Three Life Hacks for Saving Your Marriage

You’ve been working really hard on your relationship. At least it feels like hard work because it’s so draining and takes up so much time and energy.

The bad news is you were probably working on fixing the wrong things.

The good news is that, no matter how bad it seems now, it’s not too late to save the relationship—and get the fulfilling one you set out to have when you first fell in love.

That’s true even if you’re separated, there’s been an affair, or the divorce has already started.

Here’s what you can do to restore the peace, passion and connection you once shared:

1. Duct Tape

Whenever you’re tempted to tell your spouse how to cut an onion, eat more leafy greens or ask the boss for a raise, duct tape is indicated.

If your goal is connection and playfulness, consider trusting your partner to figure it out, even if he seems clueless.

You might be wondering, “What if I’m better at those things than he is?” or “What’s so bad about helping him improve by teaching him what I know?”

The answer is right there in the question: nobody wants to be improved.

Trying to improve your partner creates distance and defensiveness. You probably don’t feel all that good hearing yourself giving orders like a third-grade teacher anyway: “Go sit down.” “Put that away.”
It’s not attractive or conducive to intimacy. Why should being efficient take precedence over faith and trust in your partner’s ability? You wouldn’t have picked him if you didn’t think he was capable to begin with.

But if you’re anything like me, giving up trying to control your partner cold turkey is like trying to stop thinking about elephants right now.

It’s a hard habit to break without these next two life hacks. They will give you the reserves and the perspective you need to keep the duct tape on when you need it the most.

2. Naps

Think napping is only for babies?

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You’re more likely to act like a baby when you’re overtired, including overreacting to your partner’s loud phone conversation or the dishes left in the living room again.

The world just doesn’t look right when you’re depleted, so when your spouse is getting on your very last nerve it could be—and often is—that your energy account is simply overdrawn.

Your level of tolerance is directly proportional to how much rest and relaxation you’ve had. Think your relationship problems are bigger than just sleep-deprivation?

Go lie down for an hour and let’s find out.

When you’re well-rested and rejuvenated, you might appreciate that the loud phone conversation that had you gritting your teeth was him taking care of the health insurance so you don’t have to, and that the dishes are in the living room because he made his world-famous chili for everyone while you were out.

3. Coffee Klatches

Relying on just one person for all your social and emotional needs is just not a good setup. That’s why you need a knitting circle, poker buddies, or a running club to save your marriage.

It takes more than one person to meet anyone’s emotional needs. In my case, it takes two sisters, three friends and my husband to make me feel better on a bad day.

You also need friends—preferably with coffee cups.

You might explain to them how much better you are at cutting an onion than your partner, for example. They might remind you to take a nap.

You might also talk about how stressed you are at work or challenged by your kid’s poor grades or your mom’s forgetfulness. Sure, you can tell your spouse these things, but why not tell more than one person?

We humans need several other humans to bear witness to our experiences. Your social community can help uphold your marriage by doing some of the witnessing.

You’ll feel nurtured instead of needy by the time you get home to your spouse, and that happy grin from all the knitting, poker, running and talking will not only make you more attractive, it will go a long way toward creating a good mood at home.

Sure, you’ll still wish he’d clean up more, spend less or not indulge the kids so much. You’ll still be frustrated at times because he’s not listening or paying more attention to you.

But the more you use these three life hacks, the smaller those problems will seem. The more emotionally safe, well rested and supported you are, the happier your marriage will be.

And unlike your partner’s behavior, all of those hacks are well within your control.


What to do next…

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