6 Tips to Smooth Out a Marital Rough Patch

rough patch in marriage
JGI/Tom Grill/CreativeRF/Getty

Has your marriage hit a rough patch? You are not alone. There’s no reason to panic. Many marriages do hit troubled times at some point. You may need some ideas to help smooth this rough patch out. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are in such a situation.  

Be Mindful of Your Commitment to Each Other

Commitment to each other is essential to having a good marriage.  That means putting up with each other in good times and bad. But commitment should not be an excuse for people to disrespect or neglect each other. Commitment does not mean handcuffs. Commitment in marriage is a pledge to love each other and stay supportive in good times and bad. This promise also implies that each party will keep faithful to their vows of acting with long-term love and respect. It means the choices you make will have each other's best interest in mind. 

Have a Shared Vision

Marriage partners are a team working toward the same vision. It should not be about one partner acting without regard for the feelings or interests of the other. It isn't about obtaining some prize and abusing or neglecting it. It isn't about one partner being domineering. Nor is it about one spouse expecting the other will make them happy and meet all their needs. If you believe one person can meet all your needs, you are being unrealistic and are sure to be disappointed.

Focus on the Big Picture

When you or your spouse become agitated or irritable, and the marriage waters seem rough, it can be easy to become self-centered and decide the marriage isn't worth the effort. Being overly negative is something you can do in almost any situation. But focusing too much on what’s wrong and what’s missing is bound to bury you and possibly ruin your relationship.

Foster a Healthy Dependency

Having real emotional integrity, though, means looking at the bigger picture which might include asking what need is not being met in your life or in your spouse's life.  Once identified, there is something to address, work on, and seek to correct. It’s perfectly okay to ask for your emotional needs to be met by your spouse. Be prepared to offer the same in return. You both should actively strive to depend on each other and not deny your basic human needs for emotional connectivity. At the same time, know that you can’t burden one person alone to meet all of your needs.

Are You the Problem?

Neither of you may be the problem. Typical challenges of life have a way of seeping into relationships.  When one spouse is over-stressed, worn out, feeling shot down at work, feeling like a personal failure in some area, they are bound to become difficult to live with.  It's critical to separate out the actual cause of the distress. It may have little to do with the marriage at all.  If the problem or need can be identified, then you can become creative in trying to resolve the problems together. 

Neither of you is the enemy. There’s no need to take what was said or done personally. Try to reach out to each other with love and caring instead. If baggage from your past keeps cropping up, make an effort to work on it if it is impacting how you interact today. 

Keep Tabs on Your Emotional Bank Account

You should already have enough “savings” in your emotional bank account to get through a marital rough patch relatively unscathed. This means you have been actively nurturing your marriage throughout your lives together. After the rough patch is done, you may need to focus on making a few more deposits! Give your partner as much attention, affirmation, and applause as you can when you have it to give. And when you need it for yourself, ask for it.

These helpful tips should guide you through what is a relatively “normal” time in any long-term relationship such as marriage. Having the commitment to your partner is key, but the commitment should be to work through issues patiently. It also means you both make conscientious decisions together to find your way through this period of time.