How to Rekindle Your Marriage – 15 Proven Steps

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Do you need to rekindle your marriage?

I think you’ll agree with me that after a few years even the strongest marriages can get stale.  Or Lifeless and boring.

Maybe you and your spouse seemingly just going through the motions? Do you wonder how to rekindle your marriage? Do you wonder what happened to the electric, magical heart-pounding feelings you both experienced while dating?

You CAN rekindle your marriage with a focus on spending quality time together (put the kids to bed and put the phones down), increasing touch without the expectation of sex, but also making sex a priority as well, taking real ownership of your role in the damage to the marriage, appreciating your spouse without placing expectations on them, and focusing on yourself and not looking to your spouse or others to make you happy.

But there’s a lot more to rebuilding trust in a damaged relationship and rekindling the lost passion in a marriage.

So in this post, we’re diving deep into the world of stale, boring, and even broken marriages.

We’re answering all the top questions, reviewing advice from some top experts, and walking you through all the best steps to rekindle your marriage when the love has faded.

If you feel like your marriage is worth rekindling, then do yourself a favor and check out all the info and free video at Save the Marriage. The marriage you save may be your own!

How do I restore love to my marriage?

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 news is you can commit to rekindle your marriage at any time!

We don’t have to settle.

We don’t have to accept that passion is gone never to return.  You CAN rekindle 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.

Instead:

  • 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.

Thus learning how to rekindle a marriage is crucial!

How do you rekindle love in a marriage?

Relationships break for all kinds of reasons.

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. Thus 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.

To learn how to rekindle a broken relationship you have to:

  • Acknowledge the need with your spouse (it’s not like they don’t know it too)
  • Take a series of steps to rebuild that passion (not too slow or it will die, but not too quick or you’ll smother it)
  • 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)
  • Be willing to both talk (without criticism) and be willing to listen (without defensiveness)
  • Revisit the places and activities that helped foster the original passion in your relationship

Faded love or just a comfortable rhythm?

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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 a marriage or relationship for 2 people to get comfortable.

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 rekindle their marriage.

Reasons you may need to rekindle your marriage:

  1. You are considering a divorce
  2. Either you or your spouse has had an affair
  3. You’re bored with your spouse
  4. You make excuses or find reasons to not come home

If you find yourself in this boat you need to rekindle love before it’s too late.

It’s not too late even if you have talked about divorce.  I’ve posted previously about the Top 3 Reasons for Divorce.  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 and what you can do to come back from them if you find them at work in your marriage.

You CAN rekindle your marriage — even if your spouse says that they want a divorce. You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed.

And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time.

Do couples reconcile after separation?

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.

How do you rekindle a marriage during separation?

Don’t just ignore one another and hope that the space and time apart will magically “fix” everything. Instead, take the following steps:

  • Take things slowly, but not vague or undefined (it’s not fair to keep your spouse in limbo indefinitely)
  • Set regular weekly times to meet and talk
  • Have clear boundaries (no alcohol consumption when meeting, no unscheduled drop-ins, no intimacy at first)
  • Avoid being intimate at the start (it sends a very confusing message)
  • Do express how you feel (but avoid yelling, name-calling, or blame)
  • Consider seeing a marriage counselor (if you aren’t already)
  • Try to understand your role in the problem (and any underlying root issues that fueled it)
  • As things progress, begin to date your spouse (still taking things slowly)
  • Don’t rush to reconcile (the tendency will be for both of you to return to your old patterns if you don’t really take time to examine the real issues and take steps to change them.
  • It’s OK if you aren’t sure if you are still in love (but know that you CAN fall back in love as things progress)
  • Make saving your marriage the top priority (friends, nights out, family, and even your kids all need to take a backseat to get your marriage back on track. After all, if you end up divorcing, none of it will matter anyway).
  • Put ego and pride aside (many a marriage has ended in divorce because one spouse was too proud to apologize or take real ownership of the damage they did)

What causes love to diminish?

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.

Unfortunately, I then had an affair.

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

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.

How do I get intimacy back in my marriage?

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?”, I urge you to explore one of my newer posts that answers that very question.

How can I get the spark back in my marriage?

Marriage is hard work.

Anyone who says otherwise is single or oblivious.  That doesn’t mean it’s grueling and backbreaking, but anything worth doing takes energy, focus and time.

I posted recently on that very subject and if you want some tips on how and why you should work harder on yours, take a moment and check that out!

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Generally speaking, damage or neglect robs us of our feelings of love.

What damages us?

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

He calls them the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  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 destroys 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?

