A marriage requires a trusting relationship. Sometimes, we feel hopeless when we find ourselves in an unhappy marriage or when the trust is broken. Trust in marriage can be broken for lots of reasons, such as infidelity, substance abuse, deceitfulness or something else leading to an unhappy marriage. Rebuilding an unhappy marriage is very possible but requires a lot of effort. There are some concrete steps that each party can take to help rebuild the marriage.
None of us truly want, much less, deserve an unhappy marriage. We all want to be among the lucky ones to have a lifelong, happy marriage. The weight of misery of an unhappy marriage saps your energy, it sucks the joy right out of your life. It is heartbreaking and saps you of your creativity. An unhappy marriage can even make you more vulnerable to having an external affair.
Every marriage has rough its spot, but this doesn’t mean you have been damned to living a miserable life together or that it is simply headed for a divorce. The rough patches are just warnings or signs that you need to keep working hard to have the kind of relationship you desire. You two are unique individuals, coming from different backgrounds, upbringing, cultures, etc. If you are just indifferent and passive about these warning signs, the result is that you will be unhappily married.
You deserve to have an incredible marriage, one that brings you tremendous joy just like you had in the beginning.
The path to learning how to make an unhappy marriage happy again isn’t necessarily a short one. It will require that you and your spouse make a daily commitment to changing things for the rest of your lives. You both need to deliberately make some investments and compromises. This is what marriage is about in the first place and that is what guarantees happily ever after.
So, what if you find yourself in an unhappy marriage? What do you do? How do you rebuild an unhappy marriage to a happy marriage?
Marriage is an intimate legal relationship that’s respected all around the world. Trust holds great importance in rebuilding an unhappy marriage into a happy one. However, building trust where it is broken isn’t achieved in days, it requires time and consistency. Rebuilding your marriage is where trust plays a vital role. Here are 10 steps to rebuilding an unhappy marriage.
1. Make a commitment
Decide to rebuild your unhappy marriage. Actions are based upon intentions, and thus, you need to decide what your goal is, knowing your goals will help you effectively create ways to achieve them. You need to be clear about what you hope to work on and that you want to put in the work to rebuild a marriage.
If somewhere in your mind you are thinking of ending the marriage, rather than rebuilding, you will be wasting your time and energy trying to rebuild it, instead of moving on. This is why your heart needs to be invested in the rebuilding process.
It is natural to have your friends and family express opinions and suggestions regarding what they think or outrightly insist you should do, but it is only you that can decide whether or not you want to rebuild your marriage. You need to make the decision consciously about what is true for you.
If you cannot commit yourself to rebuild the marriage, you won’t be able to fully participate in restoring trust and marriage.
Making an honest decision to rebuild your marriage is all you need to get the process started and you might even be amazed that your relationship with your spouse may improve in no time once you decide to work on it.
2. Adjust your expectations
In unhappy relationships, the root cause of unhappiness is a lack of unconditional love and acceptance. Controlling, demanding and unrealistic expectations are just symptoms of that cause.
Consider whether you have changed your ideas about what you want in a marriage, and these ideas are realistic. It’s easy to develop an internal checklist of what a perfect spouse would be like, and start expecting your spouse to fit into that expectation, but that is often unrealistic. When we stop seeing marriage as an obligation for our partner to fill our expectations and instead see it as an opportunity to learn to truly accept our spouse for who he or she is, we take a major step in seeing our marriages become happy and fulfilling.
Does acceptance mean you consider the other person to be perfect? Of course not. You don’t need to like everything about your spouse, It does not mean that you don’t want them to be better either but it means that you need to accept the fact that he or she is only human and as every other human, he or she has some good, bad and annoying character. Most importantly, you accept them for who they are, their uniqueness and consider them to be deserving of your love despite their flaws. Learning to accept each other’s limitations is an essential step in rebuilding a marriage.
If you have been married for a while or even in a long term relationship, you will agree with me that many disagreements within a marriage or a relationship are never fully resolved. But by simply adjusting your expectations, we can easily “agree to disagree” without compromising trust.
Learning to develop a realistic form of trust will help you from developing resentments. Living with resentments undermines the quality of your marriage.
Adjusting your expectations does not mean lowering your standards and values. There are non-negotiable standards. Physical abuse, repeated infidelity, alcoholism, and drug addiction may also be unacceptable. These behaviors are unhealthy for any marriage or relationship.
Part of deciding to rebuild a marriage is to reconsider your expectations about marriage. Sometimes, check these expectations with your spouse. If you and your spouse have very different ideas about what you each expect in a marriage, you will need to be able to work out a compromise.
Rebuilding a marriage is an opportunity to examine what went wrong for you, and what you want to change. People who experience a crisis in their marriage often prove to have stronger marriages in the long run. So, you have a chance to be in the list of the “happily ever after”.
3. Admit you cannot change your spouse
Have you sought and tried to change things about your spouse that annoy and bothers you? Those things that are very undesirable and have been your experience?
