7 Things to Consider if your Marriage is in a Storm
Is Your Marriage in a Storm?
7 Things you need to consider in order to navigate your way out
Like us, you may have grown up in a home where we you never saw the picture of what a real marriage relationship is supposed to look like. So when you got married, this meant you got to choose and make up your own marriage and family fantasy along the way, because there was no model for you to base your relationship on. This probably led to both of you trying to fulfill your own selfish desires, and with out even know it, your marriage was doomed for failure before it even began. The good news is that it’s not too late to change the outcome of your marriage and help your children see a much better example that will give them hope for their future and a healthy marriage and family life.
Danielle and I have coached many marriages that are stuck in a their very personal, perpetual storms. Things may get better for a while, but they seem to find themselves back in the debris field of a shattered marriage where they both feel taken advantage of and unappreciated with deep and hurtful wounds, a lack of hope, and great fear in their lives. Many times, one or both don’t even know what they are fighting over anymore. All they know is that they are tired of the pain and tired of nothing changing. It is not abnormal for these types of couples to end up in our home looking for a marriage rescue or, for some, confirmation to call it quits.
In 2004, Danielle and I could have been classified as one of these couples ourselves. Our marriage was in a storm, and everyone around us could have been a part of the aftermath, including our children. But like the marriages we coach, we had to decide what we were willing to fight for and why it was worth the effort. This was the turning point for us and could also be for you and your marriage. But don’t wait until you feel like your marriage is caught up in an EF 5 tornado before you decide to pick up your sword and fight. There is so much at stake if you do nothing. There inevitably is a storm is coming, and if you’re not prepared, the outcome may be worse than you think. Here are seven things you need to consider preferably before the storm even hits (meaning RIGHT NOW), but they are especially important if you are in a storm and need help navigating through it.
1. Your Marriage is not a Passive Activity. The number one killer of marriages is doing nothing to build the right foundation and then continuing the process of building it up. A marriage requires intentionality, and it is better to start off on a firm foundation rather then get several years down the road and realize your marriage was not built on anything. Many couples we have talked to that are on the brink of divorce do not really know what happened. It’s as if they just woke up one day and hated each other and couldn’t stand one another any longer. Passivity by its very definition is doing nothing or allowing something to take place without a proper response. In simple words, your marriage takes work on both sides to become healthy and stay healthy, and it starts on day one. Doing nothing to build your foundation and cultivate it throughout your marriage is a sure way to end up in a storm. Our culture has made it way to easy to call it quits, and our advice is to not take the bait for the easy way out. If you find yourself well into marriage without a foundation, it is not too late. Your marriage is worth fighting for, and there is something other than your own selfish desires at stake. You both need to fight for it. The love and respect you desire is only a few steps away, but you will not find it in this marriage or even the next one if you don’t fight. You both must decide to become intentional in your marriage and as parents rather than choosing to leave the outcome to chance.
2. It is not a 50/50 Thing. Many marriages end because they play the blame game rather than both parties putting in the effort to make it work. The arguments and finger pointing over what the other spouse does or does not do is sometimes like refereeing at the playground with six-year-olds. 50/50 does not equal success. 50/50 equals a 100% chance that you are going to find yourselves in a storm that you would not wish on anyone else, because it’s painful and frightening. The only way to guarantee success is when you both give 100% — regardless of the others response. Can you imagine if your spouse gave 100%? Now what would happen if you gave 100% to your marriage as well? It’s possible to do, but you need to work (there’s that word again) on what you are giving your 100% to. For example, each of us have a language that speaks to our hearts, and when someone cares enough to learn our love language and speak it, it changes both the person receiving it as well as the one giving it. If you have never taken the time to learn your spouse’s love language or your own, you can search for online questionnaires that will yield great information. The opposite of selflessness is selfishness. In order to give, you need to cast aside your selfishness and focus on your spouse’s needs. Give and see how much you will receive in return.
