Marriage is a rollercoaster ride, they say. It can have you reeling with joy, or make you slightly nauseous with sudden drops, leaving you thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart.’ It’s sometimes a sudden realization, or it can be a long-standing niggling feeling that results in a moment of clarity.
‘My marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do’. What a fearsome, lonely thing to realize, whether it’s been a long marriage or a relatively new one. Do you stay and work things out? Do you simply give up and walk away? Do you talk to someone about it, or do you keep it to yourself and try to work things out?
Every marriage is different and ultimately, it is up to the people in the marriage to decide whether they want to stay and fight, or simply let go and walk away. Both are difficult decisions to make, especially when you’re consumed by the thought ‘my marriage is falling apart.’
We thought some expert help was needed in this case. We asked Shazia Saleem, (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling on what to do when you’re thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart’ and how you can turn things around.
What Are The Signs That Your Marriage Is Falling Apart?
Before you go about trying to put things right and worrying, ‘I feel like my marriage is falling apart’, it’s important to understand some signs that what you fear is, in fact, happening.
“When two people are in a marriage, it is but natural for them to make out that something is wrong when some relationship red flags arise,” says Shazia. She outlines some signs that your marriage is falling apart – things to look out for so you’re not taken completely by shock and surprise, left thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do.’
- Inadequate communication – Communication issues are one of the first signs of a marriage or a relationship coming apart. If you’re not talking, touching or sharing your thoughts in any manner, there’s been a breakdown in the connection that brought you together in the first place
- Sense of detachment – Maybe you’re thinking ‘my marriage is falling apart and i don’t care’. Or maybe you’re thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart and my husband doesn’t care, and neither do I.’ Detachment can be a dangerous sign because it means you’ve already checked out of your marriage on some level
- Feeling of insecurity and hurt – If you’re constantly feeling shaky in your marriage, uncertain of where you stand with your spouse and feel a need to hurt one another frequently, there’s a good chance your marriage is showing some cracks
- Emotional turmoil – Marriage may not be all calm and roses and champagne, but any healthy relationship has an underlying sense of peace and trust that needs to be stronger than any arguments or strife that takes place. If your marriage is in constant emotional upheaval, it’s time to take a good, long look at it.
- Exhaustion – Feeling constantly tired in a relationship or marriage is a sure sign that it’s possibly becoming a toxic relationship that is sapping one or both of you of any positive energy. If your one, tired thought is ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do’, chances are that’s exactly what’s happening
- Unable to express and understand what’s happening – When your marriage feels like a fog has settled in on you and you’re constantly thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do’, but you can’t go any further than that, when you can’t articulate or make a plan, it’s a sign your marriage could be falling apart
- Feeling of loneliness and hopelessness – There’s nothing worse than feeling single in a relationship or a marriage because you’re so alone despite being in what is supposed to be the most intimate relationship of your life. Being lonely in a marriage makes you feel as though all hope is lost, which could be a sign your marriage is weighed down and falling apart
My Marriage Is Falling Apart – -13 Expert Tips To Turn It Around
So, you’ve established that your marriage is or might be falling apart. Maybe you’re thinking, my marriage is falling apart and it’s my fault. Or you’re thinking, ‘my second marriage is falling apart and I’ve already had my first one end.’ Maybe you’ve decided to fight for your marriage but aren’t quite sure how. We’ve rounded up some expert tips on how to turn around a marriage that is falling apart.
Related Reading: 7 Expert Tips To Resolve Conflict In A Marriage
1. Acknowledge that your marriage is in trouble
Let’s face it, no one likes to admit that arguably the most important intimate relationship of your life is imperfect, maybe even falling apart. ‘My marriage is falling apart’ is an incredibly vulnerable and scary thing to articulate. You might even think that by admitting it rather than ignoring it, you’ll bring into existence problems that weren’t there before.
We’ve got news for you. Refusing to look a problem in the face, brushing it under the rug etc. never work and certainly won’t help with marriage restoration. They’ll just fester and grow under there and eventually blow up in your face. You’re not solving anything by pretending your marriage is perfectly happy, you’re probably making things worse.
