29 Best Ways to Revive Your Marriage

All marriages have ups and downs. But sometimes if we let a downturn go on too long without addressing it, it can lead to an unhappy marriage and is beyond saving. I used to wonder “how can I revive my marriage?”:

To revive a failing marriage, take the following steps:

  1. Focus on fixing problems, not your spouse
  2. Be the best version of yourself you can be
  3. Wipe the slate clean, forgive, and start fresh
  4. Spend time together daily 
  5. Go through the motions even if they don’t feel genuine at first
  6. Practice active listening, not just waiting your turn to talk

But those are just a few of the 29 tips we’ll be reviewing today!

If you’re like most people in a long-term committed relationship, your marriage or relationship will ebb and flow. It’s totally natural for it to NOT feel like it did while you were dating. That is even truer if you now have kids and have settled into life, careers, family, and building a life together.

Everything about your life is different now, so it makes sense that your relationship would feel different too. The good thing is you can commit to making positive changes at any time!

revive my marriage lg

So now let’s review my . . . 

29 Best Ways to Revive Your Marriage

1. Avoid criticizing your spouse

Being critical of your spouse will eventually lead to divorce if you do it on a regular basis.

No one likes feeling like they aren’t good enough. And if they mostly hear criticisms and not appreciation, they WILL come to resent you. If you only walk away from this article with one tip, this is the most important thing.

If you go into a relationship expecting to never hit a speedbump you’re probably in for a rude awakening.

In my house, we have a fireplace. It’s great when it’s cold outside. But the fire wasn’t going when we bought the house and it’s not going 24/7. So when we want the fire to come back after it’s gone out there are steps we have to take.

We start small with twigs and branches to get that first spark going. Then we gradually throw on bigger pieces, carefully stoking the flames and making sure to not overload it too quickly.

That causes the flames to get snuffed out. Obviously, I’m talking about fire here, but it also perfectly describes how to rekindle a broken relationship.

2. Don’t place expectations on them

When we have expectations of another person, we become judgy (been there, done that).

No one likes feeling judged. Plus, we’re almost certainly setting them up to fail. And then we both end up feeling frustrated. If your spouse feels inferior (or that you see them that way), there’s no quicker way to kill the love they feel for you.

If you can’t accept your spouse EXACTLY how they are, do both of you a favor and move on.

3. Appreciate them for what they do

The inverse of #2 is it’s important to appreciate our spouse for what they do.

And I don’t just mean things like laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Appreciate ALL aspects of them; visual, artistic, emotional, physical, and the actions they take.

Ceasing expectations and appreciating them more are the easiest ways to quickly and easily improve a relationship .

4. Talk about your problems, not each other

All couples have disagreements and problems.

But when we start talking about what our spouse is doing wrong instead of the underlying problem, egos get in the way and it’s easy to get defensive.

Instead, focus on the problem. It could be communication, sex, money, etc.

If you can’t communicate effectively, consider marriage counseling. Marriage counselors, at least the good ones, can really help a married couple learn how to communicate effectively with each other and get back to having a strong relationship.

5. Avoid accusations

Along those same lines, don’t accuse your spouse of anything unless it’s something big (like cheating) AND you are certain of their guilt.

None of us like feeling falsely accused. And hurling unfounded accusations at our spouse is the best way to build bitterness and resentment.

Instead, in most cases, you’ll get far better results asking questions instead of making statements or hurling accusations.

6. Talk about how your spouse’s actions make you feel

Even people in great relationships still argue.

So along those same lines of #5, if your spouse has done something to hurt you, don’t name-call or accuse them of being a jerk. Instead, focus on how their actions made you feel.

Let’s say they forgot to get you an anniversary present.

You could say the following with likely disastrous results:

I can’t believe you forgot our anniversary! You don’t care about me! You’re such an asshole! Why am I even married to you?

And sure, that might feel good to say in the moment.

But trust me. Your spouse will get defensive. And then they’ll likely attack back with all the things that you aren’t doing right in their eyes.

And then it will escalate and end badly.

