First of all I want you to understand every marriage has challenges. Every marriage has difficulties because marriage is comprised of two people of very different personalities, very different gifting. Two people that are independent and they decide to come together and be married for the rest of their life. Well this can cause conflict because you understand that even where you live, neighbors don’t always get along. People in business don’t always get along.
But there are some things that you can do where you can understand how to eliminate most of the problems. I often say that success leaves clues. So does failure. Failure leaves clues. So one of the things I try to do in my life is follow successful clues. One of the greatest clues that you can understand in life is reading the Bible that’s about success. If you do this you will succeed. If you don’t do that you’ll fail. So I read the Bible all the time. One of its verses in the book of Proverbs chapter 16, verse 3 it says bring all your requests to the Lord give them to Him and he will make you succeed. So you can do successful things.
So do you feel like your marriage may be at a crisis stage, where emergency tactics are needed to save it? Are you flooded with thoughts like, “What can I do to stop our relationship from going in a downward spiral like it is?” “IS there anything that can be done?”
You might even be wondering if your marriage relationship is even at the crisis stage. If so, please read the following first, but before I continue we need to quickly go over those things that result into crisis or bring about crisis in our homes. Mind you, these are some of the things I paid dearly for in a heavy way meaning it hurts
UNDERSTANDING CRISIS MODE
Most couples accept that problems are part of life and love. Over time, they usually learn to talk about problems, cope with them, and adapt to them.
But a crisis in marriage is different. It can threaten to tear apart the very fabric of the relationship. Crises can take the form of affairs, substance abuse, spousal abandonment or abuse, betrayal, intense conflict, and extreme financial problems.
The kind of crisis I’m addressing involves a problem between or created by a couple, not an externally imposed crisis, such as unexpected health problems or job loss. When a couple experiences a crisis, the result is alienation, mistrust, or brokenness.
A crisis involves an unstable condition that creates some sort of impending change. Something has happened to cause a couple to question whether their marriage can survive, and they face a major decision. A couple in crisis may attempt to endure the situation; they may work to resolve it; or they may end the marriage. A couple can live with a problem, but they’ll have to make a major change to resolve a crisis.
A husband, for example, might have such a problem with overspending that the family is in jeopardy of bankruptcy. This issue creates a seriously unstable condition. The couple’s relationship could fall apart; they could experience feelings of alienation or resentment; or they could work to resolve the issue.
The point is this: A crisis never leaves a couple unmarked. It affects both spouses and strikes at the heart of their relationship: its love and trust. The intensity of a crisis can make a spouse feel she doesn’t know her mate anymore, the love is gone or perhaps was never there, or she can never again trust her spouse. The crisis has created a deep sense of alienation, making it extremely difficult to resolve the issue together.
If your marriage is in or nearing crisis mode, know that God offers hope and help for one of His most cherished creations, the institution of marriage. And He promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
CAUSES OF CRISIS IN MARRIAGE
It is not possible to generate a conclusive list of the factors capable of causing crisis in marriage. This depends on the people concern and varies from one marriage to another, but the following are very common in many marriage relationships.
Of course, money would be first. Money causes all kinds of problems. It doesnâ€™t matter if you have too much or not enough money. Either way you get conflict. Usually you have one spouse that is a free spender and one that is a saver. These donâ€™t mix. Working out a compromise that both can agree with takes time, effort and trial and error.
Now there is a word that sends couples into hiding. There should be a written rule book about how to deal with in-laws. Even if both spouses get along great with their in-laws conflict still arises over where to spend the holidays, when to visit family and when and how often for in-laws to visit them.
Things are going along just fine and then comes the kids. Kids can cause conflict of all types. Deciding what faith to raise them in and how to discipline them are probably the ones that cause the most problems.
It is a rare marriage where this is not an area of conflict. Women think intimacy, men think sex. There is a difference. The key is to express yourself and your needs to your spouse. Women and men are wired differently and it is important to try and understand the other persons needs and wants. Do not deprive one another, unless it is with consent for a time, so that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer. And come together again so that Satan does not tempt you for your incontinence. [1 Corinthians 7: 5]
Say what you mean and mean what you say. We should all live by this. If we did maybe there would be no more misunderstandings.
When one of the partner is not faithful with marriage vows, or when there is a suspicion of it, there will be crises in the home. This will break down the trust in marriage and will promote selfish interests.
Food is a very important factor in marriage and issues with food may cause serious crisis in marriage. These range from the non-availability, differences in the type and the style of preparing, and other matters about it.
