This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

9 Ways To Save Your Failing Marriage (And Avoid Divorce)

Can you still make this work?

Sometimes, after what seems like years and years of trying, some couples just want to call it quits.

And for the most part, if you really believe your marriage is over or if your partner is abusive in any way, it's time to go, says dating coach Chantal Heide

"If your partner is in any way mentally, physically, or verbally abusive, leave and begin divorce proceedings — you should not stay a minute longer in this relationship," the Fix That Shit – A Couples Guide To Getting Past The Sticky Stuff author tells The Huffington Post Canada.

"Get therapy for yourself too because putting up with this behaviour means you need to work on your own self-esteem and need an education in setting boundaries."

But in other cases, sometimes the problem isn't your partner, it's you, she says.

Although it's hard for a lot of us to admit, things like ego and destructive behaviour can get in the way of having a healthy relationship.

"It could be you chose a good partner but your mental state is keeping you from making the most of this situation, propelling you to be your own worst enemy and create self-destructive tendencies."

And if you're not ready to give up just yet, here are nine things Heide says you should consider before asking for a divorce.

Is your brain getting in the way of a functional relationship? Set the reset button on what you thought was right or wrong.

"Your brain is designed to overlook your own faults as a measure of protecting your self-esteem. This is a functional tool for the most part, but when it goes too far it tears your relationship apart because you overlook what you should be apologizing for and fixing within yourself," Heide says.

Did you cause fights and negativity because you didn’t apologize for your behaviours? Become comfortable saying “I’m sorry,” — this is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength.

"I’m strong enough to face my faults, I’m strong enough to work on becoming a better person so we can get along better, I’m strong enough to be humble and look past my ego, ending the cycle of blaming exterior forces for my negative emotions," Heide says.

Apologize for everything, she adds. "Stop justifying and take responsibility for everything, no matter how small or how long ago, because it all matters."

Were you over-reactive? Instead of letting your ego tell you when to get angry, use your ego to tell you when you should be backing down and re-examining your behaviour, Heide says.

"Maybe you need to be less selfish, less defensive, and less verbally reactive."

Did you deal with your own emotions and reactions? "Meditate to reduce the size of your amygdala, which reduces your fight or flight reaction," Heide says.

This will make you less reactive and help you create the calm centre your relationship needs to be pulled into, she says.

Did you ignore your partner’s good qualities? Become more in tune with reality and give credit for what’s being done, Heide says.

"Stop being so affected by ego that all you see is what you think you’re doing right while blind to anything you’re doing wrong, and stop only seeing what your partner is doing wrong while overlooking what they’re doing right."

Start saying "Thank you," for example, for everything your partner does, big or small.

Did you stop trying? Start being more of service without keeping score.

"In times of crisis your relationship needs a hero, someone who’s going to step up and be awesome first to pave the way and set the example for the tone of the relationship," she says.

Sometimes, she adds, we overlook the impact even our smallest gestures have on our partner's well-being, while ignoring too many of the efforts our partners make for us.

Did you use the wrong methods to get what you want from your partner? "Using tactics like withholding love, communication and affection in an attempt to angrily get what you want from your partner doesn’t work," she says.

Instead use kindness, good listening skills, and example-setting. It's also important to look at your behaviours in a relationship and remind your partner of your progress and changes, Heide adds.

"If they’re too immature to keep up with the new and improved you then you’ve earned your way out and it’s time to take the new you and find a partner who’ll be able to evolve along with you."

Did you give what you seek? Ask yourself, "What do I want from this relationship?" and give it, Heide says.

"Want more apologies, more patience, better listening, more understanding, and more service? Do it, setting the example of how you want it done." In order for this to work, you have to become the most emotional leader in your relationship.

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