When your marriage begins experiencing strain, the last thing you should consider doing is leaving your spouse – not to mention the children. (Of course, if your life is in danger, or you are experiencing physical abuse/beatings, you need to get out quickly and call the police. Or, if all hope is lost and the problems are insurmountable, then separation, legal or otherwise, may be the only option left). Beyond that, the problem with just walking away when times are tough or when your expectations have fallen short, is that you take your unresolved problems with you into the next relationship! The answer (most of the time) is to stay together and work it out. Here’s how:
- Let the dream (or illusion) of “someone out there is better” DIE and realize that GOD IS BIG ENOUGH TO MAKE YOUR CURRENT MARRIAGE WORK. Yes, your current marriage can be successful and you can be happy. God is big enough to restore joy.
- Spend time together each day – uninterrupted time. Turn off the cell phones, hang out, take a drive, eat dinner, whatever. Keep it simple. It’s not the activity that is so important as much as it is “time together.” Find something the two of you can do together; cut grass, paint a room, prepare dinner, take a walk, or simply exercise together. When you do something together, as a couple, it feels good and builds cohesion.
- As a sacrifice to God, (if not an act of worship), begin serving your spouse, immediately, even if you don’t feel like it. This kind of surrendered obedience to God’s Word – expressed towards your spouse - reaps enormous dividends for both of you.
- Agree together to never bring up divorce as an option.
- Sever, cut off, or distance yourself from, all relationships (even friends and family) that encourage you to get a divorce. The last thing you need to hear when you are in the midst of an argument is, “If it were me…. blah, blah, blah.” Instead, find someone in your church family who has been married for 10, 20, or 30 years, and ask them how they made it work. They will show you battle scars, tell you it wasn’t easy… and will be able to offer you reliable advice for a hopeful future.
- If you need a marriage counselor, go see one. It’s less expensive than a divorce attorney.
- Finally, remember the 20% - 80% rule: A successful marriage is 20% knowledge, but it takes 80% discipline to make it work.