Even the perfect marriage can end up experiencing some trouble in paradise. Like everything else in life, marriage is also unpredictable. It could shatter like crystal glass before you realize it. “How to fix a broken marriage?” is a question many people ask when they want to mend their marriage.
When trouble starts to rear its ugly head in a marriage, a couple may opt to turn a blind eye to it, or may not even realize the problems they’re facing. Invariably, it results in both partners drifting apart, feeling as though they’re incapable of having a conversation with each other.
When such a situation comes to pass, you might be left scrambling to find the answer to “how to save a broken marriage.” With the help of psychotherapist Snigdha Mishra (CBT & REBT expert from Beck Institute, Philadelphia) who specializes in hypnotherapy and emotional freedom therapy, let’s take an in-depth look at how to go about fixing a broken marriage.
Can A Broken Marriage Be Repaired?
Julie and Peter (names changed) were married for 13 years. They had successful careers, lovely children, a huge house and supportive parents. They looked like a much-in-love couple on social media. But Peter got into an emotional affair with a work colleague. Julie, thinking they were just great friends, never addressed her doubts or had an open chat with Peter.
Before they knew it, their lack of communication had ruined their relationship. But they both wanted to fix the broken marriage and not go through a divorce. Julie said, “I had to decide if I would fight for my marriage or let it go. Yes, it’s hard to fix your marriage when trust is broken. Even so, I wanted to focus on all the positives we shared for 13 years and mend our marriage. “
When there is trouble in a marriage, people prefer to jump ship and opt for a divorce. Rather than trying to work on their issues, they’d go through the pain and trauma of dealing with a divorce. For those who don’t want to give up just yet, looking inwards and working out an answer to how to fix a broken marriage is the first step.
Dr. Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D., the founder and creator of Save The Marriage and the writer of the book How To Save Your Marriage In 3 Simple Steps, attempts to simplify the process of saving your marriage. According to him, it’s about transforming your relationship and your life.
He claims that it’s not really people’s fault that their marriage is on the rocks because very few people know the real meaning of marriage. “It is possible to fix your marriage and it’s not as complicated as many people make it sound.”
In the intro of his book, One More Try, Gary Chapman writes: “When doors slam and angry words fly, when things just aren’t working out, and even when your spouse has destroyed your trust, there is still hope. If you feel like your marriage is nearing the breaking point, or even if you’ve already separated, you can still give your marriage one more try.”
Simply put, It’s possible to fix a marriage that is falling apart. Even if both spouses are not interested in putting in 100% effort, it is possible to fix a broken marriage alone. Sometimes partners have a lot of realizations when they are separated. They may realize after a while that they want to fix a broken marriage after separation. Often, that realization is the first step toward the process.
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Fix A Broken Relationship With Your Boyfriend
9 Ways To Fix A Broken Marriage And Save It
When a marriage is going through a rough phase, divorce is not always seen as the obvious choice. Even in abusive marriages, spouses hold on to the hope that their partners will change and they will be able to save their marriage. All they need is the answer to “how to fix a broken marriage alone”.
“The major underlying, and fixable, problem is that very few people are “naturals” for marriage,” says Paul Friedman, founder of the Marriage Foundation, who transitioned from being a divorce mediator to a marriage mediator in order to save marriages. So, all of this has to be learned. Otherwise, you will be flapping your arms in very creative ways, but you will never get off the ground.
You could have the intention to fix a broken marriage, but you might not know how to fix a broken marriage. We asked Snigdha to weigh in. She says, “There are different ways to fix a broken marriage, but for it to happen both spouses must be committed to the cause and follow the right approach to put their issues behind them.”
She lists the steps to fixing a broken marriage as understanding the underlying issues, recognition of individual roles, setting boundaries, getting over-emotional or emotionally overwhelmed, inculcating self-awareness about individual limitations, communicating these limitations to one’s spouse, stretching the limitations and committing to rebuilding the marriage.
