Sep 5, 2013

Surviving a "mid-wife" Crisis #5: Seven ways to turn your marriage around

I've been loving getting all of this out of my head, and appreciate those who have been sticking with me (even those silent readers) through the whole series.  We already talked about how to stop the slide, but I haven't spent too much time talking about how to start building the marriage back up.  Let me start by saying - I don't know what your marriage is really like, I don't know how much you are willing to do, or your spouse is willing to do. I don't know what your baggage is, which has a huge impact on how well you can recover.

None of the things I am going to list are things that I do perfectly (or even well, if I'm being honest with myself), but these are things that I am learning and so I am sharing these little ideas to change the direction of your marriage, from broken down to building up!

1. God allows U-Turns
It is a cheesy-but-true saying that doesn't get enough credit.  Do you feel like there is no hope in your marriage?  Do you fear that there have been too many words said, too many deeds done, too many fights or just too much time drifting apart?  I am here to tell you, there is always HOPE!  Marriages are easier to fix when both members are committed to working together, with the help of God, to repair the damage.  No marriage is "TOO broken" when both members want to fix it.

Each of you individually (and possibly together) should be spending time in reading scripture and prayer. In my moments of despondency and emotional exhaustion, prayer and spending time in the Word were my only saving grace.   If you and/or your husband are not believers, that is not to say you can't save your marriage, it would just be easier if you had a source for peace and love outside of yourself.  There is a book that came out several years ago called "Love Dare", in my own marriage it has made a huge difference.  Check it out!

2. Release your false "Rights"
Often what causes discontentment and unhappiness in marriage and life is the core belief that you DESERVE to, or it is your RIGHT to "be happy".

There is a quote floating around the internet that has no attribution called the "Marriage Box", the main idea goes like this: When we get married, we believe a myth.  We believe that marriage is full of all of these beautiful things, things that will make us happy; companionship, intimacy, friendship and more.

The truth is, that marriage at the start is an empty box, you must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people, and people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage.

A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

When you demand that it is your "right" to be happy in marriage, you are, in effect, shouting into an empty box.

3. Change your question
Many times you may ask "Did I marry the right person?" , when what you should be asking is "How can I best love the person I married?"  Sometimes the dream or idea of "Soul Mates" distracts us from the real issue in front of us, which is that marriage is not "disposable".   Success in marriage is not about finding the "right" or "perfect" person, it's about learning to love the person you married.  This is an important concept, something that my husband and I discussed early in our marriage.  You could marry almost anyone and make it work, as long as you work at it, so why not spend that energy on your marriage.  In other words "Love the One You're With".

4. At some point you have to stop talking
I believe in the power of good therapy, but at some point you need to stop talking and start doing.  Discussing past hurts and present struggles are normal, and part of the process, but if that is where you stay, then you are missing the boat.  Once you've established what the problem is, decide on a course of action and do it!  Love is not a noun, it is a verb, an active word!  Find practical ways to love your husband every day.  A great book about making love a verb is the book "Five Love Languages", it is a practical and straightforward look at how to love your spouse in a way they understand.

5.  Act like you're dating
If your marriage has been struggling for awhile, chances are you rarely spend time with your spouse without an intense topic for discussion.  Sometimes it's nice to just be with each other without trying to "fix" what's broken.  Remember when you were dating and you had no worries, rarely fought, and genuinely enjoyed being with him?  You are still the same people, just a little older.  Start cultivating your friendship again.  Watch movies or television that you both enjoy, so you can laugh together. 
Spend time sitting and talking about your days and doing those things you did together when you were young and care-free.  Most important: your marriage will not be fixed by spending a lot of time apart, absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder, in fact, it makes it grow hard and weary.

6. You can do it alone
Despite the saying "It takes two to Tango", you can change the direction of your marriage by changing your behavior {since it is the only thing YOU can control}.  Your effort can change the momentum of your marriage, and very often, it's that effort that will motivate an even reluctant husband to join in the process of saving the relationship.  Of course it is better if you are both working together, but small actions can yield big results.  Do this: take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle and write down everything that your husband does that makes him difficult to live with on the left hand side, and then write down how you respond on the right. Now, cut the paper in half and throw away your husband's side.  Look at that list and see if there is anything you could change to start improving your marriage.

7. Turn up the heat
 Open a dialogue with your husband about sex.  Often when we are feeling emotionally distant from our spouse, sex is the first to go, but don't underestimate the strong psychological effect frequent sex has in a marriage.  For some great resources on turning the heat up in your marriage, visit To Love, Honor, and Vacuum, you won't be disappointed!

"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Col 3:23

Marriage is not always easy, nor is it always difficult.  Just keep praying through this hard time and you will come out on the other side with an amazing marriage to show for it!  Thanks for stopping by and reading!  Let me know if you have any wisdom to share on any of the series by leaving a comment! 

The whole series:
#1 - Three warning signs your marriage could be in trouble {Monday}
#2 - Four ways to STOP it in it's Tracks {Tuesday}
#3 - Five Ways to Make it WORSE {Wednesday}
#4 - Six Thoughts on Leaving {Thursday}
#5 - Seven ways to turn your marriage around {Friday}

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  1. I read this one and then went back to read all the others! I am in a happy marriage and found here much food for thought! Thank you.

  2. Haven't been here for the series but this is good stuff! 34 happy years and counting :)


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