5 ways to overcome a struggle in your marriage

couple on bikes holding hands

I recently sat down with a couple who had overcome a crisis in their marriage. Their relationship was on a much better path, but the aftermath of their struggles still seemed to be a dark cloud constantly overhead. They were having trouble moving past it. Getting “through” the struggle is one challenge, but something that seems to take couples off guard is how difficult it can be to move past the struggle even after it’s “over.” 

Every couple will eventually some level of difficulty (or even a full-fledged crisis) in their marriage. Sometimes the struggle is a result of one or both spouse’s poor choices (infidelity, broken trust, addiction, porn, poor financial choices, etc.), and sometimes the struggles arise apart from either spouse’s control (a death or illness in the family, job loss, etc.). In either case, it takes a great deal of faith, strength and commitment to work through a struggle together, BUT it also takes a lot of effort to successfully move past a struggle even when it’s over. The aftermath can often be just as difficult as the struggle itself.

When you’ve come through a struggle in your marriage, please remember these things as you move forward…

1.You should learn from the struggle, but don’t let it define you.

You are not a victim of this difficulty and you’re certainly not imprisoned by it. It may be part of your story, but you get to determine what part it will play in your future. Allow the situation to make your stronger. Scar tissue is actually stronger than regular skin. This struggle may have created a scar, but it can also make your stronger.

2. Let the struggle make you BETTER, not BITTER.

Every struggle in life and in marriage will make us either better or bitter, but we have to decide which one. Don’t go down the dark path that leads to bitterness. Encourage each other to rise above.

3. Don’t use past mistakes as ammunition in your disagreements.

When one spouse has made some poor choices, there’s a natural tendency for the other spouse to want to punish the other or use the past mistakes as leverage in arguments. Resist the temptation to punish and focus instead on extending grace and offering an opportunity for trust to be rebuilt.

Dave Willis quote 7 Seven laws of love book holding grudge forgiving forgiveness

4. Make sure your commitment to your marriage always stronger than your struggles.

Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced. They’re the ones whose commitment to each other always remained stronger than their reasons for calling it quits. Never give up on each other.

For more on this, check out my new book The Seven Laws of Love (by clicking here).

Dave Willis marriage quote davewillis.org love your spouse more than money career hobbies other stuff can't love you back

5. Create some new dreams for the future.

Maybe you’ve come through a struggle that shattered some of your dreams for the future. Take some time to grieve the loss, but don’t live the rest of your life in grief or thinking you have to settle for an unhappy future. Start creating new dreams together and moving forward towards them. Don’t live your life looking backwards. The past is the past. Your best days are ahead.

For more tools to help you build a stronger marriage, please download our “MarriageApp” on iTunes (a Facebook login is required to access the app). You can also connect with me on Facebook or also on Instagram for daily encouragement.

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  • Cassie

    Wow! Really needed to hear this today, thank you. Our marriage was rocked by my husbands infidelity about 3 years ago but the aftershocks of this are still affecting our marriage from being completely restored. After reading your post I feel convicted about the bitterness and holding a grudge part:(. I have some work to do I’d say! God bless and thanks again.

  • Kym

    How do I get better and not be bitter? I feel that I’ve forgiven, but I can’t forget the hurt. I can’t help but dwell on what has happened as it never leaves my thoughts.

  • Paul

    My wife and I are in a similar situation. We are trying to recover after my wife’s infidelities but we are still stuck and cannot seem to restore the love in our marriage. Perhaps we are making some progress but it is very slow. I also like the post and it has given me some encouragement.

  • Kym

    Exactly! Aftershocks take the wind out of my sails all too often.

  • Kym

    I so agree. Progress is slow and, I don’t know about you, but I need the reaffirmation that my spouse still wants this relationship as much as I do. Some days it seems that I’m just a desperate fool as he wants nothing more than to not have to discuss the situation and I’m constantly trying to get the love back. I have to keep telling myself that it’s going to take time.

  • Paul

    Yes I’m in the same situation! It seems like I’m a lot more enthusiastic than she is. I’m always reading marriage books and wanting to talk about things while my wife never does. I think you’re right – I think patience is the key.

  • Kym

    Yep, several books I’ve found helpful, but he reads half of the book & loses interest. Counseling went well for both of us, so well that counselor felt we didn’t need him any longer. Patience & baby steps. Good luck

  • Ashley Lynn Millay Marqués

    “4. Make sure your commitment to your marriage always stronger than your struggles.” *IS always stronger. Let’s use some proper English….

  • Darryl

    Feel better about yourself?