marriage not going well
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Clare - posted on 08/10/2011
MARRIAGE DEMANDS TOUGHNESS - Marriage Message #158
"Marriage demands toughness, and toughness proceeds out of commitment. No marriage will ever be stronger than the commitment that serves as its infrastructure" (Neil Clark Warren).
Not too many of us, when we get married, think that marriage will demand out of us what it does --a toughness to weather storms we never knew we'd battle. But that's a big part of what happens in marriage. We're often blind-sided by difficulties, which require a real infrastructure of commitment to get past the negativity that comes into a relationship.
To help us keep our commitment strong through those tough times, we'd like to share something Dr. Neil Clark Warren wrote in his book, "Learning to Live with the Love of Your Life" (Tyndale House Publishers), on this subject:
"For most people, the demands of marriage are mind-boggling. It requires all of the energy you can give --and then it asks for more. It involves a continued need for negotiation and compromise, for give and more give.
"Mind you, I'm a big believer in marriage. I have never seen happier, more deeply satisfied people than men and women who have made their marriages work. But neither have I met many people in highly successful marriages who got there without an enormous expenditure of energy, courage and determination. There were times they simply had to be 'willful.'
"Virtually every successful marriage requires all kinds of willpower. Sometimes issues arise and the partners don't have the necessary skills to manage them. They essentially have two choices: give up and run away, or get about the task of developing the required skills.
"Partners with willpower adopt the second alternative. They wouldn't think of giving up. They're ready to go to work on the problem, ready to do whatever they must to keep their marriage healthy for a lifetime.
"The foundation of willpower is a set of marital promises. It is this set of promises that serves as the steel structure of every great marriage. Both partners need to know exactly what they originally promised to each other, and they need to be currently committed to those promises so that their willpower will always be stronger than any opposing force.
"Marriage doesn't just happen! It takes solid set of decisions, a huge amount of skill, and enormous willpower. I contend that people in extremely healthy marriages built those marriages just as you build a mammoth bridge or skyscraper. They made their marriage triumphant because they simply wouldn't settle for less.
"It doesn't matter to them how much back-breaking work it requires; if it were necessary, they would do a thousand times more. Their willpower gives them this kind of toughness.
"The problems for a marriage in this society are too demanding for out-of-shape marital players to handle. There are too many ways that a marriage can be destroyed; in order for it to be successful, both marriage partners must be highly focused and highly energized. This focus and energy come directly from a keen sense of the promises they have made. These promises must be as current as their breathing.
"If these promises haven't been burned into their brains, the inevitable problems will roll right over the top of them. Their marriage will be demolished. My experience tells me that a high proportion of married people are totally unfit to face complex marital challenges. Often, they become flabby from inattention to their original decision-their early commitment. They have done almost nothing recently to prepare themselves for the demanding events that are always lurking.
"They're like tennis players who haven't played for a long time. When they face an opponent who is well practiced and in peak condition, they get slaughtered. They aren't ready! How come? No one warned them to stay tough! Why not? Because everyone, especially the two of them simply assumed that they could make it fine on the basis of their love, warm feelings, and past success. This assumption is absurd, but it's responsible for the overpowering of out-of-shape marriage partners by the enormously demanding, but inevitable, problems involved in building a successful marriage.
"I'm convinced that until we start seeing marriage more realistically, the divorce rate is going to stay at epidemic levels. Marriage is incredibly difficult! We had better start recognizing this. Anyone who is going to succeed in marriage needs determination. Obviously, great skillfulness is required, but the development of the necessary skills often takes time.
"That's why you need to have a current, deeply owned, thoroughly rehearsed set of promises to your mate. If you don't have this, if you're out of shape, if you aren't ready for a slew of tough battles that will test your endurance, then you're in danger of becoming a divorce statistic.
"Don't kid yourself. Great marriages are the result of backbreaking work! They simply do not come easily. Two people must be skillful and strong. They need to be tough! Strength and toughness come from reciting over and over [something two clients, Sue and Jim, came up with]: 'I will love you when the times are good or bad. I will cherish you even when I am upset with you. I will honor you at all times. I will never be disloyal to you. And I mean this forever. So help me God.'"
Aren't Sue and Jim's words a great "pledge of allegiance" to the marriage vows? It's something we all need to embrace as married couples --something we need to teach young couples who are about to be married, as well. Another way of saying it is, "Marriage Isn't for Wimps!"
In our marriage, we've found that as we tough things out, determining that NOTHING will separate us --emotionally, spiritually, or physically, "So help us God," our relationship continues to grow healthier and more satisfying with each passing year. (We're now 39+ years and counting.)
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend [marital partner] can help him up. But pity the man [or wife] who has no one to help him [her] up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
If you haven't already committed yourself to this marriage toughness --this 3 strand commitment, today can be a new beginning as you ask God to help you to begin to make it so, starting NOW!
Krista - posted on 05/26/2010
Diana, I'm really not sure that I agree with you on that.
Nobody is a fan of divorce, but to say that it should never be an option? If you had a daughter, and she were in a loveless, abusive, or otherwise broken marriage, would you never give your blessing for her to walk away?
Obviously divorce should be a last resort, and should not be contemplated lightly. And all attempts should be made to repair the marriage. (Dawn, are you and your husband going to counselling? Because that should be your first step before even contemplating divorce, really.)
