Every marriage has problems. Unmet expectations, failed communication and basic differences can cause frustrations. Marriage issues can feel like getting a pebble in your shoe. It doesn’t keep you from living your life, but it’s uncomfortable! Just like taking off your shoe and shaking out the pebble, you do your best to talk through the issue with your spouse. Yet sometimes, no matter how hard you shake your shoe, the pebble never goes away. Sound familiar?
It’s not for lack of effort. You genuinely tried to share your expectations, you tried to have a civil conversation, you tried to reason with each other, yet nothing changes. When this happens, there’s a good chance the pebble is actually a boulder.
Marriage issues are not always as small and simple as you think they are. Your inability to find agreement and a way forward likely indicates you are dealing with something much larger than you thought. I’ve started a list of “boulders" causing frustration and significant disruption to marriages. Couples inevitably treating the boulder like a pebble and just don't get anywhere. So, maybe this will help.
The boulder of dishonesty.
Dishonesty is like a fog that never seems to clear. A single act of lying or deception can create a deep wound, coloring every conversation and interaction. Is there a history of dishonesty in your marriage? The fog of dishonesty will only clear when you live in the sunlight of honesty day after day. If dishonesty has harmed your marriage, remember your current frustrations are affected by this unhealthy history. Recommit to total honesty and stick with it. Honesty always produces health and shrinks the boulder.
The boulder of criticism.
Critical speech is an acid that leaves your spouse burned and wary around you. Critical speech from years ago can haunt your marriage today. The spouse burned by criticism desperately needs the ointment of apology and affirmation. If you tend toward the critical side, learn to use your critical perspective wisely by weighing your words and body language so your approach is received as help instead of harm. It’s also wise to ask your spouse if you might offer some developmental feedback instead of simply saying what’s on your mind.
The boulder of betrayal.
Betrayal is painful. We all expect that those who love us will treat us well. Betrayal is the Trojan Horse of marriage. Pain and damage cloaked in the facade of love and loyalty. Pornography, flirting on social media, adultery, secretive financial dealings, hidden email accounts, and embarrassing your spouse in public can all be examples of betrayal. Overcoming betrayal requires complete confession, genuine repentance and often the assistance of a trusted third party to offer encouragement and accountability as the two of you work toward rebuilding trust again.
Challenge: Take personal responsibility for the boulders in your marriage. If you need a little help, I strongly encourage you to consider taking the Re|Engage course at Highpoint Church
. What boulders do you see in your marriage?