So, how do these steps to fixing a broken marriage translate into concrete, tangible steps that you can take to move past your issues and revive your chemistry as a couple? These 9 ways to fix a broken marriage hold the answer:
1. Understand where things went wrong
A successful marriage is a constant work in progress. You have to put in a lot of effort to keep your marriage vibrant, something not many people understand. A marriage falters when there is a lack of communication, when the love and affection dry up, or there is a crisis. Infidelity affects a marriage adversely too.
But if you want to fix a broken marriage and stop a divorce, you will have to first understand where your relationship went downhill and why it is worth saving. An American Psychological Association finding states that 20-40% of divorces in the United States happen because of infidelity. But the report also says that 50% of the unfaithful partners are still married.
Snigdha says, “To fix a broken marriage after cheating or in the wake of other setbacks is to identify the problem plaguing your connection.” Even in the case of cheating, there are often underlying triggers that cause cracks in a marriage, making space for a third person.
Similarly, most marital issues, be it constant fighting, lack of respect, or resentment in a marriage, are often symptoms of a deeper problem. Identifying the reason is one of the first steps to fix a broken marriage.
2. Do away with negative beliefs and look within
“She won’t listen to my viewpoint.” “He won’t help me with the chores; he is a lazy husband.” Such firm, negative beliefs about each other can erode the very foundation of marriage without either partner realizing it. So, rather than clinging to these beliefs, work to change them.
Snigdha suggests exploring your individual role in augmenting your marital issues. Once you recognize and acknowledge that you too have contributed to the deterioration of the quality of the relationship, it becomes easier to cut your spouse some slack for their perceived flaws or shortcomings
Then, you can convey what changes you expect to see in them to make progress in your efforts to rebuild the marriage. For instance, you could try harder to make your wife understand your point of view or try to tell your husband that the household chores have to be shared in order for your life to function smoothly.
Maybe he doesn’t even realize that his lack of interest in doing chores is having such a huge impact on the relationship. As soon as he realizes that, chances are that he will try to help you. If you were too busy assuming your partner shares the negative sentiments you have about the marriage, you’d never come to know what’s really going on in his/her head.
What is a broken marriage if not a result of jilted communication and mismatched emotions? Ask yourself, “Should I fight for my marriage, or let it go?” If you want to fight for your marriage then change your beliefs and be open to new thought processes, character analysis and new routines.
3. Reinvent yourself and don’t be rigid
If you want to fix a marriage that is falling apart, then you have to look at yourself first. Change is the greatest constant in life, and this change not only affects us as human beings but our relationships as well.
When your marriage is ten years old, you have changed not only physically but also mentally. You could have climbed up the ladder of success, become busy, gotten a bit arrogant, developed stronger opinions…and all that may have crept into the relationship.
As her marriage progressed, Linda (name changed) became less flexible, and she believed saying “no” more often was meant to empower herself and set emotional boundaries. But all those “no’s” to family events, friends’ parties, hiking trips and bar nights ended up creating a vacuum in the relationship.
“I realized we had drifted apart because I had stopped being there with him at places he wanted me by his side. As a young wife, I was more flexible and accompanied him more often. But as life progressed, neither did I have the time nor the inclination to be there,” said Linda.
Snigdha says, “While it is important to set boundaries when saving a broken marriage, these boundaries needn’t and shouldn’t be set in stone. Rigid rules don’t work. You have to be flexible in your boundaries, learn to take a few setbacks in your stride, and constantly endeavor to move forward.”
This flexibility will also help you reinvent yourself. Now, reinvention can mean different things to different people, from giving up those ill-fitting pajamas that you wear when you WFH to being less argumentative, more communicative, less inflexible, and more affectionate. These measures, big or small, help in mending your broken marriage.
How can rediscovering yourself end up helping you rebuild a broken marriage, you ask? Well, for starters, exercise might just improve your sex life. No, we’re not claiming sex or hitting the gym is going to fix everything, but as you begin to spend more time reinventing yourself, you find more reasons to be comfortable in your own skin.
