How to fix a broken marriage

10 Action plans to mend your marriage

You’re looking for how to fix a broken marriage – that makes me think that you’re feeling pretty lousy right now. I only know too well, from professional as well as personal experience how scary it can feel when your marriage is falling apart. So, with this article, I’m going to help you on your way with fixing your marriage.

In this article, you’ll discover:
  • guidance on pinpointing the exact problems for extra-focussed problem-solving
  • 10 action plans – one for each specific problem
  • advice on how to bring about an immediate change
  • a free printable worksheet.

I suspect you’re at your wit’s end regardless of how long ago you took your marriage vows. You’re likely to be too emotional to do a well-thought-out audit of what’s going. Maybe you’ve almost shut down and feel overwhelmed by the problems.

Let’s get cracking then.

First of all, we do need to take stock of why you need to fix your marriage before we can come up with some action plans.

Here’s how I’d like you to prepare yourself before we start to make sure you’re open and receptive to looking at your situation in new ways:

  1. Start with trusting that change is possible.
  2. Get yourself a (non-alcoholic) drink, kick your shoes off and give yourself a good stretch to relax that stress-induced tightness in your muscles.
  3. To help centre yourself, take a few deep breaths – in through your nose, out through your mouth. Breathe out nice and slow. This kind of breathing helps to calm your emotions and frees up the logical part of your brain. You’re going to need that!
  4. Get ready with pen and paper (that works better than the digital option in this case). 

Now, you and I are going to take stock of what is going on. It’s not going to be easy. So, monitor yourself and take a break if you feel the tension rising.

Fixing a broken marriage by taking immediate action

For all of the main subjects/questions, I will give you an action plan. You’ll need your judgment for whether or not the methods apply to your particular situation. 

Your spouse has already stated: “It’s over.”?

In that case, choose your action plans carefully so as not to ‘overdo’ things when your spouse clearly wants space. Don’t be put off too quickly, though. Keep moving forward by challenging yourself to give your marriage a real chance to survive.

Square banner: 10 action plans to help you fix your broken marriage

Questions to answer when you want to fix your marriage

How long have you been having problems?

This, at first sight, is perhaps a simple question, but it does require you to do a little soul-searching. It can be challenging to face up to how long you’ve been having problems because, in truth, it’s probably longer than you’ve been willing even to admit to yourself.

action to begin fixing your marriage

Write down:

  1. When you first began to have doubts.
  2. When you first told your spouse you weren’t happy or when your spouse mentioned they were unhappy with things.
  3. How many times you’ve complained about the same things and how many times your spouse did so.

The answers to these questions give you a basic structure of the extent of your problems over time.

If you haven’t talked to your spouse about your problems, read on.

What precisely needs fixing in your relationship?

Is it a lack of communication, your intimate relationship, have you grown apart, have either of you been unfaithful?

Your action plan

  1. Write down precisely what’s wrong about your marriage that you want to fix.
  2. Hop over to my page with 25 short- and longterm relationship problems and find the links to the articles that speak to you. Read them intently, learn from them and put the tips and advice in action.
  3. Write down what you’re prepared to commit to with a date in a week’s time, a month’s and three months by which you’ll hold yourself accountable.

What have you done, so far, to be the best possible spouse anyone would want?

Have you made an effort to find out how to be the best possible spouse?

Do you know what your spouse’s hopes and dreams are?

Your action plan

Make a list of questions (external site – opens in a new tab) you’d like to ask your spouse out of interest. Show you’re genuinely interested in them and get to know them again like you once did.

Circular banner with chat boxes. Text: Get help now. Chat with a professional counsellor
Don’t delay getting professional help!

How does your spouse know you love them?

They won’t know unless you tell them, treat them with care and consideration, give generously of your time and attention. You don’t always need to make big gestures (though once in a while is great, of course). Do the things I mention below and in other articles linked to on this page, in small doses – every day.

Of course, you’d like your partner to do the same. If they‘ve been lacking and you haven’t – in your opinion(!) – then you may need to consider your options seriously. More on that later.

Photo: roses. Text: How to let your spouse know you really, really love them

Your action plan

  1. Write down some ideas on how you can give your spouse some special attention. See my page on writing the best love quotes and thank you notes.
  2. Before you nod off, devise three ways you can leave a note with the words: “You’re amazing.” so they can happen to find them.
  3. Help them with whatever chore they’re doing. Listen to your spouse – hear them out. Spend time with them.

Have you treated your husband or wife with respect?

You need not be beating each other up to have a less than a respectful relationship. So, don’t be put off by the titles of the following suggestions.

Your action plan

  1. Read my articles Signs of emotional abuse and Signs of an abusive relationship. Just go through the lists in those articles to discover if there are any points you can improve on.
  2. Write down your action points.
  3. Set dates by which you will hold yourself accountable.

Have you broken your spouse’s trust?

With that I mean – have you been unfaithful?

The good news is that you can potentially mend your marriage. Hop straight over to The complete guide to surviving infidelity.

Have you been ‘selfish’ in other ways?

Have you given generously of your time and energy or have you looked more to satisfying your own needs and wants?

Have you kept your promises or opted more often to please yourself?

