When Your Marriage is Running on Fumes by AChuckAllen
Let’s just state the obvious: Nobody says I Do, believing that they will someday say, I Don’t. There is a massive difference in pre-marital counseling and counseling through a marriage in crisis. I know you are thinking “no joke, Chuck. I’m so glad you understand that.” I make that statement because it is such a departure from the exhilaration of about to be Mr. and Mrs. to I fell out of love with you.
If you are in a marriage running on fumes, or if you want to safeguard your healthy marriage, here are a few things that can help you and your spouse reestablish the honeymoon high. It’s not a magic eraser or a guaranteed miracle, but it has helped so many people. Here are a few exercises that might help you. You might read these and think, Pastor Chuck, are you really sure about this. The answer is, yes, yes I am.
- Ask yourself and ask your mate to write down the degree of passion and urgency that you are willing to invest into healing and/or bettering your marriage. I typically ask couples to do this individually first. And to clarify, the number is 0-10. If either of you select a number lower than 8, you need crisis counseling. See a marriage counselor ASAP.
- Take a serious look at your willingness to convey value and receive value from your spouse. When we feel valued, we feel loved. When we feel loved, we feel affirmed. When we feel affirmed, we experience trust. Trust fuels a healthy relationship. Write down the ways that you might feel valued by your spouse. Get super elementary. Keep getting the definition of value to the most simplistic expression. Leave no room for assumption and mis understanding. It’s like every episode of “Home Improvement,” with Tim Allen. Tim’s wife Jill would try to explain what she wanted him to do. He would completely do something else. Tim winds up at the backyard explaining his predicament to Wilson, his neighbor and Wilson explains what Jill meant as if he were the wife whisperer. Avoid all of that and get very, very, very specific. Then have a chat over dinner or coffee. Keep it simple and keep it practical. Leave no room at all for assumptions.
- Determine, without bringing the past into this conversation what is the next thing that each of you need to do. Here is your measuring stick: Nothing changes until something changes. Don’t think about all the changes you want your spouse to make for the next 20 years. Stick to one thing each of you can change that will strengthen and stabilize your marriage. Agree to a timeframe that each of you are willing to make this effort. Be encouraging with your spouse as they make this effort. Evaluate what is the next one thing to change for each of you and stay at this drill fore 45-60 Days.
I realize that these three tasks seem ridiculously elementary, but my experience has taught me that real, tangible change only happens when make a covenant and commitment to each other and agree on these three efforts. At the end of the day, real change occurs when we allow the Lord to change our hearts from the inside out. The real change that occurs in the power of Christ will always include humility and forgiveness. Both of these are essentials that you cannot manufacture on your own. When you trust the Lord to do what only He can do, and when you do all that you can do, you’ll get to the right answer pretty quickly.
Trust Him to work in your marriage and see how possible it might be to instigate a better, more faithful relationship. And if at the end of the rope your spouse is just not willing to do their part, speak clearly and openly in an effort to move forward with grace, not imprisonment.