Note: This post first appeared in 2017 but has had a major overhaul. 🙂
Is your marriage stalled? Lifeless? Do you fear it’s even dying or dead? How can you rekindle your marriage?
Before you try and figure out what to do about your dull marriage, let’s look at the signs of a failing marriage.
There are many things that could cause a marriage to fizzle out:
While infidelity can kill a marriage swiftly, most times marriages die a slow, almost imperceptible death.
When neither partner is meeting the needs of their spouse, marriage stalls.
A negative cycle of neglect results in empty hearts and dry formalities – like that boring kiss on the cheek as you rush out the door to work.
The failure to meet each other’s needs is often unintentional, but the reaction to unmet needs may develop into intentional hurt. Couples may begin to react to their pain by hurting their spouse. If this is the case, it’s time to make a change. And quick.
Note: If your marriage has taken a blow because of serious sin in a spouse – adultery, pornography, abuse, addiction – you need “intensive care”. Serious sin must be dealt with seriously. This post is for couples whose marriages have drifted into mediocrity through neglect.
If your marriage is stalled, here are 10 things you can do to kickstart it:
Whether you feel like it or not. Praying is one of the most intimate things a couple can do together. It reveals your deepest thoughts and brings hope for the resolution of conflict in your marriage.
If you go around in circles when trying to solve problems, stop and pray together. “Lord, we don’t know how to solve this, but thank You that You do. Please lead us so Your solution.”
By doing this you are seeking help from the Master Psychologist. He knows just how to solve your problem and will guide you to answers.
Continuing praying together reaffirms your commitment to each other and your marriage even though your conflict is unresolved.
Practical Application: Make a time to pray together as a couple – at least once a day. Pray specifically for your relationship.
Whether you feel like it or not. It takes an emotionally mature human being to give with no strings attached. Giving because you are receiving is reactive giving. Start giving out of choice and not because your needs are being met.
Find out what your spouse’s needs are. Sit yourselves down and have a conversation about your marriage and the needs you each have. Then start meeting those needs.
Practical Application: Ask your spouse to tell you three things you can do to make him/her feel loved and appreciated. Let him/her do the same for you. Then do those things. Do the love language test so you have a better idea of how to meet your spouse’s needs.
You’re not going to fix in five minutes what you have spent 10 or 15 years breaking. Be patient. Be prepared to work hard at your marriage for a long time. There is no instant solution to the problems you face. You need honest communication, hard work from both of you, and a commitment to never leave.
Practical Application: Verbally confirm your long-term commitment to your spouse. Tell them you are in this relationship for the long haul. You are not giving up.
Get rid of hopeless thoughts that your marriage is over and that nothing is going to remedy it. Choose to think positive thoughts about your marriage and your spouse. Thoughts and feelings lead to actions, so begin with changing your thinking.
Practical Application: Make a list of things you appreciate about your spouse. Review them daily. Thank God for them. When you are tempted to focus on the negative in your spouse, go back to your list!
No one can force change in someone else. The only person you can change is yourself. Take ownership of your faults in the relationship and work on being a better spouse. Pray daily that God will reveal the things you need to change in your relationship – it may be an irritating habit, wrong thought patterns, or a change of attitude.
Practical Application: Prayerfully make a list and begin working to cultivate opposite traits of character in yourself. Instead of criticism, cultivate affirmation of your spouse, replace irritability with cheerfulness, instead of neglecting household chores, do them at once.
Do things you used to do before you were married:
Practical Application: Plan regular fun activities for yourselves as a couple, but be open to the spontaneous moments as well. Have a pillow fight, sit outside under the stars and talk, cook together. If one of you is more original, then take the lead and plan some fun activities.
Learn to be vulnerable even if it feels a little scary (provided it is safe to do so, and you are not in an abusive relationship).
Improve your communication skills – which include both expressing yourself well and listening well.
Practical Application: Plan a couple talk time and practice your communication skills.
Honest conversations about past hurts, apologising, and then choosing to forgive, will free your relationship from resentment. Once these blockages to intimacy are removed your relationship will be free to grow again.
Practical Application: Be brave and make an appointment with your spouse to have a difficult conversation.
There’s a myth that says quality time is all that’s needed for great relationships. But the reality is that quality time happens within quantity time.
Those special moments – memories made, jokes shared, heartfelt conversations – usually happen in an unplanned context. They pop up unexpectedly, but have a lasting effect on the tenor of your relationship.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan special dates. Just make time for both.
Practical Application: Trim your schedule so that you can have more quantity time as a couple. Create space in your life to have time together where you are not actively doing anything – such as sitting outside on a bench or taking a bath together.
In a relationship that’s stalled, sex is often the only time a couple touches. But simple touches outside of the sexual context, will help to rekindle the closeness you once had.
Related: 12 Stages of physical intimacy
God intended marriage to be a place of safety, companionship, friendship, fun, passion, and growth.
If your marriage has lost it’s light, be intentional about getting it back. Don’t settle for mediocre.
Is your relationship stalled? Have you settled for mediocre? What’s the most important thing in this list for you to do?