I often hear from people who want step-by-step instructions on how to repair their marriage. Often, they know that some change needs to happen, but they just don't know where to start. And, they are afraid of doing something that is only going to make matters worse. Many tell me they think that if they had a road map of sorts, they would not be so reluctant to get started. So, in the following article, I'll outline what I think are the most important steps that need to happen to begin to successfully repair your marriage.

Step One In Repairing Your Marriage: Reconnect Gradually And Positively: Here's what I notice most often about people who have run into a brick wall. They are doing things backward. They start this process warning their spouse that the two of them need to "work to repair the marriage." Well, when you think about it, how does that language sound to you? Because to me (and likely to most others,) it sounds as if the two of you have a long and tedious process ahead of you that is not likely to be all that much fun. So, right from the start, both spouses are likely approaching this with your heads down and your defenses up. In a sense, you're expecting to fail.

There's a better way. Start very small. Don't worry about those big issues right now. Lay the foundation first. If you and your spouse feel very disconnected and/or distant from one another, dealing with your issues is going to be a whole lot harder and likely less successful. You are going to have a much easier time if you can first begin to reconnect with one another so that you are interacting positively once again. When someone feels that they are receiving affection and empathy, they are much more likely to be in the mindset to work together towards a common goal.

So, first things first. Begin to gradually see your spouse as the person that you first fell in love with. This might mean scheduling time to do some things together that you used to enjoy but have long abandoned. Now, you don't need to be fake about this or to try too hard. If you do, you run the risk of things being so awkward that you abandon the entire process. Go slowly. Never force it. Allow for the natural flow of things to resume more positively. ( I learned this the hard way because initially, I DID try to force it with disastrous results. More on that here.) 

Step Two: See If You Can Identify Any Habits And False Priorities That Sabotage Your Marriage: When you begin to place your priority on having more light-hearted fun together so that you can reconnect, you might also notice some negative issues that begin to wane or disappear. Turn your attention to this and see if you can, by a process of elimination, see where you went wrong before. We often get into sort of a habit or a rut. This becomes our new normal and also becomes the culture of our marriage. It doesn't feel wrong or off at the time because we've done it for so long that it just feels appropriate.

But once you begin to shift your focus, you will often be able to spot places where you took your spouse or your relationship for granted and vice versa. You may be able to see the habits that were making your marriage stale. Just a few examples of this are mindlessly watching TV without saying a word to one another, sighing deeply and rolling your eyes when you should talk things out, or replacing your spouse as your go-to confidant with coworkers or friends. These are just a few examples, but almost everyone is guilty of some of these things. Usually, a few months after you place your focus on reconnecting, you will see some mistakes that you've been making. Now is the time to remove those things once and for all. It just doesn't make sense to keep on doing the things that give you the results that you don't want.

And laser focus on issues that are coming up over and over again.  You will tackle these things gradually, as your relationship improves and can withstand it, which leads me to my next point.

Step Three: Only When You're Reconnected Do You Tackle The Issues That Are Necessary For Repairing Your Marriage: This is the last step and one that you should tackle only when it feels safe to do so. Eventually, you will need to work on those big, repetitive issues that are separating you. It makes no sense to reconnect and then to be going along happy, only to have these reoccurring issues coming up and sabotage all your hard work. There will come a time when it's appropriate to work through your problems. Even then, though, you should continue to make the process pleasurable rather than feeling like "work." (Every time my go-to response was to "work on our marriage, it made things worse. There's more here.) 

And, if you're firmly bonded and connected, you're likely to find that these issues no longer seem so hard and insurmountable. When you feel loving toward your spouse, you're more in the mood for compromise and anything that is going to allow you to get back to the good stuff.

Unfortunately, when I knew deep in my heart that I should focus on repairing my marriage, I just put it off for later. I thought that I would always have time. But, this escalated until we almost got a divorce. Thankfully, I realized my tactics were not working and changed course. Eventually, I was able to not only repair our marriage, but to also restore my husband's love. You can read that entire story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/

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