I think every relationship has highs and lows, in fact many marriages really struggle. I am always concerned when a couple becomes so discouraged that they lose hope. They lose any expectation that the relationship will get better. This loss of hope creates the belief that they only have two choices:
- Stay in a empty painful marriage…..or
- Get a divorce.
Could a third choice be possible? Can you change a bad marriage? Is it possible to change a marriage that has been struggling? Marriages that have had consistent conflict, affairs, addictions and anger can change. I know at times it is hard to see but, there is hope. A third option is really possible. I have seen real change. I have experienced real change. Change is complicated and hard but small things can create big change. Remember attitude is everything. Allow God to create a teachable attitude in you and look for small consistent change. Here are seven ideas and actions that you can implement now.
- 1st – Pray, seek God, go to scripture – God has to build the home – Psalms 127:1. The closer that you draw to the Father the more you will change and become the spouse that God intends for you to be. God will give you the security and ability to become the person that He created you to be instead of the false person pain has created.
- 2nd – Educate yourself – Learn the skills of a successful marriage. Marriage education can change your relationship. We don’t grow up knowing how to be married. Sometimes the families that we grew up in don’t give us good models for marriage. The next best option is get the tools to create a great marriage. Research shows that marital education works, sometimes even better than counseling.
- 3rd – Focus on changing yourself – Remove the 3 A’s – affairs, addictions and anger. These are toxic to the relationship. You have to change as individuals first before the marriage can fully grow. You can’t blame your inability to change or control your behavior on your spouse or marriage. You can change and become the mate your spouse needs. Here are some other ideas – Men & Women
- 4th – Focus on the positive – When we hurt all we want to think about is the pain. Ask a child to stop thinking about the splinter in their finger. All they feel is the pain. That doesn’t go away in adulthood. In marriage we are convinced that our bad spouse has created all the pain. Or we feel the shame of all the pain that we caused. This thinking will paralyze you. I am not saying live in la-la land and pretend problems don’t exist. I am saying look at them and treat them through the lens of God’s love not the lens of your pain. Look for God to bring hope in the midst of pain and acknowledge the strength and beauty of your spouse.
- 5th – Be patient, don’t panic – Let the dust settle after an argument or stress. Be concerned and show empathy with a desire to change. The goal is to create an attitude of trust that conveys security, love and respect. Most people don’t want their marriage to end they just want the pain to stop. Resist your first harsh reaction, and allow time to bring calm.
- 6th – Absence does not make the heart grow fonder – The usual thing that happens from conflict is people withdraw. They step away sometimes to get their head screwed back on and other times to punish their spouse. Whatever the reason…withdrawing doesn’t work, it usually makes it worse.
- 7th – Connect first, talk 2nd – The mistake most couples make is spend all their time trying to talk it out. That usually creates a bigger mess. Spend some time together – laugh, play, encourage, affirm and non-sexually touch, then come back and talk. You have to talk… but connect first. The hard conversations and solutions will come easier after you connect.
Marriage helps us to develop the character of God himself as we stick with our spouses through the good times and the bad. Every wedding gives birth to a new history, a new beginning. The spiritual meaning of marriage is found in maintaining that history together. – Gary Thomas
Would you add or take anything away?