How to save your relationship and make it magical with healthy relationship advice

Category: Better Relationships | Author: Elly Prior | First published: 03-12-2012 | Modified: 02-12-2017

Healthy relationship advice can be hard to come by, even less expert advice for relationships.

I am a couple counsellor with 24 years experience. I've helped thousands of individuals and couples over all those years with advice for their relationship. If your's is crumbling right now, this article has some simple, but effective, steps you can start implementing right away.

Need expert advice? Relationship problems? Let's start with some essential information...

5 Pieces of important, healthy relationship advice

  1. Listen very carefully to what your spouse or partner thinks the problems are and let go of what you think they are for now. Take them at their word - you've nothing to lose, but by simply taking them serious and being curious about their story you're potentially gaining a ton!
  2. Invest in either couple counselling or a good marriage resource to save your marriage, if the situation is really critical. There's no time to lose - you can connect with a licensed relationship therapist - online and on any device. This is useful even if you've only one question you'd like answered.
  3. Ensure you have five positive experiences together for every negative one -simple things like sharing a pleasant meal at home, sharing a joke, stroking an arm or shoulder, sending a loving text, all count
  4. Refrain from using negative communication patterns such as criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling
  5. Ask yourself if you truly have done all you can do to make the marriage work

I know... the latter is a harsh one, particularly if you're already feeling vulnerable.  However, you've no control over your partner - you really can only change yourself! Taking personal responsibility is one of the best ways to save a marriage or long-term relationship. In fact, it's healing for any relationship.

I'm basing that on the principle that there's always room to improve ourselves. No need to judge yourself harshly, it's all about taking an inventory of your own thoughts, feelings, habits, attitudes, actions and verbal responses.

How to save your relationship or marriage and avoid a divorce

Here are some basic steps with healthy relationship advice. They are behaviours and attitudes that contribute to a happier you and a happier relationship. Start by implementing them today and they may 'make' your partner fall in love with you again.

Here are the most simple, but powerful, strategies to create a healthy relationship.

Be generous with compliments

Happy couple. Top tips to save a marriage.

Make more positive and personal comments to your partner or spouse. Simple isn't it? You just need to remind yourself again of what it is that you do like about him or her. You'll find this strategies can have some surprising results.

You know how easy it is to talk about the diary entries, the chores, the house, the garden, the kids, the awful boss or the difficult colleague. Then I haven't even mentioned how quickly you're ready to criticise one another.

Complimenting your partner goes a long way to cut through all of that. It draws your partner's immediate attention - possibly at first with some disbelief though. Don't react to that - simply observe.

To make it work, be sure to be specific and honest.

Don't, for example, say: "You look nice" - it's too general.

Instead say something like: "I really like the cut and colour of that dress/that shirt - it so suits your shape/personality - it makes you look sophisticated/sexy."

Make a habit of commenting positively on your partner's accomplishments. It matters not whether it was cooking dinner, attending or speaking a meeting, dealing with a fractious child, getting promotion, doing anything at all for the first time or sailing around the world. Again be very specific about what you noticed or admired.

Go ahead and compliment your spouse about:

  • their looks
  • something they have achieved
  • something you are grateful for
  • a memory of a great day the two of you have had (letting them know you remembered is a compliment
  • something they habitually do without ever expecting to be thanked for or complimented on

This really helps you to refocus on all the positive aspects of your relationship rather than the problems you're experiencing and so avoid a divorce or breakup.

Professor John Gottman has found, through his extensive research, that couples who maintain five positive experiences for every negative one have the most stable marriage*.

4 Ways to listen and 'touch base' to avoid divorce

  1. Truly listen to your partner or spouse when he or she talks about something that interests them - you can show an interest in them, even if the subject doesn't interest you
  2. Show interest in what your partner does, without criticism or telling them what they should or shouldn't be doing
  3. Share your experiences of your day with your spouse, leaving out complaints which don't add anything to their day
  4. Create and focus on plans. It doesn't even need to cost anything more than you would spend on any normal day. For example, a picnic at midnight, sunrise or sundown will do the trick. The kids will love it too... it's an adventure.

These all very easy to do ways to save a marriage or long-term relationship.