When that confidence results in happier moods and more laughs, your relationship with your spouse is bound to benefit. Try to analyze the harmful patterns you may have established and work on gradually becoming a more complete person.
4. Get over emotional overwhelm to renew trust and respect
Trust is lost if infidelity happens or if you simply have a lying spouse. Trying to fix your marriage when trust is broken can be especially hard. The partner who has had their trust broken can feel overwhelmed by a sense of betrayal, anger and hurt.
Similarly, the spouse who has been lying or cheating may have their own set of negative emotions, such as a lack of fulfillment or anger over past unresolved issues.
Snigdha says, “It is crucial to get over this sense of emotional overwhelm to be able to fix a marriage that is falling apart. Process and get over negative emotions such as anger, hurt, pain and mistrust that you may be feeling because of all that has gone wrong in your marriage. You cannot make progress with such heavy emotional baggage.”
Unless these negative feelings are dealt with and left in the past, they will continue to rear their ugly heads every time a couple suffers a setback in their endeavors to rebuild the marriage.
Couples who have been able to shed this baggage for the sake of saving a broken marriage say that it’s a hard road ahead, but it is possible. Let’s say you’re trying to fix a broken marriage after an affair. Every time your spouse uses the phone or is out late for some office work, you might worry or suspect that they’re going down the same road again.
Yes, it falls on the cheating spouse to convince you that they are clean, but you also have to rebuild trust and leave the cheating behind and not brood over it. You need to work on your marriage after cheating. If your wife disrespects you, it can be hard to earn back that respect. But without it, you cannot fix your broken marriage.
As Julie and Peter decided to do everything they could to keep their marriage afloat after his emotional affair, they realized they were going to need to let go of the emotions they’d attached to the infidelity. “Trying to fix your marriage after trust is broken isn’t easy. I have to get over the trust anxiety that’s developed, and he struggles with cheaters’ guilt as well,” says Julie.
In such instances, taking a short break and spending some time apart can help renew trust and respect in a relationship. Your alone time allows you to assess the situation from a fresh perspective.
5. Positives of the relationship vis-a-vis individual limitations
In the midst of paying those bills, shopping for groceries, paying the house mortgage, looking after the kids, and arguing incessantly, we often forget the positives in our own relationship. We keep harping on the negatives and think that the marriage is falling apart.
Even if you want to fix a broken marriage alone, then put all the positives of your marriage in a diary and look at it every day as a reminder of what you already have.
Dennis got divorced from his wife Esther (names changed) after 5 years of being married. “Now, when I look back, I often smile thinking of the funny moments, and the care and concern we had for each other. But I was so blind at that point that all these good memories never came to me then. If I had looked at the positives of our relationship then we could have fixed our broken marriage,” said Dennis.
“I want to fix my marriage with my husband, but it seemed like we were incapable of having a conversation with each other. When all that remained were memories of the fights, it seemed like it was a lost cause,” said Esther.
Snigdha says this process has to be juxtaposed with understanding your own individual limitations. “When you’re taking steps to fix a broken marriage, self-awareness about your own limitations, be it emotional, physical, financial, or spiritual, plays a key role. So, it is imperative to understand where and why you may be falling short and communicate this to your spouse.”
“At the same time, both spouses must learn to stretch these limitations and be willing to incorporate changes that are important to their life partner. It allows you to create a healthy space where both partners can thrive as individuals as well as a unit,” she adds.
6. Pinpoint what you are fighting about
Sometimes fights become a part of a marriage and then go on to become so routine, that after a point in time, you don’t even know what you are fighting about. Remember that huge fight you had that started from complaining about the in-laws, but somehow landed on how you two never consult each other while making decisions? Conflict resolution goes out the window.
There is some difference of opinion and the next moment, the tempers fly. The fights could range from something as trivial as the temperature of the air-conditioner or who would make the bed in the morning to something more serious like a spouse’s incessant texting in the middle of the night.
