Are you wondering how to save your marriage? Do you think it can last for the long haul? I think a lot of it comes to surviving the many seasons of marriage.
See that couple? That’s my mom and dad. They are both gone now, but they were married 61 years, from 1947 through Mom’s death in 2008. They weathered 3 kids, heart conditions, surgery, relocation, lots of grandchildren, and Alzheimers. They fought, they had their issues, but they always had each other, even when dementia took its toll, and in the 3 years Dad lived after her, he missed her terribly. They never said it was easy but they are a beacon to me of an ideal marriage.
Going Through a Tough Time? Me too.
I have to admit that lately, I’ve been going through a rough season in my marriage. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea; we are not headed for divorce or separation, or having loud arguments daily. We are just in a place where we are too tired, drained and overwhelmed with what we’ve got going on to be there for each other like we should. Add that to a multitude of unwelcome changes at school for Zoe, both kids being sick on and off (something we’re NOT used to), and added work pressure, all that would be challenging enough, but now I’m not sleeping. I mean, I am sleeping, I’m just waking up an hour or 2 before my ideal sleep time so I am BONE WEARY – which doesn’t help. Also, this time last year was disastrous for us financially and that’s a concern that is keeping my husband up at night.
One thing I know: I am not alone in having a dry season in my marriage, and the holidays ramp up the pressure. This I remember from Mom & Dad too. For them, Christmas was fun and stressful and frought with both arguments and partnership as they muddled through. I think of them now, as I share what they taught me and what I learned in the last 16 years to help your marriage survive these valleys.
How to Save Your Marriage: Practical Tips
We could all use practical tips on how to save your marriage and how to make sure it stays in good shape for the long haul. Here are 7 tips to help you get through the rough patches:
1. Sacrifice & submit.
Everyone hates this but you MUST support your man, no matter what. It’s not all about you, but it is all about doing your best even when you think he isn’t – to your mind at least. So grin and bear it, don’t take the bait, zip your lip, and do whatever you can to avoid arguments. Give in more, compromise more and put him FIRST at least some of the time – that’s submission, honestly. I’ve been doing that and guess what? Arguments still happen, but a WHOLE lot less of those nasty, drag out, champion fights are taking place, thankfully.
2. Make a fight right by apologizing.
So, yea, we DID have that ugly fight a few weeks ago. It was agony, and – here’s something to keep in mind – the aftermath hurt 10 times more than the fight. Reason enough to stop it in the middle for me. I did what I could when the toxic air cleared to apologize without expectation and admit my wrongs. I was rewarded with hugs and a realization that he still loves me, turd though I was that day. (After the fact, it’s never about right or wrong anymore, it’s only, “I was wrong.”)
3. Remember your spouse’s good traits.
He or she has them, everyone does. Think about that stuff more, even if it’s basic. Is he a good provider? Did he ever make a huge sacrifice for you or the kids? Is there a trait of integrity that he has? I always get a little fluttery when my husband reminds me how much he HATES cheating spouses. It makes me feel so secure and loved.
4. Pray for your spouse.
This applies whether he is a super Christian, a different religion than you, an atheist, an agnostic, whatever – doesn’t matter. Pray for him every single day. It will help you just as much as it helps him. And please, pray a LOT before doing the next tip.
5. Speak the truth in love.
Seriously, sometimes you need your husband or wife to know what is wrong, especially if you feel it’s negatively affecting your kids. You HAVE to be super careful here. There is a fine line between dialoguing about a hurtful flaw and nagging. You must share at a time when you are both calm, comfortable, healthy, not exhausted and not intoxicated or medicated in any way and in a calm and steady LOVING voice. And NEVER package it with something you want to ask him for (a visit to relatives, more budget for something, borrowing his car, etc.). That will make him suspicious and feel like you are trying to leverage his flaws. Everybody bucks that. Trust me, I learned this the HARD way.
6. Have sex even if you’re not in the “mood.”
Seriously. HAVE SEX. Even if you don’t want to, even if it’s not your favorite activity, for Pete’s sake, do something with him. It WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It’s the love language of most men EVEN if it’s not yours, and very rarely will he say no. So YOU don’t ever say no. Yea, yea, I know, “it’s not fair”, “I’m too tired” blah blah blah. Excuses. Ignite that fire. Nothing EVER looks or feels that bad in the afterglow, I promise you. And even if YOU don’t do or have what you’d like, you can feel good that HE feels good. So please, have sex with your husband in the valley days.
7. Remember this is a season.
If you do the above, it will go a LONG way to securing your marriage. I can’t make promises or guarantees to you, but I do know that if you DON’T do the above, you run a lot of risk of losing your marriage or having it end up an unpleasant burden that you tolerate for the children. Don’t let that happen.
I believe that God put me and my husband together for a reason, just like He did Mom and Dad, and the same can be true for you. It’s worth the time, effort and sacrifice to make it work. One day, you’ll be out of the valley and so glad you still have a partner to weather the bad times and share the joys.
More Advice on How to Save Your Marriage
Learn the 7 things you should NEVER do when your marriage is in trouble. Read the following books, available at my Amazon affiliate link:
“7 Secrets of an Awesome Marriage”
More help from Gary Chapman:
Read my review of this one.