It is so easy to look up and one day you find marriage in a “stuck” place. I know more than once through the years Cheryl and I have looked at each other while addressing a specific issue and with a tone of desperation said, “So is this the best it is going to be?” That can be a lonely, frustrating or even hopeless feeling. I want you to know there is hope for better in your marriage!
When I am finding solutions to a problem, I sometimes use the phrase, “Let’s put everything on the table and decide what needs to go and what we need more of”. Here are 5 things to take “off the table” in your marriage:
5 Things To Take Off The Table
What you feed grows.The more I think about Cheryl’s shortcomings or weaknesses, the harder it is to move forward. Once it leaves my heart and comes out of my mouth, I have even more to clean up! Stop verbalizing your complaints. I am certainly not trying to over-spiritualize this, but take those complaints to the Lord. He knows and He cares so much more than your friends. And don’t complain about your spouse openly to any people—especially not your children.
We live in a society right now where disrespect is everywhere — political candidates, TV characters, Disney cartoons, social media. Disrespect in marriage is destructive. One disrespecting comment, look, eye-roll, ignoring action, or dismissive tone can undue weeks, months and sometimes even years of trust that has been built into your marriage. We must refuse to EVER let it be on the table of our marriage!
Spending too much time looking at all the things other people have or envying other couples’ marriages is only going to increase your dissatisfaction. Remember when you long for a marriage like theirs, that you are often only seeing the highlight reels of others’ lives, their best faces. During this pandemic, comparison has crept into marriages as much as ever. Social media highlights are almost all we see of other marriages. Face-to-face contact with other couples always helps us realize that they also are real people with real lives just like us.
There’s a natural tendency for us to withdraw when we feel we aren’t getting what we want from a relationship. Early on Cheryl and I both had a tendency to withdraw or withhold when we didn’t feel safe. Sometimes that is a form of protection; we don’t want to be vulnerable and get hurt. But it can also be a form of punishment. Turning down physical intimacy or refusing to talk when your spouse needs to talk to you is often used as a silent weapon. Remember, marriage is a covenant, a forever commitment to love the other person, not a contract in which you only give to them when they give to you.
When people mentally and emotionally check out of their present circumstances, they often let their hearts and minds wander somewhere else. Maybe that’s towards another person or to past-times and pursuits that bring them comfort and relief. Many times couples escape to their work or their children. Work and children are important but cannot be used as an excuse to escape. For instance, the guy who is always out hunting or “fixing” something in his shop, or the woman who disappears into romance novels. Running away never helps.
Which two or three of these could you adopt today to begin to turn your marriage around? Remember there is always hope for better!