web analytics

February 10, 2024

Save My Marrriage

How Can I Save My Marriage?

“How can I save my marriage?” is one of the most frequently asked questions from inquirers turning to Love Recon for marriage help. Marital problems affect almost every couple at some point in their relationship. If you are experiencing marital strife and feel like you are in a downward spiral, you are not alone; there is hope!

Love Recon exists to bring help, hope, and healing to hurting relationships and to encourage and equip anyone wanting a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship. The slogan of Love Recon is “a better marriage – a better you.” This dual approach is why Love Recon is a successful marriage seminar that is effective for more than 90% of the couples who attend. In the past, you may have tried couples therapy or marriage counseling. In this article, you will learn more about saving your marriage and how Love Recon works to help couples build healthy marriages.


Key Takeaways

  • Having marriage problems is normal.

  • Determine if your marriage is worth saving.

  • Forgiveness is essential to a better marriage and a better you.

  • A better marriage begins with a better you.

  • Dumping personal baggage results in a better you.

  • With effective tools and a commitment to the relationship, you can build a better marriage.


Is My Marriage Worth Saving?

There are many reasons for divorce given by divorcing couples – lack of communication, lack of love and intimacy, lack of respect, and lack of trust. However, there are really just two kinds of marital issues: difficult or destructive. Difficulties can be worked out, often with the help of a relationship coach, therapist, or marriage counselor. Destructive situations, however, most often call for a separation with the potential of divorce if the relationship cannot be made safe for everyone involved. Listed below are three types of destructive behaviors in relationships, often called the 3 A’s. They are signs of a toxic marriage.


Destructive Behaviors

 • Abuse

An abusive relationship needs to end for the good of the abused person and the family if children are involved. Abuse can come in various forms – physical, verbal, emotional, mental, or sexual. No one deserves to live in an abusive situation. If you are in an abusive situation, please reach out for support and remove yourself and any family from that environment.

.If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.

 • Addictions

If your spouse is an untreated addict and refuses to go into recovery to achieve sobriety, then there is little hope for your marriage. To enable them to continue in their addiction is destructive to you, to them, and your family. Allowing them to hit their “bottom” may be the first step in healing and recovery.

 • Affairs

A history of infidelity is another destructive issue that a marriage cannot withstand. To heal and repair your relationship after an affair is exposed only to have another affair exposed, and another, and another destroys trust, intimacy, and emotional safety in a relationship.

In all of these examples of destructive behavior, there is hope if the offender is remorseful and will do the hard work of personal growth and healing. Love Recon is designed to help repair damaged relationships if the destructive behavior has stopped and there is sobriety.


Difficult Issues

Remember, every relationship goes through rough patches. Life is difficult, and so are relationships, but they are worth the investment of time, energy, and resources to make them mutually satisfying. In fact, working through difficult challenges can ultimately help you achieve a happy marriage and a deep bond that can weather any storm that comes. An important part of working through difficulties and challenges in a marriage is forgiving your spouse and yourself. To quote Ruth Bell Graham, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.

Save My Marrriage


Forgiveness is Essential to Save Your Marriage

 • Why is it Vital that I Forgive Others?

Forgiveness is essential to your emotional health and well-being. Without it, you will not be able to fully love or be loved. Anger and bitterness toward one person in your life will affect your interactions with others in your life, especially those who are closest to you. Lower self-esteem can result from not forgiving as well. Forgiveness is also crucial for your physical health. Numerous studies have shown that unforgiveness can cause high blood pressure, stress, insomnia, depression, a weakened immune system, and poorer heart health.

 • Why is it Important to Forgive My Spouse?

As stated above, your unwillingness to forgive someone else will affect your ability to love your spouse well. Negative emotions cripple your interactions with your spouse. Your focus becomes the past and the situations or people that have wronged you, and you can’t see a positive future with your spouse. When it is your spouse that has offended or betrayed you, emotional walls go up, trust is compromised, and intimacy is lost. You become roommates and may live separate lives under the same roof. Your emotional connection and your sex life wane. Over time, your relationship will erode and crumble.


What is True Forgiveness, and How do I Forgive?

