14 Tiny Ways To Fix Your Marriage When You’re Drifting Apart From Your Spouse

The thing you thought would never happen has.

How to get back your emotional intimacy with spouse SeventyFour | Shutterstock

Drifting apart from your spouse is a typical occurrence. Many, if not most, marriages experience this phenomenon.

Early in a relationship, you have a strong attraction and want to be together as much as possible. It doesn't take a lot of effort to want to be together. The desire to be together is powerful, and you feel like it will never go away.

Then life takes over with jobs, household responsibilities, parenting children, helping with homework, driving everyone to practice, games, and other activities. Life is so busy you aren't sure how to get back on track as a couple. You have little or no energy left to get the spark back.


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Here are 14 tiny ways to fix your marriage when you’re drifting apart from your spouse:

1. Accept the truth

Come to terms with the truth about your marriage. Don't get overwhelmed with disappointment. It's time to face the fact something you never thought would happen has occurred. You don't like things this way, but accepting it as the truth is the first step.

2. Have an open discussion about it

This is not the time for placing blame. Agree to discuss the state of your marriage. Talk about what is missing, and how you feel about it. You may experience sadness, disappointment, and even shock that the closeness has deteriorated. It's normal and expected to feel bad about losing something so important.


3. Decide to rebuild your relationship together

In your initial discussion, you may not have any idea how to regain what was lost. Both of your lives may be so full of activities and responsibilities it seems there is no way, time, or chance of rebuilding.

Don't be surprised if the task seems overwhelming or impossible. You don't have any answers regarding how to fix it, but you can make a joint decision to turn it around.

Couple connecting to fix their marriage mavo via Shutterstock


4. Find time to sit down and talk

If you're fresh out of ideas about what to do next, find the time to have further talks about it. Set a date for your next talk. Hire a sitter, go on a dinner date, and take along a notepad and pen so you can start planning. If this is too hard, plan a stay-date night after the kids are in bed. Shut off the TV and take some time to talk about your future.

If children are not an issue for you, but being busy is, place a priority on finding the time to talk. If something is important to you, you can find a way to make it happen. It is important to find a way to make this happen now.

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5. Schedule meetings in the future for ongoing discussions

As busy as your life may be, the survival of your marriage may be at stake. You know you don't want to continue the way it has. It'll take an ongoing effort to turn it around. While a good long talk is helpful and will help you to feel closer, it won't fix things long-term.


6. Determine when things started to change

It's not necessary to be able to pinpoint when things began to change, but it could be helpful. If you both remember when you noticed the relationship was different, discuss what happened. What was going on at that time? Was there a job change, a traumatic event, a move, or a birth? If you know when it started to change, what lessons are there to learn to help you now?

7. Ask yourselves, "What do we want now?"

Think through and clearly articulate what you want. How would things be different if your relationship worked how you want it? Don't worry at this point about being too idealistic. Put to words the way you would like things to be. Both of you need to describe what you want.

Both of you should withhold judgment or comment about what each wants. Even if your spouse's description seems too idealistic and impractical, this is a time to dream a little and regain some hope for your marriage. The worst thing you can do at this point is to shoot down your spouse's hopes, dreams and wishes for your marriage.


8. Figure out what a realistic goal for you both is

Now that you have had a chance to dream a little, it is time to think through what you can do to change things. If you both want and need more time together, but your lives are so full of activities, work, and other responsibilities, it will take time to make some of the changes that need to happen.

Both of you need to come to terms it may take time to affect some of the changes you want. Stand together; be firm in your commitment, and be consistent in your efforts at change. You may have to decide to live with a less-than-perfect scenario of togetherness while working on changes to the structure of your lives.

If your lives are extremely structured and planned out ahead of time, prepare to take time to make the necessary changes to allow for more time together.

Couple in car cuddle and try to fix marriage Vadym Hunko via Shutterstock


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9. Plan and implement your strategy on how to move forward

Once you have both chosen to turn things around, now it is time to do the work of making the changes. Guard yourself from getting disappointed as you enact your strategy.

Changing your life patterns takes time. It is easy to fall back into old patterns. Remind each other kindly if you see some backsliding. Encourage each other purposefully when you see progress. Don't expect feelings to be turned on right away. It will happen as each of you invests in the other. Quickly repair any damage done when old patterns emerge.

There is a payoff for investing in and working on your marriage. It will happen by consistently keeping at it.

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10. Spend time together as a couple

As part of your strategy, regularly plan to spend time alone as a couple. Family activities are great and build memories. It's often a blast to share time with friends.

It's critical you also have time to do things when it is just the two of you. It can be as simple as regular walks together, a stay date playing board games or cuddling while watching a movie, or a date night doing something fun.

You should also make room in the budget for an occasional weekend away, an escape for just the two of you. Spend time getting to know each other and having fun together again.


11. Be intentional with your affection

Can you still remember the early days of your relationship? What did it feel like to hold hands, to stroke them across the back, to brush up against each other, to sit close with an arm wrapped around you, or to have those long, passionate kisses?

Has it been a while since you have experienced or initiated any of these signs of affection? If the most recent pattern is a lack of affection and touch, and you miss it, change it. It may take a conscious effort to remind yourself to brush up against him while walking or to rub your hand affectionately across her back and shoulders as you walk by in the kitchen. Try throwing in a "six-second kiss."

Couple kiss to keep from drifting apart Lucyluphoto via Shutterstock


12. Express gratitude to one another

If you are not doing so already, be mindful of expressing gratitude daily. Thank your spouse for their contributions to provide for and benefit your family and marriage. If this is not your practice, begin looking at all the things you can express gratitude for and how you can do it. Usually, a simple, "Thanks for helping me," is enough and pays big dividends to help you grow closer.

13. Make time for intimacy

How would you rate your love life? If you have been slowly drifting apart, intimacy is likely happening less and less. A healthy intimate life is good for relationships and for our well-being. Recent studies suggest it's not just the act that benefits a relationship but also the affection, touching, and kissing that accompanies it. When this is a regular part of a marriage, it contributes significantly to a sense of well-being and bonding as a couple.

14. Make corrections as required

The two of you are the best judges of your relationship. As you make progress, tweak things as you learn what is working, what is not working, and what needs more effort. Give yourselves some time to make the changes you have determined are necessary. Allow yourselves time to let the relationship breathe and adjust to the changes.


After about six months, do an honest evaluation of your relationship. Are you both experiencing positive movement and feeling closer? If so, celebrate your progress. If one or both of you are unsatisfied, go back to a new discussion of what you want and work on a new strategy to get there.

Drifting apart as a couple occurs often in marriage. Arresting the drift and rebuilding a positive atmosphere is doable with continued effort by both of you. If you determine you have both worked hard but haven't progressed based on your investment, it's time to seek outside intervention.

Keep at it. It's worth your time and effort to turn things around.

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Drs. Debbie and David McFadden are relationship and life coaches with master's degrees in education and social work. They specialize in helping struggling and distressed couples improve their relationships.