Defensiveness

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.

Stonewalling

Lastly, we have stonewalling, which is essentially avoiding your spouse or the argument.  The classic Silent Treatment.

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!

What if only one of you recognizes a need to rekindle your marriage?

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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 is also a great 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.

How do I bring back the romance in my marriage?

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. With my own marriage there have been times when I saw the need (to rekindle love) and my wife didn’t, and vice versa.

If your marriage is struggling, then check out this quick video on how to Mend Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

Change Yourself to Rekindle Marriage

At the end of the day though, while we might be desperate to learn how to rekindle 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.

Need help to Find a Therapist Near You? The link provides a great resource for taking the mystery out of finding the best therapist in your area.

So what are my . . .

15 Proven Steps to Rekindle Your Marriage When the Love Has Faded?

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1. SET TIME TO SPEND TOGETHER JUST THE TWO OF YOU

Kids, bills, dinner, yard-work, business dinners, that new episode of whatever.

The world seemingly conspires against you and your spouse just getting to hang out. Thus you have to consciously make it happen.

Use an app if you must or a calendar, but have regular date nights!

2. GET TOGETHER AND JUST TALK AND CONNECT

After work when the kids are in bed don’t just turn on the TV, pour a glass of wine and sit next to your spouse in a vegetative state.

That’s OK some nights, but it shouldn’t be every night.

Get together sometimes and just talk.  Connect.  Over coffee or after dinner.  Meet up for lunch occasionally.

Make an effort to connect with each other’s lives, thoughts, goals, and fears.  This person is (hopefully) the biggest part of your life, so why should we expend the least amount of effort on them?

3. STOP HAVING EXPECTATIONS OF YOUR SPOUSE

Tony Robbins has a saying I love: “Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant”.  Essentially he means don’t focus on what you think your spouse should be doing.

Just be appreciative for who they are and what they are doing and what they bring to the table.  It’s essentially a glass half full or empty proposition.

When all you focus on is what they aren’t doing, you’ll never feel satisfied. If you see your spouse as a constant disappointment, that’s a recipe for divorce!

4. TAKE REAL OWNERSHIP IF YOU HAVE DAMAGED THE RELATIONSHIP

We all do things to damage our relationships.

Maybe one of you had a problem with drugs or alcohol.  Or had an affair. Perhaps you were overly critical and always on edge.

It could also be more benign habits. But over a period of years, even the smallest issue can become draining to our spouse. It can take it’s toll on love and being in love.

So if you know you’ve contributed to the decline in the marriage it’s not enough just to stop the behavior.

Acknowledge it!  Own it. Accept it. Apologize for it (multiple times if necessary).

You don’t need to dwell on the past, but you do need to take responsibility for it so your partner can heal.

That, in turn, will often cause them to let their guard down and own their behavior too.  Then and only then can you truly begin to move forward in forging the best chapter yet in your relationship.

There’s no shame in making mistakes. The shame comes in repeating them and/or not taking responsibility for them. Learning how to rekindle a marriage must include accountability.

5. MAKE SEX A PRIORITY

As with #1, the world again conspires to push sex by the wayside.  Men and women also have different sexual needs. And needs change differently as we age.

That being said, sex is an important part of ANY relationship and it can be very hard to have a rewarding and lasting relationship without it.

Make sex a priority. Keep it interesting. Change it up, and don’t cast it aside.

If you’re too tired at night after the kids go to bed, make it part of the morning ritual.  Schedule it if you must like Adam & Kristina Braverman on Parenthood.

But make it a regular part of your routine and you will rekindle your marriage.

6. TOUCH AND CONNECT WITHOUT SEXUAL EXPECTATIONS

Aside from making sure sex is a priority, it’s also important to touch your partner without the expectation that it’s leading to sex.

Emotional intimacy is fostered by touch. A sense of security and connection with our partner is created by physical connections.

Hold hands, snuggle, kiss.  If it leads to sex; great!  But don’t initiate it for that reason.

7. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

I know that phrase is a bit controversial but I like it.

Anything we do, when we are first learning it (or trying to rekindle it) will feel awkward.  It feels foreign and unfamiliar; a bit unnatural.

Learning how to rekindle a broken marriage is no different!

But you didn’t stop riding your bike as a kid just because it felt awkward at first.  You kept doing it until it felt natural; until you fell into a groove and it became part of who you are.

Thus any task, habit or direction you want to take in life can be seen in the same way.

If you and your spouse have had love diminish, go through the motions.  Follow the steps above.  It will feel a little awkward at first, but eventually, it will feel totally natural; you will fall back in love again!

