[Check out parts one and two of this mini-series on saving your marriage!]

You’ve gone so far as to replace your inner DJ and have given yourself, the only person you can control, a thorough, consistent workout in positivity. You feel a marked improvement…but something is still off. Old patterns are still being repeated. You’re still receiving error messages and can’t understand why. And, saving your marriage is a high priority.

If you’re in a bad place right now, and have been for quite some time, consider that you are running your relationship on an old operating system, like running your computer on Windows XP. You may have slipped into patterns you didn’t know existed. This old system is a perfect environment in which to keep making the same mistakes. The good news is, performing an update is a fairly enjoyable process when the proper steps are taken.

Let’s pretend you’re on the phone with marriage tech support. You already know what they’re going to say. It’s the first thing they always say prior to an update.  Did you backup your data?  Consider this: what is the first thing people are concerned about when a personal system crashes? Simple. The loss of their photos. Why? Because photos are memories, irreplaceable moments. Photos store images that may otherwise be forgotten and the details within them trigger an emotional response.

This emotional response is just what we’re after. As you prepare to update your system, find old photos of the two of you. Go back and far as you can. Go as far back as you can. Go in the basement. Dig through the attic. Call your Mom. Call her Mom. Just find the photos as though your life depended on it. Find the photos with the same sense of urgency and conviction that you would if your house was on fire and this was your only chance. It’s that serious.

Now that you’ve found them, go as deep as you can. Sit with them. Study them. Feel how they make you feel. Are you happy? Joyful? Thrilled? Recognize those feelings. Identify them as specifically as you can. They each have a very unique name and you’ll want to be able to address them properly when they come visit you again. And they will. Take those pictures and throw them in the air if you like, run through the joy they give you like a little kid runs through the sprinkler.  Spin around in it. Feel alive in it. Know that you can feel that way again, now that you have identified what is missing.

Now that you’ve identified what’s missing, you can find new ways to achieve those emotions together.  We all know going back is impossible.  The good news is, that’s not what we’re after.  Put “going back” in the same category as scorekeeping and take them both out to the trash.  They serve no constructive purpose.

Now that you’re hopped up on visuals, let’s step it up another notch. Let’s ensure we’ve saved the data stored in your sense of smell. What perfume did she used to wear? Go to a department store. Find it. Smell it. It will trigger memories you didn’t know you still had. Do you have a favorite dish you used to cook? Maybe you were broke when you first met and the smell of chicken flavored ramen noodles will remind you of your first apartment together. Take a moment and make something that you haven’t in years. Celebrate how far you’ve come if you’ve moved on up from Spam a bed of white rice. Or laugh about the time you were such a horrible cook that you burnt the meatloaf. Pay attention to the memories that return. Remind yourselves how much the other BS didn’t bother the two of you in the beginning, because you loved each other. Remind yourselves of how you felt staring at each other over dinner in the beginning. While there is no going back, you can feel that way again.

Lastly, let’s look at the data stored in your music. Do you remember what song was playing when you met? What was popular when you were dating? What song did you dance to at your wedding? If you’re drawing a blank, do a search on popular songs from the year you met. Go on a treasure hunt for long lost memories and search for one hit wonders. Pay attention to what happens next. It’s very important. And telling.

If, up to this point, you thought these exercises were a waste of time, and would have no effect on your or outcome on your marriage, I issue the following challenge: pull up a one-hit wonder from the year you met her and press play. I bet you the dog’s balls you will effortlessly sing along. And this is fantastic news. Your capacity to remember and draw from the past can be recalled and applied to the present.

Now, take the list of all the emotions you want to feel in and about your marriage and add them to your list of positivity that you read every morning. This is how you will test your new operating system to ensure it’s working properly. You’re going to run a test to see if those feelings are present, in whole or in part. You’re going to take strides to adjust your inner DJ, your own actions and your own system to adjust, on a daily basis, until those emotions are a part of your present day.

Remember, there is no going back to the way things were, but there is every reason you can feel every positive emotion in your marriage that you wish.  The latest version of your marriage has every reason to be the latest, greatest and best release ever.

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