How to Save Your Marriage When You Feel Hopeless (Our #1 Tip)

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Saving your marriage can feel hopeless when the relationship issues pile up and you feel lost and overwhelmed.

But even if you feel all alone in trying to save your marriage, it is possible.

This article will provide tips and guidance to help you do just that—rebuild the connection with your partner and create a new path for happiness.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the what you need to do:

  • Stop focusing on your partner and concentrate on the relationship
  • Don’t blame—develop deep empathy for your partner
  • Reorient your thinking around the positives in your relationship
  • Openly discuss what’s both right and wrong in your marriage
  • Take care of yourself in your personal life

Traditional marriage advice doesn’t work for every couple—or even most.

If you feel like you’ve been trying and failing, develop the skills that let you fix your marriage even if your spouse doesn’t want to like Dr. Lee Baucom teaches in Save The Marriage.

Click the link above to start now, or keep reading to find out how to save your marriage when you feel hopeless and all alone. 

10 Crucial Tips to Save Your Marriage When You Feel Hopeless and Alone

1. Recommit to the relationship

couple touching foreheads on a bed with a quote about making a commitment to your marriage

This tip is arguably the most crucial.

When things are good between you and your spouse, it’s easy to feel stable and positive about your commitment to each other.

But when things are bad—you argue, feel disconnected and not listened to—it gets harder to feel that way.

You think about your partner, and all the ways in which they frustrate, anger and sadden you.

And suddenly your commitment feels heavy. Suffocating.

A more effective mindset to adopt if you want to save your marriage is one focused not on your spouse, but on the relationship itself. 

The relationship doesn’t upset you. The relationship is a neutral entity, and it can be as good or as difficult as you design it to be.

Give your energy to the marriage. Recommit yourself to it. Nurture it.

Ask what it needs to thrive—better communication? More emotional intimacy? Firmer boundaries?

You will find that you’re more ready and able to give everything you’ve got to your marriage when you take your commitment to it to heart.

Read Next: When Is Enough Enough in a Marriage?

2. Try to develop deep empathy for your partner

If you want things to go better in your marriage, start giving your spouse the empathy you want from them.

Yes, that’s difficult when you feel like they don’t even try to do the same for you.

But putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes can make you a more open minded and loving partner and inspire them to be the same.

Studies show that empathy motivates people to be more engaged and find solutions to difficult problems.

If you want your spouse to work with you on your marriage, feel for them. 

Show them you see where they’re coming from.

It will make them feel more connected to you, and help you both feel like your relationship is worth saving.

3. Envision the future

Where do you see yourself—and your spouse—in the next 10, 20, 30 years?

Having goals motivates us and makes us feel more confident and stable.

If you can dream of a future where you’re living a happy and fulfilling life together, use that.

See it in your mind’s eye and will it into being with refreshed hope, hard work and planning.

If you can’t see your life with your spouse in your golden years, ask yourself why.

And then try.

Because without a vision, your efforts have nowhere to go.

4. Think about why you’re feeling hopeless

couple cuddling on a couch with a quote about talking about problems with your spouse to save your marriage

Can you put your finger on why you feel like your marriage is hopeless?

Maybe you feel it’s futile because you don’t communicate or your partner seems to have checked out.

Whatever it is, you need to be aware of what’s causing your feelings in order to fix it.

Naming the problem can help you clarify what you’re working toward and give you a more tangible outcomes.

And if you’re saying to yourself, “Because I’m the only one trying,” then we highly recommend learning how to turn things around yourself in Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage Program.

5. Keep sight of the good

If you feel hopeless about your married life, remind yourself that it hasn’t always been this way.

Focusing on the problems emphasizes the negative emotions and creates a downward spiral.

So give your attention to the good in your relationship.

Think about the things that made you fall in love with your partner.

Think about the silly moments, their strengths and the ways in which they’ve made you feel proud to be their partner.

The underlying principle of this method is that what we give our attention to becomes our experience.

Change your thinking, and you will start to feel differently about your relationship—and make more choices in favor of it, rather than against it.

6. Take time to nurture your own feelings

If you don’t take care of yourself and your own mental health, you will not have the capacity to work on your marriage.

You will have a low battery for dealing with issues in your relationship and changing your behaviors.

Whether you go for walks, take a spin class or see friends, you need an outlet for your stress.

Just make sure you’re getting some time to yourself each day to do what makes you feel good and recharge your battery.

7. Give up on blame

woman pointing a finger at a man with a quote about not blaming your spouse if you want to fix a hopeless marriage

It’s hard not to point fingers when you feel like your spouse doesn’t take responsibility for their behaviors that drive you crazy.

But it won’t work. Blaming doesn’t solve problems.

When you jump straight into blaming, your spouse will reflexively point a finger back.

Suddenly you’re stuck in a negative feedback loop that creates resentment and makes everyone feel bad.

And that will keep you feeling hopeless and burned out.

So give up on blaming and instead practice talking to your spouse about what’s bothering you without criticizing.

Listen to your partner’s explanation and come up with a plan together to resolve the issue.

When you get this right the first time, you’ll be more inspired to keep doing it and feel more confident in your ability to save your marriage.

Read Also: How to Rebuild Trust in a Marriage After Lying

8. Respect each other

Respect is a cornerstone of a healthy marriage.

Not doing the basic courtesies like saying “please” and “thank you,” or looking at your phone instead of your partner when they’re talking, can really erode loving feelings.

What if you feel disrespected by your spouse? 

If that’s the case, set firm but loving boundaries.

Be honest about your needs and let them know what you won’t accept, and make sure you know what your partner’s needs are so you can respect them too.

In any relationship, you have to give respect to get it.

The more love and respect you show your partner, the safer they’ll feel to show it back.