8. DON’T DEPEND ON THE OTHER TO MAKE YOU HAPPY

Only you can make yourself happy.

It’s true that others can do things to anger or sadden us, but our own inner happiness is ours to own and nurture.

If you expect your spouse to provide your happiness you’re in for a disappointment.  They can bring joy, love, and support, but don’t lose sight of looking inward.

9. HAVE ACTIVITIES APART

We don’t need to do EVERYTHING together.

An ex once told me “wouldn’t it be great if we could spend every minute together with no one else ever around?”

At the time I thought it was sweet.  Now older and wise I realize how truly co-dependent and potentially smothering that really was.

Have hobbies and activities away from each other. Not all the time, and not even the majority of the time.

But have interests and friends outside of your marriage or relationship.

Then when you do come together you’re excited to see one another and you have interesting things to talk about.

10. BUILD INTIMACY

Intimacy means closeness and familiarity.

Our spouse is often the person with whom we let our guard down the most.  As damage in the relationship happens, the guard comes up.

Thus when learning how to rekindle a marriage, it’s essential that we work on rebuilding intimacy.  Be less defensive, say things that don’t make your spouse feel defensive.

As the guard comes down and intimacy and emotional connection improve, so will the marriage.

There are MANY ways to help build intimacy, so I urge you to check out all 31 incredible ways you can Restore Intimacy in Marriage in one of my newer posts.

11. CHANGE YOUR SEX PATTERNS

After a couple has been together some time, it’s easy to fall into routine patterns.

When we’re talking about sex, the routine can sometimes become boring.  Now don’t get me wrong, most of us would rather have routine sex than none at all.

But change it up once in a while! If your spouse is usually the one who initiates it, you initiate it every once in a while.

Change positions or even location.  Spice things up a little!

12. Make a list of your favorite memories

All long-term couples will have a few standout moments of the relationship; places, events, concerts, or simpler moments where they really enjoyed a standout moment with their spouse.

Write those moments down. If you want to take it a step farther, print out pictures from them and create a photo album of them or a montage of photos in a frame on the wall.

As you recall those moments, the feelings you had for your spouse at that time will return.

13. Alter your routine

Married couples, especially with kids in the mix, tend to fall into a routine each week. 

Getting kids ready for school. grocery shopping, cleaning the house, etc. We fall into a rhythm and find ourselves doing the same things each week and most days of the week.

Thus, it can get a little boring.

So change it up! Do something together you used to do separately. Change the days you do some tasks. Allow some lesser important things to get moved to the backburner.

As life gets more interesting and less routine, your marriage will follow suit!

14. Understand each other’s love language

When my wife asks me to tell her in-depth, exactly why I love her, I fumble at my words. 

But if she asks me to build her something, fix something, or schedule something, I am ALL about it. I show love through my actions and less so through my words.

When you put aside expectations and just appreciate your spouse AND the ways that THEY choose to show love you WILL be happier.

Each person shows and expresses love differently and it’s not fair to expect one spouse to show you love how you think it should be shown. If they aren’t showing it at all, that’s a different problem.

But do take time to understand and appreciate their (and your) love language.

15. Examine your friends’ list

Are most of your friends single or divorced? Are they are the bar or club every weekend drinking heavily and hooking up with strangers?

When you (and they) are in your early 20s and single that’s OK. 

But as we get older, get further down the career path, get married, and especially when we have kids, behaviors like that don’t have a place in our lives anymore.

But if you still hang out with friends like that, however great a person they might be, it affects how we think (negatively).

I’m not saying to ditch all your single friends, but I am saying that, according to the noted speaker and author Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

So begin to cultivate friendships with people that you’d like to be more like and slowly begin to spend less time with people whose lives you would not want for yourself.

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about how to rekindle your marriage and rekindle love?

In this post, we examined exactly how to how to rekindle a broken marriage.

We identified some of the most common things that derail marriages. That includes things that cause damage and also can cause partners to drift apart.

But we also looked at the crucial steps you can take to rekindle the marriage. It’s totally natural for relationships to settle into a routine. But you don’t have to accept a boring or passionless marriage.

Like anything worth doing you have to put forth the effort. It’s never too late to save your marriage or relationship; you just have to try.

If your marriage is struggling to rekindle the passion, then check out this quick video on how to Mend Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

What has been your biggest marriage challenge?

Love this post? Why not pin to your favorite boards on Pinterest?

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Photo credits (that aren’t mine or which require attribution):
Faded Love via Dumpr.net (Lomo edit)
– by Clyde Robinson is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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