3. You Might Just Be The Problem. Many of us have unresolved emotional hurts and wounds that have shaped who we have become, and who you may have become may not be as healthy as who you could be. We often say that it is okay to be where you are right now, but it is not okay to stay there. For years, I acted out in unhealthy ways in my marriage and family without realizing that I really needed freedom from my past. I had believed some things about myself that were spoken over me as a child that were absolute lies, and it was affecting the choices I made in my marriage. I believed these lies for years, and I lived my life as if they were true. If you are reading this and saying to yourself that you don’t have any of those issues, there may just be another problem. You might need to deal with your pride and false humility. We all need to do a self assessment and determine if we are living a life outside of fear, rejection, pain from our past, mistakes we have made, or from the hurts and wounds from our own parents. When these issues are properly addressed, you will find freedom to live a much healthier and joy filled life, and your spouse and children need this from you. Ask your friends or your church where a freedom ministry might be so that you can learn to allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to these issues, and you can become the change you have always wanted — and needed.
4. Love is Something You Choose. Remember the love and compassion that you had for one another when you first got married? Well, since then, things may have gotten in the way like kids, work, money problems, and all the annoying things you have found that spouse does. These seem to be the things we focus on, and they get our attention each and everyday. Now, that initial passionate love seems to have gone, and you do not know how to get it back. However, the reality is that no one is responsible for your emotions other than you, and you get to choose to love or not to love. One of the revelations that came to me in our marriage storm is that God loves my wife, Danielle. He loves her unconditionally and sees her as a queen without seeing the things that once annoyed me. I had to let that sink in for a few days, and when I looked at Danielle, I began to see her as God saw her. So if God loves her, then I should love her too — unconditionally. It was a decision that changed my heart for Danielle and ultimately change our marriage. Choose to love your spouse for the incredible individual that God created them to be, and soon you will only see the good in them, as love always wins.
5. Your Words Matter. The spoken word is powerful, and it can bring life or death. It can build up, or it can tear down. Many couples find themselves in a storm because of how they speak to each other. The disrespectful words you use towards your spouse are very painful and will eventually lead to the destruction of not only your marriage, but also to the self-esteem of the one to whom you are married. Speaking passive-aggressively or lashing out in anger has a powerful affect on both your marriage and your family. Usually, your spouse is not the only one who hears these words, but your children often hear you fight and listen to what you say to one another. This can have devastating effects on how they view themselves. The truth is, you and your children deserve more, but in order to have more, you must first want more — for you and for them. Speaking words that bring life into your marriage and your family will certainly usher in peace and joy into your home.
6. What your Spouse Really Wants From You. One day, Danielle was asking me some questions about how I felt about something that had happened to me growing up. As I began to answer her, I saw something change in her countenance. It was as if she was about to win a prize or something with such great anticipation. It was then that I realized that Danielle wanted to know the deepest and most personal things about me that no one else on this entire earth would ever get to know. She wanted to know me like she would never know anyone else in her lifetime. So I began a quest to tell her as often as we were together more about the deeper things that existed in me. It was not only good for me to tell her so that she would know me better, but it was good for me to practice building intimacy with her through trust. I began to trust her, because she never judged me as she listened to the deeper things in my heart. As I shared these things with her, I realized that I also wanted the same from her as well. I wanted to know her like no one else ever would and to be a very safe place for her to tell me anything. This is intimacy at work. Intimacy means “In-To-Me-You-See”, and it is cultivated through the act of opening up to one another and discussing both the desires and pains of your hearts. Begin to open up to each other and listen to your spouse’s heart. You will be surprised at how much more you can love them through this.
7. What is Really At Stake if you Quit. The greatest example of marriage your children will ever see should be between their own parents. What they desire more than anything is to see their dad love their mom and their mom love their dad. Whoever coined the saying that our kids are resilient after the parent split was only justifying their own choices, because statistics tell us that broken homes lead to more broken homes. What is really at stake is your children and the generations that will come after them. You again get to choose what is worth fighting for. If your kids are not worth fighting for, then I don’t know what is. Do not wait until the storms have come before you choose. Become intentional in your marriage, and if you need help, then go find it. There are many places with qualified people who can bring you through your storm, and at the end of each storm is a magnificent rainbow waiting for you. The good news too is that you don’t have to wait until the storm passes, but you can dance in the rain. You can be a warrior for your marriage and family and take the battle to the enemy right now. Pick up your sword and fight. C2 it and be blessed.