SIGNS OF MARRIAGE CRISIS
When a marriage is in crisis, emergency tactics are needed to save it. It’s not a time to look the other way and think that things will get better on their own. Many marriages die that could have been saved if only heroic actions would have been implemented.
Sadly, the divorce courts those who ignored the crisis warning signs that marriage was on a downhill decline to failing.
“A marriage crisis typically occurs when an unusual amount of stress or unresolved conflict causes the level of anxiety to become too intense for the couple to manage. As a result, anger, resentment, dissatisfaction, frustration and hopelessness take control of the relationship. The couple typically continues the negative interactions —or disengages completely from one another, and the relationship shuts down. I call this the boiling point or marital meltdown in the marriage.
The best thing that a couple can do for their marriage when problems begin to negatively over-shadow the good in the relationship, is to look for the help they need to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The more time that occurs, the greater the damage. If things progress to the point of threatening the life of the marital union, special treatment is required to stabilize things… STAT! And even then, it’s very difficult to turn things around in a positive direction; but it IS possible.
So, what do you do if your own marriage hits the crisis stage? We’re going to suggest some immediate guidelines to help stabilize things while you’re in the “emergency” crisis stage, and then guide you to additional possibility care that you can apply afterward.
Before we go into the guidelines though, we want to encourage you NOT to put your energy into giving up on your marriage at this point, if that is something you’re contemplating. Sometimes one or both spouses will be tempted to give in and give up because the marital divide separating them looks too impossible to bridge.
We have to say that it’s true that a lot of situations can look hopeless and beyond repair (even though they aren’t from God’s perspective). Keep in mind though, that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Please don’t limit that which He can do to help you. With God, even the impossible can be, and is possible.
First, take the “D” (divorce) word and image out of your head —throwing it out as many times as it appears at this point. It will just drain you of the energy you need to put forth to save your marriage. The enemy of our faith can be relentless in trying to tempt you to give up and surrender, instead of finding a way to turn things around in a good direction. Don’t give in to the temptation.
“You’ve probably heard of the old military expression, ‘Surrender is not an option.’ When a ship’s captain headed into battle —where surrender definitely wasn’t an option —he would give the order to nail his country’s colors to the mast. After the flags were nailed up high, during the battle, there was just no way to lower them and run up the flag of surrender. When the crew realized there was no option but to fight, they became more determined to win the battle. This is the same mind set we’re to have in marriage. Our one option in marriage is to stand our ground, fight off the things that would separate us from one another, and find a way to make it work.”
For now, just look to the Lord to see what He can show you to do and put your energies into doing just that, one step at a time. Even if you find that you are taking two steps forward and one step back, at least you are failing forward. Keep in mind that God may very well have a plan for your own marriage miracle, if you are willing to put all your energies forth into participating with Him instead of looking for a way of escape. You may miss out on a huge blessing if you don’t give it a try.
In looking at the immediate crisis in your marriage, you will find below several guidelines and links to additional articles, which you can read, plus recommended resources that can be helpful as you apply them, IF you apply them (not just read and forget the advice given).
We want to point out, however, that the advice given below is not set in stone. Glean through what is written and use what the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, shows you to use, and discard that which He shows you won’t help in your situation. Just as you won’t find that every medicine which a drug store carries, will help your particular ailment, the same applies here. Use what will help, as God leads.
The emergency tactics and long-term care which will be needed to revive and grow your marriage into a healthy one may be different for you because each couple has different dynamics going on in their marriage. This is not “one size fits all” advice, that is written below. Go with God in this, and work with Him in partnership, EVEN IF the process is painful —which it could be. If relationship “surgery” is needed, pain will be involved. But the point is to eventually take away the pain which is unnecessary.
Please pray and depend upon the Holy Spirit to help you determine what you need to do to breathe new life into your marriage.
Concerning emergency procedures for your marriage:
1. Be intentional in having an “EMERGENCY MIND-SET.”
Recognize that this is a crisis situation that could lead to the death of your marriage. Commit to doing what it takes to first stabilize matters. Afterward, it will be important to work on individual problems one-by-one, seeking the best “medicine” and help possible, even bringing in “specialists” when necessary. But recognize the fact that you are in a crisis situation.