If you pinpoint what you are fighting about then you can do away with the trivial fights. All it’s going to take is for you to stay calm and decide to not get involved in an argument. Fights can drain the relationship but if you do away with some unnecessary squabbles, then you can mend your broken marriage and save it from the brink.
Here’s a quick tip, the next time either one of you has a bad day and is talking about it, ask if you’re meant to listen or if your spouse is looking for solutions. By assuming you need to always solve their problems, you might be inadvertently telling them that you don’t think they’re capable of solving their own problems.
Once the petty fights that stem from nothing are nipped in the bud, understanding how to fix a broken marriage becomes a lot easier.
Related Reading: Expert Talks About 9 Must-Try Couples Communication Exercises
7. Bring back the connection
Reconnecting with a spouse is vital, but it might end up being the toughest thing to do. A lost spark means a loss of communication, affection, and intimacy. When a connection is lost in a marriage, you become like two strangers living together under the same roof and functioning as two different islands.
When bitterness creeps into a relationship, you may realize it’s not as easy to talk to your partner as it was before. But it is possible to renew that connection if there is some effort from both spouses or from even just one spouse.
Snigdha saysthat, whether you’re trying to fix a broken marriage after an affair or owing to other differences, prioritizing spending quality time together is a must. “This ritual must be considered sacred and honored despite all other pressures of everyday life.
“Say, a couple decides to spend an hour together exclusively over the weekends either over coffee or dinner dates. And on one weekend they’re unable to do so on account of busy schedules or one partner being unavailable. In such situations, first and foremost, it’s important that the other partner doesn’t hold a grudge against the one because of whom the plan was canceled.
“At the same time, both spouses must endeavor to make up for this mixed opportunity. Reschedule the coffee or dinner at the next available opportunity, or extend the time they spend together on the following weekend,” she adds.
Attempting to renew that connection could also imply resuming the morning coffee ritual, going to play tennis together on weekends, or cooking together in the kitchen… If you’ve been thinking something along the lines of “I want to fix my marriage with my wife, but I don’t know how to talk to her anymore,” spend some quality time with your spouse and get to know them all over again.
You might still love each other, but maybe you have forgotten how to show it. In that case, you need to rebuild the connection and the romance that is completely lost. Never give up on love, scheduling time for each other can help repair that damage.
8. Work on the marriage
It is always said that marriage is a work in progress. You have to keep working on it to ensure that it functions like a well-oiled machine. But as you probably know by now, this is easier said than done. Even by solely focusing on the kids and not scheduling time for each other, the marriage can go downhill. You will then be grappling with a situation thinking, “how can I fix a broken marriage?”
You might even be thinking that you have been working on the marriage. You might’ve even tried to initiate a conversation, but once that doesn’t bear much fruit, it’s possible you’ll sit back knowing you did your “best”. You could be doing a few things wrong too, like assuming your best attempt at figuring out how to fix a broken marriage is by saying “Can we talk?” one time.
You could have moved town for a better job and your relationship suddenly became long distance. While the spouse was grappling with kids back home, you stayed put in a new apartment, enjoying life in a new city and making new friends.
You Skyped and called, regularly put in money in the joint account, and visited home every month. Somehow, you never realized how your spouse started feeling alienated in the relationship till s/he started talking about a divorce.
Working on the marriage does not mean keeping the façade of a happy marriage alive. It is about going deep into it and understanding what is ailing it. For that, much more effort is needed than spouses usually put in.
But if you want to fix a broken marriage and stop a divorce then you have to put in a 200% effort to work on the marriage.
Related Reading: 13 Signs To Know If A Relationship Is Worth Saving
9. Socialise together
When two people start drifting apart they stop socializing with their friends and relatives. But if you want to mend your broken marriage, hanging out with friends is important. It can serve as a reminder of how your relationship was when you were around them.