 • Description of true forgiveness

There are many ideas about what forgiveness is and how you forgive someone. Some of them aren’t helpful and may even prevent true forgiveness from taking place. For instance, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the offense. Forgiving once may not be enough to be free of the hurt and pain. You do not have to reconcile with the person just because you forgive them. In fact, you may exclude the offender from your life and have no more interaction with them in the future. However, if the offender is your spouse and you want to save your marriage, healing and the restoration of trust must be a part of the process of reconciliation. So, what is true forgiveness? It is an intentional decision to let go of the anger, bitterness, and resentment to set yourself free to live and love fully.


How do I forgive?

Forgiveness is simple, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy. Here are the 3 steps to forgiving your spouse or others.

Step 1- Acknowledge the offense.

It is important that you name the offense, identify what it cost you, and allow yourself to feel the hurt and pain of it. Forgiveness must come from the heart.

Step 2 – Make the decision to forgive.

Forgiveness is a choice. You can choose to forgive, or you can choose not to forgive. Forgiveness sets you free to live and love fully.

Step 3 – Just do it!

Write on a sheet of paper each thing that your spouse has done to hurt you and how it made you feel. Then say, ” I forgive you for (the offense) and for making me feel (feeling word). Note: If your spouse is not fully on board with this, then go through it by yourself or see your family therapist. Forgiveness is presented in depth in Love Recon and is a safe place to express these feelings.


How can I trust my spouse after betrayal?

Whether your spouse has had a physical affair, an emotional affair, or secretly mishandled finances and put your fiscal future in jeopardy, after forgiveness, trust must be rebuilt.

 • Look for or show signs of genuine remorse.

The beginning of restoring trust is the genuine remorse and sorrow of the offender for what they have done. They must acknowledge the pain that they have caused their spouse and in no way minimize what they have done.

 • Establish boundaries

Until trust is re-established, boundaries that make the injured party feel more safe should be set in place. Use of technology, time away from each other, access to bank accounts, and financial information are all areas in which healthy boundaries can help to repair the damage that has been done. Boundaries should not be used to punish the offender, but to help the offended person begin to heal. At some point, the boundaries can be changed or loosened.

 • Honesty is a must

It is imperative that the offending spouse be honest going forward, particularly in the area of the offense. If they have been dishonest with family finances, then they need to give reports and answer questions about what they have spent. If the betrayal was a result of internet activity, then the offended spouse should have access to their partner’s cell phone and passwords for all social media accounts. In a spirit of honesty and trust, the offended spouse should be honest in all the same areas as well. Caution: It is important to know what to ask (and what not to ask) in seeking to repair a marriage damaged by infidelity.


Consistency is the key

A simple formula to remember is: honesty + consistency = trust. Giving trust a chance to grow is important, and that takes time. Trust can be rebuilt if both spouses are patient with the process and are willing to understand that it will not be easy and that it is not a waste of time.


To Save Your Marriage- Begin with Your Own Baggage

Become a Better You

Emotional baggage can be a heavy burden that weighs down any relationship. When a relationship is described as a bad marriage, it is usually because the couples are living with emotional baggage and damage. To save your marriage, it is crucial to first focus on personal healing and growth.


What Causes Emotional Pain and Baggage?

Emotional pain can be caused by various factors, with trauma, guilt, and shame being some of the most significant causes. All three of these causes contribute to emotional distress and require support and healing to promote psychological well-being.

 • Traumatic experiences are a cause of emotional pain.

Trauma refers to an intensely distressing event or experience that can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Traumatic events such as accidents, abuse, or witnessing violence can deeply wound individuals, leading to emotional pain.·

 • Guilt is a cause of emotional pain.

Guilt, on the other hand, stems from what you do or don’t do. It is a sense of wrongdoing or responsibility for a particular action or outcome. It can arise from moral conflicts, perceived failures, or regrets, causing individuals to experience emotional anguish.

 • Shame is a cause of emotional pain.

Lastly, shame is a powerful emotion that arises from a deep sense of unworthiness, embarrassment, or disgrace in relation to one’s self-image or the judgment of others. It can result from past mistakes, societal expectations, or internalized beliefs, leading to significant emotional pain.

Save Your Marrriage


What are the 8 Signs of Emotional Baggage?

 1. Blaming

One of the most obvious signs of emotional baggage is the habit of blaming others for one’s problems and unhappiness. It is difficult for one to accept responsibility for their words or actions when they are not yet healed from their emotional pain. In a marriage, it is usually the spouse who bears the brunt of the blaming.