But what if instead, you said the following:

Hey honey. I know you have so much on your plate and do so much for our family. But when you forgot our anniversary, it made me feel like you don’t care about me or value me, and it makes me feel disposable. I would love it if you could make that a bigger priority.

7. Spend more time together being present to one another

Vegging out on the couch drinking and watching TV isn’t connecting.

Sure there are times when that’s fun and appropriate. But every time you’re with your spouse (after work and getting the kids to bed) shouldn’t be like that.

So a few times a week, make sure to spend quality time together without the distraction of the TV, phones, or kids and just talk and enjoy each other’s company. It might not seem like much, but often it’s a series of little things that can bring back the passion to a marriage rather than 1 big thing.

8. Acknowledge the issue with your spouse (it’s not like they don’t know it too)

When there are problems in a marriage, it’s like the elephant in the room.

So don’t pretend it’s not there. Your spouse feels it too. Sure you might feel it more, but only someone truly oblivious won’t see it whatsoever.

So don’t be afraid to bring it up, acknowledge it, and start to talk about fixing it.

9. Know that it will take time (it’s not a quick fix; it either took time to diminish the relationship or a serious breach of trust)

Most marriage problems take time to create; they aren’t usually born overnight. Even an affair is usually the result of a significant decline in the marriage over a period of time.

So just know that problems that took time to create will take time to fix.

So the first step is to not look for miracles or quick fixes. Plan for this to take time, but you will see gradual improvements along the way.

How much time?

That depends on how big the problem is, how long you’ve been together, and how long the issue has gone unaddressed.

10. Be willing to both talk (without criticism) and be willing to listen (without defensiveness)

It’s all too easy to criticize our spouse for all the things we think they are doing wrong. And who knows? Maybe all of it’s true.

But when we feel accused and attacked, are we likely to really listen and respond?

Hell no. We get defensive and are likely going to attack back. Then it turns into a full-blown argument and can escalate out of control.

11. Court them as you did when you were dating

There’s a reason your spouse fell in love with you.

But over time, those qualities and habits can move to the back burner. So if you used to be in shape and are now heavy, get back in the gym! If you used to engage in fun hobbies that you’ve neglected, get back to doing those.

When we do things (even without our spouse) that bring us joy, we are happier. That will naturally translate into being a better spouse.

12. Do things and go to places you frequented early in the relationship

Remember all those places you used to go when you were first dating your spouse?

How many of those restaurants, bars, or activities do you regularly do now? I thought so. It’s easy over time for the “fun” to move down the priority list.

So get back to going places and doing things that were crucial to your initial falling in love process.

13. Spend time together away from technology and the kids

Connect regularly throughout the week (phones down, TV off, maybe sitting on the patio with a glass of wine just talking)

Do fun things outside the house regularly. This can be with the kids, but it’s great to do something fun with our spouse that isn’t tied to the operation of the family.

14. Forgive past issues and start fresh

We have all done things to damage our relationships.

But when our spouse has taken 100% ownership and accountability, it’s crucial that we forgive them, and move forward. That doesn’t mean you forget the transgression. But it does mean not continually bringing it up as ammunition in arguments.

If you can’t forgive your spouse, do both of your a favor and move on.

15. Surprise your spouse occasionally

Guys this is for you especially.

Women (in most cases), naturally want the man to take the lead in the relationship. So plan date nights and romantic dinners. Mix it up. Change where you do and what you do.

Keep her guessing and you’ll keep her in love.

16. Listen without just waiting your turn to talk

Real conversation has to involve you really hearing your spouse, and then expressing how you feel while they truly hear you.

Many of us don’t really listen; we just wait our turn to talk.

And when we do that, we aren’t really present to our spouse and hearing what they are saying. And if they pick up on our lack of presence they won’t feel heard.

That creates frustration and can escalate tension.

17. Touch without the expectation of sex

Sex is an important part of all romantic relationships.

But no one wants to be only thought of as a sex object. And women especially don’t want to feel like the only reason their man touches them is when he wants sex.

So cuddle. Hold hands, spoon. And do it without the expectation of it leading to sex. Believe it or not, but this can actually increase sexual desire.

18. Change up your routines

Routine is a love killer for human beings.

