Stepping Up: Men’s Guide to Saving a Struggling Marriage

Marriage can be one of the most rewarding relationships in life. However, it also requires constant effort and engagement from both partners to thrive. When a marriage starts to struggle, trying to get things back on track can feel daunting. This is especially true for men who may feel unequipped to handle complex emotional conversations.

The good news is that with some practical steps, men can play an integral role in saving a struggling marriage. Even when things feel far gone, it is possible to rebuild intimacy, trust and a loving partnership.

Communicate Openly and Honestly

Communication is the lifeline of any relationship. When a marriage is struggling, healthy communication often breaks down first. While avoiding difficult conversations may make you feel more comfortable, everything will stay the same once you start talking openly and honestly with your spouse.

Make time each day to check in with each other. Don’t just discuss logistics and chores; take time to connect emotionally, too. Share your feelings, hopes and concerns without blaming or shaming your partner. Listen attentively while your spouse shares their perspective, too. Allow each other space to vent, process and feel heard.

Set aside time for deeper discussions on your relationship, finances, intimacy, parenting disagreements or anything else contributing to the distance between you. Even when conversations get uncomfortable or heated, do your best to remain calm, empathetic, and solution-focused.

Take Responsibility for Your Part

It takes two people to make a marriage work. While it’s easier to focus on your partner’s flaws or behaviours, reflect on your contributions to the problems in your relationship. Where have you made mistakes or let your spouse down? How can you do better moving forward?

Think about ways you may have hurt your partner, withdrawn emotionally, stopped caring for them or taken them for granted. Identify your unhealthy patterns like defensiveness, criticism or contempt. Then, I sincerely apologize for falling short and committing to a different behaviour. Holding yourself accountable will invite your spouse to do some self-reflection of their own.

Rebuild Intimacy and Affection

When tension and arguments displace intimacy in a marriage, it takes active effort to bring back physical and emotional closeness. Make spending enjoyable and reconnecting time together a priority. Plan regular date nights, take weekends away together, enjoy activities you used to do as a couple and foster positive interactions.

Compliment your spouse daily, hold hands, cuddle, give massages and initiate sex. Small gestures to show love and appreciation help a couple bond. Find ways to be affectionate and nurture intimacy both in and out of the bedroom. Lifting each other builds mutual fulfilment and contentment.

Support One Another

Part of the wedding vows include promising to be each other’s partner “in sickness and in health.” During tough times in your marriage, embrace being each other’s biggest champion. Offer encouragement, check in on one another’s stress levels, and help lighten each other’s load.

Back your spouse up with parenting, family conflicts, work problems, financial strains, illness or anything else they are dealing with. Be the first to give a pep talk when your partner feels low. Share the weights of childcare, housework and meeting other demands so neither of you feels overwhelmed. Having each other’s back breeds devotion.

Seek Outside Help When Needed

If poor communication persists, affection remains missing, arguments escalate, and distance seems irreparable, don’t be too proud to enlist outside assistance. Many couples find marriage counselling incredibly beneficial, even lifesaving, for their relationship.

An experienced therapist can help you and your spouse express anger and hurt constructively, uncover root issues you may not see, improve listening and empathy, gain tools to reconnect and more. If one partner refuses to counsel, the other can start with individual therapy to work on themselves.

Don’t let fear, embarrassment or pessimism deter you from seeking qualified help. Investing in your partnership takes courage and vulnerability, so bring in support when you need it.

Stay Committed to Growth

It’s easy to get stuck rehashing old arguments and problems during marital struggles. Break free from negative cycles by focusing on growth individually and as a couple. Set aside time to read relationship books, listen to marriage podcasts and think about your ideal partnership.

Identify areas where you and your spouse could improve, then make specific goals. Help each other become the best versions of yourselves while also learning to accept your differences. A marriage gains strength when both people are committed to personal development and relationship growth.

Persevere with Patience and Hope

There will inevitably be ups and downs in any long-term relationship. During seasons where things feel broken and distant, don’t give up. Keep showing up day after day, expressing love, listening without judgment and giving your partner and the marriage your best effort.

Trust that breakthroughs and closeness will come with time, empathy, and perseverance. Find hope, knowing that hardship can bring renewed appreciation when you reach the other side.

Any marriage can be turned around when both people are willing to take an honest look at themselves, learn healthier ways to relate and fight for the relationship they once cherished. Staying present, keeping love alive and never losing faith in each other will guide you through the darkest of times into a thriving marriage again. Working with Coach Brad can also provide valuable perspective and support.