How to Save Your Marriage Without Couples Counseling

Couples in unhappy marriages may be reluctant to try marriage counseling for a variety of reasons, such as lack of money. These ways to save your marriage without counseling will help.

Read How to Save an Unhappy Marriage Without Couples Counseling – it’s better because it’s an updated, new, and improved version of this article.

And remember: “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, the grounds for marriage.” ~ Robert Anderson.

Every married couple – even the happiest ones – can find reasons for divorce…but the key to a happy marriage is to find reasons to stay married. For help, read 7 Stages of Marriage: Laughter, Intimacy and Passion Today, Tomorrow, Forever – and it’s an excellent resource for new and old married couples.

And, here are ways to save your relationship without going to marriage counseling…

How to Save Your Marriage Without Going to Couples Counseling

1. Decide that you want to save your marriage

If you aren’t fully committed to the idea of saving your marriage, then you’ll spin your wheels as a couple! Before you can even hope to make your marriage happy, you need to consciously decide that you want to stay together. And, you need to accept that it takes time, energy, and effort to build and sustain a happy marriage.

Does your husband show interested in you – and your marriage? Read How to Make Your Husband Love You.

2. Try online marriage counseling

I often include Mort Fertel’s Marriage Fitness program in my marriage articles here on Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals. Recently, I was thrilled to hear one of my friends describe how great his program is for couples – and she didn’t even know that I have his Marriage Fitness info here on my blog! Fertel is a marriage coach who doesn’t do traditional couples counseling.

3. Read books about building a happy marriage together

In addition to 7 Stages of Marriage, I’m reading 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great by marriage therapist Dr. Terri Orbuch. She offers practical, easy to apply marriage tips that are incredibly effective! No matter what stage your marriage is at – even if you’re rebuilding trust after physical or emotional infidelity – you’ll find her tips helpful. But, the key is to read the book as a couple and talk about the marriage tips. To reconnect with your spouse, you both need to be committed to saving your marriage.

If your husband cheated on you, read How to Trust Your Husband After an Affair – From Mourning to Healing.

If you have any thoughts on saving your marriage without going to counseling, please comment below…I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful to share your experience.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 thoughts on “How to Save Your Marriage Without Couples Counseling”

  1. Thanks for your comments, Mikk! I’m glad Mort Fertel worked so well for you. I hope his program helps other couples save their marriage, too.

    All good things,

  2. Mikk the Mort Fertel Junkie

    Hey Laurie, my name’s Mikk and I noticed you mentioned in your blog that one of your friends had good success with Mort Fertel’s Marriage Fitness program without going through marriage counseling. I too had amazing success with Fertel’s program and its so nice to see other people mentioning his stuff on their sites because his stuff is truly amazing. I’m such a believer that I put together a blog mentioned above all about Mort and even mention the things I do even today – 5 years after my almost divorce – that’s keeping my marriage going extremely strong. His advice is so easy to follow and I love what’s its doing for my marriage which is why I’m sharing it with the world. Awesome to see Mort’s making changes in others people’s lives still.

  3. I think most marriages can be saved without going to marriage counseling, if both partners are willing and able and if they communicate. Marriage isn’t brain surgery. It’s compromise and hard work.

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Tina, Stephanie,

    I am very sorry to hear about your marriage problems — my heart goes out to you both. It can be so difficult to know what to do or where to turn, or if your marriage is over or if it can’t be saved…I know how hard it is.

    The best general advice I have is to learn how to let go of the person you love. This doesn’t necessarily mean separation or divorce — though it could! More, it means getting yourself strong and healthy. Letting go means taking good care of yourself, so you can see what the next step is. Letting go is about getting strong so you can do what you need to do.

    I can’t give you personal or marriage advice, but I do encourage you to get strong and healthy emotionally, physically, spiritually, and even professionally. I know it seems hard or even impossible to get healthy and strong again, but it’s really important to move forward.

    Where and how do you start getting healthy and letting go? You try different things until you find what works for you. Maybe a marriage counseling program will help. Maybe you need to do something, such as changing your life — perhaps by moving to a different city, traveling, or getting individual counseling. Some people find physical spa treatments helpful, or alternative therapies such as reiki or energy healing.

    There are SO many ways to get healthy and move on! The trick is to find what works for you.

    I wrote an ebook to help people let go after a breakup, called Letting Go of Someone You Love: 75 Ways to Heal a Broken Heart and Let Go of the Past

    Check it out; it may be just what you need to get strong and prepare for whatever is coming next.

    I hope it helps, and wish you all the best.