“Most people are in denial about the fact that there is any sort of trouble in their marriage and try to brush it under the carpet. But, facing and acknowledging the reality that no marriage is perfect, and that your particular marriage, can, in fact, have cracks and faults, can do wonders. An acceptance of issues or problems can really save a lot of marriages,” Shazia says.
Look your marriage in the face and acknowledge that while it may still have many wonderful qualities, there are issues that can no longer be ignored. Once you’ve made your peace with this fact, you can take actual, concrete steps to fix a broken marriage.
2. Focus on one problem at a time
It can get overwhelming to acknowledge problems in a marriage, because then all you start seeing are problems. How do you even begin to tackle things when everything seems to be a mess? Is one issue more important than the other and how should you prioritize things?
Related Reading: Rebuild Your Marriage During A Separation With These 13 Tips
Imagine you have a huge pile of clothes on your bed that you’ve put off cleaning for months. It’s a pile that grows bigger and bigger and finally, you no longer know where to start so you simply ignore it and hope it’ll go away all by itself. But then you decide to start small – put away two or three items a day. Gradually, the pile shrinks and your bed looks cleaner.
Go at your marriage issues the same way. What is bothering you the most? What’s on top of the heap? Is it that you and your spouse get no time together? Is it that they don’t make an effort to get to know your family and friends? What’s the biggest relationship red flag staring you in the face?
“Try to identify all the problems or issues which are bothering you and then prioritize and solve them one by one based on the severity instead of trying to solve it all together. It’s always better to focus on one problem at a time,” Shazia advises.
3. Make the first move
It’s so tempting to be all, ‘none of this mess it my fault so why should I be the first to try and fix it?’ We get it – it would be so great if other people realized their issues and problems by themselves and made the first move. We could sit with our feet up and feel wonderfully smug and superior at all times.
The thing is, there’s a time when you might need to put your marriage over and above your ego. When you need to decide if your hissy fits and anger are more important than saving your marriage. And then maybe you think of ways to sincerely apologize to someone you hurt. Or at least discuss it.
If you think your marriage takes precedence, it’s time to set aside that big fat human ego and make the first move, whether it’s bringing up an issue or suggesting a time to talk. “There is no harm in making the first move. Keep the ego or any negative emotions aside and try work it out, it will be worth the effort,” Shazia emphasizes.
Mind you, if you’re always the one making the first move and do it mostly because your partner never will, it might be time to think about whether such a marriage is worth fighting for in the first place. If your primary thought process is, ‘is marriage worth it?’ and ‘my marriage is falling apart and my husband doesn’t care’, ask yourself if it’s only you fighting here. But every marriage is different, so, you do you.
4. Seek professional help
There are some issues we can resolve ourselves in a relationship, while others could use a more professional ear and opinion. “If things are not going well, a couple can try seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor – it will definitely help you decide and figure out what you exactly want for yourself and your marriage,” Shazia advises.
“I travelled a lot for work so I really couldn’t put in much time in my marriage. I knew my husband resented it and kept thinking, ‘my long-distance marriage is falling apart’ says Leila. “We tried and tried to talk it out and spend more time together, but it was tough. Finally, he suggested we seek marriage counseling. I was a little reluctant to and air our problems to a stranger, but I can safely say it’s helped a lot.”
Reaching out for help can often feel like an admission that you can’t handle your own problems. And, we learn from so many quarters that being independent and strong means being able to sort out yourself. But sometimes, asking for help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your marriage. And, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists is just a click away.
5. Be kind, even when it’s hard
We’re big on kindness, but we also know that it’s so easy to say, ‘be kind’ like we’re on a cheesy chat show. Implementing kindness into everyday life, being kind especially when things are hard and we’re hurting and angry is a whole other story and needs work beyond the whole inspirational message board phenomena.
“I love my husband, but there were a few years in our marriage where he just couldn’t show up for me in the way I needed. Work, his ailing mother and his own needs would always get in the way.
“So, finally, I sat him down and told him that he is a wonderful man, but that my critical emotional needs couldn’t keep coming second. I could’ve snapped and told him he was bringing nothing to the marriage, but that wouldn’t have been true and I didn’t want to hurt him,” says Shelly.
