Dr. Deb's Mental Health Vitamin: Marriage repair

Dr. Deb Wade

Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services

Marriage can be hard.

We are expected to deny self, to love, honor and cherish this chosen person (who sometimes can be unlovable), all the while realizing that marriage is a forever proposition. And we logically know that anything that is not fed will starve, then die. If that applies to marriage, too, how can we “feed” it over the lifespan so that it does more than survive -- that it thrives?

I have had the privilege of doing therapy with myriad couples over the years. Sometimes I hear the clichés you might expect: 

  • “I have fallen out of love with him/her.” (How does one fall out?) 
  • “I didn’t mean for an affair to happen.” (I don’t know of anyone who does.)
  • “We’ve drifted apart.” (Can you reverse the drift?)
  • “We just don’t have the same things in common anymore.” (Can you find new activities?”)
  • “We live under the same roof, but we don’t live life together.” (It must be intentional.)

The truth is when we say “I Do,” we don’t always look ahead at possible pitfalls. Rather, we are often more consumed with the wedding and the honeymoon to muddy the water by examining the reality of bills, in-laws, careers, children, pets, laundry, chores and/or a broken air conditioner.

Repairing a broken and hurting marriage is not easy, but it is possible. The paradox is that once a marriage is revived and set on a new track, it can be better than it ever was before the fracture.  Yes, it takes work, and it means taking a naked personal inventory. It requires humility, and it can be painful, but it is worth it. If you are in a marriage that has drifted apart, that has become mundane and boring, that has not been fulfilling, and has even become an albatross around your neck, rejoice! Fix it now. Set about having that tough conversation with your spouse where you both recognize the marriage is on life support, that it can be made wonderful again, and that both of you must be willing to work -- not blame or finger-point -- to renew and refresh the covenant. 

By being proactive, you can infuse your marriage with energy and strength so that, once again, it becomes the “safe harbor” and the one place where acceptance, love, encouragement and celebration reign.

Some quick tips:

  • The couple that plays together, stays together. Yes, I’ve said this often in this space. Laughter and fun times are like glue. They give a couple shared experiences, memories to reminisce about, emotional connection at a deep level and comradery.
  • The couple that has meaningful and intimate sexual encounters thrives. Couples are meant to share the very depth of their beings -- emotional and sexual intimacy that are consistently fed only serve to further “glue” the couple together.
  • The couple has “we-activities.” Those are experiences and activities that the couple shares that provide escape and frivolity, as well as simultaneously serving to strengthen the bond of connection.
  • The couple that shares the depth of their thoughts and feelings with each other erect a “safety zone.” Each then knows that any thought or emotion is valued and safe, even if not understood. They will not be condemned, shamed or poked fun of because of the thoughts/feelings shared.
  • The couple that continues to “know” each other deeply keeps the marriage fresh. Do you know your mate’s favorite color, most embarrassing moment, fantasy vacation, bucket list? Continue to get to know each other, then provide experiences that fulfill that knowledge
  • The couple that prays together stays together. One of the most important ingredients in a healthy marriage is a solid spiritual foundation shared and cultivated by both.

Yes, marriage can be hard at times. After all, two imperfect people are together trying to live in harmony. If your marriage has become stale, stagnant and just too mundane, give it a tune-up. The result will be worth it.

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/