I’ve learned a lot about marriage over the past 10 years of counseling couples. Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, but it represents a good summary. I wanted to share this list with you because I believe it is extremely applicable regardless of the condition of your marriage. It’s short, insightful, and actionable.
No marriage is safe
Regardless of who you are, what position you hold, what type of family you came from, how smart you are, how much money you have, or how many good years of marriage you’ve experienced, if you’re not continually working on your marriage it is prone to drift in the direction of isolation. Marriage problems don’t discriminate. All couples will experience marriage problems to the degree they ignore or take for granted the condition of their marriage. Don’t let this principle scare you, but do let it drive you to continue to work on your relationship (1 Corinthians 10:12).
One person can change the direction of a marriage
It is true that it takes 2 people to make a marriage work and only 1 person to destroy it, but never underestimate the power of 1 person who is completely sold out to loving, forgiving, and serving a wayward spouse (or even just a spouse who is having a bad day). It isn’t easy, and reconciliation doesn’t always happen fast, but it is really hard for a wayward spouse to resist someone who is radically committed to loving them when they don’t deserve it. Love does its best work in an undeserving environment (Romans 5:8).
Marriage is hard but it isn’t complicated
I’ve seen all types of marriage problems over the years, but at the end of the day the root level problem is always the same. Sin leads to selfishness which leads to 2 people who are more committed to loving themselves than they are loving each other and God. I know that’s grossly simplified and there are absolutely some unique complexities that need to be addressed physically and socially from people’s past (hurts, relationships, family of origin, etc…) but the root issue is always sin. Why is this important? When you’re able to more correctly identify the problem, the solution becomes much more clear and simple (in theory). Marriage is hard, but I believe we complicate it at times.
Principles don’t change people
Speaking of solutions, there are no amount of communication, conflict, or intimacy principles that will ultimately result in lasting change for a couple. Do we teach these principles? Do they help? Are they needed? Yes to all 3 questions! But people’s primary problem isn’t ignorance of a principle as much as it is an infection of sin. People don’t need a principle as much as they need a person. Specifically, they need the person of Jesus. Every marriage needs Jesus more than anything else.
There is hope for every marriage
Regardless of what a couple has been through in the past, are going through now, or what their beliefs about marriage are, their marriage can be restored. Last week one of our counselors shared an unbelievable story of a couple in a seemingly hopeless situation who is now well on their way to reconciliation in response to one spouse having an encounter with Jesus at recent marriage event. God is in the business of raising dead things!!
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.