 2. Addictions

Addictive behaviors are unhealthy ways that a person seeks to cope with their feeling of emotional trauma, guilt, and/or shame. Addictions come in many forms, from substance abuse to sexual addictions to workaholism. While a person may experience a temporary escape from uncomfortable emotions, most often, their marriage suffers, and their personal growth is hindered.

 3. Affairs

Seeking relationships outside of a committed partnership can indicate the need for healing from emotional baggage. The unfaithful person may be seeking validation, or they may have a fear of genuine intimacy. They may be seeking to fill voids from past experiences. This behavior, of course, can wreak havoc on a marriage.

 4. Abusive Behaviors

Persons with unhealed emotional pain and baggage may relate to their spouse and others in abusive ways. They may exhibit behaviors that could be classified as physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. Often, they are carrying unresolved emotional traumas or unresolved anger. Healing from the past pain is the only way that this behavior will stop.

 5. Internalizing Emotions

Internalizing, or stuffing, emotions can be one more sign of emotional baggage. Instead of expressing emotions freely, individuals may suppress their feelings which can lead to mental health problems such as inappropriate or explosive outbursts of anger and even depression.

 6. Codependency

Codependency is a sign of emotional baggage and can be called “an approval addiction”. Codependent individuals rely on others for validation, self-worth, and happiness in needy and unhealthy ways. They may have difficulty setting boundaries and may prioritize others’ needs over their own, often neglecting their own well-being. This is a way to avoid dealing with their own pain.

 7. Lack of Purpose

Emotional baggage can be so heavy for an individual that it is not possible to identify or live with a sense of purpose. Just managing the basics of life can deplete a person, so thinking about meaning and setting goals is extremely challenging. In such cases, the marriage may also feel aimless and uncertain.

 8. Low Self-Esteem:

A person living with emotional pain and dealing with it in destructive ways will find it easier to loathe themselves than to love themselves.

While each person’s experiences are unique, and the signs of emotional baggage can vary from person to person, individuals can be healed from their pain and dump their emotional baggage. This enables them to interact and connect in healthy ways with their spouse. Couples attending Love Recon or working with a marriage therapist can experience real transformation when healing begins to occur.


What are the 4 Steps to Get Rid of Emotional Baggage?

Four primary “heavy” emotions result from emotional baggage and damage. If you can identify and acknowledge the root of each one and walk through the healing process to overcome it, you can enjoy the freedom of little or no baggage! The emotions in question are anger, fear, sadness, and shame. The following instructions for healing may seem simple, and they are, but they are not easy! It may require assistance from a helping professional for you to heal in these areas. One of these toxic emotions may be more present in your life than the others. If so, you may wish to start with that one.

 1. Dump Anger

  • Identify and acknowledge the underlying cause of your anger.
  • Who are you most angry with, and why?
  • Forgive them, as discussed earlier in this article, so that you can be free of anger, bitterness, and resentment.
  • Enjoy the peace that comes from forgiving and make forgiveness a part of your life. People will hurt and disappoint you, but you don’t have to get stuck because of their actions.

 2. Dump Fear

  • Identify when you felt most unaccepted, rejected, or abandoned.
  • Accept yourself, and receive acceptance from those who love you, including God.
  • Live in love because “perfect love casts out all fear.”

 3. Dump Sadness

  • Identify who or what you have lost that makes you sad.
  • Grieve the loss(es) that you have experienced and reach out to others for support.
  • Begin to accept and live in the present so that you might experience the joy of living.

 4. Dump Shame

  • Forgive yourself.
  • Reject the lies about your identity.
  • Embrace the truth about who you are.
  • Love yourself.

As you grow and heal individually, the dynamics of. your marriage will change as well. Working on yourself is the correct place to start if you want to have a better marriage. You certainly don’t have to be perfect to begin to work on your marriage, and you will always be a work in progress. However, as you are becoming healthier and more self-aware, and your spouse is doing the same, you can begin to work on saving your marriage together. You don’t have to. You get to!


What are the Right Questions to Ask to Save My Marriage?


 1. How Do I Get Started in Saving My Marriage?

To get started on improving or saving your marriage, you first must make an honest assessment of your relationship, followed by honest communication. You can do this online or with an experienced relationship coach. Love Recon offers an online assessment. Do some serious introspection and be honest about your contribution to the state of. your marriage. Reflect on your own emotions and behaviors and pay attention to any negative patterns that you see. Be transparent and willing to discuss these issues and address them together openly. If this is not possible and you need outside help, Love Recon offers intensives and enrichment opportunities in which you can safely assess your marriage and acquire the tools to regain your marriage momentum.


