Marriage research has come a long way in the last twenty years. Therapists used to try to save marriages by helping couples improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. Indeed, this is still what many therapists are doing to help marriages improve. The problem is, we now know that this is not effective.
While we know that couples in happy marriages usually communicate and resolve conflict well, it turns out that is not why their marriages are happy. Their marriages are happy because they enjoy the time they spend together. Likewise, you will not fix your marriage by going to therapy and working on communication and conflict resolution skills. You will fix your marriage by learning to have fun together.
This was natural when you were first married. You enjoyed being together. In fact, you probably preferred being with each other over being with any of your friends. How did this change? The answer is that very slowly life happened to you. Once you got married, you may have assumed you didn’t have to work as hard to impress each other. Or you may have developed separate interests and simply not bothered to learn how to support each other in them. Perhaps you got really distracted with financial issues, or taking care of the children. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these factors and more. Regardless of how it happened, here you are.
You will save/improve your marriage by learning how to enjoy being together again. If you can learn this, then it will help your relationship to learn better communication and conflict resolution skills. If you cannot learn this, you will not be able to learn those skills because communicating and resolving conflict well require you to basically think well of each other. You will not think well of each other if you are not having any fun together.
I used a powerful word in the title of this post — “guaranteed.” While I can guarantee you that learning to have fun with each other again will save/improve your marriage, I cannot guarantee that you will be willing to set aside your differences long enough to do this. That is up to you. By the time I see couples in my office, there has usually been a lot of hurt and anger on both sides. One or both partners might not be willing to let go of their grievances long enough to do this one important thing that can actually revive the relationship.
For any couple willing to do this, improvement is virtually assured.