How To Survive A Bad Marriage Without Divorce

by Alexandra CraciunJuly 9, 2021

What do you do when you want to survive a marriage that seems bound to fail but you don’t want to divorce either?

For better or for worse, until death do us part. Right?

And you’re probably here because your marriage is lingering on a knife-edge. You and your spouse are deciding between divorce or trying to save your relationship. 

You may have gone through many emotions and feel like you’ve lost the love you had towards your partner. He may have hurt you beyond measure, or you may have been a victim of abuse. 

Nowadays, almost half of all marriages do not survive and end up in divorce. It seems that about 40% of marriages have lost the fight, which is not a small number. 

A bad marriage can result from poor communication, lack of intimacy, and many other causes. 

Although it’s tempting to start over or give up, getting a divorce is never the first solution. There are many steps that you can follow before resorting to that. 

Some marriages last 70 years, while others last just one year or less. You may ask, why do some marriages fail when others succeed?

Note: Alexandra is a professional Psychotherapist with specialized knowledge in relationships.

– Worried Lovers

3 Reasons why marriages fail

1. Partners drift apart.

Over time, people distance themselves from each other. The reasons vary. 

Day-to-day life is distracting enough as it is, and many things we do slowly become habits that we go through mindlessly. 

Before we know it, we forget to put in the effort that our relationships need to grow. It’s like forgetting to water our plants; they eventually die out.

And it’s no wonder. There are many other things to take care of and handle, and our partners and friends stop being a priority. 

Responsibilities, expectations, and pragmatism replace deep connections; instead, they should all live in perfect harmony.

2. Conflicts are handled poorly.

In order for a marriage to survive and avoid a possible divorce, conflicts must be dealt with properly.

There are some basic entanglements from which all negative interactions between couples arise. 

Conflict can be good or bad, but it affects a relationship when the husband or wife can’t, as they say, “fight right.” 

That is when a dispute has no resolution or repair attempts. Couples must be able to soothe after having an intense argument.

When conflict isn’t handled properly, your partner stops communicating lovingly.  Defensiveness, Criticism and Contempt, and Stonewalling make their way in and ruin everything. 

Criticizing, insulting, blaming, or withdrawing from your partner alters connection and makes no room for true friendship.

To have a happy marriage, both partners need to be assertive and kind when expressing their needs and sorrows. 

3. Severe issues in the relationship.

Infidelity is the number one reason marriages dissolve; however, other possible causes and factors contribute to this. 

People state lack of communication and conflict, abuse, or substance abuse as contributing factors for divorce, but sometimes the reasons go far beyond that.

Physical abuse is often the last straw for partners that have been in long-term toxic and abusive relationships. 

People divorce even if it doesn’t get to that point. There are ways to know if enough is enough and avoid dire situations.

How to repair your marriage

1. Take blame out of your vocabulary.

When you start to identify that your marriage is in trouble, it can be challenging to figure out why. 

You may start blaming yourself or your partner for the issues you are having or finding other reasons for your dissatisfaction. 

Blame shouldn’t have a place in this equation.  You can be sad, angry, and jealous, but you have to understand why your marriage is failing.

And that goes beyond choosing a scapegoat or finding the truth. There’s only one truth: your relationship is hurting. Your focus should be on how to minimize the hurt. 

2. Balance closeness with distance.

Collaboration is as important as independence. Give yourself time outside of the relationship and then come together with your spouse.

 A little bit of a break will help you think about who you are outside of your marriage and establish if your values and view fit your partner’s.

If you are overwhelmed by your problems, a break is mandatory for self-soothing and restructuring your thoughts about the situation. 

3. Develop a close friendship with your partner.

Most studies emphasize the importance of developing a deep friendship with your partner. 

Luckily, friendship is not just a vague concept or a feeling you should have towards someone. 

It is a concept that goes beyond the ephemeral, shallow realities of day-to-day life. That’s because you have to build it brick by brick every day. 

Ok, ok, that’s a little bit vague. How can you actually develop a deep friendship with your partner? Well, in several ways: 

having deep, meaningful conversations with your wife or husband.

Have conversations without looking for solutions or telling your partner what to do. 

So many topics we talk about are burdened by anxiety and agitation, and it’s a killer for connection and closeness. 

Asking open-ended questions

This is a continuation of the former point. 

It essentially means asking questions that don’t require a yes or no answer and showing genuine interest in what your partner has to say back (by actively listening).

Getting to know your partner’s lovemaps 

 Knowing the most important and meaningful aspects of your partner’s life, as well as being familiar with their world – e.g., best friends, enemies, hopes and dreams, hobbies, fears, and so much more.

Showing your appreciation and respect 

Showing fondness verbally, as well as with minor day-to-day signs of affection. 

Consistency is key when showing your partner you still feel fondness for them.

4. Go to therapy.

I can give you endless advice on how to work on your marriage, and you can find a vast amount of resources online. 

But nothing will help you heal better and bring more meaning to your love life than going through the whole process of therapy together with your partner. 

Plus, there is no such thing as a textbook solution. Every marriage deserves a tailored approach, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all attitude. 

Every couple comes to therapy with a different set of problems and a detailed history. And every partner in that couple is a separate, unique person with a personal life story unlike any other.

 And every issue a couple has can be traced back to its roots, which is often in people’s past.

Because of how multiple factors come into play, healing can be a long, difficult road that you have to honor with your patience.

If you want to learn more about therapy and its potential benefits, you can read more about it here.

Marriage is not always easy.

Willingness to change is the first thing that must be clear from the beginning. 

Being married is supposed to be a delightful and joyful experience. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. 

It’s certainly not the case in every second of every moment of our life.

Marriage is poorly represented in general – even though there are exceptions.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Before Midnight and found it way too honest and realistic, you are definitely married! 

That’s because, contrary to popular belief, marriage is hard work. It’s sometimes tiring, sad, pitiful, and just no fun. 

Being in a marriage for the long term doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never be at risk of suffering; after all, relationships are the most significant risks we take.

Repercussions of a bad marriage

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Might as well leave it at that, ” or “it’s good enough as it is,” Well, I’d strongly advise you to think again. 

A bad marriage can affect every aspect of your life – other relationships, your professional life, your mental health, even your life expectancy. 

Unfortunately, once you become accustomed to a low level of happiness in your marriage, chances of it surviving greatly lower, and the chances of divorce, naturally, go up.

But I genuinely think you should escape this dark hole where couples go to die, and you should do it quickly!

Research shows that the single most crucial factor that can guarantee a satisfying life is good interpersonal relationships – that is, the relationships we have with the people close to us.

That’s why fostering good relationships in our life should be our top priority.

Should I stay or should I go?

It seems that marital discord can be resolved, more often than not, as long as partners get a helping hand.

However, not everyone has this kind of luck. There are situations when two people should not be in a relationship and should give up on their marriage.

If you feel like your marriage won’t survive, consider ending the marriage and asking for a divorce but only if you don’t have other options. 

However, make sure you’ve tried everything and that you put in the work before giving up your weapons. 

It’s important to know when to fight for your relationship and when to let go. Keep in mind that divorce should only be your last resort.

If you wish to learn whether or not you should divorce, you can learn more about it here.

Marriage is a leap of faith! Your spouse is human, and you are human. As such, marriage can fail, and you have to accept that.

Sometimes a couple deals with other issues that may have affected the relationship, like infidelity, abuse, or mental health issues.

Saving your marriage is way more satisfying than throwing it to the curb. But if you think that there is no hope, follow that instinct remorselessly. 

Recommended: Can Therapy Help Save Your Relationship?

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