I recently sat down with a lady whose husband had been carrying on a secret double-life. The couple had faced a steady stream of recent struggles, but the extent of his destructive behavior (adultery, etc.) was much more than she had previously thought possible. She, like so many spouses, now finds herself at a crossroads where she must decide how to proceed. With children involved, she feels stuck a lose-lose situation no matter what she chooses to do next. My prayers are with her and with the many who are facing similar, heartbreaking struggles.
That meeting has had me thinking about the factors that ultimately lead to this kind of crisis. If you find yourself in a crisis already, I encourage you to start with professional counseling and/the resources available at SaveMyMarriage.com. For those of us who are not in crisis, I want to focus on some points on how to prevent a crisis in our marriages. I believe that if we’ll follow these five principles below, we’ll be taking a big step towards safeguarding our hearts and our homes.
1. Don’t BLAME each other. Instead, look for ways to SUPPORT each other.
The “blame game” is often a first step towards marital chaos or infidelity. It happens when there’s stress in the marriage due to financial pressure, sexual frustration, exhaustion or a million other factors. In those moments (and every marriage has these moments of stress), we must make the choice to work together instead of working against each other. We need to support each other and be more focused on unity in the marriage than our own temporary need being met. Choosing to help each other instead of blaming each other is one of the MOST important things you can to for your marriage.
2. Listen to marriage advice ONLY from people who love you AND love your spouse.
When there’s stress in your marriage, you’re naturally going to be open to getting some marriage advice and where you go to get that advice could make the difference between a healthy marriage and a divorce. If you gravitate to friends, relatives or co-workers who glamorize divorce or trash talk your spouse, you’d injecting poison into your marriage. Instead, look for those who have a strong marriage themselves and also have love and commitment for your entire family. That’s where you’ll get the healthiest advice.
3. Choose to FORGIVE instead of keeping score or holding grudges.
Every marriage has a lot of opportunity for forgiveness. If you want to your marriage to work, grace has to be a big part of it. Forgiveness simply means choose to pursue restoration in the relationship instead of revenge when you’ve been wronged. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies! Forgiveness is the first step towards healing and rebuilding trust when it has been broken.
4. Refuse to keep SECRETS from each other.
Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy in marriage. Your marriage will never be stronger than your trust in each other, so fight for trust and be transparent and honest in all areas of your relationship. Confess anything you’re hiding.
5. Remove all EXIT STRATEGIES.
Take the work “divorce” out of your vocabularies. Don’t threaten to walk out instead of working things out. Don’t ever lose sight of your unshakable commitment to each other.
For more tools to help you build a happy and healthy marriage and family, check out my brand new book The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships
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