Damage Control: 10 Actions to Save Your Marriage After 50
If your goal is to immediately bring your marriage back to what you had dreamed it would be, you might find this list of quick actions very helpful. These tools have worked for hundreds of couples who have drifted apart.
Remember, this is not meant just for your reading pleasure! If you want positive changes in your marriage, you will be all about making new choices and taking new actions! As you do this, you will see positive changes in your marriage.
Give Yourself a Time Out to Calm Down
You may be a person who is slow to anger, or maybe you are quick to anger but cool down quickly. Either way, when you learn the physical signs of your beginning anger or upset, you will be able to use that early warning system.
One of the very healthy ways you can use your early warning system, is to give yourself a Time Out
to calm down. It is not at all difficult but does take self-control or discipline on your part.
You simply make the Time Out Sign with your hands first. Next, if you have already agreed to try this action, you can say, “I’m giving myself a Time Out to calm down, and I’d like to talk more later.”
In this way you are taking ownership for your own upset or reaction. Additionally, you don’t further distance or hurt your spouse.
Hopefully, you are not guilty of saying things like, “You made me do that! If you hadn’t done________, I wouldn’t have done that!” This is part of the blame game! It is not owning your own stuff.
Learn to Listen and Understand, not Necessarily Agree
Unfortunately, many couples do not seem to accept or understand the concept of listening without the need to agree. Perhaps you find yourself falling into this trap. Many times you may be totally blindsided by how differently you and your spouse think or process ideas.
You may have a conversation where you each leave feeling good about your conversation and the agreement you made. What you don’t realize is that you left thinking you had both agreed to ABC. Your spouse left totally believing that you had both agreed to XYZ.
Neither of you realizes the miscommunication until the time comes that the decision is to be carried out. At that moment, one or both of you is usually very upset because you both believed you had made an agreement.
When and if you discuss it, you finally understand that you had unknowingly agreed but not on the same things. To prevent this from happening, there really is a pretty simple process, but many couples rarely, if ever, use it.
Speaker and Listener Technique
There is a tool called speaker and listener technique. You may have learned it in a corporate setting, but most couples either do not know about it or do not use it in their home with one another.
Some call it reflective listening, but it has many names. I like to keep it very simple and use the terms speaker and listener or mirroring. Some couples I’ve worked with call it the mirroring thing.
Often, when you are trying to have a conversation with one another, it is very easy to go off on rabbit trails. Therefore, it is very important, especially at first, to keep this method very simple.
First, find an object that you will pass back and forth
so you can keep track of who has the floor. Some use a pen or pencil or just an object you have handy.
Interestingly, one of my couples last week shared that they were in the car talking when a hot topic came up, and they were about to go into their usual way of communication.
During the prior session, we had just introduced the speaker and listener tool, so she had grabbed her water bottle and started speaking differently than usual about that hot topic.
Both she and her husband agreed that using that simple tool totally changed how their interaction ended. It was positive instead of the usual negative. For the first time, she spoke in a different way and her husband heard her meaning differently!
One important key in this technique is that the listener
attempts not to parrot the words of the speaker. Instead, they are to use other words, if possible, to show their understanding of the speaker’s meaning.
Watch Your Tendency to Become a Pushy Salesperson
In learning to communicate more clearly, there is another bad habit or tendency you may find yourself using. Often, when you have a different opinion on a subject, you may immediately go into sales mode.
You act like it just became your job to convince your spouse of the many reasons why your opinion is so much more logical and is totally better than his or hers. In fact, your opinion is the right one, so naturally, you must explain it to her or to him and try to prove it, on top of it all.
Naturally, this is a fast way to produce bad feelings between the two of you. What you should realize is that, in most cases, there are multiple ways of doing things. What you may call the right way is probably the way you’ve always done it, or the way your family did it.
There really is a humorous side to the way we can get so attached to our own ways of thinking. Does it really matter which way you fold the towels, wipe off the counter, mow the grass or whatever it may be? Most of the time, the truth is that these things do not really matter at all, but at times, you and I sure act like it does.
You will be interested to know that this is a story I’ve been told over and over by couples. The wife comes into the session with the story that everything in the house is up to her, and she is worn out with doing everything. This is particularly true if she is also working outside the home.
Usually, the husband will speak up and say something like, he tried but he never could do things right, so he gave up trying. Please do notice which tasks must
be done your way.
Maybe this does not describe you or your situation at all. If it does, however, you will learn more in exploring my Instant Damage Control or my Miserable Marriage to Wedded Bliss 30 Day Program.
Learn and Use the Five Love Languages
You will be excited to hear that using the five love languages has now literally turned thousands of married couples back to loving and understanding one another!
You can learn the basics here, but if you want to look online, you will find the free quiz that will help you and your spouse understand one another so much better and have real breakthroughs in your relationship.
The basic concept of The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman is that each of us has individual ways that make us feel more cared about.
When you make the choice to learn what your own love language is, as well as your spouse’s love language, it will answer so many puzzling questions for you. In his book, he shares the following:
Words of Affirmation
Affirming your partner with words of praise and/or comfort.
Enjoying spending time together in meaningful ways.
Gift Giving and Receiving
Intuiting the gifts that would please your partner, and gifting them with these. Receiving their gifts with joy and gratitude.
Acts of Service
Doing things for your partner to make their life easier and more comfortable.
A full range of touch that is a sign of affection like holding hands, hugging, entwining feet, stroking hair, caressing face, things that are not necessarily a prelude to a sexual encounter.
You can also check out the 1 Minute Marriage/Relationship Quiz.
What do you think the secrets are to a happy marriage? Which one of the above fits your situation best? What are you willing to actually begin doing now? Please share your successes or your realizations!
Waverly Hanson is a coach, counselor, author and military consultant. Her positive, nurturing and gently challenging style works well with her mission to save marriages and help people find life choices. After 25 years, she is still awed by the hundreds of “miraculous turnarounds” experienced. Check her Relationship Quiz here.