“Just as the person experiencing acute medical distress needs special care, a couple in crisis also needs special treatment. When a person suffers from a severe medical condition, the medic or emergency room doctor doesn’t spend hours gathering a comprehensive patient history. The medical personnel need specific information to stabilize the immediate situation. Long-range decisions can be made later. Long-range plans are irrelevant if the patient is dead. The same analogy fits the marriage in crisis.” (Dr David Hawkins)
Don’t ignore or downplay what could happen if you aren’t intentional in your thought process and actions. Don’t just look at “how to” do what is necessary, work on having the “heart to” do what is necessary. If you have the “heart to” do what is needed, you will be open to looking for “how to” do what is needed …and then actually DOING it.
2. Take yourselves to the best emergency room possible, as immediately as you can.
Just as you take a bleeding patient to an emergency room and clear it of anyone else that complicate matters, do so in your bleeding marriage situation. Don’t involve anyone outside of the marriage that can’t help it to survive and eventually recover.
If your spouse won’t go with you, then be the one to make the first step to strategize what can be done.
3.Bring your problems “in house” when that is best.
In other words, don’t work to stabilize your marriage at Aunt Sue’s party or a restaurant or any location where others, who shouldn’t be involved, can enter in to cause more harm. Take this into the privacy of your home or your room or at a counselor’s office (one who is PRO-marriage) —wherever you can get the best healing results. If you feel that some type of temporary separation is the only option that will get you through this crisis, then be careful in doing so.
Above all, make sure your “emergency mindset” is fixed upon working towards repairing the marriage problems, rather than escaping and finding another way of dealing with that which is plaguing your relationship.
“Some relationships are very toxic; in other words, verbal or physical battling occurs and thus safety is a concern. The only way to stabilize the environment is to create space between the two people. Even if space is needed, you can create that space with an “in-house” separation. You can choose to live in separate bedrooms for a while, live on separate floors if that is possible, decide to exclude certain topics of conversation without help from a trained third party, or decide not to socialize or take family trips together while you seek to heal. Couples can get very creative about honoring separate space for the purpose of individual reflection and growth. I’ve seen such separation provide enough salve to allow deep wounds to begin to heal
If abusive behavior is involved, then you need to be stricter in the boundaries that you set up to protect yourself and bring healing into the situation. Also:
4.Don’t bring other family members or friends in to “help” unless you BOTH agree this would be best.
It isn’t productive to have others choosing “sides” —pitting you against each other. But also, be honest with yourselves as to whether your marriage can heal without additional help. Sometimes it is best to lower pride for a season to obtain the help of a few people, than it is to keep things private until a divorce pushes things out into the public.
4• Don’t involve your children.
They don’t need to be involved when you are in “crisis mode.” It can be harmful for them to see and listen to all of the gory details of what’s going on, and it just complicates that which you need to do to get your marriage “breathing” again. • If it is someone outside of the family that is complicating matters, stay away from them —especially during this time (and perhaps forever, when it’s appropriate).
“Crises are capable of wounding us deeply, no matter what or who causes them. Some of the most destructive and devastating traumas are those caused or created by those we care about most: our family and friends. An example of this type of hurt could be a marriage where an affair has occurred. The emotional and social pressure on the wounded partner is far-reaching and undoubtedly long-term. There is nothing that causes more emotional pain in a marriage than to be betrayed by someone you love, depend on and trust
With that said:
5• If there is an affair partner involved or a “friend” that a spouse feels threatened by, within the relationship, cut all ties.
—If it is an affair partner, the article “Total Separation: The Right Way to End an Affair” would be helpful to read. You can’t divide your romantic “affections” with someone other than your spouse and expect your love and affections to remain or build back up again.
—If it is a “friend” that is causing problems, then it would be good to read and apply the principles to either “QUESTIONS: Guiding Opposite Sex Friendships in Marriage” or “Friendships and How They Influence a Marriage” or both. “Friends” aren’t supposed to divide you as a married couples.
6• If a family member is causing problems, the spouse who is related, should be the one to diplomatically ask the family member to back away so you both can work on stabilizing your marriage.
And then you can eventually see what is to be done in the future —if this family member can be safe enough to re-enter your lives in a less threatening (and not a divisive) way.
I am convinced that the emotional scars and wounds that occur in families are some of the most unpleasant and damaging on the face of the earth. Crisis is difficult in and of itself, and even more so when it is caused by people whom we care for
Keep in mind what Jesus said about the marriage relationship: “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). Not letting man (or woman) separate you in your marriage, includes friends or family members, or even yourself, to shove your spouse out of his or her rightful place in your heart and priorities.
This is a time for you and your spouse to concentrate on your relationship and NOT involve those who don’t contribute to the healing process rather than adding further contamination.
