Marriage restoration doesn’t require a total makeover. Often it’s just a matter of breaking out of your routine.
The difference between a good runner and a great runner is often just a few seconds. The difference between a lifeless, routine marriage and a satisfying relationship also is often very small. You don’t need to do anything risky to your relationship to add interest and excitement. For a really satisfying marriage restoration, you often only need to do some things to break out of your routine. You can also behave in ways that will get your spouse to notice you more as he or she used to when you were both single.
First, make yourself interesting for your spouse
Many people desire romance and passion while doing nothing to add it to the relationship themselves. They wait for their partners to provide it for them. This can happen with both spouses with the net effect that nothing actually changes. Someone has to make the first move. That move is not to try to get your partner to change, but to make some changes in yourself. If you want to have a better than average marriage, then you need to be a better than average spouse. That does not mean working harder at your job or cleaning the house till it shines. It means putting the girlfriend-boyfriend element back into your relationship.
Marriage restoration requires looking back to the beginning
What was it that first interested you in your spouse, when you were dating, before you were married? What was it that your spouse really enjoyed about being with you? Did you know that when people have affairs, they are attracted to people who have the very same qualities that they enjoyed with their spouse at the beginning of their relationships? A boring marriage has usually become that way because people replaced what they enjoyed about their relationships with what they do not enjoy. It’s like taking the chocolate out of a chocolate cake. You would just be left with plain vanilla. You need to put the chocolate back into your marriage.
Identify the missing element
What is the chocolate in your relationship? Is it going out without the kids? Is it talking about things other than work? Is it having sex that lasts more than 10 minutes? Is it traveling to new places? It is being more involved socially with others? What is it, that if it were present, would make your relationship more enjoyable?
Do whatever it takes to put it back in
Do not think that you are doing yourself, your kids, or your spouse any favors by patiently enduring your relationship. Get the kids out of your bedroom, get a sitter, buy some tickets, make some reservations, get some nice clothes, and simply refuse to live a life of routine anymore. Learn how to be better at sex (yes, it is a skill), take dance lessons with or without your spouse. Do not stop making changes in your life until you are enjoying your life. Invite your spouse to join you each step of the way, but do not keep going if your spouse refuses. Eventually, your spouse will start to join you.
Attract your spouse again
Do not nag your spouse into doing anything with you. Don’t try to convince or cajole. That will just get you resistance. When you get to work on being a more attractive and exciting girlfriend or boyfriend for your spouse, your spouse will either become more interested in you, or more fearful that you are going through a midlife crisis and about to have an affair. Either way, it can shake up your spouse enough to get him or her to be more of a participant in your relationship again. When your spouse asks you what is going on, just say that you want to feel more alive and to enjoy life more. Don’t give any long explanations about changing the marriage or anything like that. Having such relationship talks usually just results in resistance or defensiveness, which can sap your energy and interest in changing.
Change the way you think about your spouse
Many of the men and women I work with have contributed to the downfall of their marriages by forgetting to treat their spouse like a man or woman. The best way to treat your spouse is the same way you would treat any single person you were attracted to if you were single. Marriage is best seen as a place to share your happiness rather than as a place to dump your problems. If you were single and dating, would you emphasize having a good time or talking about problems? If you were engaged to be married, would you emphasize enjoying your time together with your fiance or talking about problems? Then why would that change when you get married? Once people get into a repetitive routine they may start feeling trapped in their marriage. Don’t let it get to that. My goal everyday is to make my wife laugh, to make her feel like I am awesomely attracted to her, and to bring enthusiasm and vitality into her life. When I do this, what do you suppose I get in return? The same thing. We are alive and we are in love. That has never stopped.
Anticipate problems to avoid problems
It’s so easy to avoid making these changes, although you know they most certainly would result in marriage restoration. It is always easier just to keep going through the motions of a routine marriage. But, there will come a day, if you just keep going through the motions, when your spouse says he or she is no longer in love with you. When that day comes, you can’t simply start being more loving and more active with your spouse, because you will get rejection back. Your spouse will say it is too late (although that is not true if you get the right help). If you can see the reality of this clearly enough, it may give you enough of a push to get the ball rolling again, while your spouse still loves you. Often you just need to ask yourself how long you expect your marriage can last if things just continue as they are.
If your spouse has gone non-responsive
What if your spouse no longer looks at you with eyes of attraction even when you are at your best? What if your spouse is reluctant to do things with you that he or she used to enjoy? Is it too late for marriage restoration? No, it’s not. Your spouse has entered that stage between being happy with your relationship and getting out of it. Be thankful you have identified it. Your first step in this situation is to identify what you have been doing or not doing that has caused an emotional disconnection in your relationship. Have you made your spouse feel like he or she is not a priority? Have you been critical and argumentative. Did you fail to make your husband feel like a man? Or to make your wife feel like a woman? If so, these are things you can learn to do better. Before trying to get your spouse to do things with you, it is most helpful to get your spouse to enjoy talking with you again. Many people need to re-learn how to talk to their spouses about something other than work or the kids. If you are a woman, here are 5 free lessons you can download to help you rejuvenate conversation with your husband. And, if you are a man, here is a free e-book that will help you to do the same with your wife.