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5 Steps to Reset after a Marriage Meltdown

5 Steps to Reset after a Marriage Meltdown

We’ve all been there, done that. We’ve had a marital meltdown that left us woozy and wondering what our next step would be. I’ve written about this before, but felt compelled to write about it again since it is such a pertinent issue. 

I certainly wish it weren’t such an issue. I wish all of us experienced day in, day out marital bliss. I wish the wild-eyed, early days of courting would last forever. But, alas, they do not. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to give you the “Passionate Love Can’t Last Forever” speech. I actually believe passionate love can last forever. I believe love can grow deeper, stronger, even more passionate with every passing year. But, I digress. 

Sandy and Thomas came to The Marriage Recovery Center much like other couples seeking assistance. Bearing down on 40 years of age and 20 years of marriage, they were the stereotypical couple seeking my help. They were reasonably settled financially, had a solid faith background, a nice home and three children of whom they were proud. 

“But, when we melt down,” Thomas said, “we have a hard time getting back up. We don’t melt down that often, but when we do, it lasts for days.” 

I asked for more information, wanting to focus at this point on how they handled the post-meltdown blues. 

“Tell me not only what happens leading up to the meltdown, but how you handle the meltdown once it has occurred.” 

“We don’t do anything,” Sandy said. “We avoid each other and wait a few days to begin talking again.” 

“Well,” I continued, “you actually do do something. You wait, avoid each other and I presume you harbor grudges?” 

“Oh yes,” Thomas said. “We sure do harbor grudges. At least I know I do.” 

“So, we’ve got to change this pattern,” I said. “We’ve got to change several things: avoiding each other, harboring grudges and failing to reset and make good contact with each other.” 

“That would be nice,” they both said. 

Here are a few additional ideas for resetting your marriage after you’ve had a marital meltdown: 

First, anticipate the meltdown. As much as I’d like to say you can avoid any meltdowns, it is unlikely. This doesn’t mean you have to be pessimistic about your relationship, but rather practical in assuming you will have tough times. 

Scripture tells us that in life we will have troubles. The Apostle John said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Notice that John has an optimistic perspective—“take heart,” he says. The Lord comes into our lives to give us both hope and peace. 

Second, initiate contact to your mate. Let your mate know you wish to have a connection with them. Reach out to them. Even if you are initially rebuffed, don’t let that deter you from doing your part to make positive contact. Again, be the first to reach out.  

Third, take responsibility for your part in the meltdown. Humility is the great elixir for a healthy marriage. You simply cannot wait for your mate to make the first move or even to necessarily own “their stuff.” They may and they may not. This, however, need not stop you from taking responsibility for your issues. Let the ownership start with you and notice the positive shift in emotional connection.  

Fourth, renew your commitment of love. After taking ownership of your part in the melt down, and making positive contact with them, let your mate know that you love them. There is little more important in reconnecting then letting your mate know they are loved. A warm hug (if accepted) or tender words are often enough to melt a cold heart.  

Finally, discuss what you learned from the situation. In order to avoid the recurrence of the meltdown, or to at least mitigate the severity of the next trouble, learn what there is to learn from the troubled situation. After the situation has settled and a bit of warmth has returned, arrange to sit down and talk about how to handle the situation different next time. 

Do you struggle with marital meltdowns? If so, we’d love to hear from you. What has worked in your marriage to restore connection? Please send responses to me at and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage. 

Publication date: April 19, 2016