This means you must come to the point where you recognize the ineffectiveness of your attempts to change your spouse. You come to grips with the reality that you are fundamentally powerless to control or change your spouse, his or her character defects, and many of the things that happen in your life. Then you are ready for the next step.
4. Focus on changing yourself, not your spouse
Taking the focus of change away from you to your spouse cannot simply work, for two reasons: First, because you can’t change someone else. You can only change yourself. Secondly, trying to change your spouse will create tension in your relationship and discourage him or her from changing. And besides, even if your spouse did change, he or she wouldn’t feel very good about the relationship until you made some changes yourself. Rather than looking to your spouse to provide for you the life you want, try making some of these changes yourself.
Being honest about your challenges will help you rebuild your marriage. Look for areas where you can improve, whether these are large or small. Developing a better marriage begins with being willing to examine your part in your marriage troubles and become a better spouse yourself. If you want to restore your marriage you must accept responsibility for your own mistakes in the relationship rather than blaming your spouse and demanding your spouse to change.
Think about it. You don’t like to be pressured, controlled, or manipulated into something, especially if it is something you are not used to. See you, spouse, in that light. Pressuring, demanding or manipulating him or her to make the marriage better for your sake will likely cause him or her to feel anxious, angry, and discouraged, and to back away from you, probably start resisting you.
Learning to identify your challenges will help you become more forgiving of your spouse as well. Be willing to look at yourself in the mirror instead of grabbing the microscope to look at your mate.
Most of us tend to deal with the pain and difficulties in our lives by coping, not by changing. We modify what we do, but somehow down deep at the core we have only partially dealt with it.
Decide what specific changes need to be made in your life so that you can become a better marriage partner. Identify unhealthy patterns of behavior, and decide what you can do to change those patterns.
5. Focus on rebuilding your marriage
In a happy marriage, spouses take full responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and words. If you are responsible for breaking the trust in your marriage, you will have to go the extra mile to reestablish your spouse’s trust in you. Commit to saying the truth and staying transparent in all your plans and communications. Don’t hold anything back.
You have a bigger choice in how you respond to your spouse. Try to avoid anything that will trigger past aggression. Recognize that even if you have confessed to your transgression, it will take time to rebuild trust. However, if you have decided to rebuild your marriage, then recounting or remembering betrayals wouldn’t help you to move on.
Never blame another person for your betrayal or any reason at all. If your partner blames you for something, don’t become defensive. This only escalates the situation. Instead, speak honestly about your feelings.
Remember, you are in charge of your emotions and how you react to them every time.
6. Let go of the past.
Desist from bringing up past disappointments or betrayals. Fix your eyes on the marriage instead. If you don’t let go of the past, you may not be able to rightly address the present issues.
Your marriage is yours and none else. Don’t mind what a third party has to say and stop using the past to justify your behavior or blame your spouse. You need to constantly remind yourself of your decision to rebuild your marriage and that whatever happened is in the past and it stays in the past.
Feeling resentments about things that occurred in the past is natural. But, you made a decision. So, learn to attend to your feelings without reliving the events of the past.
7. Fulfill your spouse’s emotional needs
For rebuilding your marriage, it’s highly essential to be committed to each other’s needs. Focus on finding your spouse’s most emotional needs and satisfying them.
We all have a different perspective regarding love and these emotional needs must be gratified to establish healthy emotional well-being.
To build a satisfying and lasting marriage, you and your spouse must be committed to meeting each other’s physical and emotional needs.
Love language is peculiar to different people. We all feel loved in different ways. Know your spouse’s love language and be sure to use it often.
This is what love is; the constant choice to give to another. When we give of ourselves to meet our spouse’s most important needs, we create love. Love is removing the focus from yourself to other people, in this case; your spouse. It means sacrificing your own needs to meet the needs of your spouse.
For a marriage to leave the place of unhappiness to a place of happiness, it has to improve and become better than ever. Your efforts in this regard are to strive to meet all of your spouse’s emotional needs, even when you don’t feel like it.
8. Stop taking each other for granted.
Express gratitude to one another. Go back to how you started. Plan something out of the ordinary just to celebrate each other or to celebrate the union. Plan surprises from time to time. Be deliberate about showing kindness and compassion towards each other. Pay attention to the little things and appreciate them like someone who values the relationship because you value the relationship.
9. Surround yourself with people in healthy relationships.
Many times, an unhappy marriage will be focused on negative qualities. You can change a great deal about your marriage by focusing on positive rather than negatives.
Eliminate negative observations. If you hang around other people who constantly criticize their spouse or put them down, it will influence you and your spouse. Instead, be intentional about spending time with couples you will like to model after.
10. Practice patience.
A marriage won’t be rebuilt overnight. It will take time to recognize and change long-established patterns of communication and trust. Learn to give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are being sincere.
Final thought, seek immediate help.
When problems and conflicts are worked through, they can strengthen the love in a relationship and provide an opportunity for a couple to grow and learn, and move to a higher level of mutual satisfaction in their marriage. This too shall pass.