In his early 30’s, Jeremy has been in one relationship after another. He falls in love and they move in together. After about a year or so, things begin to heat up and he feels pressured to put a ring on her finger. When he calls for coaching, he says the same things:
“I’m not financially stable enough to get married yet.”
“I don’t want to get married and end up divorced like my parents.”
“I’m not sure she is the one for me. I love her but we get into fights a lot and she is really annoying when she…”
“I’m not sure I’m ready to make such a long term commitment.”
‘Find a good spouse, you find a good life—and even more: the favor of God!’ Proverbs 18:22 (The Message)
Marriage In Decline
Ronald and Linda had been married for 7 years when he called with the question. “I don’t know if I need to separate, divorce or try to work on our marriage with you guys?”
Things were dark in the home. He told us that she seems to not care about how the home looks, how their two young children are parented, what their finances are, or about their relationship. “Every time we get help, she does better for a little while and then slips right back into the same old pattern of doing nothing.”
Common Reasons For Separation
Stan was fed up. When he called for a marriage intensive, he stated, “She treats me like I’m her child – Always telling me what to do.” Only married three years, she was just as frustrated as he was. “He’s always telling me what I ought to do. Its like he thinks I’m an idiot.”
Stan and Jackie are like so many couples we have worked with over the years in marriage intensives. Each spouse has difficulty fully hearing each other. Both struggle with understanding their spouse’s intentions.
Helping Your Husband
When your husband tells you a story about what is going on at work, or about some conflict with others in his life, you probably want to help. When he thinks out loud through a challenge or problem, you want to do your best to try to help him solve it. Your intentions are good.
More often than not- when a wife begins to help her husband by offering solutions or taking action to solve the issue for him, he does not receive it as help. Most husbands instead feel it as if their wives are bossing them around or being critical. Your “helping” is actually creating problems in the relationship.
Fixing Your Wife’s Problem
Every couple has struggles.
Every spouse feels, at one time or another, like quitting.
Relationships are hard. Doing life together forever is one of the greatest challenges in life.
Looking For Help In All The Wrong Places
When a spouse is struggling in their relationship, they will seek help. This usually begins by searching on the internet for relationship articles addressing their issue. They also search through magazines and books for some source of information that may be helpful.
Loyce was angry when she called for a marriage intensive. She and Chris had a rocky six year marriage. She said, “I feel stuck with Chris and he treats me so bad. I can’t do anything right.” As the parent of an eighteen month old and three year old, she did not believe she had any financial options.
When we met with Chris and Loyce for the marriage intensive, we learned that they were in a messy pattern of interacting that we have noticed in many couples over the years.
Becoming A Victim
When we experience something uninvited, unexpected, traumatic or conflict in our marriage, sometimes we drop into a victim role. We react to our world and our spouse by moving to a place or situation with few options.
Lisa was so angry when she called. “He always has to be right. He’d rather be right than have a relationship with me. He will do anything to win the argument.”
Lisa and Vann, married for seven years, were at a breaking point in their marriage when they called us for a Marriage Intensive. There were few words spoken between them that did not end up in an argument. Their sex life was absent. Their hearts were distant. And their commitment to their marriage was all but done.
Arguments Predict Divorce
According to the last few decades of research by The Gottman Institute, The strongest predictors of divorce are the frequency and intensity of arguments. All couples argue, but couples who do not make a life together forever marriage have frequent and intense arguments.
‘…pursue a life that creates peace and builds up…’ Romans 14:19 (VOICE)
Why We Argue
It is amazing to consider how it is that God made us to be so attracted to people who are different from us. In fact, most of our early attraction includes a decision to find people who are not like the parts of ourselves we least like. Back in the beginning of your relationship, the ways in which your spouse was different from you were interesting. You were curious and somewhat excited to discover why they are like that and to see how they are in other areas. You liked what was different than you in your future spouse.
Any two people living under the same roof will disagree!
While not all children of divorce fit these statistics, it is important to realize the uphill battle children of any age will face when their parents divorce. Before you decide to divorce, consider the impact on your children. Why not try one last effort to turn it around with one of our Marriage Intensives?
The Effect of Divorce On Children
‘For I, the God of Israel, hate divorce! I, the Commander of heavenly armies, despise it when people wrap themselves in violence like a garment. So guard yourselves; be true to your wife and not unfaithful.’ Malachi 2:16 NIV
We change over time and so does our marriage relationship. Our relationships go through cycles of moving closer to each other and seemingly growing more distant.
The relationship cycle is normal. It is how God built us. Neuroscientists tell us that our brain experiences a dump of neurochemicals when we begin to fall in love. The next 18 to 24 months as our relationship continues, we experience that loving feeling that is due to the “chemical cocktail of love”. But at some point in the first two years of our relationship, our brains chemical system automatically resets.
“You have made my heart beat faster… with a single glance of your eyes…How beautiful is your love… How much better is your love than wine…’ Song of Solomon 4:9-10 edited (NASV)
Douglas and Georgia’s marriage of eleven years was on the rocks. Douglas had been concerned about her inattention at home due to her lengthy texting conversations with someone at work. When she left it unattended, he glanced through her cell phone. What he found shook his understanding of their relationship. Lengthy racy messages with a coworker left him feeling hurt, angry and betrayed.
In the following weeks, Georgia admitted an emotional affair and begged for forgiveness. Douglas stated that he had forgiven her, but occasionally withdrew into anger and hurt. Anytime she picked up her phone to text her sister or mother, Douglas asked to see it.
Georgia called for a marriage intensive, stating, “He hasn’t really forgiven me or he’d let this go.” She felt frustrated that even thought she ended the relationship and asked for forgiveness, he kept bringing it up.
Throughout the day long marriage intensive, we helped them discover the differences between forgiveness, trust and reconciliation and began the process of creating a new future together.
When Trust Is Betrayed