You’re not happy, and you know it’s not the kind of marriage you want to have. Maybe you’ve tried talking to your spouse about your concerns, but nothing seems to work. Maybe you just don’t know where to start.
If you’re in a bad marriage, it can feel like there’s no way out. But that doesn’t have to be true. Here are some tips for how to change a bad marriage for the better.
1. Address any personal issues.
Find this as an opportunity to look inward. Identify any personal issues that may be contributing to your unhappy marriage.
Are you struggling with depression? Are you feeling hopeless, angry, or upset about arguing, lack of connection with your husband, or finances? Are there conflicts at work that are causing you trauma or stress?
These traumas can make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, and no matter what you do, things don’t seem to get better. Like you’re just going through the motions of life without ever really feeling like you’ve accomplished anything.
Think about whether you have any unresolved issues from childhood that are interfering with your ability to be happy in the present. You might be driven by a need for validation from others, or maybe you have trouble trusting people.
Be honest about what’s bothering you.
These feelings can put stress on your marriage, and that’s why you should address them first. Once you identify these issues, let these feelings out. You can only start fixing a bad marriage after you deal with these issues within you.
2. Be responsible for your actions and behaviors.
You can’t expect your spouse to change if you don’t change yourself. You need to be willing to work on yourself first. Maybe you’re so wrapped up in what your spouse is doing that you forget to look at your own actions and behaviors.
It’s easy to blame a bad marriage on your spouse, but the truth is that our lives are a series of choices. You always have the power to choose how you act and how you respond to others.
Take some time to consider what has led you to this point. List down what triggers you, and make a plan for how you want to react and behave the next time.
When you start taking responsibility for your actions, it makes you more aware of how those actions affect your spouse and your marriage.
3. Be willing to find solutions.
For you to be willing to find solutions, you need to be willing to see the problems. There’s no one solution for every bad marriage. But once you keep an open mind to possible solutions, you’ll start seeing them. Like journaling, attending individual counseling, joining online marriage support groups and retreats, and hiring a marriage coach.
Adopt a growth mindset by believing that the challenges in your unhappy marriage are growth opportunities. Instead of feeling defeated by problems, focus on what you can learn from them and how you can grow.
4. Practice self-care and prioritize your well-being.
You feel like you’re constantly being pulled in different directions and trying to do it all, and you often forget to take care of yourself.
This is the time to be gentle with yourself. Comfort your inner child who may feel frustrated, confused, sad and shameful. This is a time to acknowledge this little voice within you, because it is trying to tell you that you are not listening, which is why those uncomfortable feelings and thoughts keep arising. The more you listen to that little voice, the more you will start to hear the solutions. The answers are always within us.
It can be difficult to practice self-care and prioritize your well-being when you’re in a bad marriage. However, if you don’t make sure that your needs are being met, then you won’t have the energy or motivation to deal with the problems in your marriage.
With dedication and consistency, changing a bad marriage is absolutely possible.
When you’re in a good place mentally and emotionally, then it will be easier for you to deal with any challenges that come up during this process of changing a bad marriage.
Set aside time for self-care, whether that means going for a walk or getting a massage, or doing something that makes you feel good about yourself. This will help you feel like a better wife, which will help you take better care of your marriage.
5. Cultivate a positive attitude and mindset.
When you’re in a bad marriage, it can feel like there’s no way out. You’re stuck with this person, and he’s making your life miserable. But that’s not necessarily the case!
Get yourself into a positive headspace. Start by looking at all of the ways that your spouse is making your life better—even if those ways aren’t obvious at first glance.
If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself or your spouse, then that negativity will spread into every aspect of your life—including your marriage.
Do you think he’ll never change? Do you think you can’t trust him? Are you getting mad when he’s on his phone and he doesn’t listen to you?
If so, then it’s time to change. Negative thoughts will only hurt your marriage and make things worse in the long run.
If you’re having trouble remembering what’s good in your marriage, try writing down some notes about what makes it special for you. You can do this at night before going to sleep, or whenever you have a few minutes during the day.
6. Take responsibility for your happiness.
No one is happy in their marriage 100% of the time. There are always going to be moments when you’re an unhappy married couple. If you’re committed to changing a bad marriage, you need to take some responsibility for your happiness.
Take a step back and consider how much of your happiness is up to you. If you want happiness in your marriage, then work on being happy yourself!
Go out with friends, eat healthy meals, and try new activities that make you feel good about yourself. Make sure you take care of your physical and mental health.
7. Talk to your friends and family members.
When your marriage is going through a rough patch, it can be tempting to keep everything to yourself. But the truth is that a bad marriage affects everyone around you—and those who love you are going to want to help.
