Linda's Relationship Counseling Blog

Why Fixing Your Marriage Is So Hard

Why Fixing Your Marriage Is So Hard

Fixing your marriage is hard.

People in relationships want to be happy and peaceful. Couples all over the world share that wish. So why are relationships so fraught with difficulty and confusion? This is common too, and it’s something we can all do something about.

Unfortunately, most couples have one track for solving their problems—and it usually doesn’t work. Here’s why.

Fixing Your Marriage: Does It Mean Convincing Your Spouse to Change?

Fixing your marriage requires more than just demanding your spouse to change.

Many of us think that our relationships would improve if our partner only did a few things differently. “It seems so simple,” we might think. Unfortunately, both spouses probably have their own lists of what their mate could do to make the marriage perfect.

But fixing your marriage takes more.

The problem is that these lists are about what is needed by one of the partners, and it requires the other person to do the work. When I see couples in therapy it’s likely that the two partners have been doing everything they can to make the relationship better, all on their own. Only it doesn’t make the relationship better.

No, Positive Change in Relationships Has to Come From Within

Fixing your marriage starts with making changes from within, to yourself, rather than trying to change your partner.

Both people are frustrated and exhausted. They have both worked hard to make it better and the marriage just doesn’t improve.

It’s not like people aren’t trying. So, why doesn’t this effort work? The truth is we all want our beloved to be different so we can be happy. But the only way to improve a relationship is to look inside ourselves and decide what we can do different. It’s a hard shift for most people to make—realizing we can’t re-design our partners, but that we must instead turn our attention to ourselves, look at our own behavior, and see what we can alter.

Fixing Your Marriage Is Harder When Distress Traps You Inside of Yourselves

Fixing your marriage is hard when you're trapped in distress.

This is even harder for people in distress. Distress means we are not happy with what is happening. As humans, we know exactly what we want changed, only this applies to two people when there is a relationship and both people have their own unique ideas of why things are not working.

We do this as an individual, in our own heads. We assess what’s wrong and we decide how to fix it. But in a relationship where people are in it with another person, being an individual and going it alone is not enough. Going it alone means overlooking your partner’s needs and ideas on how to fix the distress.

Changing Your Relationship For the Better Involves Starting with Yourself

Fixing your marriage requires starting with yourself, doing some introspection, and working out what you can change about yourself to help things improve.

So, both spouses usually have two different solutions to the same difficulty. We don’t couple with a clone of ourselves. We partner with someone completely different from us. Their thinking is different, the way they fix problems is different, and even their perception of the problems themselves is different.

So, of course, their plan on how to fix distress will be different too. You both see things differently. This gets exacerbated when things are not going well.

Look at your relationship anew. This is the shift I am talking about. If there is distress, think about what you can do to make things better. Yes, I know you want your partner to do their share, but you start first. It’s true that one good act increases the likelihood of another. Do yours and wait. You may be surprised.

Bring Positive Change to Your Relationship

Attend a Talk About Relationships

On the 1st and 3rd Monday each month, you can attend FREE relationship talks from marriage and family specialists. Come learn how to create a good relationship and understand problems that get in the way.

Come join the conversation. No reservations needed.

Mondays: 6:30–7:30pm
1232 E Wardlow Road,
Long Beach, CA 90807.

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Get a better sense of what you and your partner see as wrong in your relationship and how to fix it, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help improve your communication with and understanding of your partner, helping you find ways to change yourselves and help each other be happier together. Give it a read.

Get Couples Counseling

Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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Why Do People Cheat? And Can We Survive It?

Why Do People Cheat? And Can We Survive It?

Being unhappy in a relationship is pretty common. Having an affair because of that unhappiness is also pretty common. When people feel lonely they will do almost anything to relieve the loneliness, including starting a relationship with another person.

I have counselled several couples where one of the mates turned to another to relieve whatever they were feeling. Usually they think they will never be caught by the other, but it often happens that the other already knows.

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How to Understand Your Partner’s NO

How to Understand Your Partner’s NO

All relationships include someone being disappointed at some time. There is no escaping this feeling. This happens because you and your partner are different. You may want to do something that you like and your partner will say NO.

This leads to disappointment. I have experienced this feeling so many times I could not count them. And I have had to understand some of the things about this interaction to not take the experience personally.

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What Love Feels Like

I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me about something nice that happened to her. She gave one of her teachers a gift and in return she received a plate of homemade cookies. As she was telling me this story I felt this warm feeling spread across my chest. And I knew instantly it was the feeling of love. My friend felt love for her teacher and he wanted to reciprocate.

Earlier today my little old dog was sleeping next to me on the chair and she put her paw on my leg. Again I felt that spreading warmth wash across my chest and I knew instantly that I was experiencing a feeling of love.

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Learning to Accept Our Partner’s Habits

Accepting Our Partner's Habits

Do you have a list of things your partner does that makes you a little crazy? I know I do.

When I asked my husband about my quirks he pointed out a few too. So, you see, it’s pretty common for each of us in a relationship to like things the way we like them. And if you live with another person who didn’t grow up in your family to learn how to do things your way, they will probably do things very, very differently. And sometimes that can be annoying.

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How Couples Find Their Way

How Couples Find Their Way

I was working with a couple recently and had a chance to reflect on how often I see a similar situation like the one they are going through. I am talking about couples who seem on the brink of ending their relationship and miraculously finding their way back to each other.

It’s so remarkable how some couples can rebound after something really terrible and yet I see this happen again and again and again. In these cases, I believe these individuals want to be with their mates more than they want to leave them.

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Why Talking is Hard When We Feel Hurt

Talking is hard when we feel hurt, especially in relationships.

We all want to feel connected to the person we love. So, why is it so hard, when we get our feelings hurt, to feel connected? Why does it feel as if we are miles away from that space and as though there’s no way of getting back to it?

Getting hurt by the one we love happens in all relationships. Look back at your family when you grew up. Did you ever get your feelings hurt by someone? Maybe this happened because you fought with a sibling. It might have happened because you disagreed with a parent.

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Why Love Can Feel Like War

When Love Can Feel Like War

I met a new couple recently. They wanted to see if I could help them “fix” their relationship. They had been estranged for a while, but were hoping they could work through their issues for the kids.

I listened to each of them and I was struck with the hardness they both felt for each other. Each had been holding on to what was done to them in the years they had tried to make their relationship work. She felt betrayed. He felt attacked. Both were sad and disappointed.

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How Developing Empathy in Relationships Enriches Your Life

Developing empathy in relationships.

As you know I help couples when they are in distress about their relationships. When I meet a new couple I often invite each person to talk about what is happening for them in the relationship. This way I can begin to understand what feelings may not be addressed.

I also know that when people begin to talk about the relationship they have probably already been exhibiting behaviors that the other person is not too pleased about. The behaviors are usually what brings a couple into counseling, but I know as a therapist the feelings underneath— the feelings that people might not be aware of—are the real reason for the behaviors in the first place.

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How Much Love Is Enough?

How Much Love is Enough?

How much love is enough?” I was thinking about love recently and this question popped into my mind as I pondered. I wondered about this, because I see so much hunger for love every time I meet a new couple in counseling.

A couple will come in and they will tell me their issues of what is usually wrong with their partner. They often have very great details of how much their mate has hurt them. I will listen to these stories and I am always left with the same feeling. They are all hungry for more love from the other.

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