But, sometimes there are cases where, despite all of their efforts, the parents just cannot get along and they just do not love each other anymore. In those situations, is it better for a child to grow up in a house with tension and acrimony?
To counter your story, my parents divorced when I was 8 years old. My mom remarried and is very happy, and seeing her and my stepdad taught me about the kind of marriage that I wanted to aspire towards, and I never had any particular hang-ups when it came to men. My sister's reaction was more like yours.
So it's a crapshoot, really. Whether you're together and happy, together and unhappy, or apart, there are no guarantees that your kids are going to be perfectly well-adjusted when it comes to matters of the heart.
Krista - posted on 05/26/2010
I don't know how old your girls are, but I would say that the most important things are this:
1. Make sure that they know that this is in NO way their fault.
2. Remind them that Mom and Dad love them very much, and that nothing will change that.
3. Be as honest with them as you can, and try to answer their questions, but they don't need all the gory details as to why you're splitting, particularly if it's due to any sort of bad behaviour like abuse or infidelity.
4. Talk to a family counselor before anything else, to get advice on how to handle this with your girls, and how to deal with their reactions. And don't expect your girls to react the same way -- one might react very differently from the other, so you'll need to be flexible.
5. Be patient. This is a major upheaval, so they'll need a lot of time and love and patience, and they may never truly "get over" it. But also don't let them use that as an excuse for misbehaviour -- now more than ever, they need stability. So if you start relaxing your usual rules, that'll only make things worse. Try to keep everything else the status quo as much as you can.
This conversation has been closed to further comments
Amy - posted on 05/26/2010
You don't say why the marriage isn't going well but I agree that divorce should be an absolute last resort. Try counseling, individual and marriage! My parents seperated my freshman year of college and wished that they had done it sooner because of the arguments but it still wasn't easy. If you do decide to divorce you and your husband have to sit down together and explain to them what's going on! Counseling for them wouldn't hurt either and hopefully you can work it out on the end!
Virginia - posted on 05/26/2010
Marriage is hard, take it from a Mom,Grandmother , who will bemarried 62 year in June .I remember our early years when I wanted to throw in the towel ( sure glad I didn't) unless he hurts you and the chirldren or is unfaithful (if only One Time) Forgive each other, turn your lives over to God and let Him heal your marriage, please think of the children and give it a try and make it to 62yr' .I was only 16 when I married
Julie - posted on 05/26/2010
The worst that can happen is that you stay together only things don't work out and everybody is miserable. Work on the marriage or split. Kids know when things are bad. Divorce is hard on kids, but being the child of parents who can't stand each other is worse. My parents split when I was in 5th grade & they were much better apart than together.
Tracy - posted on 05/26/2010
I grew up for part of my childhood in one of those "stay together for the kids" homes. It was misery incarnate. The only thing I learned from it is that marriage stinks and sucks the soul out of the woman.... At the same time, it's what gave me the strength to get out of my own soul sucking abusive marriage.
Yes, divorce should be a LAST resort. Have you tried counseling? If the two of you really want to make it work, you can but it'll take a lot of hard work.
IF it comes down to divorce (I hope it doesn't though) let them know you and their father love them. Work WITH him to co-parent them. Kids will appreciate that. And never, never underestimate their intelligence or ability to appear like they aren't listening to you guys fighting. They are more in tune to what's going on around them than you know. It's ok to cry in front of them, and with them. As long as that's not all they see, that makes them feel responsible for you. That's not fair to them. Sometimes you'll have to just paint a smile on your face for them and pretend you're ok, when really you just want to crawl under the bed and cry for a month. Never speak poorly of the other parent, or allow anyone else to in their presence. It's hard, and it SUCKS, but you will all get through it. And hopefully, they'll come to you in the future and thank you for being so strong and ending something so unhealthy for you all.
Heather - posted on 05/26/2010
Just remember that "staying together for the sake of the kids" rarely work the way yu intend it too. you kids get to grow up seeing loveless parents who show now affection sfor each other or in worse cases anger and resentl\ment, depression can result. I would definitely try to work out you problems with your husband but if you can't, as others have said be honest and don't bad mouth each other in front of the kids. I let my kids dad when he was doing drugs and I could have had my children taken away by DHS if I stayed. I felt that my responsibility to my children was far more than my marriage. I wonder how the "for better for worse" crowd would handle that one.
Jenny - posted on 05/26/2010
Reassure them it's not their fault. If you can stay together that would be the best. If not don't talk negative about each other to them or around them. I have been divorce I have 3 kids to my ex and 2 to my new husband. You need a lot of patience with them. Be very honest don't hide stuff because it could hurt them. Counseling can help if you're girls are ok with it.
Shoshana - posted on 05/26/2010
I agree with Diana, try to work it out. If it is an abusive relationship that something different and leaving may be your only option, however anything else can be worked on. Marriage is just that work and anything worth having you have to work for. Every marriage goes through issues, no marriage is perfect. I saw my parents going through difficulties in their marriage but they hung in there together and I'm glad they did.
Diana - posted on 05/26/2010
Divorce should not even be an option. You married for better or for worse. Seek good counseling for the two of you and try to make things work. It will be better for all of you in the end. My parents were divorced when I was a baby and to this day I have problems with rejection and abandonment. It is not fair to the kids.
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