There is nothing more beautiful than watching a relationship sprout, blossom, and bloom. One of my favorite things about being a pastor is watching love grow in our congregation. It’s so much fun to look out into my flock and see a man who previously came alone sitting (very closely) to a woman who previously sat alone. LOVE! Then they ask to speak with me. “Pastor…” I know what’s coming! “…we’ve been dating now for a few months.” I know what they’re about to say! “We think that we are going to be married!” YES! “And we’d like you to give us some counsel and help with the ceremony!” Woo Hoo! There it is! Love – growing right in the local church!
However, I’m also privy to the other side of love. Just as beautiful as is the birth of love, so the death of love is equally ugly. Watching a marriage fall apart is tragic and devastating. But if can be avoided by watching out for these signs of trouble.
Your marriage is in trouble if you have:
The marriage is in trouble if your spouse is keeping secrets from you. The Bible says that when two people are married they have “become one”. Secret bank accounts, Facebook profiles, phone passwords, as well as secret friendships are all enemies of a healthy relationship. If there is something that you feel as if you cannot share with your spouse then you may want to seek counseling. If you believe your spouse is keeping secrets from you then it is important to ask him or her directly. For such a conversation to be successful you will want to wait for the right time, be in the right place, initiate the conversation in the right tone. Don’t come with an accusatory spirit but rather a humble spirit, having spent much time in prayer. If you feel as if you cannot even broach the subject of secrecy with your spouse then you have become much too distant from one another.
At times physical distance cannot be avoided. I know of a dear couple who must be apart 3-4 days every week due to work schedule. I know of military families who sacrificially must be separated for months at a time. Yet, though it may be occasionally necessary, distance is never a healthy thing for a relationship. Like my mother once said to my father, “I married you to be with you, David!” Distance can be measured in miles but also in emotions. A man can “feel” as if his wife is far away. A woman can “sense” when the relationship has grown cold and surface-level. When either the husband or wife sense there is unnecessary distance in the relationship they must act immediately. DO NOT FEEL AS IF YOU ARE OVERREACTING! What is the indicator? How can a couple know when a relationship is growing distant? There is a truly simple answer: when you feel it or they feel it. The moment you, or they, feel as if the friendship has grown cold – it has. And it is the obligation of the spouse to listen and hear out the concerns of the other.
3. Lack of Joy
We are not always called to peace – but we are called to joy. We will not always experience a life of ease – but joy is to be ever present. Through financial hardships, bickering children, interfering in-laws, and tragedies of life the married couple should always be able to hold one another and experience a sense of joy. Circumstances do not determine your level of joy. More money, lack of drama, or perfect surroundings will not produce genuine joy. Joy is a result of walking with God. He is the provider of true joy. When we walk with our spouse the way we are supposed to walk with our creator – there will be a genuine sense of joy that overflows your relationship, even when circumstances would demand otherwise.
So, what do I do?
Sit down and talk! Express your thoughts, fears, and concerns. You can begin by reading through this blog post and ask your partner what they are thinking.
Seek marriage counseling! Don’t go to a pastor, counselor, or therapist alone unless you have asked your spouse to go and they have refused. Go together and you will find that having a third, impartial person in the room will help tremendously.
Pray! This should really be the first thing on the list. You’ve got to ask the creator to help you overcome these issues and restore joy, intimacy, and trust into your relationship.
Get away together! Join Heather and I at the Coastal Couples Retreat taking place February 23-25. You can register today at www.coastalcouplesretreat.com
Be willing to change! It might surprise you to know that YOU are the problem. When this is revealed, be willing to humble yourself and change your ways.
If you found this post to be helpful, please like, comment, and share it right now. God bless.
AnonymousFebruary 6, 2017 at 9:47 pm
AnonymousFebruary 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm
Do you know of any sound couple’s retreats on the East coast. We live in Alabama. Thanks!
Rebekah GrahamFebruary 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm
I have walked with hundreds of individuals through the divorce process (as a family law attorney). I absolutely agree that these are three of the biggest signs that a marriage is in trouble. But I think all of these symptoms have a common root cause, one that I see to some extent in almost every case on one side or the other (or both). Selfishness. I think many people enter a marriage primarily because of how they believe it can benefit them. At some point, their perception changes, and they no longer perceive the benefit to them of staying in the marriage. They feel they could do better, find love, be happier, etc. without the marriage. Of course, they do not admit to selfishness. They talk about how whatever they have done (kept secrets, become distant, become bitter, cheated, spent money, hidden money, etc.) is because of what their spouse has done or failed to do. People have an amazing ability to justify their behavior and put the blame on others. The stories are always different, but most can be summed up this way: “My behavior is just a symptom of my broken marriage. My broken marriage was caused by my spouse’s behavior. So, you see, even if what I have done seems bad at first, it isn’t really so bad, and it isn’t really my fault. I would not have done that if my marriage had not already been broken.” I think recognizing our own selfishness for what it is (sin), and putting the other person first, is important in building a successful marriage. Philippians 2:3-4.
Josh TeisFebruary 10, 2017 at 5:24 am
Fantastic thought rebekah! Thank you
Kenneth DeJesusFebruary 9, 2017 at 5:08 am
My wife and I have that open relationship. We can talk about anything, no matter how hard the topic may be, we talk! Communication to is key to us, because it’s allows transparency, honesty, acceptance, trust…There are a few key points or rules I do live by, such as the secrecy, like you mentioned above and adultery (both are no goes). And I thank God for the so many biblical classes/sermons Southern Hills has taught us, and will continue no matter where we go… #GoToCouplesRetreatPeople, lots of churches have em?
AnonymousFebruary 13, 2017 at 10:31 pm
How do you restore the joy after discovering the spouse was not faithful and even though he has become better, he is also very verbally abusive and loud and harsh(even with the children)? I have kids that try to avoid their father. Yes, we have been to counseling both by my pastor and a outside Christian Therapist. I am at a loss. I know God would want me to honor my marriage vowels but my stress level is very high and effecting my health. Any thoughts. I live on the East coast so your Marriage Retreat is to far. I would love to restore us and become friends/lovers but feel a wall and I am alone while married. He claims the same on my part but for me it is trust issues after the unfaithfulness…. I am not sure where I stand now.