9. Have a weekly check-in

One of the key things that can change the course of a troubled marriage is a weekly check-in where both spouses sit down to talk about how their relationship is going.

In fact, most marriages would benefit from weekly check-ins and getting on the same page about what’s working, what’s not and how you can serve each other better.

Here are some ideas for questions to discuss during your check-ins:

  • What have I done this past week to make you feel cherished and appreciated?
  • Are you happy with our division of responsibilities, and if not, how can we make it better?
  • What do you feel is working in our marriage right now?
  • In your opinion are there any unresolved arguments between us?
  • How can I support you better in the coming week?

By regularly asking questions and getting things out in the open, you can both feel heard and redirect your efforts where they’re needed to make the marriage work.

10. Accept what you can’t change

Some things are just not going to change, like your partner’s personality quirks, or certain strong needs or desires they have.

Wherever possible, accept things that are beyond your control.

Whether your partner leaves dirty socks on the bathroom floor or they won’t do something you want to do, trying to control your spouse is only going to exhaust and disappoint you.

To be clear, this is not to say that you need to accept your partner behaving badly or not paying attention to your needs.

But you will need to empower yourself to focus on the things you can do, like putting a hamper in the bathroom for the socks, or talking to your partner about what they are willing to do.

Suddenly certain problems that seem like mountains will become mole hills, and you’ll be a lot happier for it.

11. Give it time

One of the issues that leads to divorce for many couples is that they don’t give working on their marriages enough time.

They decide that six months is enough time, and if things haven’t improved by then, they’ll think about calling it quits.

But when you consider that marriage is a life-long commitment, it really puts how rushed and inflexible this expectation is into perspective.

There is no magic wand to wave and have problems go away like they never existed.

The truth is that marriages are hard work, and the work doesn’t stop because you’ve reached a desired point of happiness.

A happy marriage is not defined as one that is problem-free, but one in which you feel supported and capable of facing challenges together.

If you shift your perspective in this way, you’ll be less fixated on feeling hopeless and more willing to do what it takes to save your failing marriage.

Conclusion

If you want to know how to save your marriage when you feel hopeless, know that much of the work is internal.

Shifting your perspective alone can have a massive effect on not only your belief in your ability to save your marriage, but also how you treat your spouse.

It’s also important to maintain mutual respect and hone your communication skills to stay relevant to the issues and cultivate a healthier, happier marriage.

Use empathy and love to guide you—even if you feel like you’re trying harder than your partner is.

The more you give to your marriage, the more it can blossom and grow into the relationship you want it to be.

FAQ

Is it normal to feel hopeless in your marriage?

It is very normal to feel hopeless in a marriage. All marriages have ups and downs.

When arguments make someone feel angry or sad enough, they may start to worry about the future of their relationship.

Others find it difficult to cope with changes that might have happened over time, like financial difficulties or parenting challenges.

When these difficulties are ongoing, they become overwhelming and you start feeling helpless and hopeless.

But remember that feeling hopeless doesn’t necessarily mean that the marriage is hopeless, only that there are challenges.

Can an unhappy marriage be saved?

Yes, an unhappy marriage can be saved, but happiness can’t be the main measure of whether you succeed.

In other words, it’s not advised to leave a marriage strictly because you’re not happy.

The obvious reason is because like other emotions, happiness comes and goes, and you could end up happily married again if you stick it out.

But more importantly, your partner is not responsible for making you happy—you are.

If you recognize that and intend to focus on your marriage and making it the best it can be, then you can definitely save an unhappy marriage and thrive.

What to do if you feel stuck in an unhappy marriage?

If you feel stuck in an unhappy marriage, you have several options:

  • Level with your spouse and try to work together to resolve things
  • Practice loving detachment if you feel your relationship problems call for it
  • Nourish your friendship and amplify the good parts of your marriage
  • Focus on your life outside of your marriage

Your marriage is one part of your life, not the whole of it.

So remember that seeing friends, doing things you enjoy doing and working toward your own achievements can also make you feel fulfilled.

Read Also: How to Survive in an Unhappy Marriage

How do you save a marriage when only one is trying?

A successful marriage is one where two people are putting in the effort, but someone needs to be the catalyst.

If you want to save your marriage alone, you have to be willing to put yourself out there.

Start changing the way you interact with your spouse and follow the golden rule of treating them how you want to be treated.

When you change how you approach your spouse, you’ll completely shift your usual dynamics and they’ll have to change how they respond to you as a result.

If you want to know more, read How to Save Your Marriage.

Body language of unhappy married couples

Unhappily married couples look like they don’t want to touch each other.

They sit far apart and mostly face a different direction.

They don’t smile at one another, and often look like they’re in a bad mood.

And when they do speak to each other—and believe no one else is watching—their facial expressions are stiff or disapproving.

How do you know when your marriage is beyond repair?

Here are some indications that your marriage might be on the brink of self-destruction:

  • Zero intimacy
  • Zero effort on the part of both parties
  • Frequently daydreaming about divorce or seeing someone else
  • Lack of trust
  • Constant displays of criticism and contempt
  • Lack of respect
  • No compromise
  • No communication
  • Having incompatible needs and goals
  • Feeling like you have nothing left to give

When you get to such a dire point in your marriage but you don’t want a divorce, don’t give up—but you have to do something different.

If you’re ready to put your relationship first, get your hands on Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage guide and start doing the marriage exercises right now.

They’re designed to give your marriage the healing it needs without having to do costly marriage therapy sessions if you or your spouse don’t want to go that route.

And the best part is that once your marriage is healed, they give you the road map to keep your marriage happy and healthy, indefinitely.

Click here to check out the Save The Marriage Program.

Marlene Davis is an experienced blogger with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Her dream is to help improve people's lives and relationships through sharing of practical knowledge and evidence-based practices.