If you usually have date nights on a Friday, sometimes surprise her with a Saturday or a weeknight. If you often go to restaurant “A”, scour Yelp and find a new hot restaurant you’ve never been to.

Avoid the routine and show her you put some thought into her!

19. Go on weekly date nights

Along those same lines, make sure you do have regular date nights.

Kids, family, and friends are great. But at the nucleus of that should be you and your spouse. And it can’t always be about everyone else.

Date and court each other regularly to keep the spark alive (or bring it back).

20. Guys – make a f’ing decision!

Guys this is another one for you.

Women love strong, confident guys. That’s no surprise. So if you’ve become one of those guys who just says “I dunno what do you want to do?” when your wife asks what you want to do or what restaurant you want to go to, it’s time to man up!

Make decisions. Be decisive.

That doesn’t mean being domineering or never letting her give input. But make a f’ing decision! Trust me. Your wife will love you for it and it will help her feel safer and more comfortable in your masculine presence.

21. Focus on being your best

At the end of the day though, while we might be desperate to learn how to fix a broken marriage, all we can really change is ourselves:

  • How we act
  • The words we choose to communicate with
  • The way we respond or react to what’s happening around us

So if you know you need to rekindle your marriage and your spouse is oblivious, just focus on yourself and your own actions.

Ask for what you want. Be clear but be kind.

While it’s great to go to couples counseling together, seeing a therapist on your own has great benefits too. So if your spouse won’t go to therapy together, don’t just throw in the towel; seek therapy on your own.

At the very least you’ll feel better and you may gain clarity about your role in the marriage going stale. Make no mistake; it takes 2 to make a marriage and it takes 2 to run it into the ground.

22. Have sex regularly

I said it before. An active sex life is a HUGELY important part of all romantic relationships.

But careers, kids, and other elements have a way of moving sex to the backburner in long-term marriages and relationships.

So we have to commit to making it a priority.

Schedule it if you must. But sex at least 1-2 times a week (minimum) is crucial for a couple’s long-term happiness. If you have issues with desire or ED; talk to your doctor and get it fixed.

Almost any issue can be fixed with focus and effort.

23. Have a little time apart (for couples who do everything together, one will often end up feeling smothered)

We can’t spend 24/7 with our spouse and expect them to stay interested in us.

After all, what are you going to talk about?? Now, it also doesn’t work to do everything separately. So there has to be a balance. So consider this:

  • Each of you separately has a night out with friends 2-4 times a month
  • You both hang out with friends as a couple 1-3 times a month
  • Family night with the kids weekly
  • Date night once a week
  • Each of you engages in a hobby 1-2 times a week
  • Each of you hits the gym, yoga class, or a sport 1-3 times a week

24. Really connect with your spouse

Sitting and sleeping in close proximity is not connecting.

Often in families, one person is more the breadwinner while the other holds down the family and household. Genders and stereotypes have changed a lot over the decades, so I’m not going to make any assumptions.

But chances are one of you in your relationship leans one way or the other. And vice versa.

In that scenario, it’s quite common for one spouse to see the obvious while the other remains oblivious. And when one spouse doesn’t feel heard and understood, that’s when relationship problems start to develop.

25. Take 100% ownership and accountability for your actions

Apologize – It’s CRUCIAL to take ownership if you blow up after a hard day, do or say things you don’t mean, etc. Don’t just blow those moments over and don’t try and justify the wrong.

Take ownership, apologize fully, and move on.

And whatever you do, after you say you’re sorry, never, EVER, follow it with a “but”. When we say “I’m sorry, but . . . ” we’re shirking responsibility and basically trying to lay fault elsewhere.

And when we don’t take ownership, it is virtually impossible for our spouse to forgive us and it diminishes trust.

26. Make an effort

Marriage is hard work (click to read my article).

In that linked article, I talk about exactly why marriage shouldn’t be easy, but how to make the work you put into it truly effective and not be grueling.

But anything worth doing takes energy, focus, and time. In a marriage, generally speaking, damage or neglect robs us of our feelings of love.

Being married takes time, effort, focus, and attention. A great marriage doesn’t just “happen”. If yours isn’t what it was or could be, commit to rekindling your marriage today!