 2. How Can I Communicate Effectively with My Spouse?

Effective communication is the key to resolving every issue in your marriage and maintaining a fulfilling relationship going forward. Listed below are key elements in communication that deal with your attitude and approach to communication.

 • Be Kind and Gentle

To create a safer space for you and your spouse to communicate, monitor your approach effectively. Are you coming across as aggressive and accusatory, or are your words kind and your tone gentle?

 • Suspend Judgment and Blame

It is not important to determine who is right and who is wrong. Let your spouse know that you are not judging or blaming them. At the same time, do not be defensive yourself. Judging, blaming, and becoming defensive will all shut down communication and make it unsafe to proceed with communication.

 • Listen to Learn

Rather than listening so that you can prepare your case, defend yourself, or correct the narrative, listen to learn. Put your thoughts, feelings, and emotions aside for the moment and learn all that you can about your spouse’s feelings, perspectives, and ideas.

 • Speak the Same Language (Emotion vs Logic)

Be aware if your conversation is more about facts and logic or if it is more about feelings and emotional needs. If you answer logic with emotion or emotion with logic, you will be speaking two different languages! This will take some practice, but you can learn to recognize what language your spouse needs you to respond in and make adjustments accordingly.

 • Seek to Understand and Empathize

Take listening to a deeper level by not only learning where your spouse is coming from on an issue but also by seeking to understand the “why” behind their perspective and feelings. Slow down and ask open-ended questions and then actively listen to their responses. Show empathy by putting yourself in their skin and feeling what they are feeling as much as you can.


 3. What is Reflective Listening, and How Can We Do It?

Reflective listening is the “how-to” of communication. Sometimes called “mirroring”, is one of the most powerful tools that you can use to improve your communication. It requires that you actively listen to your spouse and then reflect back on what. you heard them say to ensure understanding. Here are practical steps to practice reflective listening in your communication.

 • Make eye contact.

In Love Recon, we recommend the “dyad method,” which is simply sitting face-to-face in an open-body position and making good eye contact. This helps you to give your spouse your full attention and minimizes distractions. It also shows genuine interest in what they have to say.

 • Use and listen for the “feeling” words.

Pay attention to the words that convey emotion. Those, in particular, are the feeling words that you want to remember because they reveal your spouse’s heart in the matter. If you are the speaker, own. your thoughts and feelings and express them as clearly and succinctly as you can. Don’t overload your spouse!

 • Repeat what you heard.

When your spouse is done speaking, repeat what you heard them. First, use their words so that they know you were listening. Then you may paraphrase what you heard using your words. Remember, however, that it is still about them, so don’t interject your thoughts and feelings yet!

 • Ask for and give clarification.

The listener may just ask the simple question, “Did I get it?”. If the speaker indicates that something was missed, the listener may then ask, “What did I miss?” If you are the speaker, be kind in your response and explain what your spouse missed.

 • Validate your spouse.

To validate your spouse doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with them. It means instead that you are “valuing” them and their thoughts and feelings. It can be as simple as saying, ” I can see why you would feel that way.” You could also say something like, “Thank you for sharing with me. Your thoughts and feelings are important to me.” If you validate each other in communication, the emotional intensity will decrease, and you will be able to communicate more calmly and clearly. This will enable you to more effectively resolve conflict in the next step to saving your marriage.


 4. How Can We Deal with Conflict in Our Relationship?

Resolving or managing conflict well is an essential skill in saving your marriage and building a healthy relationship. Through successfully handling conflict, the bond between you can be strengthened, and your connection deepened. This requires, however, an intentional and proactive approach so that you are ready for conflict when it arises – and it will!

 • Recognize Triggers (Offenses)

Recognizing both your triggers or offenses and those of your spouse is the first crucial step in effectively managing conflict. A trigger can be specific words, actions, or situations that “trigger” a strong emotional reaction in you or your spouse. If you both are aware of what triggers you each have, you can do your best to avoid triggering one another and actually help each other manage your triggers.

