On a weekly basis, and often a daily basis, I come in contact with people whose lives are shattered and broken stemming from marriage struggles they weren’t prepared for and do not know how to fix. I have experienced some of those painful moments in my lifetime as well and understand some of the struggles that are associated with working through those problems.
The question in marriage is not if you are going to have difficult moments or situations. The question is when are you going to have them and, are you going to be able to navigate them in such a way that makes you and your marriage better and healthier on the other side?Unfortunately, couples don’t often get the help they need in order to work through the situations and problems they face. It is one of the reasons why I wrote the “30-Day Marriage Healing Devotional” to help couples focus on common ground and find hope in difficult times.
When you look at statistical information you find that couples who get guidance or help have a very high success rate. The problem is there are often hurdles to getting this help. Some of them are personal struggles while others are out of your control. Let’s take a look at four of the hurdles couples face in getting the help they need.
Only One Wants Help
This is not uncommon in marriage. One of the partners wants help while the other is resistant. This is often a pendulum swing for marriages. One spouse is looking to improve the marriage while the other is running. Over time, the seeker gets tired of trying and the runner begins to seek help or improvement. As long as we are satisfied or are getting our needs met, we will resist getting the help we need.
Sometimes, one spouse is getting their needs met outside of marriage. Occasionally this is an extra-marital relationship but it does not have to be another person. Sometimes we are so engrossed in a hobby, job or other interest that we are oblivious to the needs of our marriage and our spouse. When one of the two is in this place, they will often be resistant to getting help.
Afraid of Facing Our Own Flaws
If we could go to marriage counseling and only talk about what the other person needs to change or fix then we would be good with that. However, we are resistant to talking about the places where we need to improve. It is not uncommon for one spouse to carry more of the blame or have some glaring flaw that needs to be adjusted, but I have yet to experience the scenario where it was 100% someone else’s fault. That being the case, you cannot expect to deal with only your spouse’s shortcomings. You will also have to come face-to-face with your own struggles.
Self awareness and understanding of our contribution to the difficult situation we find ourselves in is not easy for anyone, especially if your spouse has committed some egregious act such as adultery or abuse. One of the things that will be beneficial is to create conversations between the two of you around something like a devotional that allows both of you to share how you feel about a particular topic, problem or struggle.
We have an innate desire for everyone to believe we are OK. Now there are a few people who love drama and want everyone to know it, but most people prefer to go through life with everyone thinking they are “fine”. As a matter of fact, that is often our response to “How are you?” no matter how bad things are. We put the best face on possible even when it feels like we are putting lipstick on a pig. Because this is how most people live, we walk with the assumption that we must be abnormal or that something must be wrong with us because everyone else is “fine”. Take my word for it, many people are putting on the same face you are for the same reasons you are. Vulnerability is missing.
It is one of the reasons we need close enough relationships that we can be ourselves and share our problems. Every single marriage has dealt with some difficulty – we just don’t talk about it or get help because we are embarrassed. If we could ever realize this was something common to all marriages, more people would help one another and we would be more willing to seek the help we need. One of the reasons I created the devotional and the “30-Day Marriage Healing Journey” that can accompany it, is so that people could start this process in private. Don’t allow embarrassment to trap you in a situation when healing and resolution are a possibility.
Lack of Resources
This is just a blind spot we have, not a fact. It is usually not a lack of resources but a lack of information on where to look for them. There are many great books, conferences, devotionals and counselors that offer guidance and assistance. One of the dangers is that we only start looking when there is a crisis instead of seeking to regularly maintain our relationships. There is rarely a single book, conference or counseling visit that will save a neglected marriage in crisis. These resources are better used on a regular basis so we can make minor adjustments weekly instead of major overhauls every few years.
It is one of the reasons I am creating a website dedicated to families and their needs. It will compile as many resources as possible for families to consistently work on their relationships. The “30-Day Marriage Healing Devotional” and the “30-Day Marriage Healing Journey” will be available there along with other resources we are creating as well as resources from many other writers and leaders.
I have a heart to see strong marriages and strong family units. I know the pain and brokenness neglect can bring. I want to use my pain and my experience to help others recover and avoid some of the missteps that I have made. If you don’t have your copy of the “30-Day Marriage Healing Devotional”, you can get it here for $1.99 Invest in your marriage now. It will help you avoid some crises later.