It’s easy to find good advice on how to make a marriage last. Anyone married long enough to weather a few storms should have valuable things to say. If you ask enough people or read enough material you will probably get a wide variety of answers. So much so, It may be difficult to choose what is the best advice to focus your attention on.
Over the years since we started this marriage ministry, I’ve thought about this idea a lot. I’ve wondered as we prepared for teaching a class, or meeting with a couple for private coaching. Is there a single piece of advice that’s more important than anything else we share? Read more
It’s easy to love your spouse when your marriage is healthy and going strong. There is a rhythm to how love flows and it seems effortless. It’s like the two of you are dancing in harmony with each step perfectly timed and choreographed. You give and then you receive and then you give some more. You both give love at the same time and in the same way. You both give love at opposite times and in opposite ways. You know without a doubt the two of you are becoming one.
But what if your marriage is not working this way? What if the music has stopped and there is no dance left in your marriage? You’re trying to continue to love your spouse even though you are seriously hurting inside. You believe in marriage. You want to honor the vows you have made. You want to do what is right before God. So you keep trying to love even when the pain of rejection and neglect keeps telling you to stop.
I’ll be the first to admit I have a problem deciding when to throw something away and when to save it. The struggle I have is when I look at something thinking I might throw it away, I then think to myself, “maybe if I throw it away now I will one day in the future wish I still had it.” Because what I’m really trying to decide is, has this lost it’s usefulness to me, or does it still have some form of value to me?
That’s the same problem I see a lot people have when it comes to their marriage. They are trying to decide if their marriage has lost its usefulness to them or not. If they determine that it no longer has the value that it once did, such as “makes me happy,” “fulfills me,” “completes me,” or “satisfies all my needs,” they are ready then to dispose of it.
Is the marriage crisis you’re dealing with breaking your heart? Do you feel like your world is shattered and crumbling all around you? And does it make you question how much you can stand or how long can you endure? If your answers are yes, I know how you feel.
Because fighting to save a marriage is one of the toughest ordeals a person can ever experience. The heartache and pain can be so tormenting that it makes it hard to function in any other area of life. And there are times when the pain is so hard to bear, all a person can do is shut it off by staying busy with other areas of life. Either way it seems like life is just a blur and all you can do is trying to survive it.
But I have another question for you, a question I believe that can make a huge difference in how you get through this experience.
The desperation I felt to save our marriage was tremendous. I had waited so long for signs of hope and yet so many times it seemed my hopes were dashed. I had no problem accepting the fact that I had hurt our marriage. So all I could think of was trying to find some way to fix the problems I helped create.
After a good while into our last separation, my wife finally decided to go see a counselor. There were a lot of issues she had been dealing with from her childhood and she finally reached a point where she said enough is enough. She wanted the stuff that had tormented her all of her life to be gone once and for all.
You don’t have to settle for a marriage where you no longer feel passionate for each other. It doesn’t have to be that way. And you don’t have to dismiss a lack of passion in your marriage as something that passes with time. It is possible to keep the passion going for as long as you both shall live.
Janet and I are living proof that passion can be reborn in a marriage and it can be sustained for a lifetime. This week we will celebrate our thirty-first anniversary and we are probably more passionate for each other today than we ever have been, in spite of the fact that for many years we struggled to even like each other. And even if you have lost the passion you once had for each other, it is possible to Get Passion Back into Your Marriage.
I remember when I was a kid the first time I was appointed to be the class monitor. It was first grade and I was the new kid in school after my parents moved us to a new city half way through that first year. The teacher had to leave the classroom and so as she named me the classroom monitor she gave me the instructions of keeping a watch on the rest of my classmates and report back to her any bad behavior such as talking or getting out of their seats. I didn’t like the job. I wanted all of the other kids in class to like me and I thought for sure that being a classroom monitor would be held against me.
For many years I struggled with loving my wife. I could always say it and most of the time I felt it, but the challenge for me was knowing how to show it in a consistent way that made sense. Even when I thought I was showing love in one way, my other actions would contradict me and cause Janet to question if I really loved her or not.
One of the problems I had with loving my wife and my children was the way I would lose my patience with them. They just never knew when my patience would run out and I would turn on them in some sort of harsh demanding way. I didn’t want to treat them badly and I had no excuse for it. So I just blamed it on my lack of patience.