If you and your spouse are going through a rough patch in your marriage right now, please take heart and know that there is hope. Here are 4 things you can do right now to help your struggling marriage…
1. Avoid “mental rabbit holes” that will sabotage your relationship.
This is a huge issue that you’re probably experiencing right now and you don’t even realize it. A “mental rabbit hole” occurs when we choose to dwell on the “what-ifs,” negative assumptions, and worries that often accompany crises in marriage. For example, maybe you’re not sure that you are really in love with your spouse anymore. Then, you start asking yourself why and try to figure it out over and over again. This process will only lead to more frustration, confusion, and separation. Instead, we need to go to our spouse and talk to him/her. Lean into one another and be honest in the most loving way possible. Then, consider going to see a counselor to get to the root to the issue TOGETHER.
2. Resist the urge to share your struggle (or anything else) with a “friend” of the opposite sex.
This is extremely important. When we are at odds with our spouse, there is usually a breakdown in communication. We’re upset and unwilling to talk about things with our spouse because everything feels like a fight. I get it. But, Friends, we must resist the urge to talk about our personal lives with someone of the opposite sex at work, in our neighborhood, at our kid’s school, church, etc.. When we do this, we open ourselves up to developing an attachment to this person. Over time, this can turn into romantic feelings and even physical intimacy. And, before we know it, we find ourselves in a full blown affair that we never ever thought would happen.
Tragically, I hear too many of these stories almost every day. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can protect ourselves and our marriage by resisting this urge. And, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about our struggle with someone; it just means we have to be very careful about WHO we talk to about this. We should only share this information with someone we can trust and is our same gender (so we don’t open ourselves up to the potential of romantic temptation). Be sure that this person loves you, loves God, loves your spouse, and is for your marriage. It’s better if this confidant isn’t related to you because it is hard for a family member to forget the details of what you or your spouse are going through, and family tends to side with family. Your confidant could be a close family friend, a pastor, and even a counselor. When we are careful about these conversations, we respect our spouse and allow healing to take place.
For more on this, please read, To the Spouse with a Close Friend of the Opposite Sex.
3. Try a new approach to communication.
When our marriage is struggling, we can find it very difficult to talk to our spouse. I hear struggling couple’s say things like,
“All we do is fight.”
“She/he just doesn’t listen to me.”
“He/she just shouldn’t feel that way.”
But, these kind of statements don’t get us anywhere, do they? In those times when we can’t muster up anything nice or productive to say to one another, we need to switch our go-to communication style.
If every conversation between you and your spouse tends to end in an argument, try writing down your feelings on paper first. Then, read through it and re-write it in the most loving way possible. Have your spouse do the same thing.
Then, at a certain point in the day, hand the letter to your spouse and ask him/her to read it. Take his/her letter and read it too. Then, take time a write a response to the letter. Then, read it and re-write it. And, hand it to him/her. Do this exercise until you both feel like you can have a civil conversation. Then, sit down and talk to one another without distractions. Apologize for the hurtful conversations of the past, and share your hearts with one another. Do your best to get it all out, and don’t interrupt each other. Listen until your spouse is finished with what he/she has to say. Then, respond in the most loving way possible.
When you both take the time to really hear each other out–without interruptions, excuses, accusations, and hurtful words–you will find that it is much easier for you both to get on the same page and moving in the same direction.
4. Commit to praying with and for each other every day.
Prayer is a powerful tool that helps us to humble ourselves towards God and one another, and it brings us closer together like nothing else can. And, there is no better time to pray than when we are in a rough patch in our marriage. Yet, many of us neglect this amazing gift because we are disillusioned and upset. But, Friends, we must get past those sentiments and get on our knees in prayer.
God meets us right where we are, no matter what we have done or how hopeless our marriage may feel. He brings us strength when we are weak. He gives us the words to speak to Him and one another when we feel like we are completely depleted and uninspired. He can bring peace to what feels like a war zone in our home–if we let Him in. We can do this through prayer.
Join hands with your spouse and ask the Lord to forgive you both for any part of your lives that isn’t honoring Him. Praise Him for the blessing of your spouse and marriage, and ask Him to help you both to do whatever it takes to heal it and strengthen it. Thank Him for all that He has done for you both. When you and your spouse take the time to pray together, you will feel the peace that surpasses understanding that only God can give. And, you will feel closer to one another too.
You may also want to purchase our His and Hers books called, 7 Days to a Stronger Marriage. There is a prayer and activity that you both can do together each day.
You WILL get through this time of struggle in your marriage when you both do whatever it takes to fight for your marriage and refuse to give up.
Thanks so much for reading and sharing. Be blessed!
Dave and Ashley Willis have built a strong following, reaching millions of married couples through their blogs, books, and videos. Get Dave and Ashley’s most popular resources for couples and groups. Their mission is to create resources focused on building Christ-centered marriages and families. They have four young sons and live near Augusta, Georgia.