All marriages have conflict; it's how you both respond that matters.

How to Fix My Troubled Marriage

by Elise Wile

Journalist and author of "The Neurotic's Notebook" Mignon McLaughlin once said, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." For this to be true, you would have had to have fallen out of love many times as well. If you are worried about the troubled state of your marriage, know that you have plenty of company. The ability to work through marital issues is what separates long-married couples from those who divorce.

1 Work on yourself. While the conflicts in your marriage are the responsibility of both of you, you're the only person you can change. So if you become upset at your husband for being late coming home from work, instead of throwing his cold dinner in the trash and hoping he'll be on time in the future, ask him when would be a better time for the two of you to eat. When you change your reaction to events that upset you, you benefit whether your husband alters his behavior or not.

2 Recognize that you and your husband will always have differences since you are two people with differing backgrounds and personalities. Some conflicts are unlikely to ever be resolved, but you can approach them differently. When you listen to your husband's concerns about taking on debt to do home improvements, for example, do so respectfully, honoring that he comes by his perspective honestly and striving to work out a compromise.

3 Stop trying to be right in arguments, advises Dr. Phil, noting that fighting to win is not worth the destruction of your marriage. If you find yourself arguing until you're out of breath trying to convince your husband that he doesn't need a bass boat when he only goes fishing twice a year, relax. Your husband is more likely to come around to a different point of view when he has the opportunity to reason the situation out for himself. Point out potential problems, such as an extra $250 bill to pay each month when your son is headed to college.

4 Avoid playing the victim, Dr. Phil adds. You get to decide what is acceptable in your marriage. If you're not OK with your husband getting in bed smelling like beer after hanging out with his friends, have an honest discussion in a respectful manner so that the behavior can be altered. Matter-of-factly respond to such situations, and you'll deprive them of the power to wreak further havoc in your marriage.

5 Recognize that "incompatibility is the norm" for relationships, say relationship experts Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. When you married your husband, you were unconsciously attracted to aspects of his personality that represent unresolved issues from childhood. Your relationship is an opportunity for both of you to work out your issues and grow into fuller relationships with yourself and one another. Recognizing this and having honest conversations with your husband can set you both on the right path, Hendrix and Hunt add.

6 Seek marriage counseling if you and your husband are unable to communicate without anger and tears. An objective third-party who's likely helped people deal with similar issues can help you both get past your pain and into a healing stage of your relationship.

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