Also, it could help you shed some of the inhibitions you have developed around each other. When you are laughing and hanging out with old friends, you can truly be yourself. Friends can be a great support too in your journey to fix a broken relationship.
Snigdha says, “When you’re working to rebuild your marriage, you must shun the thought-process of ‘why should I do this or that for my spouse when I’m not interested’. For instance, if your spouse wants you to have dinner with their friends, don’t turn it down thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’ You have to acknowledge how much that gesture may mean to your partner. That’s where stretching one’s limitations come into play.”
Socializing also gives you an opportunity to dress up together, compliment each other, sit in the same car and travel to a destination together and enter a party as a couple. It could add that positivity that your relationship is currently lacking.
No, it’s not as easy as just stepping into a party with your partner, hoping that it’s going to work wonders for your relationship. As is the case with every other point in this list, socializing together is a stepping stone towards reconciliation. Even if you’re figuring out how to fix a broken marriage after separation, socializing together may just help you get there.
When you both commit to making your dynamic the best it can be, there’s nothing stopping you from getting back to the connection you once used to share with your spouse. Now that you have a fair idea of what to do, let’s tackle the next logical question: can you fix a broken marriage without counseling?
Is It Possible To Fix A Broken Marriage Without Counseling?
Whether you’re trying to figure out how to fix a broken marriage alone or working alongside your partner, the question of counseling or couple’s therapy does come up. Is it possible to fix a broken marriage without counseling? Or can you find ways to fix a broken marriage on your own?
Snigdha says that the answer depends entirely on your circumstances. “First of all, if a person wants to fix a broken marriage without counseling, they need to assess whether they and their spouse have the necessary skills to overcome their issues. External help becomes important because often couples lack the pragmatic outlook needed to spot and resolve the knots of marital issues.
“It is not mandatory that the external help has to be in the form of counseling or therapy. But an impartial third-party intervention can definitely help matters. A lot of work is required to fix a marriage that is falling apart. The commitment to keep doing that work isn’t easy. An outside influence can help you stay on track.
“Of course, it is not unforeseen for couples to overcome their issues on their own. However, the possibility cannot be generalized. It depends on the skills of both partners, the issues that they’re trying to overcome, and the severity of setbacks the marriage has suffered and whether you will be able to move on from them.
“Sometimes the emotional, intellectual, economic or spiritual differences between spouses are so pronounced that being on the same page becomes challenging. Here also a third-party intervention can help.
“If coaching and counseling are not for you, you can explore other ways of fixing a broken marriage. There are a lot of books and literature you can turn to for help.”
It takes a lot of effort, time, and patience to move past issues. It may take a year, two years, or even three years for your marriage to heal and for you to re-create chemistry as a couple. To be in it for such a long haul requires a great degree of conviction from both partners that their marriage is in fact bigger than their issues.
It is possible to fix your broken relationship and save your marriage. A great first step to fixing your marriage is to talk to counselors, read up books or talk to friends who have fixed their marriages and take their advice. You can get your relationship back on track if you know how to fix a broken marriage alone or with a partner. If you are currently in need of a marriage counselor to help you through this troubling time, Bonobology has a multitude of experienced therapists willing to help you.
Yes, it is definitely possible to fix a broken marriage even if you have the will to do it. Many people want to look inwards and work out an answer to the question, how to fix a broken marriage?
It is possible to fix a broken marriage alone if you think the marriage is worth saving. You have to take some steps like jot down all the positives of the marriage in a diary, talk about the good times with your spouse and remind them why you married in the first place.
You can survive an affair and rebuild trust. An American Psychological Association finding states that 50% of the unfaithful partners are still married. You can take help from a marriage counselor to help you set you back on track.
Many people have done that and marriage counselors will tell you such success stories. As soon there is trouble many couples want to immediately jump ship, but those who prefer to hold on and work on the marriage can stop divorce.
We list out 9 ways to fix a broken marriage that includes steps like understanding the issue, reconnecting, listing the positives, and stopping the arguments.