9 Marriage-Saving Techniques That Are So Effective It's Scary

Here's how to get that happy relationship and marriage you deserve.

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It's a miserable situation in which to find yourself.

You love your partner, but you don't trust him. You can't imagine life without him, but you're angry and irritated when you actually spend time together. You crave the easy-going bliss that other couples seem to have but can't get a whiff of it in your own relationship or marriage.

You're completely confused and bewildered by the current state of your relationship, and you're also not sure how you two got here! How did it all change and when did the initial glow wear off?


Of course, every couple is different, but for the vast majority of couples, the relationship trajectory goes something like this:

There's a Mutual Attraction phase with a pull toward each other in a romantic and/or sexual way. Next, there is an Initial High or ”Honeymoon” Phase when the two can't seem to get enough of each other. The feeling of walking on air is often experienced. After that, there is a Commitment/Settling In phase when you make agreements (or assumptions) about “what this is.”

A couple can encounter troubles along the way and the actual trajectory — how long it lasts and how happy it is — depends on how they deal with (or don't deal with) the challenges they face in each phase. When you remember and actually put into practice a few simple and common-sense habits, you and your partner will more easily move through the challenges and enjoy a connected, trusting, and healthy relationship. 


Here are 9 marriage-saving techniques that are so effective it's scary:

1. Check-in regularly

To avoid the common relationship trap of feeling like you've “lost yourself,” start a habit of routinely checking in with yourself. Do it as you take a shower in the morning, as you jog on the treadmill, or as you decompress after work. Write in your journal or simply talk with yourself internally. Get past the mind chatter and “to-do” lists — listen for what you want and need right now. Regular check-ins help you make empowering decisions and allow you to give clarity to what you say to your partner.

2. Be honest about what you want

A strong connection with yourself can easily translate into effective communication about your wants and needs. Whether it's a bigger commitment, a desire for more emotional intimacy, changes in the way you two handle money, or anything else, find the courage to share what you want and what's true for you unapologetically and honestly with your partner.

3. Make requests, not demands

When you talk honestly and steer clear of demands, threats, and ultimatums, you're much more likely to get what you want and end up with a happier relationship in the process. Before launching into a request about a contentious issue, pause and really think about what you're about to say.


If the words (or how you're feeling) are blameful, guilt-inducing, or otherwise pushy, you're probably setting yourself up for an argument or chilly silence. Instead, try words like: “Will you?” or “Are you willing to?” or  “It's important to me for you to _____. Do you agree to this?”

4. Don't air your grievances on social media

That snarky or sarcastic comment you're about to post on your partner's Facebook wall isn't going to bring him or her closer to you. Don't use social media to “make a point” to your partner (as well as to your slice of the world). Get clear about what the real issue is for you, and then arrange a face-to-face time to talk about it together.

5. Keep working on your listening skills

Being a good listener isn't something you grow out of when you graduate from grade school. Our minds get busy and there are so many distractions everywhere. Being present is difficult when your partner opens up and talks, but it's an essential skill to practice (and keep practicing). Enter every conversation — even casual, everyday chats — intentionally practicing full engagement, focus, and curiosity about what your partner has to say.

6. Never talk about important stuff when you're drunk

You know this one but, you quickly forget it after one too many drinks. Make a real effort to stop yourself before trying to tackle a big relationship question when you're tipsy or intoxicated. Agree with your partner that you two will postpone such conversations until a time when you're both sober and then stick to it!


7. Deal directly with your partner when you perceive a threat

It doesn't matter how manipulative or sneaky your partner's ex is or how good-looking his co-worker is. Avoid going to this person who is outside your relationship to tell him or her to back off. This usually only escalates the situation and puts more suspicion, mistrust, and distance between you and the one who matters the most — your partner. Without making accusations, strategize with your partner about how to handle this perceived threat to your relationship and do so as a team.

8. Always respond to facts, not fears

Meet your doubts, worries, and anxiety with facts. If you have to, make a list on a sheet of paper of the observable and confirmable facts about the situation that's got you all stirred up. Promise yourself that you'll step back and review the facts when you're upset, instead of reacting from your fears.

9. Focus on what's going right

Perhaps the most powerful golden rule of all is to pay attention to what you're paying attention to. Do you hone in on your partner's annoying quirks and all of the ways he or she lets you down? Or do you acknowledge what's improving and what's actually going right in your relationship? This isn't a call to deny real problems that you need to address, but it is a reminder that when you widen your view and find aspects of your relationship to genuinely appreciate, you start to build momentum that will carry you to the places you want to go.


Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect, and create the relationship they desire.