In October of this year, my husband and I will be married for eleven years, together for fifteen. The sad thing is, our marriage might not live long enough to see the anniversary.
It's a fact that people change in all relationships. Some couples change and grow apart from each other so much that they have to question whether they are in the same place anymore.
We are one of those couples.
Spouses grow apart for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a partner is dealing with some personal or emotional stress; or the couple finds they just don't have that much in common anymore. Maybe there has been a breach of trust or there are opposing views on matters that affect every marriage. Whatever the reason is, it's important to get back to the basics and work with your spouse to decide if you both will continue in the marriage and make it work.
Here are some things I am doing to work through these issues in my marriage.
Listen to your spouse
One of the most important things you can do if you find yourself in this position, is listen to your spouse and understand their needs. This means not cutting them off, not interjecting your opinions, but listen to what is hurting them and what they need from you.
One of the biggest problems in many marriages is communication. We are in a time when we have a comment for everything. Social media has made us brazen and to believe that our opinion is the only one that matters. Sometimes the most harmful thing we can do is open our own mouths. Instead, putting yourself in your spouse's shoes for a moment and understanding what they are struggling with is all you need to get a little perspective.
Pray for your spouse and your marriage
Talk to God and lift your spouse in prayer daily. Pray that they have a good day. Pray that whatever struggles they are dealing with are lifted from their shoulders. Pray that their heart stays open and that communication flows freely in your marriage.
God is the only one, other than you and your spouse, who knows your marriage inside and out. He knows the struggles you both deal with daily and the core problems your marriage has. Only He can heal broken hearts and restore your relationship to what it should be. Open up to Him and place your marriage in His hands.
Sometimes it's difficult to talk it out with your spouse when emotions are raging and you both are frustrated with each other. If this is the case, it's probably best to schedule some time with a professional. This could be a certified marriage counselor or even a minister from your church. This individual acts as a mediator to help you and your spouse open up and resolve conflicts, but also keeps you on a course to prevent you from getting sidetracked with irrelevant topics.
It's important to remember that counseling isn't for everyone. If you find that your spouse isn't willing to attend some sessions with you, then perhaps seeking individual counseling is a better option for you.
Don't compete with your spouse
Whether you choose to talk to a counselor or work things out independently, it's imperative that you don't compete with your spouse or put blame or guilt on them for the wrongs they've done to you. When it comes to pain in a relationship, do not try to compete over who has been hurt the most. Hurt is hurt and it will only do more damage if you try to diminish the pain your spouse has dealt with in comparison to yours.
Give your partner some space
Once you've had the initial talk and have determined there are things that need to be worked out in your marriage, give your spouse space to think. Allow yourself and your partner to get some time away from each other to clear your heads and relax.
Dealing with the stress from a marriage on the rocks is exhausting. Sometimes a night out with some friends is just what is needed to clear some air and start fresh again in the morning. Talk to your spouse about expectations, like not blowing your phone up with calls and texts so your time away runs smoothly and you both have the ability to chill out for awhile and think.
Take responsibility and correct your mistakes
If you have done something to hurt your spouse, it's important to take responsibility for your actions and put the steps in play so you don't make the same mistake again. Saying "I'm sorry" only gets you so far. Make the changes necessary to prevent the same thing from happening again and back your remorse up with action.
Attempting to fix your mistakes will make your partner feel like you care about their feelings and want to strengthen your relationship.
Spend some time apart
Sometimes, it's necessary for spouses to physically separate from each other. Not all couples will get to this point, but if you do, you should use this time to feel what it would be like to be alone. At this point, the next step would either be to reconcile or divorce and that is a huge life change. Spend some time soul-searching to figure out if you want to continue to be married to your partner. Do you feel that the issues are worth working out? Do you love your partner enough to forgive them for their wrongs and move on? Absence makes the heart grow fonder and time heals wounds but it also allows someone to become comfortable being alone again.
Remember to be very honest with yourself about your expectations for the future and continue to keep the lines of communication open with your spouse.
Be patient and practical
You guys might not have everything worked out in a week, a month or even a year. It's important to be patient with your partner while they deal with things on their end. Don't push for immediate resolution because it will take time. It's also necessary to be practical during this time. Accept the fact that even though you would like to reconcile, your partner might decide they don't. Think about what your plans are if that time should come. Logistically, do you have the funds to hire a lawyer should you need one? Do you have children that would prompt the need for a custody agreement. Research divorce laws in your state/city so you know what to expect should your relationship come to an end.
During this process, make sure you remind yourself why you fell in love with your spouse and why you agreed to marry them. Keep an open mind an open heart and open lines of communication always and what's meant to be, will be.
Editorial note: At the time of publishing, my husband and I have been separated for six weeks. I do not know the direction our marriage will go at this time, but I'm praying and hoping for the best. While I don't plan to update with the status of our relationship here on the blog or on social media, should we decide not to reconcile, you will see a major overhaul and re-branding here on the blog and partnering sites. I try hard to stay transparent with my readers and I wouldn't feel honest if I continued to post under the "happy wife" heading if I wasn't one. I appreciate the prayers, kind emails, messages and phone calls I've received from my readers, blogging friends and personal friends and family during this difficult time.
The post When Your Marriage Hits A Brick Wall first appeared on A Simpler Grace. *Please note that I am NOT a professional marriage counselor and the ideas I have shared in this post are strictly things that I am trying. I cannot guarantee they will work for every couple and any application of these ideas in your relationship is at your own risk.* If you found this article helpful, don't forget to share it with your friends!