Gayle and I are celebrating our 40th year of marriage in 2013. That sounds like an amazing accomplishment and it is. It is more amazing when considering how two flawed individuals coming together at 19 years of age have been able to weather all the storms we’ve been through. There has been much hurt through the years inflicted by both of us on each other. In spite of that, I personally would rate our marriage today 8 to 8.5 out of 10.
Having a relationship with the Lord has helped us but that is no guarantee of a successful marriage! All Christians are human first and Christian second. It is the human part that inflicts pain, acts in non-loving ways and is self-centered.
Over the last couple years, I have dealt with many people who were married but miserable. Some have been miserable for a long time. Most have attempted early to share their feelings and concerns with their spouse but for whatever reason the spouse wouldn’t listen or wasn’t able to hear the complaint. Requests to get counseling were ignored or put off or they tried a time or two and didn’t see any success.
Listen to me. Both partners in all marriages do things that “ping” their spouse. Little things that hurt, that send a message you are not measuring up. Often those little things accumulate over time. Those pings generally come in a way that says, “I don’t really love you or I don’t really respect you.”
Ping, ping, ping, ping long enough and something inside shuts down. Your spouse internally checks out of the marriage. They may plod through their functions as a spouse but the passion is gone. Something inside has died. Jesus can raise the dead, but in my years of dealing with couples it has been rare to see that spouse who has shut down ever come back to life. It isn’t impossible mind you, but it will take both parties humbling themselves and being willing to seek counseling to do whatever it takes to revive the marriage.
Here is the warning. I personally know people who came home from work one day and much of their furniture and stuff was gone and so was their spouse. AND THEN IT SINKS IN, I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED, SHOULD HAVE TREATED MY SPOUSE WITH LOVE AND RESPECT.
Suddenly, this spouse who seemed indifferent views saving the marriage as their number 1 priority. At this point it is usually too little too late. The work then becomes doing the hard work of becoming the best person you can in hopes of winning your spouse back or at least being a better person for the next relationship.
Here is the deal. If you are dissatisfied with your marriage, don’t suffer in silence. Make your feelings known. Make the seriousness real. Tell your partner we need to get help or I’m afraid our marriage is over. You may have to repeat this. You may have to separate for a week to let them know you are serious.
The biggest key is treat your partner with love and respect. Listen to their heart. Keep the lines of communication open. None of us, no matter how spiritual, will be willing to live with many years of lesser treatment.
One last thought. When a marriage ends and one partner is shocked, there has been huge cowardice demonstrated. If you feel yourself drifting away internally, you must voice clearly to your partner your dissatisfaction. If a marriage gets to the place of divorce it should only be because you both have fully exhausted all resources and still can’t stand to be together. It should be a surprise to no one.
Go spend some quality time with your partner today. Listen, love and respect!