- Gender and Relationships
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.