Christian Living


Marriage 911 04/18/16

Discovering the Opportunity in Your Marriage Crisis

Mature couple arguing

Have you ever experienced a marriage crisis? Most have. Everyone hates a marriage crisis. Yet, embedded in every crisis in your marriage is an opportunity for growth.

Jacqui came to see me after her husband had stormed out of the house a few days earlier, indicating that he was separating from her. It was not the first time he had done this and she held out hope that he would return soon.

"What had happened prior to him leaving?" I asked.

"We had one of our typical fights," she said. "Over our 25 years of marriage we've had many times when he gets angry, storms off and then returns. We somehow find a way to start again. But, I want these cycles to stop."

"Yes," I said. "Even though you believe he'll be back, they must leave you tired and discouraged."

"Absolutely," she said. "That's why I'm here, meeting with you. I want to find a way to put an end to these blowups."

"I'll bet you'd like to not only find a way to end these separations, but discover a new way of tackling problems that don't end in him storming out. Rather, you two need a way to talk about issues so they don't escalate and leave you exhausted."

"That would be nice," she said.
We talked at length and I listened carefully for the patterns of communication. We all get into ruts with our communication, and if the conversation doesn't flow smoothly, you can be sure something is wrong.

Jacqui and I were able to explore their relationship, see the issues leading up to their explosions, how they both contributed to their situation worsening and fortunately, some things that could change that would improve their connection and lessen their explosions.

Specifically, we identified these tools that would help them:

1. Behind every spark is a fire that needs to be put out.

Recognize "hot spots" as signals that there is fire beneath the surface. Each of these "fires" is a wound that needs attention. Denying them will NOT make them go away. Destructive patterns continue because an issue has not been fully attended to.

2. Every spark or explosion is an opportunity to heal a wound.

Rather than viewing these situations with disgust, see them as signals. Lean into them, using "gentle inquisitiveness" to learn more about your mate. Become curious about why your mate acts the way his/she does. Look deeper for hidden wounds or unresolved problems. Pay specific attention to recurring patterns of behavior.

3. Create a safe space to talk about these wounds.

These wounds or "hot spots" may be from your mate's past, or they may be something occurring in your relationship today. Encourage your mate to share their feelings so you can learn more about him/her.

4. Anticipate problems happening again.

Talk about how these problems may recur, what leads up to them, and what you can do different to stop the explosion from happening. If a problem is predictable, it is preventable. Be clear and specific in what you will each do different to have a different, healthier ending.

5. Be part of a healing process.

Carefully seeking information and a gentle touch will do much to heal an old wound. Let your mate know you want to repair anything that might be broken in your relationship. Exhibit an attitude of humility and caring. Applaud each other for gains made in changing destructive patterns, celebrating the discovery of the opportunity in the crisis.

Scripture is replete with the importance of helping others, especially our mate.

"Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God has said." - Galatians 6:6

Fortunately, we all have the power to strengthen our connection to our mate. One small step built upon another and soon we have reignited the sparks in our marriage.

If you have further thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear from you. Share your comments below or email me a confidential note. Read more about The Marriage Recovery Center at www.marriagerecoverycenter.com. There you'll find more on how to save a marriage in trouble.

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