Life is stressful. It is full of everyday little stressors and huge unexpected once-in-a-lifetime stressors. It has wonderfully exciting and “I can’t believe it” joy-filled stressors as well as little joys that also bring about unintended stressors. As long as we are living, we will experience stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress,
- the annual costs to employers of stress related healthcare and missed wore was measured at $300 Billion in 2014.
- 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.
- 73% of Americans regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress.
- 76% of Americans cited work as the leading cause of their stress.
- 54% of Americans reported stress has caused them to fight with people close to them.
- 48% of Americans reported lying awake at night due to stress.
Relationships Buffer Stress
Jackie and Kurt had fallen out of love. Seven years into the marriage, Jackie was focused on raising their two young children. Her energy was spent by the time Kurt walked in the door. Focused on his career, Kurt frequently worked late and was frustrated by the lack of appreciation for all he was doing to provide for the family.
When Jackie called to schedule the marriage intensive, she said, “I don’t think my husband loves me anymore.” When they arrived Kurt stated that he doubted if she loved or respected him anymore. The future of their marriage was in jeopardy.
Lost That Loving Feeling
Like so many young couples in the child-rearing years of marriage, Jackie and Kurt had unconsciously traded putting their energy toward building a passionate life-long marriage for providing for and parenting their children. Home management, budget, and chores replaced the things their pursuit of each other.
Julie was angry when she called for a marriage intensive. After twelve years of marriage, she discovered her husband’s emotional affair with his coworker. The words he texted her were like knives piercing through her heart.
They attended a three day intensive with a another organization and thought they were ready to move on. He was upset that she was still bringing it up and could not believe they had spent so much money and she was “not over it yet”.
She said, “I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive him”.
What Forgiveness Is Not
Before we look at how and why to forgive, we need to explain what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness does not mean:
We have dear friends who are lifelong Dallas Cowboy fans. In good times and bad, they watch every game religiously. They spend hundreds of dollars on Dallas Cowboy branded merchandise, home décor, and clothing. One of the first outfits their children wore as newborns was a Dallas Cowboy onesie. Their cars have Cowboys bumper stickers. Their work areas and home has Cowboys décor. Everyone knows that they are Cowboys fans. They are definitely Dallas Cowboy fanatics.
According to Merriam –Webster Dictionary, the word fan is “probably short for fanatic” and first appeared in 1682. A fan is “an enthusiastic devotee” and “an ardent admirer or enthusiast.”
“Marriage should be honored by all.” Hebrews 13:4 (NIV
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 their 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, and has little to no concern 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