Reaching such an impasse, whether it’s getting into the same argument over and over or not being able to be together for any reason, is incredibly frustrating.
Especially if you’re following all the usual advice yet you keep finding yourself back at square one. Again.
It’s enough to make anyone feel hopeless.
How do you love someone you can’t be with?
For me, love wasn’t enough to sustain my marriage. But these four marriage hacks saved us from divorce.
Even if your situation seems hopeless right now, if you want to be together here are four totally doable things to try before you call it quits.
1) Make a Marriage To-Do List
What would you like to change about your relationship? Your spouse’s hoarding, the lapse in your sex life, actually getting married in the first place?
Write it all down.
Now, what on your list can you do something about?
Between all the fighting, my husband’s poor financial choices, him not wanting to spend time with me or even make love to me, my list was troublesome enough to make me think that divorce was the only solution.
There’s a divorce in America every 42 seconds, and I was about to be the next one. Except that I was too embarrassed to get divorced.
So instead I would point out the problem and tell my husband what needed to change. Unbeknownst to me back then, pointing out his or our problem comes across as criticism and disrespect. Asking the other person to change is controlling, which is also disrespectful.
Men have finely tuned control radar. Trying to make him get organized or have sex with you may work short term but costs intimacy long term.
Staying in my lane to say what I want, on the other hand, inspires that to happen, without costing any intimacy.
If your man’s mess is a problem, how about focusing on decluttering your space and being organized yourself? And when he does throw out something (it is bound to happen one day), catch him doing something good, expressing your gratitude for how relaxed and happy it makes you feel.
If your sex life is a problem, I recommend a dose of the best aphrodisiac for men. Aretha Franklin can spell it out for you: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If you’re not sure exactly what that looks like, well, I wasn’t either. I mean, I thought I was being a respectful wife, but turns out the cold wars and sexual coldness meant I was wrong. It wasn’t what I thought. So I’ll spell it out for you here too.
Couple that with a dose of happiness and, bingo, you’ve got the prescription for increasing your magnetism. Becoming the fun woman who attracted him in the first place is irresistible.
If getting married is on your list, you probably already know that saying “We should get married” and enumerating the reasons why doesn’t help. That’s not what helped Lizanne, whose boyfriend had made it clear he was not the marrying kind.
But a totally different approach did.
She simply said “I would love to be married,” without explanation. She completely relinquished control, letting go of it happening on her timeline or happening at all.
That’s when a surprising thing happened…
2) Focus on the Positives
Becca was so frustrated when she and her husband could not seem to communicate. They had the same old negative pattern.
She was so tired of this dance, but one night there they were, again.
She didn’t think she owed an apology, but she checked anyway and did find something on her side of the street she could clean up. She even went so far as to express her gratitude to him.
“What came next was magical,” she reports.
Her husband thanked her then started expressing his gratitude to her!
He even got accountable for his part in the ugly dynamic, for the first time ever. He told her all the ways he wanted to protect and care for her by not repeating this pattern again.
Intimacy was restored in a hurry.
If you’re ready to fast-track your way to that kind of peace and connection, here’s an experiment that will help: Be your man’s hype woman. Instead of male-bashing, speak well of your spouse to your friends, family and kids.
Celebrate his wins, big and small, from a promotion at work to his handiwork in the yard.
Make another list, this one of all the things you’re grateful for about him. Express at least three of your gratitudes to him every day, adding them to your list.
Be spontaneous. Text him when he’s at work letting him know you’re thinking of him or miss him or laughing about a shared memory.
When he takes the initiative to make changes himself, applaud his efforts, no matter how small they may seem.
Before long, they won’t seem so small anymore.
3) Communicate without Caveats
Sixteen years into Janie’s marriage to her high school sweetheart, things went south, fast. She and her husband could not agree on anything and were fighting all the time.
Her husband had become a workaholic, leaving the homeschooling mom increasingly on her own even after the birth of their fifth child, and he appeared to be having a midlife crisis. She felt lonely and depressed.
She just wanted peace, but they couldn’t make it through a day without arguing.
They tried marriage retreats and three different marriage counselors but would always go back to the same old disagreements.
Janie didn’t know if it could be saved but kept fighting to keep her marriage together anyway, hoping if she could just hold on…
That’s when she learned a new approach. She started experimenting with saying “I hear you” when he was speaking to her. And putting duct tape on her mouth (figuratively, of course) when her husband made comments that she normally would have reacted to.
Within six months, he started opening up again and wanting to be around her.
Janie cried because this was the breakthrough she’d been waiting for, and she knew she was on the right track. She joined Relationship Coach Training because now wanted more than just peace; she wanted to be adored and cherished.
One Relationship Coach Training course later, and her husband swept her away to Cape Cod for their twenty-fifth anniversary. It was beautiful and peaceful.
And she felt so adored and cherished, like she’d never felt before.
If your man baits you into reacting too, how does it serve you to take that bait?
As tempting as it is to want resolution, how does it serve you to keep trying to get it, no matter how heated it gets? Or to bring up past hurts trying again to resolve them?
Why not take the Janie Challenge of saying simply “I hear you,” not agreeing or disagreeing but truly listening? And keeping the duct tape handy?
If so, I hope you’re ready to feel adored and cherished!
4) Rekindle the Intimacy
If ever there were star-crossed lovers, it was Talia and Shawn. The biracial couple had a deep religious divide. Shawn’s mother seemed convinced that she was the devil. Or at least that’s what she kept telling her son.
Mom went so far as to give him an ultimatum that he had to choose between her and his wife.
Shawn broke things off ten times–and that was just when they were engaged. Eventually, he left the marriage too, saying he was 100% sure he wanted a divorce.
What he didn’t know was that his wife was getting relationship coaching. Suddenly she had that aphrodisiac for men I mentioned, which for her started with apologizing for being disrespectful for criticizing him and telling him what to do in the past.
Despite his resolution to stay away from her, Shawn started coming to see her. And having dinner together, playing games or watching a movie. And initiating sex with her, which she received. And saying he wanted to reconcile.
Which they did.
The skills she learned to attract him back became effortless.
But isn’t marriage supposed to be work? Like planning such date nights to make sure you have the time together that they increasingly did.
Adding date nights to your to-do lists is death to a marriage.
And it shouldn’t have to be hard work either.
Want to know what feels a whole lot better than adding time with you to his schedule?
Him wanting to be with you and taking the initiative to ask you out. Sound familiar? I bet you didn’t have to worry about scheduling Time Together, 6:00 p.m., back when you were swooning over each other.
If you’re ready to get that back, here’s something you can try instead of planning a date night: Be playful.
When you greet each other at the door, why not smile and tell him how happy you are to see him? Or when you catch his eye as he’s mowing the lawn, maybe make a funny face or flash him, Mardi Gras style?
My husband and I have our own silly private “gotcha!” joke where I hide the Quaker Oats man in random places where John will find him, and he does it back to me.
Seize every opportunity for playfulness, as if you were already on a date. The passion and excitement you shared when you first met are soon to follow.
If Lizanne and Becca, Janie and Talia can turn things around, why not you?
Which hack will you try first so you too can have the lasting peace and passion that you deserve?