7 Ways to Build a Better Marriage

Rebuilding your marriage may take less time and be more fun than you think! These signs you can revive your love and rebuild your relationship will help not only with saving your marriage, but also seeing your spouse – and yourself – more clearly.

“I want to save my marriage, but it was going nowhere from the beginning,” says Jeannie on Are You Married, Yet Alone? How to Cope With a Lonely Marriage. “When I look back, and I’ve known that for some time. Just what to do about it is a hard choice for me. Can I make my marriage work? My husband has never seemed to care about showing love, touching, hugging, intimacy. I think it was me keeping our relationship going, building our marriage and making it work. After a couple of years I stopped trying to save our marriage and he never made an effort. Pretty sad. I never got married to have someone pay my way in life and he sort of acts like he’s a great husband because he supports me financially…I just wanted a husband who loved me. I don’t think I can just save my marriage when we had nothing to begin with, do you?”

Saving your marriage requires commitment and work on from both partners. More than that, rebuilding a relationship work requires a healthy dose of love, hope, faith, perseverance, and the belief that – together – you CAN save your marriage and rebuild the life you hoped for when you said your wedding vows.

The older I get – and the longer I’m married – the more I realize that you don’t need more information on how to save your marriage. You already know the basics: good communication, honesty, respect, cooperation, unity even when you disagree, mutual goals, etc.

“No, Laurie, I don’t know what to do about my relationship,” you say. “I came here because I’m asking how do I save my marriage? I thought you’d be able to tell me the truth about rebuilding my relationship.”

I can give you lots of tips for saving your marriage – and you’ll get the same relationship advice everywhere else. Because there really is nothing new under the sun. So, instead, I’ll share a few thoughts on your chances of success when you try to save a rocky relationship.

How to Rebuild Your Marriage

In response to my article about emotional disconnection in marriage, a “She Blossoms” reader said she recognizes she’s in a bad cycle with her husband. She wants to learn how to break the cycle.

And that, my friend, is one of the best ways to determine if you can save your marriage: are you aware of the roles you and your husband are playing? And, are you willing to learn how to do a different dance so you can rebuild your relationship?

1. Learn the art of healthy battle in marriage

“All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love,” said Ann Landers. “Good battle is objective and honest. Good [arguments] are healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership.”

How well do you and your hubby argue? If you’re insulting and critical, demeaning and demanding when you fight, then you’re not focused on building a healthy relationship. Rather, you just want to win the fight.

A sign you can save your marriage isn’t that you and your husband already know how to have healthy arguments that clear the air and allow for honest expression. Rather, the marriage-saving sign is that you and he are willing to learn how to communicate better. So, you tell me: are you willing to relearn how to talk to your husband? Is he willing to relearn how to communicate with you? Those are strong signs your marriage can be saved.

2. Notice when you are distancing yourself emotionally and physically

This was my biggest struggle after I married: I tend to retreat and go silent when I feel insecure, scared, or worried about my relationship with my husband. We never had to have the “we need to save our marriage” talk, but I knew that if I kept walking down the path of emotional and physical distance, I’d lead us to a relationship crisis.

Emotional and physical distance are signs your marriage needs work. Learn how to recognize when you’re pulling away from your husband, and encourage yourself to do the opposite. So instead of retreating into your shell, explore why you want to pull away. You don’t have to talk to him right away, but you should be honest with yourself.

Your honesty and authenticity has to start with you. If you can’t be honest with yourself first – if you can’t admit the truth to yourself – then you won’t be able to share it with your husband. But if you can admit to yourself what you know deep in your heart – and you have the courage and strength to share your truth with your husband – then not only is it a sign you can save your marriage, it’s also an indication of emotional health.

3. Decide as a couple if marriage counseling will help

In her comment at the beginning of this post, my reader said she’s always been alone in trying to make her marriage work. Her husband – according to her – has never tried to build a healthy relationship, much less save their marriage. She didn’t mention marriage or couples therapy, and I don’t blame her. She’d be there alone (according to her comments about her relationship with her husband).

Can You Save Your Marriage? 6 Signs You Can Revive Your Love
Can You Save Your Marriage?

What about you – have you and your husband talked about how to save your marriage? What would happen if you said, “Harry, I want to save my marriage. Since you’re my husband and I married you because I love you, how do you feel about talking to a counselor about building a healthier, happier marriage?”

Maybe that’s not the exact script you should use when you approach your husband about marriage counseling. But, a strong sign you can save your marriage is the willingness to at least talk about going to couples therapy together. One spouse alone can’t save a marriage. An objective third party – a relationship or couples counselor – can help you make your marriage work by bridging communication gaps and helping you see your marriage clearly.

If one or both of you object to therapy, read How to Save Your Marriage Without Couples Counseling.

4. Decide what you need and want from your marriage

If you and your husband are working towards saving your marriage, then you both have to learn what you want – and need – from your relationship. You both need to be clear about your hopes and expectations.

For example, my reader wants her husband to at least try to build a healthy relationship with her. She feels like she doesn’t even care about saving their marriage because she believes she’ll just be working alone. She is a wife who needs her husband to take more of a leadership role in their relationship.

What do you need from your husband, your marriage, your life together as a couple? Another sign your marriage can be saved is how well you know yourself – and your expectations of your husband and relationship. The same goes for your husband: what are his needs and wants from you? Ask him – even if you think you know. Especially if you think you know what your husband wants and needs, because you can’t believe everything you think.