27. Fake it ’till you make it

Love does ebb and flow throughout a marriage.

Sometimes in the course of it, especially after damaging behavior like an affair, the love goes away. Think of your heart as a finite space where love exists.

As damaging things happen, slowly the love pours out and gets replaced by apathy, anger, or even hate.

But with time, energy, and focus, you CAN fall back in love.

The key is to fake it ’till you make it. I know that phrase sometimes gets a bad rap, but hear me out. When you go through the motions, you are programming your mind and building a pattern into your thoughts and brain.

It WILL feel unnatural at first. It may not be enjoyable.

But when you first learned to do ANYTHING, it felt uncomfortable at first too. Whether that was driving, playing tennis, or learning how to play a musical instrument, it didn’t feel comfortable at first.

Why should love be any different?

But like learning how to be good at anything, EVENTUALLY, it clicked. You got it and it started to make sense, feel right, and be a part of who you are.

Your marriage can be like that too!

28. Be upfront about your feelings

We have to be willing to really share our feelings and bare our souls if we’re going to repair our marriage and rebuild it.

When we avoid uncomfortable conversations, we’re just delaying the inevitable. But it can also build resentment and escalate the tension unnecessarily.

So don’t shy away from uncomfortable feelings. Just be willing to express them in a productive manner.

29. Avoid doing the 4 most damaging things to your spouse

What damages a marriage?

According to renowned marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, there are 4 pillars that destroy a marriage or relationship.

He calls them the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse (click to read my article which details the 4).  I have a previous post on this as well that is well worth diving into to learn more.

Those 4 things are:

  1. Criticism
  2. Contempt
  3. Defensiveness
  4. Stonewalling

Each of these areas is ways of behaving or interacting with each other that destroy the relationship over time.

Thus when you want to learn how to rekindle a broken marriage, eliminating those 4 destructive behaviors is essential. Your marriage might be able to survive just one of these, but often they go hand in hand.

Criticism & Contempt

When you and your spouse have an argument do you name call, drop profanity, or hurl insults? Instead of sticking to the topic you’re arguing over do you take jabs at the other’s personality or appearance?


If they accuse you of something do you redirect it elsewhere or make accusations back instead of just owning your mistake?

The most common form of this is to apologize for a wrong but to backhand it by adding “but” at the end of it.

“I’m sorry I did that, but it wouldn’t have happened in the first place if you hadn’t . . . .”

I’m sure that will sound familiar to some.


Lastly, we have stonewalling, which is essentially avoiding your spouse or the argument.  The classic Silent Treatment (click to read my detailed article).

I’ve covered this deceptively deadly relationship killer before as well. If you or your spouse have issues with avoidance, you must check out that post and put an end to this before it’s too late!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a comfortable relationship in trouble?

No. A comfortable relationship is not in trouble as long as neither partner views it as boring or stale. But even a well-functioning comfortable relationship can benefit from surprise date nights, changes in routines, and occasional deep conversations without the distractions of phones, TV, or kids.

There is definitely a difference between 2 people co-existing in a comfortable rhythm and 2 people headed for divorce.

But it’s totally natural 10+ years into marriages or long-term relationships for 2 people to get comfortable.

It’s not too late even if you have talked about divorce.  I’ve posted previously about the Top 3 Reasons for Divorce (click to read my surprising article).  So if you are moving in that direction, I highly recommend you read that post!

In that post, I walk you through each of those top 3 reasons, what the divorce rate is for each of the 3, and what you can do to come back from them if you find them at work in your marriage.

A “comfortable” relationship simply means:

  1. You’re in sync with each other and drama and fights are few
  2. You both enjoy the life you have built
  3. You’re just cruising along loving the journey

People in this boat aren’t unhappy.

True they may not quite have the agonizing passion they felt when they first met. But their love hasn’t faded and they aren’t desperately looking for ways to revive their marriage.

But the need to rekindle your marriage isn’t always as obvious as one might think.

That’s especially true if we are focused on a career. We work long hours, maybe travel some, come home, grab a cocktail, and veg out on the couch with the family watching TV until it’s time for bed.