“Always be kind and respectful to yourself and your partner even in the hardest of times as once the situation is over, it will leave fewer scars and crippling guilt,” is Shazia’s take, and we agree. Kindness may not fix your marriage, but you’ll have far less regrets later, no matter which way things go.
6. Don’t assume the blame is entirely theirs
“When two people are together, it is unethical to put the entire blame on any one person. Take responsibility for your own feelings, words and actions and don’t go blame shifting,” Shazia warns.
Blame games are possibly the most unhelpful thing you can do when thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do.’ It might seem tempting, of course, because who amongst us has not thought how much simpler it would be to palm off all the responsibility on someone else.
But, like we said, it’s not going to help you, or your marriage. If the problem is infidelity, and you’re dealing with a cheating spouse, definitely don’t blame yourself or assume there’s something lacking in you. But if you still think your marriage is worth saving and you can move past it, you might need to dig deeper and have a conversation about the affair.
Accepting responsibility is a two-way street and you may find it hard, especially if you’ve been marriage before and really don’t want to face the fact that your second marriage is falling apart. But it is an integral part of turning around a dying marriage, so go ahead and give it your best shot.
7. Focus on your tone when you talk to them
We know, we know. We’re asking you to editorialize your marital conversations. We are editors and we’re quite terrible, but hear us out. Do you really want to be that person who goes, ‘my marriage is falling apart and I’m going to do everything I can to be as snappy and mean as possible?’ No doubt you’re hurting and maybe this is your coping mechanism, but will it save your marriage? No, it won’t.
You can call your spouse out for whatever they’ve done without automatically making it seem like they’re a terrible person through and through. Remember what we said about being kind? This is one of those kindness tests. Don’t mock, don’t be bitterly sarcastic, don’t yell (too much).
We’re not saying this will be easy. In fact, you may need to get some yelling and snark out of the way before you can come into a better tone when you talk to them. And that’s okay. Come into your own anger, stimulate vulnerability in your relationship and lead the conversation from there. Remind yourself that this is a pretty decent human being who has perhaps behaved badly or disappointed you. And that the answer to ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do’ is not ‘singe them with sarcasm.’
8. Have patience
You know how it takes years to build up a relationship, make sure you have trust in each other and can create a life together? Well, it takes just as long for a marriage to break down and even longer to rebuild trust and give your relationship another shot.
It’s something you have to do bit by bit, so don’t imagine it’ll happen overnight.
Trust lost, constant fights, losing out on time spent together – all of this piles up over time, leading to cracks in the marriage. Papering over cracks is one thing, trying to repair them from the root is quite another. So don’t try and rush it.
‘I feel like my marriage is falling apart’ preying on your mind doesn’t make it any easier either. You’re trying to turn things around in a faltering relationship while wondering what to tell people, whether or not to talk about it and so on. None of this is going to be quick and easy, so be patient with yourself and be patient with your relationship.
9. Don’t be overly negative with yourself
“When it seemed like my 5-year marriage was about to end, all I could do was sit around and think, ‘my marriage is falling apart and it’s my fault’. I was forever feeling like I had done everything wrong, or just hadn’t done enough, and there was no way it could be fixed,” says Lisa.
Related Reading: How To Love Yourself And Your Body Irrespective Of Society
Negative self-talk comes creeping up on us at the worst of times. It seems like just when we’re at our lowest and could use a pep talk, our brain betrays us and keeps telling us we’re terrible people who are destroying our marriages. Nothing we do seems right and we blame ourselves for every little thing that doesn’t go perfectly.
Be gentle with yourself. Even as you’re kind to your partner while calling them out, remember to be good to yourself as well. Yes, you need to take accountability and responsibility in your relationships and maybe there are things you could do better. But beating yourself up constantly will only pull you down and won’t help save your marriage.
10. Show appreciation
We know we’ve gone on about being kind and nice and all of that. A deeper, more specific look at that is to appreciate the things about your partner that you love. That’s not to say you discount the things that are hurting you or making you mad, but when trying to heal a marriage, a little appreciation goes a long way. After all, we all get upset when we’re feeling underappreciated in relationships.
