Marriage is a beautiful thing — but it can also be a challenging experience — one that requires work and commitment. To save you from the minor (and major) pitfalls of it all as you embark on the most amazing journey of your lives, six women share their stories of how they turned their marriages around when all seemed lost.
"We took a marital time out, putting lots of distance between us. I moved to Oklahoma and my husband stayed in Panama where he was stationed with the military. This space gave us both time to think and re-evaluate our relationship. After a little over two years the love was still there. Today after 43 years of marriage we are stronger than ever. That time-out saved our marriage." —Carol
"I need a full eight hours of sleep or I can't function. My husband is a terrible snorer. This created horrible fights between us to the point that I brought up the word 'divorce.' That shocked us both that the problem had become so serious. We didn't want to sleep apart so my husband got a little device called mu:te and it made all the difference." —Amy
"In June 2014, after 10 years of marriage and two children we filed for divorce. It was awful. We'd been having issues for years but stayed together for the kids. But filing and going through lawyers, court dates, splitting of finances — it was awful, especially since I'd recently lost my job. I began begging family members for money. It was so embarrassing. I made the decision that financially it was better to stay with my husband, go to school, get a nursing job and leave when I was financially ready. Two years later we are the happiest we've ever been. What saved us? I believe he got a glimpse of me being serious about leaving him if he didn't change. I had said it many times before but he never changed. He has now — I also now praise him as often as possible. He deserves the praise!" —Uzo
"After a few decades and seven children I was exhausted and angry from my husband's do nothing attitude. And I was very tired of picking up after the kids. This led to a weeklong strike where I did not perform any household chores. I made everyone sign a contract that they would help. Now the chore equation in the marriage feels equal." —Sherri
"We had a big lack of empathy problem. Our last ditch effort to save the marriage was to go to therapy. She gave us a homework assignment: 'Walk a Mile in the Other Person's Moccasins.' That is, I wrote a letter imagining I was my husband having to deal with me as a spouse. He wrote a letter putting himself in my position being married to him. Sharing the letter at the next session was revelatory. It started an ongoing conversation between the two of us. We now make an effort to constantly put ourselves in the other's headspace. There is always another way to look at something!" —Beth
After six years together we had an airless relationship. We existed in the same household and worked together on keeping our daughter happy but we had forgotten that at the core we were a unit. My husband came home one day and asked, 'Do you remember the last time we had fun together?' It was an eye-opening question. Now we have a pact: Twice a month, we get a babysitter and do something truly energizing — rock climbing, gallery openings, whatever. The point is we must always make time for marital adventures!" —Jenny
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.