Repairing a Broken Marriage

Marriage can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Sharing your life with someone on such an intimate level can bring true joy to your life. On the other hand marriage can be difficult and bring heartache and pain to your life. Many married people are absolutely miserable and want nothing more than to get out A.S.A.P. Those who have discovered the joy of a successful marriage relationship can attest to the peace and wholeness it brings to the couple, and how they could never imagine life without each other. Unfortunately, there are numerous couples who do not ever experience that joy, and wish badly that things could be different. The good news is that things can be different. My wife and I had a failing marriage, but things have turned around, and for a long time now we have enjoyed our relationship. We know what it is like to be in a failing marriage, and what it means to be in a great marriage. We never want to go back to the way it was. In this article I want to share some principles with you to help you take your marriage from where it is to the place where there is joy, peace, and true intimacy within your home. Whether you are on the brink of divorce or just having some deep struggles, these principles will help. Too, if you are divorced and wish to get back together, there is hope. Divorce is not the end. If you both truly desire to be together for life, then please read this and discover the path to a truly rewarding marriage.

I want to mention from the outset that this article is not meant to replace solid marriage counseling. Too, there are times when a marriage cannot be reconciled after a divorce due to unwillingness to reconcile or deep pain that is difficult to heal. These principles laid out here are meant to be general in nature, and to be a help, and not necessarily a cure all.

Negative influences on a marriage

There are influences all around us that can drag us down. In a marriage relationship, there are internal and external forces that can either make or break a marriage. Following are some of the negative influences that can bring division between a man and his wife. We will then follow up with positive influences.

1. Unresolved problems

Resolving problems can be so simple if we deal with them as they occur. However, many of us choose to let the problem linger. This causes the problem to worsen and become more complex. Also, walls begin to be built and bitterness takes root. All this causes the problem to become bigger than it should be. As time goes on we begin to lose perspective, and eventually connect the problem to the other person. Originally, we saw the other person as causing the problem, but end up seeing the person themselves as the problem. This leads to division, and in a marriage it eventually leads to divorce if the problem goes unresolved. As mentioned in a previous article on repairing relationships, problems should be dealt with immediately. The solution doesn't have to happen immediately, but the process should begin towards a solution as soon as possible.

2. Baggage from the past

We all have baggage that we bring into a marriage. In a sense, we all come from dysfunctional families as none of us have perfect parents. However, many people come from homes that are tragic examples of humanity gone bad. Abuse in various forms, disconnection, and other situations occur in many homes, which causes children to grow up without a clue of how to relate to other people. These people then get married and have no idea how to function effectively in a family. For certain people, solid counseling is recommended to help deal with issues of the past, and to learn how to relate effectively with others, especially one's spouse.

3. Addictions

Addictions of various kinds can have negative, and sometimes tragic effects on a marriage. The most common addictions include pornography, gambling, drugs, alcohol, television, and many other things that rob us of time with our family. These addictions must be dealt with at their root, rather than masked. If you are dealing with an addiction of some kind, get help immediately from a trusted source. Your family is worth it.

4. Extended family

Parents on both sides can be a blessing or a hinderance in a marriage. I have run into couples where either the extended family gets too involved in the marriage or where either the husband or wife struggle to cut ties with the parents. Parents ought to be involved in their son or daughter's marriage, as often they have wisdom to offer. However, bounderies need to be set, so that the couple can forge the relationship on an intimate basis. If either the husband or the wife are struggling to break from the parents in order to form the relationship with their spouse, then steps need to be taken before big problems are created. It is important to realize that in order to develop your marriage, you must begin a new relationship with your parents. You need to make your spouse the priority in your life now. In the Bible, God speaks of a husband leaving his parents and bonding with his wife (Genesis 2:24).

5. Career

While it is improtant to work in order to provide for the family's needs, work can get in the way of a successful marriage. Working excessive overtime or bringing work home robs the marriage of the time needed to develop intimacy. Limits shoud be placed on how much time you spend working. If you are working long hours to get toys, and all the extra stuff the world has to offer, than you need to decide to live on the basics in order to have a great marriage. We really can live without all the gadgets and gizmos. The best way to tell if you are working too much is to listen to your spouse. They often are telling us that we need to cut back on time at work if we just listen.

