5 Urgent Ways To Save Your Marriage From A Looming Divorce

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man and woman agreeing to work their marriage out

"Is my marriage over, or can we still save it?!"

This is a question married couples ask — often from a place of frustration, fear, and anguish — when their marriage is struggling and they're on the brink of divorce.

When you and your partner got married, you probably spoke vows to one another. With whatever specific words you chose, you promised to love and honor one another.

And now, you wonder what happened to those promises. Because of the decline of your relationship, you and your partner may feel so very far away from where you used to be, back when you were blissfully in love.

But even though you and your spouse may be a long way from where you once were as a couple, learning how to save your marriage from a looming divorce is possible.

RELATED: Before You Divorce, Try These 5 Last-Ditch Things

Figuring out how to fix a broken marriage is not the easiest thing to do. There has likely been some very serious damage in your relationship, possibly due to lying, name-calling, cheating, or other harmful actions.

You worry that there's no way to save your marriage at this point and that your relationship will end in divorce. And maybe you’re right.

But, there is an uncomfortable — but essential— question to ask yourself: "Is it healthy and wise for me to stay in this relationship?"

If you are being abused or abusive, staying together might not be safe for you or your spouse. Getting some physical space and taking the time to get professional help may be required.

Likewise, if your partner refuses to stop cheating and you’re not okay with being in a non-monogamous relationship, these are all signs your marriage is over and that it's time to break up.

But, if there is an openness within you and your partner to make changes and repair the damage, then there is hope that, together, you can save your marriage. You two might not be where you want to be, but if there is even a weak commitment to try to turn your relationship around again, this could be a shift toward improvement.

Here are 5 ways to save your marriage from a looming divorce:

1. Identify what’s not working

When your marriage feels like it’s falling apart, it’s helpful to get specific. And it doesn't help to make generalizing statements like, "Things aren’t the way they used to be," or "Something is wrong with our marriage."

What will help is for you to identify exactly what it is about the relationship that feels off or dysfunctional to you. Is it communication? Intimacy (or lack of)? Trust?

Hone in on the words that you each say and the actions that you each do when it seems like your marriage is most tense or conflict-filled.

RELATED: 7 Things I Learned From Being In A Truly Bad Marriage

2. Move beyond blame

The tricky thing about the first strategy is that when you identify what’s not working, your mind will probably want to assign blame and figure out who is causing the problem. And if you’re like most people, your mind jumps to all of the ways that your spouse is the "cause" of your marital troubles.

Recognize it when you feel the urge to blame — either your partner or yourself — and, instead, back up and re-focus on the words, behaviors, and overall dynamics. It’s most likely that you both play a role in whatever is going on that’s tearing you apart

3. Own your role

Next, it’s time to set your ego aside. Yes, it’s probably very true that your partner could stand to change many of his or her own habits that have damaged your relationship, but you can’t make that happen. The only one you have the power to change is you.

Take responsibility for the things you do that push your partner away and/or endanger your marriage. Be honest with yourself and do so with love. Remember, this is about understanding what’s going on so that you can start doing things differently.

RELATED: 5 Subtle-Yet-Serious Signs Your Marriage Is In Crisis

4. Create an action plan

All of this observation and self-discovery are necessary so that you can come up with a plan of action that will turn your marriage around and improve it. If your spouse is willing to work with you, create agreements that address the weak points in your relationship. This is not a place for finger-pointing, but for focusing on solutions.

Phrase any agreements you make in terms of what you both will do (instead of what you won’t do or don’t like). Make your action plan specific in terms of behaviors and words and also in terms of a time frame if that’s applicable.

5. Identify what is working

As you put your action plan into place, make a conscious effort to recognize it when one (or both) of you follow through. Give each other high fives and appreciate the steps back together again that you’re making, even if they seem like "baby" steps.

Be sure to also look for and celebrate the strengths in other areas of your relationship.

No matter how insignificant it seems, if you two cooperated, resolved a disagreement, had a fun night together, or anything else that went well, shine a light on it. That’s a place to build momentum.

RELATED: The #1 Way To Save A Marriage That's On The Brink Of Divorce

Susie and Otto Collins are Certified Transformative Coaches who help awaken love and possibilities in your life.