10 Unmistakable Signs Your Marriage Can Be Saved

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Are you wondering if you can save your marriage?

In its ideal state, marriage is that exclusive union whose intimacy has the power to heal age-old wounds and save your faith in love.

But what happens when that link to hope itself needs hope? What are some of the signs your marriage can be saved when you’re viewing your closeness in a rearview mirror?

When your marriage feels more like day-after-day gray skies in the middle of spring, you need at least a glimpse of hope — a ray of sunshine to hang on to.

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Here are 10 unmistakable signs your marriage can be saved:

1. You both acknowledge your own imperfections

This ability — and willingness — is no small feat. The tendency to blame your partner for your dissatisfaction can be cumulatively sabotaging.

"I’m not happy because you do/don’t (fill in the blank)."

"You always/never (fill in the blank)."

"I always/never (fill in the blank).”

The problem with blame is that it renders the blamer — not just the relationship — powerless.

If you don’t feel loved because your spouse isn’t doing something you want or expect, you could linger in lovelessness. After all, you've handed over the power behind your perceptions of someone else’s behavior.

Learning to communicate with vulnerability and to listen with the intention to learn and grow is a huge sign your marriage can be saved.

That willingness to be present to another’s reality, knowing that you may be contributing negatively to it, takes courage.

It’s also a building block of true intimacy to be able to acknowledge that your moods, words, and behaviors may need a tune-up, too.

Learning how to gift your spouse and marriage with a genuine expression of “enlightened compassion” and a sincere apology can move mountains.

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2. The grass still looks greener on your side of the fence

You’re not necessarily headed for divorce if you ponder the "what ifs." If you find yourself fantasizing about life with someone else or even on your own, your marriage may need emergency care.

On the other hand, if thinking about leaving your marriage or living without your spouse stresses you out, take heart.

The message you should be taking away is: "This is where we belong. I can’t imagine life without my spouse. But we need help knowing how to revive our marriage."

And asking for help in an area for which life provides no road map just makes perfect sense.

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3. You still share the same core values

Think back to when you and your spouse were dating. How did you come to the conclusion that this was the person with whom you wanted to spend your life?

At some point, after the initial infatuation and flooding of physical attraction, you got down to the business of authentic revelation.

Who are you? What are your values? What’s your faith and how do you practice it? What do you believe about raising children?

What are your attitudes about money? How have you dealt with challenges in your life? What kind of responsibility do you believe you have towards your community and the world?

These questions are at the heart of building true intimacy. And the alignment of your answers to them is the most critical, telling component of marital satisfaction and success.

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4. Your relationship isn’t necessarily the problem

What you logically know with your head doesn’t always matter when your heart longs to feel a certain way.

Sure, you know from the start that no one is perfect and every couple has disagreements and tough times. You also know that marriage isn’t always going to be hot sex and globe-trotting.

But, prescience isn’t always enough to squelch your doubts when boredom, frustration, and disappointment infiltrate your marriage.

Demanding careers, raising children, and keeping up with the Joneses all take their toll.

Toss in any number of other unpredictabilities — caring for an elderly parent, a chronic illness, and loss of income — and wham!

Suddenly, your marriage isn’t guiding your life. Your life is bulldozing your marriage.

If you recognize the influences that are drawing energy away from your relationship, you can start taking actions that will bring your marriage back to the center.

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5. You still enjoy one another’s company

You may squabble, shout, stomp, and sulk. But in your heart’s "honesty corner," your spouse is still the person you love spending time with.

To enjoy someone’s company, especially during the mundane moments of life, is a reflection of genuine friendship.

While marriage may be its own version of "friends with benefits," that friendship is essential to deep emotional intimacy.

If you can still play, laugh, talk, travel, work, and just "be" together, your relationship has a great foundation.

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6. You still respect one another

When trying to predict the salvageability or demise of a marriage, therapists look for signs of "no return."

When criticism, defensiveness, contempt, or stonewalling are present, one relationship-binding component is missing: respect.

By the time couples are pulling out these weapons, they’re essentially running with scissors. And they’re not just going after the behaviors they dislike in one another.

They’re cutting at the very character, spirit, and personhood of one another. There's no regard for the scarring of scathing words and hateful body language.

The dislike of certain expressions and behaviors simmers its way into a full boil of disdain and disrespect for the actual person.

If the mere imagining of that corruption of your marriage opens the floodgates of love for your partner, there’s hope!

No relationship can survive or thrive without respect. If you still have it, don’t throw in the towel.

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7. You still hold onto the happy memories

The fact that you’re looking for signs that your marriage can be saved is a sign in and of itself.

What you’re really looking for is a way to connect to the happy memories of the past by creating new ones.

When the past is the only storehouse of happy memories, it’s easy to lose hope for the future.

But, if your marriage were beyond repair, you wouldn’t even look back to those happy memories. You may not even remember them because the damage to your marriage would have damaged your memory of them.

If you’re still basking in old photos and stories that warm your heart, you have a solid foundation worth preserving.

You simply need a little reflection, inspiration, and guidance to help you build on it.

8. You’ve lost that 'spark' but believe it’s still in there

You may no longer feel hormonally crazed every time you enter your spouse’s air space. But, if you know there’s still a spark that draws you to one another, don’t let it die out.

If you were an island castaway, you would guard even the tiniest ember with your life. That ember can be worked into a flame. And that flame can toast your s’mores, keep you warm, and light your way.

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9. You still trust one another

No relationship can survive without trust.

If you still trust your partner with your life, despite your frustrations and disappointed dreams, things aren’t so grim. Preserve that cornerstone of marriage.

And prepare to do the work to restore the trust of your most vulnerable feelings, needs, and dreams.

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10. You’re both willing to do the work

So many marriages needlessly implode because only one or neither partner is willing to do the work.

Pride, blame, hurt, fear — any number of reasons can let the ember die. And how tragic it is when that happens.

If you and your spouse are both willing to do what’s necessary to save your marriage, count your blessings. You’re already on the road with a full tank of gas. Go the distance!

Despite the numerous foreboding predictors of a marriage’s demise, there are far more signs your marriage can be saved.

If you can unequivocally say, "My marriage is worth saving," then you’ve done the tough part.

You’ve weeded through the ugly, painful, and discouraging prognosticators to the conviction that what you have is worth preserving, even if you have to find it again.

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Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats in Portsmouth, NH. 

This article was originally published at Free and Connected. Reprinted with permission from the author.