Can one person make a difference in their marriage even when their spouse is not trying? My answer to that is a resounding, YES they absolutely can!
There is no question in my mind that even if only one spouse is trying, they alone can make a huge impact on their marriage and if only one person is trying there is still tremendous hope for the marriage.
I know some might say. “but, it takes two to make a marriage work.” I know because I have heard someone say that to me before and which my reply was, “yea, but it only takes one to quit.” ( For more on that conversation check out, Easy as One, Two, Three.)
And so yes, it is true, to make a marriage work the way God designed it to work it does take two; both spouses working together becoming one.
But the question for some is, What good can one person do when they are the only one trying?
There are several suggestions I want to make on how one person can make a difference in their marriage. These are ideas that I have seen work in my own marriage and for many other marriages as well.
1) The first place to start is with prayer. Prayer is a powerful weapon for anyone to use and yet it is so often neglected. But the bible clearly says that instead of letting ourselves become overwhelmed with fear and worry we should take all of our request to the Lord.
Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.”
Praying for a spouse who is not giving their best or who has completely given up on their marriage is always the right place to start. Not only can prayer change their heart and turn them around, prayer should also change the one who is praying. Because sometimes it may be your own attitude or perspective that needs to be changed first. And if nothing else prayer is most vital to you during times of difficulty in order to keep you calm, at peace, and continually hopeful.
2) The next thing is don’t focus on the negatives that your marriage doesn’t have and start working with what you do have. Your marriage doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s marriage. It just needs to work for the two of you.
If you dwell on the negatives you see in your spouse or your marriage as a whole you are creating an atmosphere that will push your spouse further away from you. Your spouse cannot be forced to want to be close to you, they have to voluntarily want to be close to you. So you have to attract them with the positive, full of life, best of you that you can be.
3) If you have a hard time being positive and trusting in the Lord, that is a good sign there is some work that needs to be done in you first. Your spouse cannot be the one you expect to fix you. You have to allow yourself to be broken and humble before the Lord and allow Him to heal your issues from the past and restore you as the person He created you to be.
Often this type of inner healing requires some outside assistance from someone who is capable of seeing your situation objectively and is capable in leading you towards sound biblical answers. Don’t hesitate to turn to a counselor, pastor, or even a friend depending on the severity of what you need. Just be sure you choose someone who will give you Godly counsel that protects your marriage covenant and promotes your focus on you and the healing you need.
4) Invest in knowing what makes your spouse feel loved, appreciated, and wanted. Learn your spouse’s love language and speak it often. Just see yourself as someone who is planting seeds in a garden knowing that in due season if you do not faint you will see your harvest.
But don’t over do it by appearing to be desperate or even fake. The thought here is to serve your spouse with love in subtle ways that will penetrate any hardness they have towards you. Love is hard for anyone to resist as long as it is genuine and is not used as a form of manipulation.
5) Look for ways to rekindle the romance. Get back to dating your spouse on a regular basis. Do what you can to turn up the heat on your sex life. Find other creative ways to be spontaneous and romantic. Again, the same here as with love language, just don’t come across as desperate, fake, and manipulative.
6) Work on communication at whatever level you’re at with your spouse. See communication as something you grow at doing. Don’t expect your spouse to jump into deep levels of communication if that is not something they want right now. You can make your desire for improving your marriage and your level of communication known to your spouse, but do not constantly remind them.
Finally, remember as long as you are willing to keep moving forward and you’re inviting God to do a work in your marriage you have plenty of reason to be hopeful and encouraged. After all, you are just one step away from two people trying to have a great marriage. And once your spouse is on board and with the Lord’s help, you can have the best marriage you ever dreamed possible.