Most spouses want a great marriage instead of a failed marriage. They desire to feel connected and to fully enjoy one another. Unfortunately, in a lot of marriages, there is a persistent issue that is a barrier to growth and connection. The good news is that, while addressing the issue may be hard, it can open doors to an amazing marriage.
Unaddressed issues don’t just go away. They tend to escalate until they suck the life out of you and your marriage. In marriage, so many couples just go along with significant unaddressed issues. Then, over time the issues get magnified to a point that one of the spouses wants out of the marriage. Many failed marriages are a result of a couple unwilling to do the hard work of wrestling through tough issues. Here are 5 ways to fix a failed (or failing) marriage.
5 Ways To Fix a Failed Marriage
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… —James 1:19
Here is a typical scenario of a failed, or failing, marriage. A couple has trouble communicating. Then, they communicate less and less over time. As they feel less emotionally connected, they start coming together physically less and less frequently. Then, after years of feeling disconnected, one spouse feels totally isolated and wants out of the marriage.
The failed marriage ends in divorce and the children of the marriage live out of suitcase going back and forth between two families for the rest of their childhood and adolescent years. Additionally, the divorce puts a constant emotional, spiritual, and financial strain on everyone involved.
How do we avoid this scenario? We get proactive and courageously deal with issues. Now, before we get into this, I get it: It is ZERO fun to address and deal with tough things. Personally, my natural tendency is to do nothing and just hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this strategy just doesn’t work.
This leads to the obvious question: How do we deal with an issue that is difficult and has plagued us our entire marriage? While there is no magic bullet that works for every situation, we will go through some general tips for addressing problems.
#1 Be slow to speak.
First, don’t bring up the issue in the heat of the moment or when emotions are running high. Rarely do couples make any progress when anger and frustration are at a boiling point.
#2 Be quick to listen.
Second, LISTEN. Both spouses need to put the highest priority on understanding the other. Seek to fully understand each other’s viewpoint before trying to fix the problem. A good practice is structured sharing. Have one spouse share their perspective for 15 minutes. Then, switch and let the other spouse do the same.
#3 Be kind.
Third, when you share the issue or problem, clothe it in affirmation. Share what you love about your spouse and family. Don’t make the entire conversation revolve around the problem. Talk more about what is right than about what is wrong.
#4 Give grace.
Fourth, give grace. Scripture tells us, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Scripture also tells us to love one another as we have been loved. So, while your spouse makes mistakes and has many deficiencies, let love and grace prevail over frustration and condemnation. But remember that grace never involves tolerating or enabling abuse or infidelity.
#5 Get help.
Fifth, if you can’t work through an issue effectively, get outside help. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Being too prideful to seek and take counsel is a fault—not a demonstration of strength. Whether it be a mentor or a counselor, remember that too much help is always better than too little. Also, in cases of abuse or infidelity, prioritization of safety and immediate pursuit of professional help is a must.
Grace Marriage Mission
God created marriage and He created it to be VERY good. Doing life with my best friend in the world is a great blessing. I have an absolute blast with Marilyn. In order for us to stay close and continue to grow together, we continually have tough conversations. While it can be uncomfortable, the payoff of a fun, connected relationship is more than worth it. What’s one conversation you’ve been avoiding? It’s time to have that tough conversation.
Brad Rhoads is co-founder of Grace Marriage.