The following tips may seem counterintuitive at times, but please bear with me. They are based on my personal experience and the endless research I conducted when I was trying to save my own marriage. Your success will depend on how well you play them and the state of your relationship today, but I believe that they can absolutely work. The worst-case scenario is that they'll at least allow you to gain some ground in improving your situation, whether you're currently contemplating divorce or your spouse has initiated a break or separation.

1. Do Not Panic Or Act Desperate. Be Patient Instead: When someone mentions the words "divorce, "split up," "trial separation," or "breaking up," it's completely natural to feel that you need to fix the situation immediately. Most people assume that the longer they are split up or having problems, the harder it will be to mend them, save the marriage, or get back together. This makes sense, but the problem is that this urgency can lead to feelings of desperation and/or panic that can cause you to act in a way that you'll later regret or in a way that may push your spouse further away. Every time you have the impulse to act irrationally, or to repeatedly question, berate, debate with, or push your spouse's buttons, take a deep breath and ask yourself if your actions are going to contribute to saving your marriage or will they further deteriorate it? Will your actions bring you closer to your spouse or further away? The answers to these questions should determine your next step. (I'm not judging. I made everyone of these mistakes with disastrous consequences. Thankfully, I changed course. That story is here.)

2. Worry About Being Happy Rather Than About Being Right: It's natural to get caught up in the "whys" rather than the "hows," as in "how can we fix this?" People play the blame game and fixate on why their spouse is wrong and they are right. This is natural, but ask yourself would you rather be absolutely right but alone and divorced, or would you rather compromise on a wrong and be happily married with a spouse who adores you? Don't hold onto bitterness and anger. At the end of the day, deep down, you probably feel this strong sense of right and wrong because you're disappointed. Really, everyone just wants their spouse's love and respect, but you often don't get it by debating, arguing, or holding on oh so tightly to who is right and who is wrong.

Commit to putting tough issues about which you can't agree aside long enough to reestablish affection, respect, and communication. Your spouse may or may not have committed negative acts or omissions against you and that's disappointing and unfair. I'm not denying your right to feel let down, betrayed, or disappointed, but don't let these emotions cripple your attempts to return the marriage to a place that will make you happy. You can't have this if you're constantly fixating on what went wrong rather than how you can both fix it.

3. Restore Feelings Of Affection And Empathy (By Finding Common Ground) Before You Attempt To Solve Difficult Problems: I believe that a couple can not solve their problems when one person has one foot out of the door or wants to end the marriage or get a divorce. Typically, there is one person who wants to save the marriage at all costs and one person who just isn't sure, just isn't happy, or just wants to end the marriage once and for all.

When you're in this situation, no amount of begging, negotiating, convincing, or trips down memory lane are likely to change the divorcing spouse's mind. If anything, these behaviors are going to bring out negative feelings that your husband or wife is going to want to flee and get away from. Eventually, they're likely to think something like, "I'm right to be divorcing this person. I want out as soon as possible to stop all this drama." What you want them thinking instead is: "I'm going to miss this fun, intriguing exciting person. Maybe I'm making a mistake." How do you do this?

By trying your best to become the person they first fell in love with. I know that people change and jobs, kids, and obligations change the amount of time and energy we can devote to our relationships, but that's no reason not to make the best of the situation you have. When you were first dating, you were likely fun, engaging, attentive and intriguing. You were also likely open-hearted, easy-going, and cared very much about your partner's experience and happiness. You need to recreate this as best you can because people are willing to put in the time, commitment and effort into fixing something that gives them pleasure and makes them feel good about themselves. However, you can't be overly obvious about this because if you are, your spouse will think you are game playing and not genuine. If this is the case, they may resist you or dig their heels in even more.

It's also important to find something on which you can agree. You want to create a scenario that puts you and your spouse on the same side. Sometimes, all you can agree on is that the marriage has problems or hopefully needs to be saved. Sometimes, it means agreeing on a break. This may seem risky, but often it's really not. A break will usually diffuse the tension and negative feelings, give your partner a chance to miss you and give yourself the chance to embark on working on what you can control ( yourself ) and becoming the person we've talked about, the one that your spouse first fell in love with.

It took me a long time to learn this. I made a lot of mistakes which drove my husband further away, but eventually, I was able to change course and regain my husband's interest. Over time, (and after taking calculated baby steps), I was able to reestablish intimacy and save the marriage. You can read my story on my blog at

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