There are many other negative influences that can bring a marriage down, but these will give you an idea of what to look for in what can be causing problems in the marriage.

Positive Influences on a marriage

While there can be negative influences on your relationship, there are things that can have a positive effect as well. Following are a few of those positive influences.

1. Time

There is much talk about quality time together for a couple. I believe that quantity time is better. Quality time only happens as you spend a lot of time together. It is as you spend much time together that you begin to really learn and understand how the other person is made. How they react to situations, how they think, how they reason, and how they generally function as a person can only be discovered as you are together. As you free up time from television, work, and all the little things that consume your time, you will realize that you really do have time be with each other.

2. Family

I listed extended family as a negative influence, but here I will list them as a positive influence. Our parents can bring insight into our marriages, especially if they have good marriages. Our parents can offer support when we need it. It is a good idea to not share your spouse's weaknesses with your parents. They need to see your spouse in a good light, as they forge their relationship with them. If you are having struggles of your own in relating to your spouse, you should always work it out with your spouse. There may be a time to draw on your parent's wisdom, but gain your spouse's approval first.

3. God

I list God as a positive influence, as He is the one Who invented marriage when He created Adam and Eve for each other. The Bible has many great principles to offer married couples on how to properly relate to each other. Too, there are many insights on how to avoid and solve problems in the marriage relationship, especially in the book of Proverbs.

4. Books

There are many good books that teach various aspects concerning marriage. There are many books which offer little value, but there are many that are invaluable for gaining insight into marriage. Do your research, and use discernement. You may consider asking friends or a pastor what books they recommend.

Repairing a broken marriage

Now that we have looked at the influences that can effect our marriage in either a negative or positive way, let's look at the steps that need to be taken to repair a marriage that is falling apart.

1. Recognize that the marriage is in trouble

This step is especially difficult for men. To admit that our marriage is failing is a blow to our ego. But it is so very important to come to the point where we face the fact that things are bad. This is probably the hardest step to take. Once we break through this wall, we can see the other walls come crashing down.

2. Talk to your spouse

Ask your spouse what went wrong. They may be off base, but more than likely they are right on target. Often, you have been saying all along that there are problems, and even what the problems are. Now you must clearly spell out what has caused the breakdown in the marriage. At this stage, you basically dig to discover the root problem. Try not to focus on symptoms. Focus on the root problem. Usually the root problem is the original problem. That is, the one that has been there all along. Too, you want to deal with the things that are negatively influencing your marriage. Some negative influences you will need to eliminate, and others (such as extended family) you will need to set bounderies with.

3. Pray

If you are a person of faith, pray and ask God for wisdom. He sees the big picture. He is above the problem, where we are mired in the problem with a muddy perspective.

4. Seek help

Seek help either from friends or a trusted counselor. When the marriage gets to the point of falling apart, then often we need outside help. I want to stress that you should find someone you know and trust to help you in this difficult time.

5. Focus on the marriage

Up to this point you have allowed other things to distract you from your spouse. Now is the time to spend your time and energy on getting your marriage back to good health again. Your marriage should be number one priority. It should have been a priority all along, but now you must absolutely make it your focus.

6. See the solution all the way through

Now that you have discovered that there is a problem, and through the help of others have discovered how to fix the problem, you must see the solutions all the way through. You will have a battle on your hands, and you will have a rocky road to walk, but the end result is worth the energy spent. It will be worth the struggle when you and your spouse are best friends, and are enjoying a truly fulfilling relationship together. Fight for your marriage. Your spouse is worth it. Do not quit. Work on the problems until they are solved and healing has taken place.

7. Maintain the marriage

Once the marriage is healthy, you cannot go on automatic pilot. You will need to continue to work hard at maintaining a healthy marriage. The difference now is that you have each other to lean on. Each day is a new day to develop your love for each other. You will still have problems, but now you have the tools to deal with them immediately. The good thing is that now instead of focusing on all the problems, you are free to focus on each other and to focus on all the positive aspects of life together.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive look at how to repair a broken marriage. If you come across this article and are in a failing marriage, let this be a beginning to your healing and restoration as a couple. Follow the guidelines listed, and you will enjoy life together once again.

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Comments 35 comments

tanay253 profile image

tanay253 7 years ago from Berkeley,CA,USA

You simply cannot have a successful relationship without communication, and a marriage without communication is a divorce in the making. You must communicate honestly and openly with your significant other if you want to have a happy and healthy relationship. A marriage that has secrets and silence is doomed to fail because all ways to save a marriage depend on communication between spouses.

Consideration is another crucial component of marriage, and it is impossible for a couple that fails to treat each other with consideration to be happy together. You don't have to agree with each other all of the time, but you do have to listen and respect each other's opinions. Marriage should be a partnership, not a competition, so take turns compromising when you don't agree on things instead of insisting on having your own way all of the time.

wanthusband2wantme 5 years ago

Wow, what a good article. I wish my husband would realize the importance of not needing to work all the time. He gets frustrated with me when I want him to not work overtime whether it be evenings, weekends, or even holidays. He ends up staying home, but you can tell he resents being there with me. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to help him realize I want to feel special and that he would want to spend time with me? I don't care about things. I just want him to want me.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

thanks for the input. My parents worked a lot when I was growing up, so I raised myself. It really screwed me up not having them around. I still fight battles to overcome all the problems of not having them in my life. Try communicating to him passionately why you need him around and what damage is being done with his absence. Ask him what work gives him that you don't? Really dig into his mind and find out how you are not meeting his needs in a way that work does. The fact is, we will all die and then all the overtime means nothing, but the people in our lives do.

troubled 5 years ago

What do you do when you think your husband doesn't like you anymore? You know he loves you, but just doesn't seem to like you.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

troubled- You need to sit down and talk and try to figure out what happened. Often, we do what it takes to win their love, but stop trying after being married. You both need to figure out if you have both just settled for good enough. Maybe you need to get back to winning each other over again.

hurt 5 years ago

I recently discovered my husband was having an online/phone affair with a woman he met on an addiction recovery website. When I confronted him, he said he no longer loved me and wasn't sure if he wanted to stay together. Now he says he wants to work it out and that he deleted everything that had to do with her. I am having a really hard time believing anything he says and when I do try to talk to him he shuts down. He doesn't want to go to counseling because he is afraid of this going public. How do I even begin to rebuild the trust? I'm willing to forgive but I feel like it can't happen until he opens up about everything.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

hurt- For a marriage to work there has to be total openness from both people. Until this happens you won't be able to trust him. It is up to him to rebuild the trust in you.

Adam 4 years ago

Wow, thanks Michael for your article and also the article on "how to repair a broken relationship". My wife and I have been at marriage counselling for the last 6 months and have been making some great progess, but she is struggling to forgive me for the hurt I have caused her over the years (married for 12 years). I have made a lot of changes to myself over the last 6 months which she recognizes, but the hurt is so strong for her she is struggling to forgive. She said we need time apart, it has been 4 nights now, you articles gave me a lot of insight and hope. I have kept saying "I am so sorry" ( which I am ), but now I know that is not helping and I need to give her the space she is seeking. It is just very hard when my natural instinct is to want to help through this tough time, it is only now I am realizing by giving her space is giving her the help she needs. I will be strong and not give up! She is definitely worth it and I am a much better person than I was 6 months ago. Thankyou!

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Adam- I am happy to hear that you are taking a positive look at your situation. Thanks for the props.

Nathanial 4 years ago

My wife and I have been married 22 years. We had a horrible sex life before and I desired her all the time, but she didn't respond like I would have liked. We almost divorced at a time. Since then we have worked on the marriage and now she seems to want sex all the time. I know this sounds like a good story and I should be happy now, but I just don't really desire her. We have sex because I don't want her to feel as I did all those years, but when she comes on to me, I feel nothing really. I find myself not thinking about sex any longer. I don't know how to respond to her anymore. She gets discouraged because she can tell I don't really want the sex anymore. Even when we have sex, my mind is wondering elsewhere and not really on her and what we are doing. What do you think I should do? Should I tell her my real feelings? SHould I just ask her to stop having sex with me or just pretend I want her and live a fake life? Is there a way to get my feelings back? I want to want her. She is being the person I have wanted for so long. I just feel it may be too late.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Nathanial- The feelings will come back, but probably little by little. What happens is that if you are a man of honor, then when you have to go long periods of time without sex, you train yourself to turn of your feelings so you don't do something stupid. Then, when your wife comes around like yours has, you struggle to turn the feelings back on. You have to retrain yourself to know that it's okay to feel again. During that time you probably became numb in order to protect yourself. People who go through abuse learn to turn off their emotions to protect themselves from hurt, then when the abuse stops they struggle to feel emotions again. Over time you can get those feelings back. Don't get frustrated. Just be honest with your wife, but reassure her of your love. You are acting completely normal. You just need to realize that it's okay to feel good again.

Itsnotallbad 4 years ago

I'm not sure what to do right now. I feel a little embarrassed of the fact that my husband and I have had problems ever since we got married. Now that we have worked things out, the bad times have overshadowed the good times from the past in my husbands mind. I shrink in my chair of embarrassment when someone asks the typical questions of a couple of "what was it that caused you to fall in love with your husband or wife?", "what are the qualities in your husband and wife that you fell in love with?", or "what are the good memories from when you were younger and first married?". He never has an answer. Is there something you would recommend to trigger good memories? I have tried talking about the good times and even getting the old pictures out, but he just makes a remark of something negative. I'm not sure if you can help with this. I'm just tired of going to a party or celebrating another wedding anniversary and know the questions are coming up. I have loved him all these years and we had many good memories and it hurts so deeply to know he won't move on from the hurts and even try to remember the good times.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Itsnotallbad- forgiveness is a powerful thing. What this boils down to is forgiveness, which he hasn't done. My wife and I went through some bad times that overshadowed the good times. When things improved I thought I had forgiven, but I couldn't let the past go. One day I decided to just let it all go and move on. When I did that a huge weight lifted from me and I was able to then be truly happy with her. He has not forgiven you, so he is stuck. Until he decides to let the past go and love you in the present you will be stuck where you are.

Cathy 4 years ago

what do you do when you know your spouse is lying to you, but you can't prove it? OR if you have proven over and over and they turn it around on you like you are the bad one in the marriage. So, now they get rid of all evidence, but insist nothing is going on. Do you think there is ever a reason for a spouse to lie to you or not tell whole truths especially when it is about being or talking to the opposite sex?

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Cathy- there isn't much you can do until he is willing to be honest. Ask him gently why he feels he needs to do this. Tell him you love him and only want the best. By being patient and loving you are taking away all his defenses and slowly tearing down walls. It's not easy to be patient and wait, but it's the only way to break through his lies.

Lost 4 years ago

So tonight my wife and i got into a fight over something that i had said previously to a mutual friend who assured me anything i said would be between us. Anyway, the root of the problem is, I have changed. She fell in love with a guy and I know that somewhere deep inside me that guy is there but im not sure where or how to get to him. She gave me her rings back and I had to beg her to give me a month in order to try to mend our marriage. She told me that she would give me the month but that it wasn't going to be easy. Right now I don't even know where to start. I don't know where to start digging into my own self to find the guy she fell in love with, even though I know he is there and I know I want to be him again, i am just too weighed down by stress of life from outside sources. I also don't know where to start trying to win her back. Please help me

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Lost- There are a million things I could say. This will take a lot of work and you need a lot of support. I am willing to walk with you through this. You can find my email in my profile under my picture. You need my support and the support of those close to you daily to make this happen. Even if you aren't a Christian I would suggest two resources for you that are Christian based, but useful no matter what your beliefs. One is the movie Fireproof with the accompanying book The Love Dare. The other is a book called "Love and Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Doing these things coupled with daily support will go a long way. But ultimately it's up to her if she will accept your love. So, don't give up.

Cathy 4 years ago

I am so upset right now. Thank you for your response earlier, but I feel this is crucial right now and I don't know how to handle this. I have just found out he planned to meet a woman who he had lied about even talking to, but now I found out that when they talked they decided to meet face to face sometime this week. I don't know what to do. I know if I confront him, he will deny it or make an excuse and turn it around on me again. I wish he would just be open and not hide things. It is horrible living this way where you don't know if he is really doing what he says he is doing. Please help!!

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Cathy- First, this is up to him to be honest. I can't make him do that and neither can you. Has your relationship been open and honest in the past or is just a recent thing of him hiding and lying? Him meeting this other woman and lying about it is not the root problem. It is a symptom. And if there was an affair going on, that is not the root problem either. It is only a symptom of deeper problems.

I only check comments a couple times a day, so if you want faster responses, feel free to email me. You can find my email in my profile.

TJ 4 years ago

Just wondering your thoughts here. My girl says it hurts her when I look at the pics that get sent to me. Now, I don't really see it as looking at porn because they aren't naked, they just have skimpy clothes and are being a little seductive. Do you think it is wrong to take a peek? How does this hurt a woman if I'm not doing anything. I just like looking at them. Is it any different than looking at a woman that passes me on the street?

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

TJ- You shouldn't be looking at women that pass you on the street. You should have eyes for her only. Whether the pics are of women who are dressed skimpy or naked, it's the same thing- lust! You are being selfish when you look at those pics. You should read the book, "Every Man's Battle", by Steven Arterburn.

brandon 4 years ago

i need help marriage is falling wife just left without saying where she's going with my kids while i was sleeping,nd im dying slowly of the pain nd hurt.pls help.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

brandon- it would be best if you emailed me. Then you could give me details and I could then better help you. You can find my email under my picture in the profile.

tony 4 years ago

My wife wants divorce. I have hurt her with both lies and internet porn, it has ended but she wont trust and believe me. A month ago i found naked pics off her online and on our computer. We have 3 kids, and just lucky they didn't see those pics. She also had stories about ber new boyfriend and how they where being intimate while me and keds we're not home. Also, prior to tbis she's had a txting affair with one od friends for a long time. While i was gone for 10 days due to funeral in another country, she texted with this guy 331 times in 10 days and all between 10 pm and 3 am in the morning. She claimed it all to be just about schoolwork. We've been married for 13 years and haven't had sex since January of 2012. I was in a car accident back octo er 2007 which resulted in 2 lower cack surgeries plus one cervical surgery. Since then our sexlife hasn't been good at all but i have tried anything i could do to help her but sometimes to now prevail. We also haven't shared the same bed since accident due to my back/ neck. Feeling better now but she hasn't allowed me into our bedroom since last year. I need help. I love her and don't want any divorce.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

tony- I can only imagine how much you are hurting. Have you asked her what she wants from you in order to be happy? Ask her to be totally honest with you about what she is lacking that she feels she has to look elsewhere. I think to that she needs to forgive you for your past mistakes, which she hasn't done.

Brandon 4 years ago

Since I was 6, I have battled porn. My porn addiction has grown to a sexual addiction and for the past 5 years, I have been involved with "escorts and parlors". I got married last year and though my wife kinda knew about my addiction, she never imagined it was this bad. I have tried to get help but I always end up going back to square one. I hate this over powering feeling I get when my addiction takes over, its as if I'm on a drug. I have saught help and worked my program but I end up relapsing. I have hurt my wife and kids so much with my lies, addiction and trust issues. I am too at the end of my rope, as I hate this "slave" feeling I feel to this addiction. Please help, even if its prayer...I need it!

