Having previously been married 17 years and now divorced seven, I can say this with confidence: If you are not working on your marriage, you are working on your divorce.
So often, in the beginning of a relationship, you feel like a traveler in the desert, returning again and again to a well that quenches your thirst for precious, life-sustaining affection. Only a few years later, a simple request to take out the trash is met with—if not outright refusal—the definite message to think twice before asking for anything else.
We have excuses—they might even be good ones. Most of us are holding down exhausting jobs that leave us spent by the time we get home. And even with those paychecks, we’re in financial stress, a leading cause of marital strife.
Then there are the kids, counting on us for rides to football practice, music lessons, and the youth group at church. Living a life out of balance leaves little time to meet once a day around the dinner table, much less enjoy an evening connected to the one we joyfully sacrificed everything for a lifetime ago.
And we wake up one day surprised to find a stranger sleeping next to us each night—someone we don’t even recognize anymore. Or we find ourselves sleeping alone, wondering how we got to this point.
If you've found yourself here, don't despair. You can't change the past, but you can write a new ending to your story, starting right now.
There are exceptions to this rule. We call them the three A's—adultery, abuse, and addiction—situations that call for getting to safety, fast! We’re talking about weathering the inevitable but not fatal storms of any long-term relationship—breathing new life into a marriage that might currently be on its death march.
There's a time-tested recipe for getting through these rough patches and coming out the other side stronger. It's made up of the three C's. Here they are:
You fell in love at one point. What was it about her that drew you in? Even more important, take a look at yourself! Are you still the person she couldn’t imagine life without? What has fallen by the wayside? Take care of yourself and get control of your life in the seven key areas that make you your best self—fitness, finance, family, field, faith, friends, and fun. Rebuild that connection and fall in love all over again.
How many times have you heard about someone being blindsided by divorce? How could they have missed how miserable their loved one was while they lived under the same roof? How could it get this far? The answer is a lack of communication. We change through the years; we grow, either together or apart. Instead of losing touch, openly love and encourage each other, helping one another become better through your relationship. Don’t cage this great catch; open the door on a journey you’ll take together in life.
One couple, early in their marriage, decided together to take divorce off the table. It simply was not an option, and they said, through the years, that early vow helped them find solutions instead of playing "Do I stay or do I go?" Sharing your life with another person means compromise and sacrifice. Done joyfully, they bring a great return on investment, building the foundation of a stable, committed family.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Start small. Each day, come up with small steps you can take toward reaching your goal. It can be as simple as complimenting your husband on a well-made dinner or, more expansive, booking a weekend getaway for you and your wife.
The two most powerful words in the world are "I am," and the way you finish that sentence will go a long way in determining your path. What sentiments are underpinning the steps you take in life—love and gratitude or frustration and impatience?
Have faith, be grateful, and go get your best life.
Want more insight into your relationships? Find out the two types of passion (and which one is good for your sex life), then learn what the number of sexual partners you've had actually says about you.