Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
Want to learn how to save your marriage when you feel hopeless? I can imagine what you feel right now—it must be like you’re the only one trying to make your marriage work, and you’re going nowhere.
To break out of the downward spiral you’re in right now, you’ll need a strategic approach—and that’s what this article is about. Follow the step-by-step process below to see if your marriage is worth saving, how to save it, and what to do if you can’t.
Is Your Marriage Worth Saving?
When you’re feeling hopeless in marriage, ask yourself this: “Is your marriage really worth saving?”
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Should you even try to save your marriage? Or would you just be wasting your time?
While most marriages can be saved, even bad ones, it might not be worth the time, money, and stress it’ll take. It will truly depend on your unique circumstances, which this article will help you explore.
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The key is to understand your current situation. What’s causing your marriage problems? Would it be personal issues? Third parties? Money difficulties?
Whatever the cause(s) might be for you, keep them in mind as you read through the rest of this article.
Can every marriage be saved?
It bears repeating: Yes, every marriage can be saved simply on the account that anything’s possible, and that miracles can happen. That said, it’s important to have a rough idea of your chances of success.
So how bad is it, really? Are your marriage problems impeding the other important areas of your life? Or is it a minor annoyance? Be honest with yourself and write just how bad your marriage is right now.
How do I know if my marriage can be saved?
Are you truly alone in your fight to save your marriage? Does it feel you’re the only one working on your relationship? When you tell your spouse about it, do they talk and act like nothing was wrong?
Saving a marriage is always easier when both of you agree. If you’re unfortunately on your own, then score one point towards “maybe not” whether your marriage is worth saving.
Of course, if you think it’s worth one last shot, then keep reading.
Can a bad marriage be saved?
Most psychologists agree that even awful marriages can be saved, although some shouldn’t be. The latter especially applies if kids are affected by your marriage problems.
If there are kids in the picture, their mental health is at risk, and there’s no indication the marriage will fix itself anytime soon, take that as another sign. It may not be worth trying to save the marriage, and it may be best to focus your efforts on saving yourself and the kids.
The Three Deal-Breakers of Marriage
Lastly, run your marriage by these three deal-breakers:
– Your spouse is having an affair
– Your spouse is subjecting you to physical or mental abuse
– Your spouse is addicted to alcohol or drugs and has no intention of stopping
These three deal-breakers require professional help to fix. If your marriage is beset by any of the three, then it’s truly a hopeless case.
Let me be clear: If you try to fix your marriage with these deal-breakers in play, it will not end well. It may be best to craft your exit plan now to keep yourself and your children safe.
If you’ve concluded that the marriage is hopeless and you want out now, then skip the main portion of this article. Jump straight to the last part, When It’s Time To Let Go, by clicking here.
On the other hand, if you’re still willing to give your marriage one last shot, then keep reading. You’re about to learn some proven tips on saving a “hopeless” marriage.
11 Tips to save your marriage when you feel hopeless
Quickly check the following 11 tips. On a sheet of paper, write the ones that resonate with you, especially the tips that you can put into action immediately. They may very well be what you need to save your marriage.
#1: Stop Thinking About Them For a Second. Think About Yourself.
Obsessing over your spouse won’t solve the problem. Instead, it just gets you stuck in a loop. It fills your mind with never-ending, unanswerable “What if” questions.
Instead, spend most of your time thinking of yourself and the things you can control. Understand that you need to build a version of yourself that’s 100% capable of saving your marriage.
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And to do that, you need to:
#2: Remember Your Reasons
Try to think back to right before you married your spouse. What were your reasons for getting married? What motivated you to say “yes” to them?
Your reasons may have been like the following:
– “I wanted to grow old with someone I loved.”
– “I wanted to have a partner I could make the world a better place with.”
– “I wanted to raise smart/successful/kind kids.”
– “I wanted to show the world I could lead a happy marriage.”
You might have had powerful reasons to choose the married life. Those reasons can now be your new goals again, and your new task is to steer your marriage back in that direction.
How do you do that? You can start with this:
#3: Focus on the Fundamentals.
In marriage, some ingredients are more essential than others. These “essential ingredients” include commitment, connection, mutual respect, trust… you get the idea. All other ingredients, like comfort and vacations and such, are just “nice to have.”
If you want to save your marriage, you’ll want to de-prioritize the nice-to-have ingredients and focus on the fundamentals. Building up the basics, especially starting with the ingredients that need the most work, will be crucial to your marriage’s survival.
Once you got the basics down, then you can make your marriage thrive with the nice-to-haves–but not before.
