A lot of people I know are miserable in their marriage. Love didn’t turn out they way they’d hoped. Ever been there?
There is a marriage fantasy that many of us buy into at one point or another: we actually think we’re a living, breathing Disney movie. Every guy thinks he’s a prince. Every woman thinks she’s a princess. In the theatrical release of our relationship, there’s usually an evil stepmother in the mix. But we hold on to hope that if the dragon can be slain, and the love song plays at just the right moment, the prince and the princess will fall madly in love and everyone will live happily ever after.
But real life doesn’t work that way (unless you really DO have an evil stepmother or a pet dragon). Our marriage can become deeply broken. The dream can be shattered into a million pieces. And we’re left regretting having spent money on the Disney ticket. Our marriage needs rehabilitating in a real-world way.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
Five decisions can radically rehabilitate your relationship:
1. SEEK OUT SOMETHING NEW.
Somewhere between 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, and many more that stay together are just miserable. I’ve had plenty of couples tell me in desperation that they just want out—they want a new marriage. Maybe you’ve said those very words.
I’m going to tell you something pretty scandalous today: You DO need a new marriage! (You just don’t need a new spouse in order to get one.) A new marriage is possible without having to get a new husband or wife. It starts with seeking out something new: a new outlook, a new commitment, a new perspective on the differences that have built such a wall between you.
2. EXPRESS ENCOURAGEMENT.
Some of us we simply need to rediscover the value of our spouse. Remember when you were dating? Remember when he was funny, not annoying? When she was persistent, not a nag? When he was smart, not a know it all? Go back to where you started and start expressing encouragement in those things. Because let’s face it, if you are not encouraging your spouse, you’re probably discouraging them.
3. CHOOSE TO LOSE.
I hate being wrong; I hate to lose. Ask anybody. But I’ve learned the hard way that when I insist on my own victory and make it all about MY win, I actually end up losing. But when I choose to lose – when I help my spouse win, or my kids win—I end up winning right along with them.
Think of your marriage as a team sport—not an individual one. My team is my wife and four kids. I have to ask myself, “What do they need to win?” One of the most spectacular plays in all of sports is baseball’s sacrifice bunt. Sometimes the winning choice is to choose to lose.
4. GIVE SELFLESSLY.
When you take from someone, it drives them away from you. When you give to them—selflessly—it draws them toward you. That’s just how it is.
I don’t think we look at our wedding rings often enough. Those little bands have a tendency to become an overlooked part of our hand. But we should pay more attention I think. Wedding rings are a reminder that this marriage thing is not about you. It’s about loving them. So give selflessly.
5. DECIDE TO BEGIN AGAIN.
What is the worst sin a marriage can suffer? It’s not what you think. It’s unforgiveness. When you hold on to your hurt, you perpetuate the pain.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
Beginning again isn’t easy. I’m not pretending that it is. But believe me, unforgiveness is a toxin that will end your marriage even if you never file the papers. Set your self free. Forgive.
You can’t fix the problems if you’re trying to fix the blame. Make the commitment now. Make the five decisions that will begin rehabilitating your relationship.