What if your efforts to talk with your husband about the little “trouble spots” (read: huge dark clouds of numerous problems) in your marriage are not working?
To his credit, he is trying to hear you. He just doesn’t get it. That’s where Mr. Muscle (a.k.a. my husband, Dave) and I were after 15 years of marriage. I was on the brink of a collapse within myself.
The steamy chemistry we once shared dwindled. Frankly, he was desperate for sex. But, I was desperate for conversation. We were both desperate for each other’s admiration. We had teenage children going amuck. He had a burgeoning sex addiction. I was self-medicating through alcohol and food. I’d lost my G-spot. He was miserable. I was miserable. We couldn’t figure out how to fix it.
I finally understood how divorce happens.
However, we both agreed to listen to Jesus who proclaimed in Matthew 5 that God desires us to stay married.
So, Mr. Muscle and I agreed upon 2 things:
We weren’t going to give up and
We didn’t want to stay miserable.
That agreement was the beginning of Phase 2 of our life together. It wasn’t an easy conversation. We had a lot of hurt and anger to work through. I realize in retrospect how blessed we were.
Even a wandering spouse can become re-committed, there is always HOPE. God is a God of miracles and mysterious workings. Even in the extreme cases, God can provide new life to a marriage.
“God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us,” Ephesians 3:20 (The Message).
I can’t tell you how many divorced friends of mine have confided after the papers were signed, they realized they had played as much a part in the demise of their marriage as the Mr. Maybe they didn’t defile the marriage bed, but their actions were still wrong; Omission, Nastiness, Angry Outbursts, Slander, etc. But, this isn’t about divorce. This is about how to avoid divorce.
So, I proceeded to read every self-help marriage/sex book I could get my hands on. Practical tools were scarcely talked about. How do you clearly communication your problems to your husband so he understands and actually “gets it?”
How can he discuss issues without your overreaction?
I love the Bible and every Word in it. But, I scoffed at those who, in goodwill, threw around 1 Corinthians 13 or Ephesians 5:21-33, without giving practical advice.
But, he didn’t “get'”me and I didn’t “get” him. How did it come to this? We had such passion in the beginning.
We both found counselors. I am an advocate of therapy. Unfortunately, these counselors didn’t offer the solutions we needed.
We prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Then, God answered our prayer in the form of an 8-week course called Dynamic Marriage. It was offered at our local church. It is scripturally based. However, the focus is psychological education. It’s very interactive, unlike any other marriage seminar or weekend we had attended.
This class changed our lives.
I learned 3 things.
1. Mr.Muscle is different from me.
You might be thinking, “I could have told you that in a lot less than 8 weeks!” Of course, there was more to it. The tools we learned was how to lay aside judgement, preconceptions, and expectations on both sides.
Here I was trying to have deep conversations with him (the way I prefer to build intimacy), when he just wanted me to shut up and meet his preferred way of sexual fulfillment.
We realized that we are not identical people. We are different and it’s OK. We needed to be unselfish in giving to each other what we need to feel emotionally connected. It’s a reciprocal process. It doesn’t mean their wrong.
Humans are driven by their emotional needs. If in deep enough crisis, even Christians, will go against every belief to meet these needs. Don’t we see this all the time? Porn use and divorce numbers are nearly identical whether you attend church or not.
2. I was half of the problem.
Rarely are marriage problems completely one sided.
Our homework revealed what each spouse brought to the brokenness. I was inspired by my husband’s willingness toward self-introspection. Because, he was willing to dig deep, I was also willing to dig deep. It turned into a miraculous, blessed cycle.
We had come to understand, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” Ephesians 5:21.
3. Just below your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Marriage takes top priority, period.
Children are not top priority. *GASP* Yes, they need nurturing and care, which requires many hours if your children are young. They need to be filled with Bible Knowledge and the Love of God, “Fix these words of mine on your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” Deut. 11:18-19.
Do not make the mistake of using one of your children as the sounding board your mate should be.
Do NOT fill your schedule with so much kid activity (dancing lessons, piano lessons, soccer practice, lacrosse games, outings, etc…) that you are too exhausted for your husband. Husbands shoulder part of the transportation duties when possible.
You should be spending more time with your mate, alone, than with friends. If one of you spends 8 Saturday hours on the golf course, there should be 8 hours devoted to the marriage within the week. (I solved this dilemma by learning the game of golf and joining them.)
A lifelong marriage needs continued nurturing.
These may seem like simple tools. But, for me they were profound insight.
My parents were my frame of reference as marriage mentors. They had already been married for 21 years when I was born. They made it look easy. I never witnessed them working out the kinks during the 20 years prior. So, when I got married, I figured it was a piece of cake. Wrong!
Once again, we were captivated by each other.
After this class, Dave found a way to converse deeply and manage not to work so much.
I worked at restoring my libido. It is still hit or miss. But, restoring intentional steaminess in the bedroom has truly been a pivotal factor in our marriage turn around.
I’ve learned to not make Mr. Muscle walk on egg shells. When I’m calm, he trusts me more to share his heart.
We have a common vocabulary, not he-speak and she-speak, but we-speak. If he mentions “disrespectful judgement,” I know exactly what he is talking about. Again, we are striving to practice the love and graciousness of Christ.
We pray together, often, and kept God as the foundation and focal point of our marriage.
We’ve given each other permission to hold one another accountable in our relationship.
In just two months, our miserable marriage was transformed into something verging on magical. We were so ecstatic with the outcome of this course, that we became facilitators to help others in their marital understanding. The neat thing is that what’s taught can be applied to all relationships, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, not just your spouse.
Some people may understand these marriage skills intuitively. But, we needed the remedial course.
Here at OysterBed7, I will probably refer to what I learned often.
The ultimate goal is finding the harmony of Christ in marriage and family in order to glorify God.
What I’ve come to realize is, when you choose to put your spouse as top priority, you are doing your children the BEST SERVICE. You are mentoring successful marriage to them. If you do your job properly, their marriages will last longer than their time in your home!
We still have conflict. It’s just that we no longer have futile arguments. There are still heated moments but our debates come to conclusions that satisfy each party. We return to what we learned in developing “peace treaties.” There is no blaming.
The hope is, there are practical solutions available to huge marriage problems. It takes work on both sides for magic to reappear. However, it can start with only one!
Pray together for your solution to unveil itself. Your solution may be different from ours. Your desire to save or improve your marriage is in alignment with God’s purpose. God will lead you to a beautiful solution. Of that, I am sure.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him,” 1John 5:14-15.
BOOKS I HIGHLY RECOMMEND:
First time visiting? Welcome!
You may want to start by reading, “Why Sex?”
If you would like to receive each new post via email, subscribe HERE.
If you’d like to connect further, I’d love to get to know you better. Please follow me on facebook, pinterest, or twitter (@oysterbed7).