How to save a marriage

Be 'physical'

Touch your partner often in a non-sexual way:

  • hold hands
  • touch his/her feet - 'secretly' under the table
  • offer a foot massage or a shoulder massage
  • stroke your partner's neck in passing
  • gently and lovingly squeeze their arm unexpectedly
  • simply put your hand over his/hers
  • briefly put your arm around him/her

Particularly if, right now, you're having problem in your relationship, my advice is to rebuild your sexual relationship very gradually. Forcing the issue and insisting on sex isn't going to bail you out. If you really want to save your relationship, you may have to state clearly (if necessary!) that your touching is only to pay attention and compliment and not an invitation to have sex - if that isn't wanted.

If sex has been off the menu for too long, head over to my page on being in a Sexless Marriage.

Be actively involved in your partner's hobbies or interests

Take an interest in the things your partner enjoys:

  • read some articles in his/her hobby magazines - give yourself enough information so that you can ask genuine questions. (You'll benefit from expanding your horizons anyway, even if you wouldn't normally be interested in the subject)
  • ask questions about aspects of that hobby - imagine you're going to have to tell someone else about it so you'll need to become well-informed
  • ask if you can come along to an event (but don't turn up out of the blue) offer help with an aspect of your partner's hobby

Getting this right is one of the best pieces of healthy relationship advice I could give you. You're bound to make your partner feel important and feel kindly inclined towards you. It would go a long way to help you avoid divorce.

Want to know how to save your relationship and how to avoid divorce? Be civil!

Ideally you should naturally want to be civil anyway, if you're looking for advice for your relationship.

If you really love your partner, it may, paradoxically, be even more difficult to treat your partner with respect. It's precisely when you feel let down, that common courtesy often goes out of the window. That is because you care so much and are terrified that you may be about to lose them!

Yet resorting to communication spoilers, such as criticism, humiliation, stonewalling, sarcasm are the very things that predict an early breakup. If you've already resorted to this and you're at your wit's end, take the opportunity to connect with an online, professional licensed therapist before it's too late.

There's much you can do yourself though in the meantime. Don't wait for your spouse to lead on this - make the decision to take the following tips to heart and commit to them if you really want to know how to save your relationship or marriage and avoid divorce.

10 Tips for being civil and courteous in your relationship

  1. Look at your partner when he or she talks to you - remember those early days?
  2. Be considerate of their time and ability to pay attention when you choose to talk about something that's important to you or to the both of you
  3. Be courteous - even if you're feeling provoked. Don't be tempted to use 'that language' if you wouldn't use it with your boss, your neighbour or your in-laws
  4. Don't interrupt - even if you're feeling they've got something so wrong. You can interrupt if they're overstepping the boundaries - be respectful of yourself
  5. Treat your marriage or relationship with the utmost care - it's the most valuable asset you possess
  6. Don't be a doormat - it potentially sets your partner up to be dominant and creates an imbalance that will negatively affect the both of you
  7. Don't be a bully - it potentially sets your partner up to be a victim, which isn't good for her or him, or for you either
  8. Don't be needy or selfish in the way you communicate
  9. Feel free to argue though - there's nothing wrong with that in principle. Just be aware of the above advice on how to save your relationship
  10. Be willing to apologise, without waiting to be asked or expecting your partner to apologise.

Are you in an abusive relationship?

Note: I don't mean you have to fall over backwards to be overly nice in the face of any abuse. If you're in an abusive relationship (i.e. your problems involve emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse) you need help to make some important decisions.

Please take advantage of the easy ways to connect with an online counsellor.

The Human Givens and saving your marriage

We all have important emotional needs that are essential to our overall well-being. You'll find the links to my pages on the Human Givens further down.

We also have inborn resources to meet those needs. Any behaviour (using our innate resources) can be seen as an attempt to meet those needs.

The question is: how do you contribute to - or detract from - helping your partner to meet their needs? If you can see what's happening in your relationship or marriage in the context of the 'human givens', you have a road map to help you save your relationship or marriage and avoid divorce.

However, if you're searching for how to save your marriage, I'd really like you to look at some additional resources now to help you on your way. Saving your marriage is important enough to warrant reaching for every available resource and tool - much cheaper than divorce! Take a look at my review of this blueprint by Lee Baucom, PhD.

Also think about hypnosis to help you get started. For further information, see: Hypnosis Online FAQ for the low-down on this powerful and cost-effective way to start solving your problems immediately.

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Related articles

What Are the Human Givens?
The Secrets to a Happy Relationship
Money and Your Relationship
How to Apologise
Before You Consider Divorce
Surviving Infidelity
How to 'Make' Your Partner Fall in Love with You Again


*Gottman, J., Silver, N. What Makes Marriage Work? Psychology Today, 19 June 2012, via Psychology Today

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Elly Prior

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