We get married with a dream, a desire that marriage will be wonderful. Life begins to happen and the couple starts to doubt that the dream will come true and hope begins to fade. They lose connection and struggle with compromise. The lies set in, “is this what marriage is going to be like.” Every marriage has seasons of struggle. The problem for couples is that they lose hope when the season lasts to long. Marriage never changes with good intentions, it changes with intentional effort. The problem for many marriages is that they put the effort in the wrong places or they just give up.
I genuinely believe that every marriage can be great, because I believe that God can redeem and restore anything. I have seen Him do it again and again. Don’t lose hope. Here are two stumbling blocks to the process of change for hurting couples…. well every couple needs to avoid these attitudes.
1. Focusing on your spouse as the source of the problem. The only thing you can change is yourself. Make sure that your thoughts, behaviors and choices reflect this. I have found that people begin to believe “if I could just get them to change, our marriage would be great”. These negative thoughts begin to occupy their mind.
- If he wasn’t just so sloppy or forgetful
- We will become broke it she doesn’t stop spending
- Why can’t she stop nagging me
- Why doesn’t he talk to me
- His jokes drive me crazy
- She is always late
- Why doesn’t he lead
- Why doesn’t she respect me
The problem is these things can hurt and effect your marriage…no doubt. But YOU don’t have the ability to change your spouse. Only God can change their heart. Focus on what you can change… YOU. Make changing yourself the focus of your prayers and energy. Your spouse may still struggle with annoying or destructive habits but a changed YOU will create the soil that God can use to change your marriage.
2. Giving up to quickly. I am amazed at the number of couples that want to give up quickly. The attitude is “I have been living in the mess so long I am to tired to try”. Most couples take 12 to 36 months to bring real change into the marriage. Now before you panic…. I am not saying that is months of agony and hurt. What happens is trust and intimacy take time to develop. The change looks like weeks to months of intentional choices and efforts that grow to become natural and enjoyable. Change happens over time. The marriage didn’t fall apart in days or weeks and it probably won’t change in that time frame either. Some changes can happen quickly but most take time. Not just time but intentional effort to compromise and connect as you build a new relationship and trust.
No one is asking you to live in a terrible marriage. I don’t think that is God’s desire. God’s desire and solution for a unhappy marriage is not divorce. God wants to change you in a way that changes the marriage. Put your focus on changing yourself and praying for your spouse. Give God time to change their heart. A truly wonderful spouse and life are possible – don’t give up hope.