 • Identify Assumptions

Recognizing our assumptions is the next important step in conflict resolution in marriage. When we hold a certain belief or make a judgment about our spouse’s intentions, thoughts, or behaviors without seeking clarification, we are making an assumption. These assumptions will often lead to miscommunication and conflicts that could have been avoided if we had not made assumptions. The three main ways to handle assumptions are:

  1. Beware of your own assumptions.

  2. Practice good communication and clarification.

  3. Challenge and change your negative assumptions.

Evaluate whether or not your belief or assumption is helpful or harmful to your relationship. If it is harmful, change the assumption to a more positive one that will benefit the relationship. For example, “my wife is a controller” could be changed to ” my wife deeply loves me and is coming from a place of love.”

 • Respond vs React

Responding rather than reacting is another key element of conflict resolution in a relationship. When one or both spouses give an instinctive emotional response, the conflict can escalate quickly, giving no hope of a resolution. If, however, one or both spouses take a step back, remain calm, and think before acting or speaking, the situation can de-escalate. This can prevent causing further damage to either partner emotionally or to the relationship itself.

 • Take a Break

If the conflict is becoming too heated and you can’t de-escalate it, you must take a break or a time out from each other and the disagreement. Decide ahead of time that either of you can call the time out, and that request will be honored by the other spouse. Four tips for the time out are:

  1. Agree ahead of time that you will get back together in 30 minutes.

  2. Change your environment.

  3. Don’t think about the conflict on your break. Listen to music, pray, meditate, read – anything that will calm your spirit.

  4. Don’t use any alcohol or drugs during your break.

If things are still too hot when you come back together, then it could be time to engage a relationship coach or counselor or attend a marriage workshop. If, however, you are in a good space to now resolve the conflict, proceed to following the eight steps for conflict resolution.


Follow the 8 Steps for Conflict resolution.

  1. Clearly identify one issue and one issue only.

  2. Each shares why this issue is important to them and how they will feel once it is resolved.

  3. Each owns what their part in the issue has been.

  4. Brainstorm! Let your imagination run wild and come up with as many solutions as possible for your issue. Don’t evaluate yet. Just list them.

  5. Each shares which solution is their favorite and why.

  6. Agree on one solution to try. Make sure that each spouse understands what their role in the solution will be.

  7. Re-evaluate in a week and make adjustments where needed.

  8. Celebrate! Reward yourselves for any progress made.

Once you have dumped most of your emotional baggage, forgiven those whom you need to forgive (including your spouse), sharpened your communication skills, and are beginning to resolve your conflicts healthily, it’s time to begin meeting each other’s deepest emotional needs.


 5. How Can We Meet Each Other’s Needs in Our Marriage?

 • Identify and own your needs

The first step in meeting one another’s needs in your marriage is to identify what you need individually. You need to be clear with yourself before you can be clear with your spouse. What do you need? Spontaneity? Validation? Fun? Loyalty? Respect? Acceptance? Quality time? Lists can be found online or by contacting the Love Recon office. Pick your top three. Don’t feel weak or ashamed! Everyone has emotional needs, which can and should be met within your marriage. Own them!

 • Communicate Your Needs

Once you have identified your needs, share them with your spouse. Do not think, “Well, if my spouse loved me, they would know what I need. I should not have to tell them!” That is erroneous thinking and will only leave you feeling hurt and misunderstood. If your spouse is agreeable to doing this exercise with you, take turns sharing in the manner below for each of the 3 needs you have chosen. Use reflective listening to make sure that you are each heard and validated as you follow these three steps:

  1. My need is (your need).

  2. You can meet this need by (practical ways they can meet this need).

  3. If you meet this need, then I would feel (loved, respected, secure, etc.)

Periodically discuss and re-evaluate how you are doing in meeting each other’s needs. Needs can also change, so it is important to have current knowledge of what your spouse needs in every season of life. For further reading, see the articles “What a Woman Needs in a Relationship” and “What Men Need in a Relationship.”


There is Hope for Your Marriage

You may be overwhelmed and disheartened that your marriage has reached this juncture. You never imagined that you would have such a troubled marriage. It may seem that your relationship has reached the end of the road, but let me assure you, you can see your hope restored.  Through personal growth and developing essential relationship skills, you can have the strong marriage you’ve always wanted and more. As many couples, some who have even torn up divorce papers will testify, Love Recon can help you to experience ” a better marriage – a better you!”

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

Start Saving Your Relationship Today

Get our FREE 3-day guide and find out how
your marriage will change
in ways you've always dreamed.