Repeat daily.

There’s nothing wrong with the above scenario, per se, but nothing about that is nurturing your marriage.  You aren’t focusing on your spouse.

Practicing Empathetic Listening Skills (click to read my article) goes a long way to improve the connection with your spouse, so if you or your partner often don’t feel heard by the other, take a minute and check out my post on that.

Do couples reconcile after separation?

No. 87% of couples who separate do not end up reconciling. While some couples do reconcile after separation, the odds strongly favor divorce. So it’s far better to try and fix a failing marriage before one spouse moves out.

When you’ve separated and one person has physically moved out, it can be much harder to reconcile.

The good news is that it sends a clear message to the other spouse that this is serious and something needs to change if the marriage is going to survive.

The bad news is that when you lead largely separate lives, it takes more work, time, and energy to start the reconciliation process and keep it going.

It also costs a lot more financially and if you have kids it puts an incredible strain on them (as well as both of you).

Unfortunately, the statistics don’t support separation as part of the process of trying to rekindle a broken marriage.

According to DivorceStatistics, a whopping 87% of couples who separate end up getting divorced.

Thus, if you or your spouse do separate with hopes of fixing things, you only have about a 13% chance of success. Obviously, if you are in a situation where your spouse is physically abusive or cruel, for your own safety you should move out ASAP (and the marriage probably can’t be saved anyway).

But for most of us who want to save and rekindle our marriage, moving out is a BAD idea.

What is a loveless marriage?

A loveless marriage is one where, over time, the love in the marriage has just naturally faded away. It could be due to an affair or abuse, but often it’s just from a lack of paying attention.

Lots of things can cause love to diminish.

My own marriage has definitely seen its share of challenges.  There was a time when my wife said to me “I love you but I’m not sure I’m still in love with you”.

Luckily that was not recently.

Believe me, that hurt.  It was a wake-up call for sure. I could have been angry. Or said hurtful things back. But she was just being honest.  She wasn’t trying to hurt me.

Learning to be honest with your spouse and to receive honest, heartfelt feedback graciously are excellent traits to have or hone.

In my case, I was working a ton. I was also going out after work with friends for drinks. My wife was home alone with our girls. We’d also moved states for my work 3 times in the prior 15 months so my wife also probably felt somewhat alone and isolated.

She had quit drinking alcohol a few months earlier while I hadn’t (yet).

Thus all of that set the table for widening the rift between us. I thought working hard to provide financially and otherwise was enough. It wasn’t. I needed to rekindle love in my marriage, but at the time I was too oblivious to see it.

How to fix a marriage after infidelity

For the cheater, here are the steps to turn things around:

  • Be 100% accountable for your actions – No excuses, no shifting blame
  • Ended all contact with the other man or woman (changing phone numbers and my email address, blocking them on social media)
  • Allowed your spouse to go through the grieving stages (at their pace with no pressure from you to move past it)
  • Focus on changing yourself (to show them through your actions that you can be the person they fell in love with)

I’m in a unique position to speak here as I cheated on my wife in 2013.

As I alluded to in the above passage, our marriage wasn’t great at the time. Our communication had deteriorated and my wife had recently quit drinking (but I had not).

It was the lowest point in my life and certainly for our marriage.

We could have broken up and separated our family. But instead (luckily) my wife and I decided to rebuild our marriage.

The good news is we went through the turmoil and came out significantly stronger than we ever were before.

If you want to see all the crucial steps we took, check out my most shared post on Pinterest about How to Save a Marriage After Infidelity (click to read my article).

Does sexless marriage lead to divorce?

In most cases, yes. A sexless marriage will end in divorce. A sexless marriage is a sign that one partner has a physical and/or mental issue they have not dealt with. The other spouse will eventually get frustrated at both the lack of intimacy, but also their spouse’s inability to deal with the underlying issue.

Intimacy, both physical and emotional is CRUCIAL for a successful long-term marriage.

While I’m not talking specifically about sex, I also don’t want to diminish the role of sex in a healthy marriage either. It’s vitally important that spouses are having sex at least once a week.

