Exactly eight years ago, my marriage fell apart and my world with it.
My husband confessed a secret struggle and I was crushed under the weight of it.
One day we were discussing fun, romantic ways to celebrate 11 years of marriage without our two preschoolers and the next I was wondering how we would make it to our 12th anniversary.
Because while his confession floored me, the real devastation was the realization that my marriage wasn’t what I thought it was.
11 years is a lot of making beds and making ends meet. It’s a lot of working things out and working things in. It’s countless hours of saying I do. I will. It’s a lot of time to grow up or grow apart.
We both come from a long line of married people, couples who dug in and fought hard, but on this day 8 years ago, for the first time in my 33 years, I thought divorce might be the easiest option.
For the first time, I understood why people divorced. It was the day I stopped judging broken marriages and saw the two broken people behind them.
With our sleeping children tucked in beds upstairs, we stood across the room from each other that night, both quietly sobbing. Terrell had laid his burden down and I had picked it up. The knowledge of this devastated both of us.
We could feel the severity, this make-or-break-crossroad moment. It was agonizing.
I was contemplating if I could continue. Could I keep loving? Could I keep saying I do? Could I forgive? Was I strong enough to fix what was broken? I was weighing the cost of fighting for my marriage, considering the frightening road ahead filled with hard heart work, self doubt and daily forgiveness.
But in my grief, I knew I wasn’t capable of saying yes to any of these questions. I understood that our marriage could only succeed with God’s help and if both of us were willing to fight hell itself for a second chance.
I took a step towards Terrell that night.
Eight years is a long time to lay down pride, to walk in freedom, to forgive. It’s countless hours of hard, deep soul labor, but I thank God for that night, for the miraculous, for the fight. I understand not everyone can or will make the same choice. It takes three (two willing partners and God) and often the choice is made for us. I could easily have a completely different story…
Staying married doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional, purposeful daily work.
Eight Ways to Defeat the Odds and Stay Married:
- Talk it out: Poor communication is the biggest factor in the statistics above. Stuffing questions and concerns, keeping secrets, clamming up, internalizing hurts contribute. I would add a three-way conversation, praying for your spouse, communicating with God alone and together is a great way to open clogged communication lines.
- Put money in it’s place: Money matters and it’s been known to break apart countless marriages. But I think it’s the love of money that is our downfall. Overspending and debt bring a lot of pressure to a marriage. Don’t let money rule you or it will rule you.
- Be attractive to each other: For better or worse, includes that receding hairline and that stubborn baby weight. Being attracted to each other is more about your commitment than a pant size. Choosing a healthy lifestyle can be super sexy, but again, this is a heart issue because we are aging and changing daily. Serve your spouse and reignite your marriage.
- Keep your eyes and heart at home: Flirting at the office, comparing your spouse to others, pouring into Facebook friendships with people you feel attracted to, these are a recipe for infidelity.
- Share responsibilities: Marriage is a partnership. And in the busyness of life and parenting, this can often get out of balance. But when it stays off-kilter, it can add stress and strain. Give more than you take with your mate. You’ll never regret it.
- Think of your kids, but don’t put them first: Statistics prove that divorce is devastating to children. Some divorces are unavoidable, but if you’re considering leaving your spouse because you aren’t attracted to them or because they don’t do enough around the house, consider the lifelong impact your choice has on your kids. But don’t just stay together because of the kids, find ways and reasons to fall together.
- Don’t tempt yourself: The Internet is destroying marriages every minute by way of online affairs and pornography. It’s not just a weakness, it’s destruction. Set up accountability, real life and with filters. Don’t play with fire.
- Learn self control: It’s not just about filtering bad thoughts and images out of your mind and off your screens. The key is asking God for self control and displaying it. We live in a sinful world and are exposed to things daily that could be a temptation. Getting closer to God will provide more self control.
Whether you are on your first marriage or second, I urge you to fight to stay married. It’s worth it.