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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love?

Why do we hurt the ones we love?

Every one of us has hurt someone we care about. Unless we live alone in a cave and don’t interact with another human being, we will sometime in our life be hurting someone we love. It just goes along with being alive and interacting with others.

But when we hurt the person we love and are in relationship with—well, that can weigh heavy on us and make us feel pretty terrible. I know there have been many times I have been cross or said something sharp to my husband. I also know that even the slightest shrug of the shoulder or snappy reply has an effect on him.

So if we do things that are bigger than a rolling of the eyes, like hanging up on our partner, cussing them out, or slamming doors and leaving, well we have made not just a statement, we have made a big impact on the person we love.

Read More

Understanding Anger and Pain in Relationships

Understanding Anger and Pain in Relationships

As someone who is interested in what causes behavior, I am convinced that the madder you are, the more wounded you have been. It’s hard to think of an angry person as in pain though. Most of us want to get away from someone who is angry. We feel their fierceness and we just want to back away and not have anything to do with them.

I tried to calm him down. I did so three times. The fourth time I just let him rage, and that’s exactly what he did. He raged and raged and raged. And when he was done he got up and left the room. I continued with the wife and soon after the session ended. I felt a lot of emotion in the session and a lot of it was mine. I felt helpless to help him. I felt very sad for his inability to find a way to be understood by his wife. I felt him trapped inside himself and having no way to express himself except with a big booming voice that no one could tolerate.

Read More

I Feel Disconnected in My Relationship, What Do I Do?

I Feel Disconnected in My Relationship: What Do I Do?

I hear couples talk a lot about connection. In fact, feeling disconnected is probably one of the biggest difficulties couples face. Often one of the partners will say something like, “I just don’t feel connected to him.” But it could be a man saying this too. Feeling connected is something we all feel inside our body, and it is different for every one of us.

Some of us live inside our feelings and literally feel everything that happens to us. That’s me. I am a right-brain-dominant person, which means that I experience the world through my feelings. Imagine how frustrated I felt when I coupled with a person who is left-brain-dominant. That means he interacts with the world through his thinking mind. He thinks first. I feel first. We are different.

Read More