But having said that, it’s also crucial that both spouses are having their emotional needs met too and finding ways to connect that don’t have the expectation of sex.

So if your marriage is lacking intimacy and you’ve wondered “Can a Marriage Last Without Intimacy (click to read my article)?”, I urge you to explore one of my newer posts that answers that very question.

How can I fight for my marriage alone?

Sometimes our spouse seems unwilling to make an effort to fix the marriage. You can fight for your marriage alone by:

  • Start going through the motions – go places you went early in the marriage, go on dates, put the phones down, and make time for each other
  • Wipe the slate clean – Cast aside judgments, blame, and other things you may be feeling towards them
  • Focus on being the best version of yourself – You can’t change anyone; you can only change yourself. So don’t worry about what you can’t change. Just be you at your best.
  • Don’t pressure your spouse
  • Avoid being critical of your spouse
  • Give them space, but be clear you want to fix the marriage

Maybe our spouse is oblivious or maybe they’ve grown apathetic and just aren’t willing to fight to save your marriage. That’s a rough spot to be in; isolating, frustrating, and lonely.

Start by telling them how you feel. Rather than placing expectations on them or getting angry, just start by talking about your feelings.

It’s OK to describe how your spouse’s actions (or inactions) make you feel but bring it back to how it makes you feel. That’s key to them not feeling attacked and getting defensive.

If they are oblivious you have to paint a picture of what’s going wrong in the marriage so they can see it.

Even if their perception is totally different (which is OK as they are entitled to their opinion), they should be crystal clear on how you feel about it.

If they are apathetic, then you need to give them a glimmer of hope of what your marriage could be like if you could regain what you’ve lost.

How do I reconnect with my husband after having a baby?

A baby causes physical, hormonal, emotional, and mental changes to a mother. It can take 6 weeks or more after giving birth before a wife is ready to be intimate again with her husband.

Here’s how to reconnect with your husband after having a baby:

  • Be clear with your husband about what you’re feeling
  • Let them know the medical recommendations for how long it will be before you’re ready to have sex
  • Also, be clear that aside from being physically ready, you need to be mentally ready
  • Connect with your husband in other ways outside of sex
  • Don’t feel guilty; this is a natural part of motherhood
  • Understand that any trauma that happened at birth may delay intimacy

I have 3 kids, so I’m a great position to know exactly how this feels.

As guys, we sometimes are clueless about what a woman is going through after giving birth to a child. We see the child, but we don’t always understand the changes your body is going through both physically and hormonally.

So it’s crucial that you talk to us; let us in.

That’s not the same as sex, but it is an intimate connection that is better than none. Talk to us about what you’re feeling and going through. If your sex drive has changed, talk about it.

If you gained weight and feel unattractive, talk to us about it!

Guys are naturally fixers, so at the start of the conversation, make it clear you just want us to listen and not solve the issues. But keeping it bottled up will only make both of you miserable.

Then, maybe 6-8 weeks following the birth of the baby, do try and recommit to regular sex, as it’s an important part of a healthy marriage.

If you aren’t quite feeling it emotionally, it’s still OK to engage in it as it will help to reengage your sex drive and it will help to reconnect you to your husband too.

Final thoughts

We don’t have to settle

We don’t have to accept that passion is gone never to return.  You CAN fix your marriage and rekindle love!  You simply need to re-prioritize what’s important.

To restore love, we simply have to put aside expectations of our spouse, judgments, and criticisms.

It’s totally ok to ask for what you need and express how it makes you feel if they let you down, but just having a long list of what you expect from your spouse is likely to frustrate you and them and ensure they don’t measure up.


  • Take some time each week to do something similar to what you did when dating (music, restaurants, hangouts, games, etc)
  • Each day, think of one thing you appreciate about your spouse and write it down
  • Do something small for your spouse each day that lets them know you are thinking about them (without the expectation of getting anything in return)
  • Hug, connect and say I love you every day (multiple times a day)

As kids, careers, new houses, cars, material things, and life came along, your relationship got prioritized down on the to-do list. But none of those things mean much without someone to share it with.

So learning how to fix these marital problems is crucial!

Image by Anastasiya Babienko from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell