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Help 101: My Marriage is Crumbling & How I Can Save It
1. There is still hope for your marriage!
2. Don't let divorce be an option!
3. Commit to these 4 simple pieces of life-changing advice!
Don't Give Up on Your Marriage
You don't want a divorce, you've tried marriage counseling, and you've tried talking until you're blue in the face. What do you do now?
Though I’ve only been married a little over five years now, my husband and I have been through countless ups and downs and two painstaking separations. Our wedding bells stopped ringing a long time ago, and yet somehow, by nothing more than the grace of God and a lot of perseverance, we’re still together.
As a new wife, numerous people gave me plenty of wanted—and unsolicited—advice as to how to make my marriage work. But the truth of the matter is no matter how many self-help books you read, no matter how many counseling sessions you attend, or how many heart-to-heart talks you have with your spouse, the only way to make your marriage work is to figure out a healthy way to withstand the fiery trials that come to cook your marital vows to a crisp.
When Wedding Bells Stop Ringing
Though this hub is written from a woman’s point-of-view, I believe that the fundamental truths that I have experienced over the course of my marriage can be applied to either party. Perhaps your year has woefully kicked off to more heated arguments and verbal battles that end in emotional bloodshed. Or perhaps the dreaded Wall of Silence has descended between you and your spouse, a wall so thick that neither of you speak to each other or can barely stand to look at each other, let alone sleep in the same bed. If you’re taking the time to read this hub, then there is hope for you yet!
I have compiled some simple, yet profound advice that if applied diligently and daily, along with many prayers sent up to God (or a Higher Being), your marriage just might be saved before undergoing an irreversible landslide.
Advice #1: Decide What You Want to Do
“I don’t know” doesn’t work in a marriage. Even if he’s the one who’s saying, “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore” or “I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore”, you have to decide what you want in the marriage. You cannot straddle the fence and what you decide should not be based upon his decision. You cannot say, “I’ll stay married to him as long as he wants me and when he doesn’t want me anymore, then I don’t want him either.”
Either you’re all the way in, or you’re all the way out—regardless of what he’s doing. As simple as this sounds, this is some very difficult advice to apply to your marriage because how can you be all the way in even when he’s all the way out? Stay tuned for Help 102: He Wants Out But I’m Still In. While you wait for the next installment to this hub, decide what you want to do. If your answer is still “I don’t know,” then there’s really no reason to continue reading this hub.
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"The shutting up that I’m referring to is if you have talked about the same issue over and over and over and over and over again, what will talking about it again accomplish?"
Advice #2: Learn How to Shut Up
If you’re currently experiencing or have experienced the Wall of Silence (also known as the Silent Treatment), this is not the kind of shutting up that I’m referring to. The reason why this is a horrible strategy to employ is because you are completely shutting down the line of communication, which is the quickest way to divorce.
Furthermore, the Wall of Silence is downright rude and disrespectful. It’s common courtesy and good southern hospitality to speak to individuals when you walk in the room—this includes your husband or wife. If there is a burning touchy subject creating great tension between you two and you have already tried to talk about it, then give the touchy subject a chance to cool off before bringing it up again. Talk about “safe” topics, like your day at work, how dinner tastes, a show on TV, etc.
The shutting up that I’m referring to is if you have talked about the same issue over and over and over and over and over again, what will talking about it again accomplish? Absolutely nothing. One definition of insanity is to continue doing the exact same thing and expect to get different results.
"Shut up and start winning. Keep fussing and keep losing. The choice is yours."
Advice #3: Be Willing to Lose
This is one of the hardest pieces of advice for either party to swallow. No one wants to lose an argument or fight. You just have to get that last word in so you can glory in the feeling of, “Humph! I sure did put him in his place!” But what did you really just accomplish? A moment of glorifying in the feeling that you “won” the argument, and now there’s an even bigger wedge between you and your spouse?
It’s easy to fight back; it’s hard to be quiet. I challenge you that the next time you find yourself in an argument or a heated debate with your spouse, be willing to lose. Don’t get the last word in. Don’t get your point across. Be quiet and allow him to think that he just “put you in your place.” Let him walk away gloating at the fact that he finally got the upper hand on you. But the truth of the matter is when you lose an argument, you actually win.
You win because you have matured and grown to the point that you can apply self-discipline, even when your emotions are roiling, even when you have to literally bite your tongue and taste blood to keep your lips from moving. Maturity is not in your age. Maturity is positive inner change that comes about when you learn invaluable lessons from experience and directly apply them to your life. Shut up and start winning. Keep fussing and keep losing. The choice is yours.
Why Is Your Marriage Failing?
