Although a marriage in trouble is upsetting, it can often be repaired more easily than you think. The honeymoon phase in any committed relationship is not meant to last; eventually it becomes obvious that sharing life with another person requires a special set of skills. Most couples start to come apart because our culture doesn’t teach us how to maintain and strengthen these bonds.
Have high standards
Happy couples have high standards for each other. The most successful couples are those who, even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. Low levels of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a relationship equals a happier couple down the road.
Focus on the positives
In a happy marriage, while discussing problems, couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship as negative ones. For example, We laugh a lot as opposed to “We never have any fun. A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity. Make regular deposits to your emotional bank accounts.
Learn to repair and exit the argument
Happy couples have learned how to exit an argument, or how to repair the situation before an argument gets completely out of control. Examples of repair attempts: using humor; stroking your partner with a caring remark making it clear you are on common ground; backing down and, in general, offering signs of appreciation for your partner and his or her feelings along the way. If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.
Soften your start up
Arguments often “start up” because one partner escalates the conflict by making a critical or contemptuous remark. Bringing up problems gently and without blame works much better.