#4: Find the Root of the Problem
Let me take a shot in the dark here: Is your mother-in-law narcissistic? If she is, then that’s a terrible situation to be in, and it may be the root cause of your marital problems.
Your narcissistic mother-in-law will no doubt have had a negative effect on your spouse as they were growing up. Now, all that toxicity and negativity is affecting you, too.
Since it’s difficult to talk to a narcissist, let alone your mother-in-law, it may be best to minimize or eliminate your contact with her. Ask your spouse to consider moving further from her location to give your marriage some space to heal.
#5: List down the conflicts you’re going through with your spouse
This is something you can do right now. On a sheet of paper, write all the conflicts you’re going through in your marriage. List down as many as you can, big or small.
Doing so will give you a bird’s-eye view of your marriage problems. From there, you can more easily tell apart the most serious conflicts from the trivial ones. If you had to work on just one problem at a time, start with the worst ones.
#6: Lay Off the Negativity
I get it. Sometimes, negativity is nice. It kicks you out of the pit of self-pity, and it lets you remind yourself that it’s NOT your fault. You feel hopeless and alone, but with a bit of negativity and a dash of the blame game, you feel better.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really help things. In fact, negativity is likely hurting your marriage.
Think of it this way. What’s more important: Saving your marriage, or massaging your own feelings? If you’re reading this part of the article, then solving your marriage problems is likely more important to you.
My advice? Lay off the negativity or you’ll only make your problems worse.
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#7: Listen to Learn
It boggles me to know that so many married couples fall apart because of one thing: Miscommunication. It hammers home the reality that building communication skills in marriage is crucial.
If this seems to be your problem, and if you have the time, try these communication exercises with your spouse. Simply learning each other’s love language, for instance, can go a long way in making your marriage work again.
#8: Step Into Your Spouse’s Shoes
Likewise, sometimes all it takes to steady a shaky marriage is empathy. And that involves stepping into your spouse’s shoes. How do they feel? How do their feelings contribute to the problems you’re facing right now? What would make them change for the better?
Remember that it’s human nature to decide based on emotions instead of logic. This is especially true in times of stress and difficulty. Trying to see how your spouse feels in their situation will give you some insight as to why they did what they did.
#9: Criticize Constructively and Decide Together
Criticism isn’t constructive unless it offers a solution. The ability to give helpful criticism isn’t just a relationship skill—it’s a life skill. Few people can give negative feedback and produce good results out of it.
Consider the difference between: “You never listen to me,” and “Maybe I can take just five minutes of your time so you can listen to me.”
Bite back the impulse to think: “You created this problem, you fix it!” It’s antagonistic, demotivating, and ultimately fatal to your marriage.
#10: Be a Fountain, Not a Drain
Do you think it’s your spouse’s job to make you happy? If so, then let me say something controversial: Their ability to make you happy is a “nice to have” ingredient in marriage. It’s not essential. After all, your happiness is your job.
Try this: Be a fountain of joy for other people, not a drain. Be the person who oozes happiness and positivity no matter how tough life is. It just might be what’s missing in your marriage.
Radical idea, I know. And yet the world is changed by people who soldier on with determination despite overwhelming odds.
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#11: Prioritize Your Marriage Over Everything Else
And last, prioritize your marriage over all your other commitments. In fact, list down all your commitments in life besides your marriage: Work, community service, your friends, and so on.
Which of these lesser commitments can you let go of, even temporarily? If you have any, let go of them right away. Prioritize your marriage until everything’s all right at home.
When It’s Time to Let Go…
Sometimes, though, there’s just no saving a marriage, and the only recourse is to save yourself and the kids. When you reach this point, the most common hindrance to escaping a bad marriage is the lack of resources.
Luckily, I’ve written a handy guide on how to get out of marriage with no money. Read up and plan your exit.
How long should you try to save your marriage?
The quick answer is that it’s up to you. If you see many indications that you’re in a hopeless marriage, then one try might be the longest you should go. Otherwise, it’s probably better to keep things quiet while you plan your exit strategy.
Accept Things The Way They Are
Here’s a quick spoiler alert: If your spouse is a narcissist, they might remarry quickly after you leave them. It’s not an insult to you. Instead, it’s simply how they’re wired. If it happens, don’t let it bother you and focus on starting a new, better life.
And speaking of…
Start Seeing Other People
Once you’ve settled down and the kids are okay, I suggest you start dating again. Only this time, know the signs of a difficult potential lover.
Remember: When you’ve been divorced once, your chances of going through a second divorce get higher. By being extra careful this time around, you’ll avoid becoming a statistic. Good luck!
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