Failure. No one likes that word. In particular, when it applies to their efforts at something of extreme importance, there is no greater disappointment when you miss the mark. Well, imagine taking that word and applying it to a concept with lifetime implications. Marriage is just that. It is a concept with lifetime implications. At least, that’s the way it used to be. These days, the divorce rate in this country stands at 50 percent for first time marriages and teeters between 70-80 percent for second and third marriages.
Somewhere along the way, 50-80 percent of couples decided that if they think their marriage is a failure, they might as well call it quits. There is no longer a willingness to tough it out and find a way to make it work. They treat their marriage like they treat their car. If the engine is damaged, might as well get a new one. The work that it will take to rebuild the engine doesn’t appeal to them. They don’t want to deal with the hassle of it. So they move on.
But the vows they took when they stood before God and each other was that they were willing to do whatever, whenever, wherever, and however – forever. That was the promise they made to each other. So, what happened? Unfortunately, we live in a world where instant gratification has us all twisted. We’ve got to have what we want and we’ve got to have it now. The thing many couples just don’t get, however, is that marriage doesn’t work that way. In fact, if there is a change they’d like to see take place in their relationship, it may take months, or even years, before they see the fruits of their labor. And that’s why they must promise a lifetime when they begin their journey.
In this article, I hope to inspire you to not take that promise lightly. If you find yourself at a crossroads in your marriage and your instinct is telling you to jump ship, let me encourage you to stay on board with some amazingly simple tips to help bring your failing marriage back to life.
Believe that your spouse is STILL “the one!”
One of the first thoughts people have when they think their marriage is failing is that maybe they married the wrong person to begin with. In fact, they go so far as to remind themselves of reasons other people said they shouldn’t have married their spouse in the first place. If that’s you, let me encourage you to reminisce a different way.
Remember when you told your Dad, “Yo Pops, I think I found ‘the one’,” how excited you were. Or, how you couldn’t stop talking to your girls about the man you just know you’re going to marry. Naturally, the chemistry was fresh and the emotions were new. But before you turn away from your commitment, write down all the reasons why your spouse is still “the one.” Then, decide that you will learn to love the person you married.
Get the right skills to work your marriage
Okay, so you’ve decided to learn to love the person you married, now what? Well, “to learn” has many meanings:
- acquire or gain knowledge or skills
- be a student of a certain subject
- commit to memory; learn by heart
- find out, learn, or determine with certainty, usually by making an inquiry or other effort
Now, imagine you take the definitions above and somehow insert them into your relationship. I think it might look something like this:
- acquire or gain knowledge or skills about my spouse and our marriage
- be a student of my spouse and our marriage
- commit to memory; learn by heart my spouse and our marriage
- find out, learn, or determine with certainty, usually by making an inquiry or other efforts of my spouse and about our marriage
Since learning comes in the form of both first and second-hand experience, you must ask your spouse what they need from you and then pursue the information and the skills like your lifetime depends on it.
Commit to the labor of changing your behavior
You’ve decided to pursue the information and the skills like your lifetime depends on it. Great! But now you’re starting to realize that this is work! Hard work. Labor. Well, one reason you feel this way is because you are beginning understand that a lifetime commitment is a labor of love.
It’s laborious to go outside of your comfort zone and love someone the way they need to be loved. It takes work to shift your tone to kindness when anger is what you feel in the moment. You have to dig deep to show mercy when all you want to do is lash out. Make no mistake, implementing the skills you are learning takes real effort. But eventually, you’ll notice something. You’ll notice that your behavioral muscle is changing to suit your spouse’s needs. It’s no longer quite as hard to detect and shift your poor conduct as it used to be. So now, all you need to do is commit to change, growth, and your marriage, and keep recommitting for a lifetime.
Don’t give up on your failing marriage. Take action starting with the above tips. Find as many ways as possible to connect with your spouse again – spiritually, emotionally, physically. You will need to realign your thinking in a way that might scare you. But once you commit, you will become a part of a different statistic. You will enter the realm of the 50 percent who decided to make the term “love for a lifetime,” actually mean something good and real. And now, when it comes to your marriage, failure will no longer be a part of your vocabulary.
BMWK, are you ready to turn your failing marriage around?