Or, have you given so much that you’ve overstepped your own boundaries?

Your action plan

  1. Read my article 24 healthy relationship tips.
  2. Choose three tips from that article you will begin to implement today to improve the quality of your marriage immediately.
  3. After a week, a month and three months of having done so every day, make notes of any changes.

Have you complained endlessly without seeing any improvement?

There is a whole host of communication spoilers which will cause your spouse to shut their ears immediately.

Think of pointing the finger, accusing, making assumptions, name-calling, stone-walling, judging, wanting to be right, etc. In addition, using the silent treatment, eye-rolling and other indirect ways to make your feelings known, achieve only the opposite of what you really want.

Your action plan

  1. Read my article on relationship communication, arguing and emotional abuse to learn all about the best ways to communicate.
  2. Focus on what goes well in your marriage. Show your spouse how grateful you are for what they do contribute to the relationship.
  3. Turn your complaints into wishes. For example, you might say something like: “I would so love it/appreciate it if you would/could…. How can I help with that?”
How to fix a marriage

How to fix a marriage

Yield: Potentially avoiding a divorce
Prep Time: 1 hour
Active Time: 30 days
Total Time: 30 days 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy to tough
Estimated Cost: Free and paid for services

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SO FAR TO FIX THE PROBLEMS IN YOUR MARRIAGE?

Have you sat down with your partner and listened intently to them, without interrupting, to find out what’s bothering them?

You're to be congratulated now for taking responsibility to fix your marriage. However, have you taken responsibility for your role in your marital problems? Or have you only strived to defend yourself in conversations about your relationship?

Have you been to for counselling for your marriage problems? If not, why not? Has your spouse already suggested it? If you haven’t agreed to it, why would you not want to go? You can imagine what my advice would be, can’t you, as a couples counsellor!

So, here's your action plan...

Materials

  • You may want to buy a hypnosis download to help you stay calm and increase your relationship skills. See further down.

Tools

  • Your own internal resources: your imagination, your fortitude, your courage, humility and willingness to change.

Instructions

    1. Photo: Blackboard with text: - Time for changeBanner: How to stop arguingRead my article on how to stop arguing. The skills you’ll learn will help to prevent your conversations from being peppered with finger-pointing.
    2. Banner: Inform yourself about couples counsellingResearch what would be involved if the two of you got some couples counselling for your marriage problems. Start with my articles on getting the best relationship adviceWhat to expect from marriage counselling and Does marriage counselling work.
    3. Banner: Set a dateSet a date for a meeting with your spouse
      - invite them for an open and honest conversation
      - say you really want to listen to what's important for them
      - promise that this is about them, not you
      Your task during this conversation is fact-finding. You need quality, honest information to be able to work out further what needs to be done.

Notes

This is a really tough task. I fully accept that allowing your spouse the time to spew whilst you just listen and ask questions can be extremely challenging. It may well be that your partner attacks you, accuses you and/or treats you with disrespect. However, all of it is feedback for you. After all, however much you'd like to fix your marriage now, you too may come, in time, to accept that your marriage is no longer viable.

This conversation may offer you the opportunity to bring up the subject of marriage therapy. That's why I want you to be really well-prepared by doing your research. Remember that you can get online couples counselling!

Could you be hedging your bets?

With that I mean, part of you wants to fix things, but the other part is already on the look-out for alternative arrangements. That’s not being committed to working on your marriage, dealing with issues head-on, compromising where necessary and accepting what cannot be improved.

Your action plan to fix your marriage

To fix your marriage, you’re going to have to commit – no half measures here. So, if you’re not sure you want to stay married, take my relationship test now to discover how likely it is that your efforts in saving your marriage are likely to be successful.

If ultimately it’s clear you cannot fix your marriage to save it, you may need to take a look at the complete guide to breaking up.

What would you consider to be the best parts of your marriage?

What are you good at together?
What have you achieved together?
What problems have you overcome together?
What personal characteristics have made, in the past, the two of you into a great team?

Your action plan

  1. Using the above questions, make a list of all the reasons the two of you make a great couple.
  2. Read my articles:
    How to ‘make’ someone love you again
    How to save a marriage on the brink of divorce

So, there you are! I hope you see now that there are plenty of ways to fix your marriage.

Let it all sink in overnight. Then pick up your pen and paper again tomorrow and write down what you can do that day, that week and that month and commit to doing it whole-heartedly.

I suspect you’d want me to guarantee that all will be well, but deep down you’ll know I can’t do that. I’ve given you a road-map. How and where you drive is ultimately your responsibility.

Therefore, I have another aid for you to ensure you have the best possible chance to transform your relationship.

Front cover worksheet. Dealing with your relationship problems when your partner isn't interested.

Finally

The worst thing you can do now is do nothing or expect your spouse to do all the changing. You cannot change your spouse (however unfortunate that might be).

You can only change yourself and what better way than to take action. Being active in fixing and saving your marriage will stave off that sense of foreboding and give you hope again. Give yourself at least three months of consistent efforts, and you may well see a positive result.

You can do it! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you – I’m rooting for you.

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Your problem is never too big, too small or too embarrassing to get personal advice from a professional counsellor!

Other helpful links

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