Walt Disney had animals talk, underdogs win and had us believe that “they all lived happily ever after”. Have you found marriage isn’t quite that easy? Are you exhausted after giving it your all, just to get kicked in the stomach, again? Are you going around in a daze or have you decided that your spouse is truly an awful person? Are you looking for a way out?
In the quiet depths of your mind, have you said to yourself:
“If they died, that would solve everything!”
“I wish they would get sick of this and ask for a divorce!”
“If I give them enough rope, I think they’ll find someone else and start an affair.”
Believe it or not, these kinds of thoughts are far too common, although rarely admitted. These are desperate signals from your subconscious mind that your relationship is in serious trouble and you are all out of answers. This level of desperation reminds me of a time when an exhausted woman caring for her husband with dementia was told she too had a progressive dementia. What was she going to do now?
What Causes Marriage Problems?
We have been raised in a time where self-sufficiency is valued. Having answers is praised while asking for help is a sign of weakness and defeat. If you have a high IQ, you rarely need to ask questions, so you don’t. Notice, I didn’t say if you were wise!
Another issue is that marriage is a private relationship where secrets are shared and kept. These secrets often involve old wounds and “weaknesses” that otherwise never see the light of day. Given that marriage also includes nearly every aspect of your life, how can you possibly know how to handle it all? How can you know if one of the problems in your relationship is common to such old wounds or illnesses?
There is a relationship that is even deeper than marriage. Inside each of us, there is a relationship that we have come to trust and rely on. Even if you haven’t given this relationship a name it exists. The voice of reason inside your head is real. It is the voice of your stored subconscious memories of everything you have ever been through. If this relationship is given a name, it is often called your relationship with God.
When you allow for this “higher” relationship, new options become available to your relationship. You don’t have to come up with “how to do it right” by yourself. There are rules and guidelines you can both agree to follow. There is time tested, shared wisdom even in times when you struggle. Marital problems and personal weaknesses become opportunities to rely on, test and build your faith and your relationship skills. Given an awareness of faith and its connection with the power of your subconscious mind, acting like you can “know it all” becomes folly. Reaching out for help becomes the way of the wisdom and engages the power of the Holy Spirit.
Marriages in this kind of trouble are generally dealing with multiple confusing dilemmas that anyone would struggle with.
A few of the more common ones are:
- Compromises in the allocation of time for the relationship. You made decisions that you both thought would work, but they aren’t.
- There are struggles within the family structure likely due to differences in your original family structures. Although you each felt you could be flexible, you are discovering an irresistible pull to recreate some aspect of the social roles and activities of the way you were raised.
- There’s been a major life change, a move, a loss, new relationships, an addiction, that was unpredictable and is now creating new challenges.
- At least one member of the couple is often relatively isolated and tries to handle life on their own.
- Self-care has dropped off, until recently.
- There is a feeling from that the other person is “bad” but objectively this seems a projection of their own guilt.
- One or both have either given up or have decided to wait until the youngest child graduates.
Guilt induced projection of others' motives secondary to fears of similar accusations is very common and particularly difficult to unwrap. Combine this with recently improved self-care and the relationship is in serious trouble. You must reach out. Each of you must trust God and shine His light on all aspects of your lives and your relationship.
This isn’t easy. Often, there is a lack of awareness of all that is going on with an insistence that “something has got to change”. This is made worse when your mate feels recent efforts are working for them while the same efforts have left you feeling deceived. Additionally, there exists the human fear of being proved “the bad one”. In contentious relationships, this can have very real long term psychological and social consequences for everyone involved.
Biblical Precepts that can Save Your Marriage
Again, it is very helpful when both have allowed for both an independent and mutual relationship with God. This encourages the growth and trust in Biblical precepts such as a commitment to “Love God with all of your heart mind and soul, and to love your neighbor (in this case your spouse) as yourself.” This and related precepts can lead your relationship home.
Other helpful precepts include:
Likely, neither of you fully appreciate all that is going on in your relationship.
This means that there is something to be learned and reason for hope.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Often one or both of you will be weighing your options.
“Should I fight the good fight, or should I give up and find someone else while I’m still young enough to enjoy a new relationship.” Believe it or not, most couples who work through this process report, “I would never want to go through that again, but today we love each other better now than ever.” Your ongoing practice of trusting God is, as always, you best option.
“and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
When someone has negatively affected the relationship (best friend or lover) there must be a period of separation.
Only when the relationship has recovered, and a friend proves supportive to the relationship, can the relationship resume.
“And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus” Acts 15:39.
God knows you are going to need help and has provided for you.
Find a counselor who shares your views on life, marriage and who you both trust.
“they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:23.
You both need as much clarity and support as possible.
Often, friends and relatives “take sides”. Everyone involved with your family needs to be supportive of the success of your relationship. Everyone else will need to take a back seat.
“Marriage should be supported by all.” Hebrews 13:4
Often, misunderstandings in your relationship with God show up in your relationship with your spouse (and others!)
Resolving marital difficulties often results in total life renewal.
“No one can serve two masters” Luke 16:13.
Given deep misunderstandings, the battle requires a renewed commitment to your relationship with God.
You will need to restore or pick up daily spiritual habits that serve you.
“Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:13.
These deep misunderstandings also cloud your commitments to the relationship.
These changes lead to emergent thinking, feelings and actions. Mutual confusion creates a disconnect with your beliefs. This releases a raging river of overly anxious, angry, addictive and existentially judgmental thought patterns. Paraphrased, this explains Don Quixote’s axiom, “All is fair in love and war”. This Godless form of interaction is common to struggling marriages and families. This is the time to pull God close instead of pushing Him away with addictive or judgmental behavior. Warnings against such choices are necessarily pretty stiff.
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:29.
Trusting the skills of an “elder” or counselor is imperative but not easy.
You will be very sensitive to being misunderstood. Counselors may misunderstand and make mistakes. This is no time to be overly nice. You need to reach deep and be as respectfully honest as you can. It is in both of your best interests to let the counselor know each time you feel misunderstood. These revelations often help cut through the fog. These shared clarifications provide understanding, relief, progress and promote forgiveness.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13.
Try this habit.
Every time you see you first see your spouse throughout the day strive to see yet another reason that they are even more beautiful than before.
“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” Proverbs 5: 18-19
Please see the Heal in Oneness video course for more on these strategies.