  5. Husband and I have been together for 8 yrs. He has been traveing out of town for about 3 or 4 now. I have noticed since we have the smartphones that he’s been. Shopping for another on craigslist. I have confronted him about it and he said no one wanted him and I got it that he was hurt thai I did but no one else””he’s fat old and missing teeth” I told and tell him ALL the time hoe sexy he is and after the confrontation he said that he would stop. Well e month later and he hasn’t. I don’t know what to do. I’m hurt that I ask him and try to be intamate and get turned away. Cuddeling is fine. He won’t have it. We have not been out on a date in yrs. he always has an excuse not to take me anywhere. I have to wait till the youngest is in shhool to get out of the house an get a job. Which will be bout 5 yrs. What’s the best way to stick it out? Give it the good ol try and if itS not better in 5 yrs then go? I don’t know what. I’m so hurt. I didn’t think anything could hurt so much.

  6. Hi, I’m writing because i’m pretty much at my wits end on how to handle things. Let me start by saying my husband and i have been together for just over 14 yrs. married for 13 years last January. I have become an emotional wreck over the last few years.

    A little history on whats up for you.

    My husband was in a LOT of trouble as a youngster and an young adult till about 30 years of age in and out of jails and prison for stupid crimes when he finally decided to turn his life around and thats when we met and married about 9 months later.

    I’ve personally had close family loss in the last five years of my aunt to cancer, my mother to cancer whom i took care of, took her to treatments and cared for her when she had a major stroke for 10 days before she passed. I watched her take her last breath and cared for her through all the coughing, spitting up blood and so on. Sorry for the graphic detail but want you to have a small idea of what i went through up to her last breath. My grandmother also died 10 weeks ago. Also lost my grandchild to Dept of Human Svc. and havent seen him except once in 4 years. Lost my home and nearly my son in law on my front porch when i stranger came onto our porch and held a gun to his head trying to get into our home. Also for the last 3 hears my grown children and one grandchild have taken turns living with us up till about 3 months ago.
    Our marriage has become very unstable.
    We are very financially poor, barely making our monthly bills.
    My husband broke his neck when he was 17. We have no insurance for any medical expense and he as he has gotten older is in very severe pain more often then not. He says he doesn’t have bad days anymore. Its a case of whether he’s lucky enough to have a good day at all. We live in a small town. The doctors here don’t do pain management so to speak. He is allowed 2 hydracodines a day of 325 mg to cope with his pain and his doctor doesn’t want to give him more then that. My husband says his head feels like someone has tightened a vice on the front and he lives with it all the time trying to cope with the pain. He has at least 4 vertebrates in his lower back that are disintegrated the doctor says and we cant afford MRI so we don’t know what other damage is there. He has applied for Social Security Disability but the lawyer dropped the ball and we had to start over a couple months ago. This has been going on for four years for the disability. He is also missing bone in his hip from where they fused his neck together and he has small pins and hooks holding his neck in place.

    He emotionally is very unstable. Has a hard time with controlling himself through his pain. Our marriage suffers greatly, our family life suffers greatly and i am a Christian women and am holding on with all that God gives me but emotionally i just don’t know where its coming from anymore or what to do. i don’t want to leave. I don’t want a divorce. I want our marriage to work and prosper and i want as does he both of us to be happy. We haven’t been happy in a very long time. He tells me he’s unhappy all the time and ever six weeks or so he tells me he wants to leave.

    I know he loves me and i love him. We tell each other all the time.
    Because of his pain there’s not as much hugging, cuddling, loving, touching and so fourth because honestly to get to close or him moving the wrong way or my touching his back in the wrong spot gives him so much pain with just the lightest pressure. He went to visit his parents last Tuesday and was in so much pain he was crying in front of my 13 year old and it had me in tears watching him suffer.

    He doesn’t have a great track record with therapists but after two years of me begging him to go he finally suggested on his own we try it. We went twice and he really did open up to the point of tears in his eyes but after the second visit we started donating time at church(which he started going with me about 4 months ago on his own, he says for me and our son was the reason) that he thought we were doing better and dint want to go to the third appt. The therapist said no reason for me to come back unless my husband would make an appt for himself alone so he knew that my husband was committed to coming. I dont know if my husband will or not. I know he doesnt like therapy so i thought something online might work better.

    I dont know what to do anymore. Am hoping for any ideas i havent tried yet or things to try that may help put us in the right direction to saving our marriage. I pray everyday for better relationship with my husband and God answers in his own time. In the mean time there has to be something i can do.

    Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. I also would appreciate an email if possible with a response to this letter.

    Thank you so much,


  7. Good topic, You can also visit that can help you during this tough times. Get the best tips on what you can do to save your marriage not just for both of you but for your children as well.

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Paula — I’m glad you’re reading the book about making a good marriage great, and I hope it helps!

