As much as we enter marriage with the wide-eyed hope and faith that every day is going to be special and awesome, and nothing can come between us as a couple, the truth is that any marriage is susceptible to peaks and troughs.
When your marriage reaches a low point, it is the response you and your spouse make that will make the difference between make or break. From extreme pressure in the ground comes one of two things: crushed rocks or diamonds. You as a couple must decide which you’d prefer to be.
Here are some steps to follow if you feel your marriage has hit a low:
- Recognize the problem
You must be able to determine what it is that has caused your marriage to hit a low. If you don’t speak out early, resentment will build, and the problem will be magnified. You and your spouse may have diametrically opposed views in terms of what the problem is. So, you need to sit down together and determine by means of consensus what the problem is. Targeted problem solving is more successful that interventions that are a shot in the dark.
- Look outside
Ask yourself if there are external factors that are affecting your marriage. If there are, then it is these that need to be dealt with before you can even begin to move forward with your internal issues.
- Open a discussion
Get to a point of discussing why things have reached this point, and openly declare your shortcomings as they have played a role in it. Communication is critical at this point. With no raised voices, finger pointing or degrading language, talk about what has happened. Walk away and decompress if you feel yourself getting angry.
- See the bigger picture
Remind yourself of the good qualities in your marriage and the successful experiences you’ve had as a couple. Think back to those times and see if there are techniques you used to keep your marriage on an even keel and see if you can use them in the current situation. When you hit a low, you tend to only be able to see the bad. But remind yourself that there is plenty of good as well.
- Don’t throw the kitchen sink into the mix as well
Using words like ‘you never’ and ‘you didn’t’ are not constructive. Bringing up old disputes will make things worse than they actually are. Restrict yourself to the issue at hand and be constructive in your approach. Nagging and nitpicking won’t get you anywhere. It will only make your spouse switch off. Say things like ‘I want to understand,’ ‘I feel,’ or ‘This hurts me because…’
- Don’t look at the worst-case scenario
Don’t assume that your marriage is over because it’s hit a rocky patch and that you need to start planning an exit strategy and retaining a lawyer. If you start thinking so negatively, this is the exact result you’ll get. Be positive. Remember that you’re not the first couple to go through this. Your friends may look like they’ve got it together all the time, but you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
Think about changing how you’ve been doing things these last few months. Maybe you need to spend more time together. Make an effort to do this. Thank your spouse for the things they do to show that they love you. These little things can become a bridge to sorting out bigger things.
- Take care of yourself
During a rough patch, it is easy to neglect your own health owing to the stress it causes. Try to avoid doing this so that you can address what’s going on in your marriage and whatever the outcomes may be with all cylinders firing. Take time out for to look after yourself, and above all, be kind to yourself.