We have been married for 44 years come this December, and we met in ministry…
Every year, the President gives a “State of The Union” address. As you assess the state of YOUR union and review your marital happiness level, you might sense something in your relationship needs a change. It might even feel as if everything is unravelling. If your spouse says the unthinkable:
I don’t love you any more I am not sure I want to be married anymore I am not happy I want a divorce
These words hurt, they are extremely painful. However, you can use these words to do a few things to try to save or strengthen your marriage. Here are five things to help you try AGAIN:
Ask God’s help: Pray! You can set aside time every day to have prayer time privately and intercede for your marriage. You might also ask a few trusted friends to pray for you and your spouse and if your spouse is open to it, see if he or she will allow friends to pray WITH you both about your marriage. Finally, if your spouse is open to it, pray over him or her or even more powerful is to pray WITH your spouse daily We have never seen a couple who is praying together every day get a divorce.
Gather resources: Invest in some books, audio and DVDs to gather new skills. Chances are that you are in this place because you and your spouse haven’t invested time and energy in raising your skill level in your relationship. Contact ministries like: Farrel Communications, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and Marriage Alive and see what resources might be helpful to you at this juncture. One we helpful resource recommend was written by our mentors in ministry: When a Mate Wants Out by Jim Conway. It is gives specifics to do (or not do) when a spouse says “I want out” or “I don’t think I want to be married any more” etc. Our Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti DVD series is a great place to begin: fun upbeat practical messages with tools that are easy to use and really help. Other helpful books include:
- The Marriage Turn Around by Mitch Temple
- Marriage on the Mend and Path of Most Resistance– Clint and Penny Bragg
- Yes, Your Marriage Can be Saved – Michelle and Joe Williams
Our book Love, Honor and Forgive is a resource that can help walk a couple through step by step how to revive a marriage. A visit to your local Christian bookstore will yield many new tools at a very affordable price. Act Nice! Couples in pain forget how to be nice. Start treating your mate like company (even if you do not think he or she deserves it) Love your spouse by faith, meaning love him or her through God’s power not your own. Try doing The Love Dare Book which has 40 days of love assignments you do as a “secret” for your mate regardless of how he or she acts toward you. This resource is based the Fireproof movie (video is release Jan 19, 09. If possible watch it together) . The key is to select words and actions that are over the top kind!
Invest in a get away together—take the money that would go to lawyers and go to a marriage conference, a marriage cruise, or watch a marriage DVD series together on your own mini vacation or weekend getaway. Many marriages are on the fritz because they simply lack time, so you are both love-starved. Some ministries that offer conferences are:
- Bill and Pam Farrel: Laugh, Learn, Love with us to rebuild your love.
- Marriage Alive – The Arps are known for 10 Great Dates material.
- Lifeway’s Festival of Marriage (and other marriage events): Many choices of marriage helps are offered by this mega-ministry.
- Family Life Today- Popular Weekend to Remember has helped couples in the Family Life radio audience.
- United Marriage Encounter: Training on communication tools is presented by couples who have overcome their own marital discord. (These are often more affordable or offered on a donation basis)
- Retrovaille (This conferences specializes in helping critical couples get reconnected. Even divorced or separated individuals have been helped by this intensive weekend)
- Reality Marriage
- (Intensive Bootcamp experience specializing in healing each person become healthy so the marriage becomes healthy).
- To find more marriage ministries contact Focus on the Family. You will discover resources like authors like Willard Hartley and Gary and Greg Smalley who also offer intensive therapy to rebuild a shattered marriage.
- For those in professional ministry, Parsonage.org ministry has a listing of great resources for rebuilding and recovering ministry minded marriages.
Navigate the rough waters with help: Get counsel. If your mate is open to it, go to Christian counselor who is pro-marriage. If your spouse is unwilling, you go yourself because a strained marriage is one of the most stressful things you will ever have to handle and no one should go through it alone. (American Association of Christian counselors and Focus on the Family can help you locate a Christian counselor in your area. Your pastor might be a gifted counselor or know one as well. ) Your local Christian bookstore is packed with great resources and they also will likely know good counselors and churches and marriage conferences and resources in your local community. Getting a mentor couple is an inexpensive but helpful step for all couples to take, having a couple who is older and wiser and who might have overcome your specific issue can provide a world of practical wisdom and help. Ask your Bible study leader, pastor, or your extended family if they know anyone who might have gone through what you are dealing with and come out in love on the other side. (Several of our resources are very helpful for mentoring relationships as they have “Dinner and Dialogue” questions in them: 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make, The Marriage Code, Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti.)
We know couple can come back from really devastating choices and circumstances. When we wrote our book, Love, Honor and Forgive we were so moved by the real couples we met and interviewed who allowed God to heal and restored a love that was fractured. If God made the choice to forgive you and give you a new opportunity, isn’t it at least worth a try to forgive and allow your marriage a second chance so you can love AGAIN?
Send your prayer request for your marriage to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Find resources to help you love again at www.love-wise.com.
Bill and Pam Farrel are international speakers, relationship experts and bestselling authors of over 30 books for marriage and family.