7. Make a quick assessment of that which needs to be done to stabilize matters at hand.
8• Make sure airways are secured.
In other words, make sure that you each stop doing that which chokes your spouse emotionally (even if you don’t understand why he or she would feel this way about certain words you say or certain actions you do). This is a time to try to breathe new life into your marriage, not cause more damage. And the first thing that will help facilitate this into happening is to restore treating each other with love, and respect in word and deed, and grace.
“Don’t let conflict or negative feelings stop you from showing respect. While you may not initially feel like showing respect, you can do it. You can choose to show respect even if you harbor unpleasant feelings for them. In fact, this is a great way to begin changing the emotional climate in your marriage.
“Scriptures repeatedly implore us to speak kindly to one another. The Apostle Paul tells us: ‘Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’ Romans 12:16-18
Treat your spouse as God’s daughter/son, even if she or he doesn’t act that way. Do it “as unto the Lord” and see what God can do as you duck and get out of His way of ministering to your spouse.
It would be good to set boundaries to help stabilize the situation. But:
“Don’t set boundaries you are not ready to enforce. Don’t make idle threats. Don’t tell them you will inform their family, employer and neighbors about their actions. Again, this only pushes them away. They will feel your manipulation and resent it. This “nasty,” desperate side only gives them more reason to leave.
“Do set boundaries… Let them know you must be treated with dignity, and if they cannot do that, it is best that they do leave. This show of self-respect will make a powerful statement to your mate.”
9• Also, make sure to keep the airways clear.
“When the husband sees the spirit of his wife deflate, he should realize he’s stepping on her air hose and get off it.
And the same is true for the wife to get off of that which causes her husband to deflate in spirit. To better explain this concept, please click onto the Focus on the Family article (and the corresponding articles they provide) to read:
• And then stop doing that which causes additional emotional bleeding. To do this, you must each stop the assault on the relationship. You need to come to an agreement to work together. Agree together, “We will immediately stop doing those things that have created this crisis.”
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).
— So don’t be “reckless” with your words. This is a time to open the lines of communication, not slam each other’s ears and attitudes shut. That means no name-calling, slander, belittling, yelling, screaming, or using the “silent treatment” to try to get your point across. Those are things that immature children try to do to get their way. We’re given some great advice in the Bible to challenge this type of behavior:
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put childish ways behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
“If you’re in a pattern of put-downs and cruelty, consider its destructive effects: It tears down your mate’s confidence. It puts you both in a negative light around others. It blocks intimacy. It erodes your spiritual well-being, and it teaches your children to be inconsiderate and unkind.
“Fortunately, you don’t have to remain locked in this dance of disrespect. You can take productive steps to freedom, and changing your patterns can affect your children and your children’s children!— Stop doing that which is causing more damage.
“Agree to stop the conflict. Yes, it can be that simple. Agree that you will not fight about anything, and will set hot issues aside until you’ve learned the skills necessary to talk about them in a respectful way. Agree to end defensiveness, so you can truly listen to the needs and concerns of your mate.
— Make an agreement that “we will do whatever is needed to stabilize this marriage.” It can be called, “Cocooning.”
“Crisis takes our breath away, sometimes completely knocking us off our feet. An unexpected death. Sudden illness. Natural catastrophe or family emergency. A good name ruined. Financial disaster. Critical times stir up anguish, fear or anger so fierce it can destroy a marriage. If we turn inward, withdrawing from our spouse, we risk damaging the beautiful oneness of marriage.
10. Express your point without abusing the person. Always avoid the use of offensive words, or physical combats, thee effect may last longer than the actual misunderstanding.
11. Learn to say sorry. You must be ready to apologize sincerely especially when it is obvious that you are wrong, and even when you are not convinced, you can do it for the sake of peace. If you will need to do it, let it be in good time, sometimes it might get to late.
12. Learn to forgive and forget. Never refer to any past issues on which your partner apologized, they may open fresh wounds. Forgetting may be difficult, but possible through the grace of God.
13. Recognize the place of prayer. Develop and sustain the habit of praying together, and each partner should build up a good prayer life. So many issues can be settled through prayer by depending on the strength of the Holy Spirit.
As you’ve seen, having a marriage crisis doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have to divorce. Marriage and conflict? Yes, the two go together. Two people of the opposite sex cannot live together without some form of conflict. Conflict happens. The question is how do couples resolve those conflicts?
So how do couples respond to crisis? What helps? I believe God wants us to cocoon together, as husband and wife. Doing so strengthens a relationship, eases heartache and deepens love for each other through the shared pain.