individuals, people of color, and those that may have challenges related to reconciling multiple and intersectional identities. Jin received his Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, with a specialization in LGBT-Affirming Psychology, in 2015. This article has been viewed 3,890 times.
      18 votes - 73%
      Co-authors: 6
      Updated: January 12, 2022
      Views: 3,890
      Categories: Married Life
      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 3,890 times.

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