“My wife is many things I like and there was a time in our marriage where she became many things I didn’t like anymore. But I didn’t want to be all, ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t care’ and focus only on the things that had gone wrong,” says Harper.
You and your spouse are deeply human and therefore deeply flawed. Now, of course, there are things that are unforgivable and non-negotiable in every marriage – abuse, infidelity and so on – but if it’s a marriage that’s just gone astray for lack of time and effort, maybe you could focus on what’s still good about your spouse.
Are they really considerate of your needs when they get groceries or when you’re watching TV? Do they just know what you need when you’ve had a bad day or when you’re sick? Do they make sure you get a packed lunch when you go to work? Do they just instinctively get your love language? Tell them what they’re doing right, and maybe the things they’re doing wrong will fade.
11. Make weekly dates
Spending quality time together is important in any marriage. If a long-distance marriage is falling apart, date nights are pretty essential to ensuring you get some one-on-one time, not just to discuss the issues you’re having, but also just to be with one another.
Related Reading: 11 Lovely Ways To Date Your Spouse: Spice Up Your Marriage
But you don’t need a long-distance marriage to drift apart as a couple. Busy schedules, kids and so on all conspire to keep us occupied and tired for a large part of the day and it can be difficult to make time for each other, especially if you’re already upset with your spouse and just haven’t had the time to articulate it.
Prioritize one day a week for a few hours where you get together without any interruptions or distractions. You don’t take calls or stare at a screen or avoid each other. You sit down, share a meal and remind yourself that you can still build a life worth sharing. When a marriage or relationship is a back-up but not a priority, there’s trouble ahead.
12. Pick your battles
Listen, you’re not winning every argument and it’s pointless to try and anyway, do you even want a marriage where everything is a fight? Sometimes, you just give in gracefully and let go of things because you’re not a pit bull and you don’t need to clench your jaws round every little thing.
“My husband never stacked the dishes right and it drove me crazy and became a major source of fights between us. There were no fair fighting rules, especially at a time where our marriage wasn’t too strong, and it almost became a reason for us to split up. And then, I realized, I didn’t care that much about the dishes and I was just being stubborn, even while my terrified brain went, ‘my marriage is falling apart’ says Jason.
The first reaction to ‘my long-distance marriage is falling apart’ or just ‘I feel like my marriage is falling apart’ is panic. And with panic comes the urge to make everything into a fight because you don’t know how else to cope. Seriously, pick your battles. It’s exhausting to fight about everything and have the same fight over and over again, and really not worth it.
13. Choose love
As new age as this sounds, we think it’s really rather simple. Choosing love is also to choose self-love, to decide what makes you happy and focus on it. If you’re thinking ‘my marriage is falling apart and I don’t care’, you don’t have to make yourself care just because everyone has told you that marriage is forever. Or maybe your second marriage is falling apart and you want to save it not out of love, but because you’re so tired of things not working out.
We’ve spoken in detail about how to save a marriage that’s falling apart, but ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you’re staying in an unhappy marriage for the kids while thinking, ‘my marriage is falling apart and my husband doesn’t care’, you’re not choosing love.
Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is to walk away from a relationship. Fight for it, yes. Make every effort to turn it around, absolutely. But to choose love is to choose the healthiest, most honest option and then stick to it. Making a marriage work is tough. Sometimes, to make love work, you have to step away from a marriage.
‘My marriage is falling apart and it’s my fault’ is a thought that eats away at us whenever troubles comes calling on our marriage. While not every marriage can be saved, we hope this helps you make good choices and keeps you and your marriage afloat or then, helps you move on with strength and courage.
Yes, you can save a dying marriage by being kind to one another, spending quality time together and seeking professional help to work through your issues. Focus on one problem at a time and try not to get overwhelmed.
If you’ve tried everything and are still not happy in your marriage, it’s time to let go. Also, be clear about your non-negotiables such as abuse and infidelity. If healthy relationship boundaries aren’t being maintained, walk away from the marriage.