Talking with someone can help give you an outside perspective on your situation. Let your family and friends know if you need help. They can help you come up with possible action steps and solutions to solve your marriage struggles.
8. Develop better conflict resolution strategies.
If you’ve been in a bad marriage for a while, it might be hard to recognize what’s really going on. But if you think about it, there are probably some specific things that make your marriage difficult.
Maybe you and your spouse have trouble constructively resolving conflicts. How do you argue with your husband?
9. Be willing to compromise and negotiate.
People get into arguments about things they believe are non-negotiable because they don’t know what else to do. If you can learn how to negotiate with your spouse, you’ll likely find yourself in a much better place than where you started.
You don’t have to give up everything—just find some middle ground where both of you are getting what you need.
10. Identify the root causes of problems.
Once you’ve identified what might be causing some of those problems, it’s time to take action! Come up with a plan for how to deal with the issues.
11. Practice forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a powerful act that can bring peace and healing to both the forgiver and the person being forgiven.
It’s about letting go of your pain and anger. Acknowledge the hurt and make a conscious decision to forgive.
Let go of your attachment to those negative feelings so they don’t keep you stuck in a bad marriage.
Once you let go of resentment, you can break free from that cycle and start moving towards a new way of relating to your spouse.
12. Avoid blame and criticism.
It’s easy to point fingers at each other, but when you do this, you don’t grow as a couple. You just get stuck in the past. Instead of blaming each other for everything that went wrong in the past, focus on what can be done now to make things better.
Tell him that you understand. Express your concern by asking, how can I help you?
You don’t need to agree with your spouse, but he needs to feel heard. Hold space for his needs before expressing your own.
13. Communicate openly and honestly with your spouse.
14. Set boundaries and expectations for behavior.
Take some time to identify your boundaries. Talk about what you’re not comfortable with. Once you’ve identified your boundaries, communicate them clearly to your spouse.
Consider what behavior you expect from your spouse. Make your expectations reasonable and clear. Reinforce boundaries and expectations. It is an ongoing process, so regularly check in with yourself and your spouse.
15. Show empathy and understanding.
If your partner is upset about something, don’t react defensively or angrily. Instead, try to understand where they’re coming from and listen.
Your partner will feel heard and respected—and you’ll be able to work through issues together instead of getting stuck in a cycle of blame and dysfunction.
16. Work on rebuilding trust.
17. Listen to your spouse.
When one of you feels like they’re not being heard, or if there are problems with communication, it can be difficult to find a path forward.
Listen to your spouse. If you don’t know what he wants or needs, how can you give it to him? Try asking questions and listening carefully to the answers—and then do what you can to meet their needs.
18. Set goals for the future together.
Couples should have common goals for their relationship and their family. Having an idea of where you’re headed together doesn’t only excite you, it can also help keep things on track when life gets chaotic!
This can be anything from something small, like taking on a new hobby together. The key is that you need to both agree that these are things you want for yourselves as a couple.
Setting goals together is a great way to bond with your spouse, and it can help you feel more connected and proud of your growth as a couple.
19. Prioritize spending quality time together.
Remember what brought you together in the first place and start working on those things again. Spending quality time together doesn’t have to be lavish. What’s important is to show your spouse that you prioritize him.
20. Find shared hobbies or activities to enjoy together.
One way to reconnect with your spouse is to find shared hobbies or activities you can both enjoy together. This could be anything from hiking to playing a sport or even just going out for coffee together.
You’ll have a chance to talk about things that are happening in your lives and get some quality time with each other.
21. Read self-help books or attend marriage workshops.
These are great ways to learn about yourself and the cause of your unhappy marriage. They’re also great ways to connect with other people experiencing similar problems, which can help you feel less isolated as you work on improving things in your unhappy marriage.
22. Explore new ways to show your love.
Be creative! Try doing something unexpected for your spouse. Surprise him with a date night at an event he always wanted to go to. You can also try introducing new activities into your marriage, like learning a new language together.
23. Express gratitude and appreciation.
Take a moment to appreciate your spouse. Show your gratitude and appreciation through your words, actions, and deeds. Appreciation is the key to keeping your marriage strong and healthy.
Tell him one thing that you’re thankful for each day – like thank you for the morning kiss, thank you for making my coffee, or thank you for listening.
24. Make an effort to be more affectionate and intimate.
Unhappy married couples get caught up in a bad marriage and forget about the simple things—like kissing each other goodbye in the morning or holding hands when you go out on dates.
Try making an effort every day (or week) to do something special for your spouse. Maybe write him a love letter or make them breakfast in bed? Whatever it is, just remember that small gestures go a long way!
25. Seek professional help.
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