For me and my wife, the marital bliss ended on our honeymoon. Within a few days of walking down the aisle, we both started to doubt our marriage would last.
We believed we were in love when we exchanged our vows. We had dated for a year before we got engaged. We were engaged for six months. Before our marriage, we took every opportunity to spend time together. If we had to choose between eating, sleeping, or time together, we almost always chose time with each other. We were passionate about each other.
The Beginning of the End
On our honeymoon, my wife got homesick. She missed her parents. She wanted to go home. I took it as an insult, and from there things went downhill.
Before the wedding we never argued. After the wedding, we argued many times–every day. We fought over little things like what brand of jam to buy, whether to go for a walk or watch TV, or who should return a phone call. Then we fought about big things like sex, money, and whether we loved each other.
Contempt took the place of passion. Criticism replaced compliments. Pet names were replaced with insults.
The End in Sight
Our downward spiral went on for almost three years. Then, one day my wife said she was done.
When she said she was “done,” I knew there are only two options available. One option was to divorce. The second option was to change direction.
Not every marriage can change direction. If the following three attitudes describe you or your partner, your marriage may be nearing its expiration date.
1. You’re not motivated to change.
If your marriage is in trouble, it’s easy to blame it on your partner. But if you’re expecting your partner to make all the changes, you might as well expect the marriage to continue to spiral out of control.
Insanity has been defined as continuing to do what you’ve been doing, but expecting different results. If your relationship feels like it’s spinning around in circles, the only way to get out of the spin cycle is for both of you to change direction, or end the marriage.
2. You’re not invested in the relationship.
Saving a marriage takes work. Hard work. That means to save it; you’ll need to invest time, effort, and money. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get more out of the relationship than you’re willing to put into it.
Investing in a satisfying marriage means making regular deposits in your partner’s love bank. It means we need to study our partner and learn what makes them feel loved and respected. Then we need to make those things that turn them on happen four times more than the things that turn them off.
3. You believe you married the wrong person.
Many of us fell for the myth that there is a right person for us out there somewhere. We long to look someone in the eyes and say, “You complete me.” So, when our marriage runs into trouble, it’s easy to think the marriage was a mistake.
But all marriages run into trouble. Believing you married the wrong one undermines any attempt to make your marriage work. There is no perfect match. A marriage isn’t like matching pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. We bring to marriage our individual imperfections.
A successful, satisfying marriage is more like packing when you’re moving to a new home. Some things move with you; other things get left behind because they just don’t go with your new place. In marriage, figuring out what stays and what goes takes patience, time, and–most of all–a generous love that gives space, forgives, and endures imperfections.
I fought it at first but knew that I had to try changing direction before choosing divorce. My wife agreed but wanted us to get help. We found a counselor we could work with. Together, we worked hard.
Over time, we saved our failing marriage from self-destruction. We restored the passion. Over 26 years later, our marriage is still hot.
A failing marriage isn’t a lost cause. But it is a wake-up call. Step back and assess whether the ingredients are there to save it. If there’s reason to hope, give it all you’ve got.
Photo: Flickr/ uditha wickramanayaka