There is a crisis in the American home now. The divorce rate is soaring out of sight. Many of these families could have been saved if they had known what to do to help their marriage. Often advice that is given is too general and broad and lacks being plain and practical. You have called because you want help to relieve some of the pressures in your home. Let me make some very practical suggestions.
First, start with your self. What are you willing to do to help your marriage? Write down, and I mean literally write down the things that you could do that would make your spouse happy. Then start doing as many of these things as possible, even though you may be compromising some of your supposed positions. Stubbornness is one of the biggest problems we have to overcome in saving marriages.
Second, make a list of the things that your spouse does that upsets you, and be honest with your list. You may find that many of these little things are exactly that - little things. As you review the list, decide how many of them are really worth all of the heart aches that you are now experiencing.
Third, take a very positive attitude that something can be worked out, not miraculously, or even overnight, but slowly and deliberately. It will not help if you begin to work on the problem while you are continually reminding your inner self that it is hopeless and that it will not work. This will only keep you from giving of yourself to the overall solution.
Fourth, talk with your spouse. Before you start this conversation, you would do well to sit in front of a mirror and practice what you are going to say and how-it will sound. Spend a lot of time on this because it is important.
If you just think of what you are going to say without practicing it, then it might not come out just the way you had planned. It is very important to try to plan a place and time that is convenient to both of you and then begin the conversation as graciously as possible. Your words will flow rather easily if you have practiced them well.
Not all marriage problems can be eliminated this easily by the four steps that I have outlined but it will help tremendously. Remember to start with yourself and be willing to go the second mile, as the Lord teaches. A great passage of scripture is Matthew 7:12 that would be very helpful in restoring happiness. "Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, do you even so to them. . .". We have condensed this to the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". My recommendation is this - try to be nicer to your spouse than they are to you. As you do this you are doing all that you can to make yours a happy home.
Another verse of scripture you need to use is Ephesians 4:32, "And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another . . .". Are you a kind person not only in what you say, but in the HOW you say it? Can you show tender heartedness, compassion and concern for your spouse? Are you willing to forgive and not continually bring up mistakes of the past? These are all taught in a true, genuine application of Ephesians 4:32. It is not easy to do, but if you will genuinely practice this verse, it will help.
But let us suppose that these things are not successful in bringing about a happy relationship, what can you do then? Remember that we are talking about what YOU can do. Be sure to rule out physical health problems that might be causing the difficulties or causing you to be difficult to live with. Do not be afraid to go to your physician and describe your symptoms and have a good physical. Before you go, be sure to write down the things that are bothering you and talk to him very frankly about the situation. Then follow his advice.
If there is nothing physically wrong, you may want to go to your minister and ask for assistance. If he does not have the expertise to help, he will probably know another minister who can make some recommendations. In fact, you may even feel better by just having someone to listen to you. If you do go to him, be sure to take his advice.
You may not want to approach your minister because of the intimacy of the problem. I do not always recommend telling friends and asking advice, because it will be difficult for their, to remain objective. Seek out a professional marriage and family counselor. These should be professionally trained and should be sanctioned either by the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, or your physician, who is in a position to know about them. The Family and Children's Service is found in many cities and is generally staffed by competent personnel and is supported by the United Givers Funds.
When you do seek help, do not hesitate to ask something about the qualifications and the training of the counselor if you are not acquainted with them, or if you do not have confidence in the one who made the referral.
The success rate for those who seek counseling is high. When you go to someone and say, "help me, I am willing to follow your directions", you are going to be taking a major step. Even if your spouse will not go, YOU should go on by yourself. There is so much that can be done even when you deal with only -one person.
As you look at your marriage, take your Bible and read again the directions
of Paul in Ephesians 5:22-31 and then answer these questions:
Do I really love my spouse like Christ loved the Church?
Do I love them as much as I love my own self?
Do I love them as much as I love my own body?
If the answer is NO, start changing here, and you can have a better marriage.
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