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Gregg,

    I’m afraid I have no easy answers for you — and I agree that there is a difference between emotional cheating and seeking advice from friends and family!

    I think the number one way to save your marriage and connect with your new wife is to find a way to live in the same country, in the same house. It’s difficult to build and sustain trust if you live halfway around the world from each other. Like you said, living 8,000 miles apart is a problem! If you don’t want to get divorced, then you might want to hold off on that decision until you’ve had the chance to live and love together in the same house. It may be too soon to abandon your marriage…but the geographical distance may make it difficult to build a strong relationship.

    If you can’t live in the same place, then you might consider long distance couples counseling. It might help to have an objective perspective, to help you and your wife see each other’s points of view. Don’t forget that you’re coming from two completely different cultures as well…and that can make communication tricky, even if you were living in the same place.

    So, those are a couple of things to think about. I also encourage you to think about your long-term goals — will you live together in three months or three years? That may change how you proceed with your marriage. Will she live in Canada, or will you live in her country? Maybe if you start making concrete plans, you’ll find more trust in each other.

    I’m sorry I don’t have any easy answers for you, and wish you all the best as you figure out what to do next.

    Take care,

  10. I’m reading the book you recommended in your article, about taking your marriage from good to great! I never thought of reading it WITH my husband, but I can see how that could make our marriage better.

    Thanks for this article. We don’t have to “save our marriage” as such, but all relationships could use some fine tuning!

    Paula R.

  11. Hi Laurie:

    I was only made aware of you because of my new wife. She simply pasted your article about emotional cheating and emailed it to me.

    I live in Canada. I travelled half way around the world to marry her in Philippines and I was married on October 3rd, 2009. Already there are trust issues and it seems no matter what I do, I can’t seem to contain this situation. I met her last year along with other women when I was on vacation. I decided on her in the end and committed myself emotionally and fincially, trusting her with many thousands of dollars prior to marriage for the plans, getting rings, many things ahead of time.

    Prior to marriage I was accused of chatting on internet to another.
    Then it was yahoo messenger. I removed it and she said I was liar as I still had it (yahoo account), different but … I removed that too. I had that a since 2007 before a met her. Forwarded her both screenshots of Y.M. removed from Add\Remove contacts of my computer and forwarded my email from yahoo of my account deletion. Still, she did not believe me. Later she would then go full circle and say, “If you had nothing to hide, why did you delete it?” It is frustrating. I went through this 10 days prior to taking off on a plane to marry her. i got a resulting devasting emails at work telling me I was a liar and I hate you. I often wonder why I looked past this. Warning signs perhaps? By then I had already bought the rings, given her about $4500 CDN for wedding expenses, paid for my airfare… and hers, taken another $1000 for pocket money. So I was quite entrenched in my plans. I committed. Before leaving, she was to meet me in Manila… and from this Y.M. thing, one day it was, I will meet you in Manila, not meet you, meet you…

    I admit I did do one stupid thing. 30 hours of travel, she had asked me about this other woman I met last year and I admitted I wrote to her recently. She said lets see that email. I wrote to this woman because being the only other person I knew in Philippines I was unsure of my spouse whether she would show up in Manila or not… by her own words. So being a white guy and wanting to be safe in such a country, I contacted the other girl to reserve a hotel elsewhere for me, taxi… one has to be careful. Things worked out, not before being lost for a while in Manila airport and I simply wrote back, “Yes, I am here in Davao.” The letter was mainly writing about how much I loved my finace. However revealing that letter at all, not everything should be so open. We got past that day, seemed to really enjoy our time together, travelled all over the island. Our happiness continued until fateful day of Nov. 7th. Alternatively I used skype to communicate with her, much more control and less hassle than Y.M. We talked for 3 hours 18 minutes on it. After which that day I had yard duty outside and living in eastern Canada, many leaves to deal with. So I hung up the skype to skype call, said my good-byes, hoped to talk to her later. I then worked on my leaves outside for the next 7 hours. The next day I get this email. Here are her words.

    “Hi Gregg,

    Okay, I was about to reply your emails but I noticed something stranged.

    I copied and pasted below parts from your 2 previous emails. I am just wondering if it’s true that you didn’t communicate with anyone then how come you already have 43 conversations (please check below)even before we start talking to Skype?? also I saw you online now it shows in my Yahoo inbox in case you’re not aware, what does it mean? I noticed that status sign “away” last night while we were talking. We didn’t agree to talk morning of Sunday(my time), can I really trust you?? Think I need clarifications. I don’t expect another argument I just want to avoid misunderstanding. I’m afraid if this will continue I may never trust you again and sooner fall out of Love and that’s what I’m afraid of. I care much about our Marriage, and I just hope it’s mutual. ”


    I know my wife takes these things now and reads into them far. After this I spent more time learning about skype and simply setting my account now to invisible but more to the point, skype will not startup when my computer starts up. That was something I found I couldn’t control with Y.M.