5. Explore your expectations of your husband

Let’s face it: you’ll never be 100% satisfied with what you get from your marriage. You expect too much. We all do. We expect unwavering and focused attention, a constant show of love, a steady stream of support, close intimate heart-to-heart discussions, and — above all — insight into what we really think and feel, so we don’t have to explain our thoughts and feelings to our husbands.

Right? I thought so. No wonder you’re disappointed with your marriage and your husband! He can’t possibly give you all that. So, a sign that you can successfully save your marriage is your willingness to adjust your expectations so they conform to reality. Perhaps the best way to build a better marriage — and one of my favorite relationship tips — is about what you can give to your marriage (not necessarily what you can get).

6. Look upwards

“Lord, save my marriage!” is a cry I’ve heard more than once…but it’s not enough. Don’t get me wrong: praying for your husband and inviting God into your relationship is wise, good, and holy! But God doesn’t do all the work, and I don’t think He’ll save your marriage without you meeting Him at least halfway.

How is your relationship with God? Are you on speaking terms? Is He part of your daily life? If so, you have a much better chance of not just saving your marriage, but saving yourself from unnecessary fear, worry, angst, drama, guilt, and shame. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you won’t be alone in your marriage. A healthy sense of God isn’t necessarily a sign you can save your marriage – it’s even better! It’s a sign you’ve been saved by Jesus, which means everything else in your life can be fixed, redeemed, restored. Even your marriage.

7. Accept the reality of your marriage

“I will be married to my husband two years in August, and we have a baby girl,” says Pam on 10 Signs of a Bad Relationship. “He puts me down on a regular basis, makes me feel unworthy of his presence especially when other people are around. I try every day extremely hard just to get his attention and to make him happy any way I can. I’m truly broken. I now see, no matter how much you love someone you can’t make that person love you back. My heart just bleeds for my child. I don’t want to tear her family apart but I don’t feel like I deserve a life of constant hurt! I’m lost and confused. I love him with all of my heart and it’s just not enough.”

One of the most important things she said is, “no matter how much you love your husband, you can’t make him love you back.” Instead of trying to make your husband love you, learn how to give yourself the love and compassion you need. The better you feel about yourself – the more you love and cherish yourself – the more love you will receive from others in your life.

The healthier and more centered you are, the better all your relationships will be – even your marriage. Here are a few tips on self-identity and love: How to Be Yourself in Your Relationship.

What do you think, how do you feel? I welcome your thoughts on these signs you can save your marriage in the comments section below.

Help Saving Your Marriage

Can You Save My Marriage? 6 Ways to Assess Your Chances

In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert John Gottman offers strategies and resources to help couples collaborate more effectively to resolve any problem, whether dealing with issues related to sex, money, religion, work, family, or anything else.

Gottman is a marriage expert and couples therapist who has successfully saved thousands of relationships from self-destruction. Learn from him, take his marriage advice, because he can help you.

Here’s a quick tip for saving your marriage, from Gottman’s book:

“In their day-to-day lives, [healthy married couples] have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones. They have what I call an emotionally intelligent marriage.”

Do your positive thoughts about your husband – and your relationship – outweigh the negative ones? If so, you have a better chance of saving your marriage! Not because you love your husband, but because you respect him, you’re grateful for him, and you focus on his strengths. This will take you a long way towards building a strong, healthy relationship with him.

If you’re coping with a betrayal in your marriage, read How to Rebuild Trust in Your Husband After Infidelity.


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10 thoughts on “7 Ways to Build a Better Marriage”

  1. “Admit when you’re wrong. Shut up when you’re right.” – marriage therapist and relationship expert John M. Gottman

  2. Dear Iola,

    I missed your comment, and I’m sorry. It’s been a long time since you were here…did you sign up for followup comments? Were you and your boyfriend able to build a better relationship, or did it end?


  3. I’m only 20. I have only been with one man and been with him for almost 3 years. The last 6months or so have been really rocky! We broke up for our second long stretch. I tried so hard to move on this time but jst can’t. Now we r back togethter. He makes me happy and I know he loves me. We had a very unhealthy relationship most times. I see how it needs to change. He does (somewhat) too. This man has put me thru a lot. I truly wish I could jst let go! And how can I want him but wish I didn’t!? I dnt get it.? I truley love him. But love is blind. I see what needs to be done after reading things like this! But how can I get him to work with me! That’s where it always stands still. I’m holding us up! He threatens to leave… but I kno he loves me. He is lost! I am lost! But when we talk its always me who has to change. How can he not see his bad side when everyone else can!?

  4. The first secret – talk about your marriage – can be the most difficult one. But, the very act of talking about your relationship can make it better and healthier!

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m glad these tips for building a better marriage may be helpful for you in the future! Let me know when you get married :-)

  6. I will surely take these down and will look back in here when I am married. This might be a powerful help for me and my future husband.

  7. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Dee,

    I’m sorry to hear about your husband…16 years is a long time to be married to man who doesn’t give your needs a second thought. And I agree: you can’t build a better marriage by yourself.

    While I can’t tell you if you should leave your husband, I can ask if you want your life to stay exactly as it is right now. Do you want to be married to this man for another 16 years…without expecting him to change?

    Also, I encourage you to take control of the parts of your life that you CAN control. Get a better job, go back to school, take a water color course, travel, join a hiking group or book club…there are things in your life that you have control over. You may not be able to change your husband, but you can change other parts of your life!

    I wish you all the best — let me know how you’re doing…


  8. It’s difficult to build a better marriage if your husband doesn’t care about you. We’ve been married for 16 years, and he doesn’t give my thoughts or needs a second thought.

    Should I leave my husband?