How do you know if your marriage is in trouble?
I wonder sometimes, if couples are aware that their relationship is wading out into the deep end…or if they are simply clueless. I think it’s more like denial.
Nobody wakes up one day and decides they want an empty marriage. I think most couples get going at such a rapid pace in their lives that bad relationship habits begin to form without recognizing them…and then those habits just sort of become the modus operandi.
We all get entrenched in routine. The demands of life are relentlessly…demanding. Bills to pay. Schedules to keep. Chores to be completed. And if you’ve got kids in the house, just ratchet up the intensity level about hundred times. Date night? What’s a date night when you’re up to your ear lobes in runny noses, grass-stained laundry and failed science projects exploded on the dining room table?
How do you know if your marriage is in trouble, when you don’t even make the time to think about your marriage?
The thing is, I’m pretty sure most married people know when there’s trouble brewing. They know what emptiness feels like. They know the initial signs of neglect and coldness and rejection. They know the difference between good-natured ribbing and the deliberate incision of a well-placed stab of sarcasm. They know. You know.
So what do you do? Could it be the answer is simply for you to tell somebody? Yup.
I like to fix things. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’ve learned to fix things. For years, whether it was a young youth minister’s salary or living on missionary support or dealing with the fallout of those years, I learned to fix things myself.
And it was in those years that I also learned to ask for help. I didn’t want people to do it for me, but I did want them to tell me what I could do differently… to tell me how to fix things a better or more efficient way. Sometimes that included them showing me. Sometimes my friends have taken the lead and we did it together.
From rebuilding a carburetor to installing 220 to repairing a broken water main to dealing with my depression, three things were always the same. I accepted that I had a huge problem. I admitted I couldn’t fix it all by myself. I turned to people who could help.
Through the years, I’ve learned to fix a bunch of things myself. I’ve even become a person that people turn to for help in getting things done or getting through difficult situations. That’s a pretty cool thing, but I would never be where I am at or the person I am without the help of others.
(I am not discounting the role of God’s word or his power and presence in my life through all of these times. I’m just saying it appears that people were often God’s method of communicating his wisdom and discipline and patience to me during those times of growth.)
Look. It’s not easy asking for help. Pride gets in the way big time. Nobody wants their dirty laundry hanging out so the neighborhood can see. But if that’s what it takes to get your marriage back on track…if that’s what you need to find wholeness in your union and strength to reach the finish line…then start waving your arms for somebody to see.
You’d do it if you were drowning, wouldn’t you?