Many times couples assume that they are married just because they live under the same roof and share the same last name. Everyone expects those who have recently exchanged wedding vows and enjoyed a lavish celebration are married.
Getting married is different from staying married. It’s one thing to be have a wedding band on your finger, it’s another thing to be excited about the person you sleep beside each night. We only get to hear the sad news about troubled marriages when it’s finally over but there had been cracks in the foundation both spouses overlooked.
“Great marriages don’t fall from the sky, it’s the result of the consistent, intentional and committed effort.”
But couples don’t have to wait till it’s too late when their partners go their separate ways. If couples identify the signs of a crumbling marriage, can they do something about it?
When our cars don’t quite function as they should, we schedule an appointment with the auto mechanic, when we feel unwell and not quite our best, we ring up the doctor and ask for an urgent appointment but when couples are exhausted and no longer excited about our marriage, where do broken hearts go?
Every one of us is a spirit, we have a soul and live in a body. And if great marriages have couples connected in spirit, soul and body, then failing marriages have couples who are disconnected spiritually, who neither enjoy nor look forward to quality time together and who are no longer soul mates.
“Don’t wait till your spouse can no longer control their outbursts of anger or we stumble on evidence of an affair, let’s begin to make some noise when we have stopped reading our Bibles and praying.”
Spiritual Disconnection: If our spirits must stay connected, couples have no option than to spend time together in prayer, worship and the study of God’s word regularly so their spirits can draw closer to God. Attending a church service with clothes that have matching patterns adds no value if couples won’t draw strength from God’s presence regularly to be like Jesus in their relationship.
The enemy will not find us attractive or available when we are spending time with God and becoming like Him. The conflicts in our relationships will not escalate because both couples are leaning in to allow God’s word take root and bear fruit as they reflect Jesus in their relationship with their spouse.
Something happens to your heart, the longer you linger in God’s presence but when couples will not submit to be led by God’s Spirit, when they won’t listen and obey God’s word, when they won’t crucify their flesh and take up their cross daily to follow Jesus, staying married will become a nightmare as everyone does what pleases them.
Don’t wait till your spouse can no longer control their outbursts of anger or we stumble on evidence of an affair, let’s begin to make some noise when we have stopped reading our Bibles and praying, let’s raise an alarm when meeting with others who love Jesus at church events has now become so much trouble and the desire to please God in all we do is not as important.
Before the wedding, couples spend time fasting and praying as they seek God’s will in the choice of a spouse, many months after the wedding, praying and fasting becomes such a heavy weight to carry. When our spirits are no longer connected to God as a couple, we are building our marriage on a faulty foundation and it won’t be long before the marriage crumbles.
Physical Separation: We hear about couples who sleep in separate rooms, who split up joint accounts or have different dinner menus served each night. There are couples who ride in different cars to the same event or even in the same car but say no word to each other throughout the entire journey.
They are those who never changed their last names or who went on holidays to different destinations. How bizarre as this may sound, this apathy didn’t begin overnight, gradually, one day at a time, couples were no longer excited about each other.
They woke up on different sides of their beds and stared at a different person in bed. The embers of love had died, and the unstable lustful emotions has disappeared. The shock of reality sets in and couples find out that marriage is so much hard work. We can no longer keep up with the pretense as our masks fall off.
Many spouses find out their partners were not who they said they were. The hugs are no longer as warm and the kisses not as wet. Time under the sheet must now be included on our to-do lists and no longer as spontaneous while we walk around on eggshells in our own space instead of being vulnerable and unashamed with the person we thought meant the whole world to us.
Even before bitterness and anger drives deeper, let’s look out for signs when we can’t bear to be in the same space with our spouse, when we no longer look out for the interests of the other, when we no longer genuinely care about the future of our relationship and have no plans or no vision for our marriage.
Staying married to someone whose company you no longer enjoy can become a nightmare. Even before the divorce papers are signed, when couples no longer go out on date nights, when we are harsh and brash while we speak to each other, when we raise our voices or cut off the other person so their opinions are not heard or valued, when we walk away from the opportunity to resolve conflicts.
“Great marriages have a vision for their future together and are constantly and regularly updating that plan as life happens.”
When there is no longer a twinkle in our eyes when we look at each other or our tone reveals how hurt and broken our hearts have become. When we begin to discuss our problems and the secrets of our hearts with someone else and not our spouse or speak about them disdainfully to another, our relationship is tearing apart at the seams, but we have no clue till the day one spouse decides never to return home again.
Emotional Detachment: When couples decide to get married, there’s usually an attraction that results in an attachment of hearts. We can tell that we’ve found our soul mates because of a special connection we share. Couples have confirmed there were times they’ve picked up the phone to call the other partner and their spouse was also thinking about them at the same time.
Before the wedding, couples are excited and look forward to spending time together. Quality times spent together was never enough, and parting was tough as it left couples distraught longing for each other. When spouses begin to get comfortable with spending the whole day at work with no calls, texts or meet ups, these are the early signs of a crumbling marriage.
When the excitement is no more there, the chase of an adventure has disappeared and there are no plans to look forward to, staying married will become a humdrum. Before couples exchanged their vows before friends and family, they enjoyed very deep and engaging conversations, they were not ashamed to talk about everything and really anything, there were no secrets and no one felt judged but when a relationship is going south, the opposite is true.
Couples are now too busy for one another, the conversations that kept them connected are now extinct as everyone focuses on their careers or kids or something or some new fling. When couples are no longer excited about their spouse or their marriage, it’s a tell-tale sign of a crumbling marriage.
Great marriages have a vision for their future together and are constantly and regularly updating that plan as life happens and are excited to close the gaps and reach the certain milestones they’ve set.
On the other hand, when spouses opt for a divorce, it’s usually after many years of staying stuck in a relationship heading nowhere with no plans for their future, nothing to look forward to, no joint effort or an investment in a merging purpose, everyone is waiting for the other person to keep the marriage going when no one’s really doing anything.
Don’t wait till your marriage has broken down completely, once one or both of you has identified any signs of your marriage crumbling, you need to take intentional and committed steps to close the gaps or reinvest the energy to keep your marriage upbeat.
Are you staying connected spiritually? If no, then slow down, drop some other tasks to make this happen, it’s not how long you pray or how many Bible chapters are read each day or how many church events you attend together deceiving people that all is well when it’s not but the willingness of both parties to stay connected to God and be led by His Spirit.
Are you staying connected physically? If no, then clear your calendars and plan ahead, you don’t have to travel to the Bahamas to stay connected, plan a date night, go see a movie together, take a walk along the beach in each other’s arms, eat out, leave the kids with a babysitter, attend a marriage conference together or read a great book on marriage together and commit to applying some or all of the lessons you’ve shared and learnt. Talk, talk and don’t stop talking.
Are you staying connected emotionally? If no, then it’s high time we checked what’s come in between you. Are there any secrets that need to be shared? Are we hurting? Let’s share the burden. Is someone angry? Let’s get to the root of it. It may be time to celebrate your anniversary by renewing our vows, it may be time to go on a holiday together that’s long overdue.
Let’s ask God for unusual wisdom to explore new options and get creative about keeping our relationships exciting and upbeat.
Great marriages don’t fall from the sky, it’s the result of the consistent, intentional and committed effort of two people who want to see God fulfill His plans through their marriage.