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Brandon- I will pray for you. One thing to know is that you should not make the mistake of trying to get rid of porn from your life. What you need to do is crowd it out of your life. As humans, we have a spot inside us that need filled. If you take porn out of that spot, you will be left empty, then you will just keep going back to sexual addiction. So, rather than just take the addiction away, it needs to be pushed out by something better. You are already doing that. Your wife should fill that spot, but she is being crowded out by porn. So, reverse the process by crowding out the sexual addiction with your wife.

Too, you need to grow in love. Love is self-giving. When you truly love you give up your own desires in order to fulfill the needs of the one you love. This only begins when you encounter God's love. When you experience God's radical love, then you can truly love your wife in a radical way. Feel free to email me and I will walk with you daily through this battle. I used to have the same battle, so I understand.

newbee007 4 years ago

i'm 24 & my husband is 27.we r married since last 2 two problem is my in laws.they are infereing into each & every things of our husband is their only son,they think that their son is not mature enough to take any they always control their son.they even decided the place of our honeymoon.i've tried to talk to my husband about this matter but as always he passed my comments to his dad.and then they made a big issue of this,they said that if i say anything about their family matter then their son will divorce me.i was shocked when my husband said to me that he is agree with his father in law made things worse,my husband didn't even called me once when i was in my mom's house.i don't know what to do now.i've come back to husband's house for the sake of this marriage but i really don't know how long i can tolerate that my in laws dominating my life.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

newbee007- Somehow I didn't see your comment until now, which is two months since you wrote the comment. I'm sorry. If you still need help let me know.

Katie 3 years ago

You didn't really touch on this issue and I didn't see any other hubs that you have written concerning emotional affairs. My husband and his coworker I feel had an emotional affair, however, they both deny it. They say they are just close friends and having some fun while they are together daily. I intercepted the chats and feel so betrayed when I read all of their sexual conversations and still cannot let it go. They were very flirty, expressed their dedication to one another and how they loved each other. Am I wrong that this is wrong and shouldn't go on when you are married? My husband keeps telling me that I am his one and only and they are just friends and that they have never been sexual. I believe there is an emotional affairs along with sexual affairs. I know you can have friends of the opposite sex, but don't you think this goes too far and if your spouse is uncomfortable with it, you should stop it? Maybe I'm wrong. I'm anxious to hear what you think. Please help!!

Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 3 years ago from Brownsville,TX

Hello., I have been on both sides of the fence.. what upsets me is when you think everything is going good and then he runs off and has an affair. I believe in prayers. I have prayed for him for years. then i got tired of praying and left him.. finally after months of being apart he came to get me.. which made me feel good but his drinking well not stop.. this gets on my nerves.... I don't know what else to do.

God Bless you for writing this.. blessings to you


Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 3 years ago Author

Katie- you are right. It's ok to have friends of the opposite sex, but there are lines that can be crossed into an affair without having sex. Emotional affairs are probably more common than sexual affairs. You both should have a good long conversation about this and come to some agreements. Don't write each other's thoughts off. Listen to each other, and come to some common ground on this.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 3 years ago Author

Deborah- people are broken and their bad choices affects those closest to them. You need to do some real soul searching and figure out what your boundaries are. I hate to see you keep getting hurt. Reconciliation is the best, but sometimes you can't allow yourself to keep getting hurt.

Katie 3 years ago

I tried sitting down and talking to him about these things you mentioned, but he just blew up. He said I should trust him no matter what. How can I trust him when they flirt and send inappropriate texts to one another.? They are together at the office daily, have lunch breaks together and even have to work late nights at times alone. He won't hear my side at all and said to get over it. I am at a loss. I love him, but I don't think I can stay with someone who does not even care for my feelings and at this time is more attached emotionally with her instead of me. He keeps saying it isn't cheating because they haven't had actual sex. How do I even know if that is true or not? He denied the texts until I caught him in action, even then he tried to turn things around and blame me and all my wrong doings. He shares everything with her and nothing with me anymore. Do you think there is any hope at this point?

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 3 years ago Author

Katie- There is hope, but he has to honor boundaries and let you have your feelings expressed. I have good friends who are women, and one test that I use is to see if they will honor my wife. The ones that don't have to take a hike. It sounds like she is not honoring you.

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