A fractured marriage can be restored to lasting health
After 15 years, two books, and a relatively thick body of knowledge on marriage and family, we can boldly admit we don’t know everything there is to know about marriage, certainly not by experience.
In fact, there are couples we sit with in consultation sessions who have been through some of the best and worst experiences that we have seen.
Nevertheless, our marriage has seen some of the darkest seasons many other marriages don’t survive.
And as much as we’ve not experienced it all, we know enough to affirmatively conclude that any fracture in a marriage can be healed and the marriage fully restored to lasting health.
And we mean any fracture, including most of what we’ve identified as deal breakers.
Any two mature adults who want to remain committed in their marriage can maintain a healthy relationship in spite of the challenges their marriage may have gone through.
At the risk of being offensive and trivialising genuine challenges many couples go through, we don’t believe there are differences that cannot be reconciled.
Unless by “irreconcilable differences” we mean pride, selfishness, immaturity and hardened hearts, there is no such thing as irreconcilable differences.
Love never fails. It is patient and endures all things, yet not stupid, gullible or naive.
There may be too many wounds; too much damage; and it seems impossible to get past the hurt.
But as a couple you can decide to re-engage and reconnect in a deliberate, steady and purposeful manner.
It won’t be easy, but it can be done if you want it. Here are some of the ways you can fight for your marriage.
Accept the things you cannot change
Accept that you cannot change your spouse and rather focus on the one person you can change — you. Furthermore, you cannot change past experiences, decisions or remarks, but you can discover ways to process and reorient the past, or make amends for any wrongs committed, and move on.
You also shouldn’t even attempt to change your spouse’s personality. That’s who they’re created to be in their core.
And that’s the difference they bring to the partnership, as you bring yours.
You marry your spouse’s character, not their personality.
Your major interest should be in the cultivation of their character — their integrity — rather than being frustrated with that they are naturally quiet or loud, for instance.
Stop taking each another for granted
Express gratitude to each another. Say thank you for that cup of coffee.
Really celebrate anniversaries by planning something special or out of the ordinary.
Tell her how much it means to you that she cooks a great meal — or vice versa. Pay attention to the little things, and value your spouse and the relationship.
Prioritise your marriage
It’s unfortunate, but time has a way of eating away at our priorities. Even worse, is if we don’t know that our spouses come first, above everyone alive and everything else around us.
“You’re the most important thing in my life” often gives way to a career, children, ageing parents and so on.
There is not much harmony in a marriage when one spouse feels like they are always playing second fiddle, even to the children.
The happiest kids are those with parents who love one another the best.
Start all over. Lighten up and laugh. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway, then you’ll remember why.
Love each another until it’s no longer an effort.
Change the patterns
Renew your conflict resolution strategies. Having the same old fights over and over again is a sign of stagnation and lack of growth.
Choose to be teachable and learn so you can grow.
If you have to “fight” over anything, then for goodness sake, let it be over something new.
Embrace a life of grace
Both you and your spouse are imperfect, and you live in an imperfect world.
As life happens, some of the most hurtful stuff happens to even the most “undeserving” people by no fault of anyone.
When you embrace a life of grace and forgiveness, you tap into a life of true freedom.
You become bigger than the situation you may find your marriage in.
Embracing a grace-based lifestyle gives your marriage an opportunity to deflate what ordinarily would flame deep-seated anger inside you, and offers you an opportunity to approach issues with cool heads.
Unity — being of one mind, speaking with one voice and one language — is the glue that will hold you together through it all.
There is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as you both deliberately keep it in your consciousness not to fight each other, but unite against the challenge you face.
When you fight your spouse over whatever challenge you, as a unit ought to team up against, you sabotage any chance of victory over that challenge.
Have the bond of prayer tie you together in unity.
Your marriage must be bigger than you
That it’s our choice who and when we marry doesn’t necessarily mean it’s our choice to abandon that decision any time we choose and for any reason.
Life does not revolve around us, and your marriage isn’t about you and your happiness.
It is part of a bigger picture that affects you as individuals, your children, families, society and possibly your eternity.
Develop a common purpose
Couples that are serious about life together have the courage to search for meaning as a team.
Such couples understand life isn’t always about song and dance.
They pursue shared meaning and purpose to live fulfilled lives and leave meaningful legacies.