My marriage is crumbling because of:
Interesting Statistics on Marriage/Divorce
- According to the CDC, in 2011, 6.8% of the population got married and 3.6% got divorced.
- According to the State of Our Union (2011), 63% of men and 60% of women considered their marriages to be a "happy" one.
- According to this same report, the study noted that marriages that kept God as their center and attended religious services regularly reportedly had more satisfying marriages.
- According to the Marital Quality in African American Marriages (2011), African Americans are more likely to have children outside of marriage and less likely to get married than Caucasians.
- According to a family research study documented in the Huffington Post, marriages are currently at a historic low with about 31 women out of 1,000 committing to nuptial vows (read Huffington Post link below).
Read Huffington Post Article
- Marriage Rate Declines To Historic Low, Study Finds
We've been hearing for years that fewer and fewer people are tying the knot, and a new study reveals just how much the marriage rate has declined in the last century. A new report released Thursday by Bowling Green State University's National Center
Advice #4: Realize That YOU’RE The One Who Needs Fixing
A common problem that I have seen resurface in my life and in the lives of those around me is comparing yourself to others to create the distracting illusion that even though you’re not perfect, you’re doing pretty darn good. Take the below vignette for example:
Jane is married to Joe. They’ve been married for six years and things have been rocky from the moment they said “I do.” Joe is so messed up. He’s cheated on Jane numerous times, he’s a compulsive liar, he can’t keep a job to save his life, and he’s verbally abusive toward her. Jane, on the other hand, has never cheated on Joe. She might tell a white lie here and there, but it’s nothing compared to the outright lies that her husband tells. She’s been consistently working the same job for ten years and pays the majority of the bills herself. And the only time she’s verbally abusive toward her husband is when he’s attacking her with his words and she attacks back.
Compared to Joe, Jane is a pretty decent woman. How dare she end up with such a scumbag!
Now, let’s look at Jane again but without comparing her to her husband. Let’s look at her while comparing her to herself.
Jane has been working the same job for ten years and barely brings home $300 a week. She applied to college a few years back, took a few classes and then dropped out because it was too much on her. She keeps saying she’s going to go back, but the timing is never right. She lies to herself all the time, makes herself promises that she never keeps, like “this year, I’m going to find a better job.” Or “I’m going to quit gossiping about my friends and telling one girlfriend’s business to my other girlfriend.” Or “I need to become more consistent with my prayer life because it seems like the only time I talk to God is when my husband or my kids or my job has pissed me off.” And she has a potty mouth, but the horrible language only comes out when she’s having an argument with Joe, and sometimes they argue in front of the kids who hear this horrible language and when she hears her children repeat the bad words, she gets angry because they know better than to use that kind of language! Of course they should “do as mommy say, not as mommy do”…right?
What I’m trying to show you is that when you stop comparing Jane to her husband and start comparing Jane to herself, you realize that perhaps Jane needs to stop focusing so much on Joe’s issues and start working on resolving her own issues.
4 Pieces of Win-Win Advice
You're either all the way in or all the way out of your marriage. "I don't know" is not an option.
Instead of floating in limbo, you will be able to execute a plan to either progress your marriage or file for a divorce.
Stop sounding like a broken record. Aren't you tired of repeatedly talking about the same thing?
Instead of talking about the problem, pray about it. You'll be surprised at how much peace this will bring you.
Win by Losing
For once, let your partner win the argument and you just be quiet. Be willing to lose the battle in order to win the fight.
Disciplining yourself to be quiet when you're burning to speak will bring about a level of maturity in you that you never realized was possible.
Stop comparing yourself to your spouse and start comparing yourself to yourself. Focus on the issues in you that need fixing.
Again, this brings about growth and maturity in you. You'll be surprised how God (or Higher being) can work on your spouse when you move yourself out of the way and start working on you.
Marital Advice from a Religious Standpoint
Applying these four pieces of advice along with a whole lot of prayer can not only save your marriage, but can cause you to mature in ways that you never imagined possible.
- Choose this moment whether or not you have enough umph left in you to give your marriage a fighting chance.
- Learn how to shut up the right way.
- Be willing to lose the battle to win the fight.
- And for just one moment, can you please take your focus off of everything that he’s doing wrong, and start focusing on the many, many, many areas in your life that can use a whole lot of improvement?
For a marriage to work, yes, it takes two. But too many people underestimate the power that one praying and willing spouse can have over their marriage. For one moment, stop focusing on your spouse. Focus on God (or a Higher being) and focus on bettering yourself. These are the greatest tools that any husband or wife can use to ultimately restore a crumbling marriage.
© 2014 Jessica Barrow