A recent email to us read, “…I’m miserable in my marriage. When I read your email … it sounds like you want me to do everything… but my wife doesn’t want to change… I’m afraid if I do some of the things you recommend that it will make things worse. I think the same thing will happen if we get a Marriage Intensive… I don’t know what to do…”
Fear Is Paralyzing
For far too many spouses, what our friend wrote is so true. There are so many spouses who want to make their marriages healthy and strong. When they are given specific actions steps to take to create the marriage of their highest hopes and dreams, they sit on the sideline doing nothing. They are afraid that taking action to create the marriage they really want will create more of the same or make things worse.
Fear keeps good spouses from making great marriages in these ways:
- Fear keeps spouses from having conversations that will help them fall back in love again.
- Fear keeps spouses from solving money issues.
- Fear keeps spouses from solving long-standing problems with chores.
- Fear keeps spouses from conversations that will help them have more satisfactory sexual connection.
- Fear keeps spouses from discussing their dashed expectations in the marriage.
- Fear keeps them from moving past times where they have hurt or been hurt.
- Fear keeps them from have the hard conversations that help build deep intimacy.
- Fear tells us that we “don’t know what to do” or that we “don’t understand” our spouse.
The Fear Calendar
Jon Acuff in “Start” shares a great way of looking at how fear is keeping us paralyzed. Fear has its own calendar. In the fear calendar, you will only see two days: Yesterday and Tomorrow. Fear focuses our attention on the past or the future.
Yesterday. Yesterday encompasses all the things in the past.
- How my parents, siblings, teachers, church, prior relationships, etc. hurt me.
- How my spouse has hurt me since we began our relationship.
- All the regrets about what I wish I had or had not done in the past.
- The hard feelings, bitterness and grudges I hold on to toward people or organizations.
- How it is not as good as it was in the past.
- All the things I wish I had done, or should have done, in the past.
“Regretting that you didn’t start earlier is a great distraction from moving on your dream today, and the reality is that today is earlier than tomorrow.” John Acuff in “Start”
Tomorrow. Tomorrow includes all the things in my or our future.
- All the “what ifs”. What if my spouse turns out to be… What if my spouse cheats on me… What if my spouse leaves me when… Are the best years of our marriage over?
- All the doubts. Does my spouse really love me like they say they do? We will never have enough money to… We will never have the marriage I really want. My spouse will never change.
- Scary things that might happen. The bad things that might possibly happen some day in the future.
Fear Creates The Very Thing We Fear The Most
In over 200 Marriage Intensives with spouses on the verge of divorce we have found the same dynamic over and over again. Spouses who are living in yesterday and tomorrow are creating the very thing in their marriage that they believe action might create. By letting fear keep them paralyzed, the marriage is getting worse and the spouses are moving further away from each other.
Today Is the Day to Make Your Marriage Better
Doing nothing does not move you toward the marriage you really want.
What you do instead of doing the things that create a great marriage is actually moving you further away from each other.
The only hope you have in creating the marriage you really want (and deserve) is to face your fear and go for it, TODAY. Going for it includes unilaterally starting to do things that your marriage needs for you to do in hopes that your consistency will move your spouse to respond. Going first is the only way you can create the marriage of your dreams.
And if you need help in moving forward, there are a huge number of free resources on this website. Get help. Call your minister. Call a Christian counselor or coach. Let us know how we can help!
What do you have to say?
We love to hear from readers. What do you think about the “fear calendar”? What are some of the other ways we let yesterday and tomorrow keep us afraid? Have you faced your fear and taken specific actions to create the marriage you want? If so, how did it work? What would you tell the spouse who wrote to us?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2016. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.