    Since this time she has been requesting my skype account and my main email account to monitor me. I suppose things would be different if she lived here but she doesn’t. Living over 8000 miles away is a problem.

    I know I didn’t travel halfway around the world to immediately cheat on her. I know I did things in good faith. I contacted her pastor(s) where I got married about this problem… and I haven’t heard a word from them… so I don’t think she has been approachable. I made friends with chosen “best man” and he has tried to contact her on my behalf and ignored him.

    She copied and pasted your article about emotional cheating. I read some of it. I have issues with sharing passwords over the internet. Identity theft is so rampant and I used to work for a computer company that did security for networks. Once a hacker has a trojan in your computer, there isn’t nothing he can’t do. So yah, more than paranoid.

    She has been very persistent at least in getting these passwords and often puts me on “silence” for days on end. Not every man on the planet has emotional cheating. I made a decision, fairly open person I think that I am. I recall I gave her my skype password and she said, “Forget it!”. Then later she recoils and says I should leave it always open… while she opens another secret skype account. I let her know I knew about it. She asked for screenshots, proof and I spent several days capturing all the history (pretty much 99% is just her) and she said, “You could have edited the results in skype.” In the proof, I made a point skype does not allow a single history item to be deleted. It’s all or nothing.

    I am just getting very frustrated. I feel I am trying and sometimes I wonder about her. She has her own house, smart girl but very emotional at times and has a mindset like no other.

    It has occured to me she has used these issues to defer or hide from herself another issue. Finally making a commitment on her own behalf. I paid for most of the wedding. What I didn’t was paid for by her brother. She organized of course her own wedding but financially didn’t have any money to put into it. I still have to contend with immigration fees if she cooperates.

    I am not so sure she truly wants to leave her country. Too scary a thought for her and I understand that. Of course she says its not that at all.

    I think with so little to base her conclusions on. When I asked her about the yahoo thing she had simply told me, “I gave you the benefit of the doubt.” That did not make me feel good because I was completely innocent as I was with the skype. Only because of her actions did I have doubt and contact another that I otherwise had not talked to in a long time.

    You should wonder why some men would seek empathy or something outside of marriage. A lot of women\men are not prepared to listen.

    My own mother and sister, I have shared emails of hers with them because I seek someone for advice. Sometimes what you may write in your article as emotional cheating is really seeking advice from another person who has a closer mindset. After all, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

    They are convinced I should get divorced, never proceed with the sponsorship. My wife has been angry at me since Nov. 7th. The last thing of course anyone wants to contemplate is divorce, particularly when I haven’t had much time in a marriage. It’s not a nice title to have. I had only 5 honeymoon days due to leqal requirements of Philippines, 21 day limit which I used to the max.

    Is there an answer in all this or at least an opinion?

  12. I like your negotiation vs compromise distinction. I hadn’t thought about it that way, and I’m glad Laurie asked what the difference was because I didn’t know either!

    Thank you for this article. My marriage has been faltering for about 5 years and we’re finally going to try marriage counseling. These tips to save your marriage are good, but we can’t do it alone.


  13. Ah, yes, I see. And, I have to add that negotiation seems more empowering, somehow. Compromise almost has a negative connotation, like you’re giving in (which is what you said, yes, I see). Thanks, Linda!

  14. Hi Laurie! I think the main difference between negotiation and compromising is the former doesn’t involve giving up on what you value whereas the latter implies giving up to reach an agreement. Compromise, in my opinion, breeds frustration because you give up on something. It is based on the perception that there isn’t enough of something to go around, so you need to get as much as you can for yourself. On the other hand, negotiation implies finding solutions in which you and your partner will be completely satisfied. Hope that clears it up. :)

  15. Thanks for your comment and tip, Linda! But I don’t see the difference between compromise and negotiation. Don’t all negotiations involve compromise?

  16. Really awesome tips, Laurie! You can actually find a lot of creative ways to save your marriage.

    Here is a tip to keep in mind: negotiate instead of compromising. Compromise creates resentment because you’re curtailing you and your partner’s need. It becomes me vs. him. You’re forced into doing something that you’re half-hearted to begin with. However, with careful negotiation, you create the “we” mindset. By negotiation, you’ll be able to know what YOU want and what your partner wants. It requires commitment to keeping your values while at the same time, respecting your partner’s values. This way, you’ll stay true to yourself and to your partner.