Going through a bad spell in your marriage and wondering if it’ll last? Instead of focusing on problems, try thinking of solutions. Here are 5 signs that you and your spouse have the skills to save your marriage and make things work.You take accountability. People who take accountability for their behavior are more likely to keep their marriages in tact. They possess the ability to see their part in problems and understand the impact of their choices on their spouse. If you blame your partner for issues (even if you’re in the “right,”), he or she may get defensive, deny wrongdoing, or turn the tables back on you. Admitting when you’ve screwed up, and – this is important – demonstrating remorse will create an opportunity for forgiveness and repair. And acting like a grown-up will invite your spouse to do the same. [For information specific to accountability following infidelity, see: Cheating Spouse? 3 Signs Adultery May Not Mean the End of Your Marriage]
You’re empathetic. Empathy – the ability to understand another person’s feelings and point-of-view – is the foundation of any relationship. We often lash out when we feel misunderstood. Listening to and validating your spouse’s experience will help him regulate his emotions so that he can then hear your perspective. It will also make him feel loved and valued. So if you want to save your marriage, seek to understand before being understood.
You address mental health/addiction issues as a team. Mental illness and/or addiction don’t have to spell the end of a marriage, but it’s important that the couple works as a team to manage the conditions. That means visiting doctors and therapists together and following agreed-upon protocols regarding finances, treatment, and individual responsibility. Collaborating on the problem makes it less likely for partners to blame each other and keeps the focus on what each can control.
You’re reliable. Doing what you say you’re going to do makes it possible for your partner to trust you. It also signals that you respect your spouse and value your marriage. If you’ve betrayed your spouse, you are now in the position of having to earn back trust. This may take much longer than you’d like, but you’ll need to be patient if you want to repair the relationship. A sincere apology is important, but remember that your actions will carry far more weight with your spouse. People can say anything, but it’s what they dothat matters.
You laugh together. People who laugh together are more likely to stay together. There’s science behind that claim: laughter decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins (“feel-good” chemicals). So give your sense of humor a work-out: watch the latest comedy special on Netflix, read a funny story out loud, or simply make a point to laugh at your spouse’s jokes. Besides being a stress reliever, laughter is a bonding experience; it shifts your focus from the problem and emphasizes the good will that remains between you.
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