6 Steps to Take to Save a Dying Marriage
The arguments continue along with the cold shoulder. Not long after he walked out the door and hasn’t returned.
I get a lot of emails from wives telling me similar stories, whether its, “He’s been sleeping on the couch for years, he sleeps in another room or he’s left the home”. The premise is the same. The husband has emotionally and physically left the marriage. (If your guy hasn’t physically left, and your marriage isn’t thriving, read on. The steps below are the same steps I use in my own marriage on a regular basis.)
The woman on the other side of the screen is broken over the state of her relationship. Not knowing what to do or where to turn, she quietly sends me an email. I’m sure as she types out her story tears fall from her eyes.
I’ve seen enough and read enough of the pain that I want to share with you how to bring back your marriage from the brink of death. (If you’re dealing with abuse, addictions, and/or adultery, you need someone in real life to walk this path with you. These are serious marital issues that are beyond the scope of this post.)
But be forewarned, this path I’m suggesting won’t be a walk in the park. In fact, you’ll pretty much hate every step I encourage you to take, after all, it was his fault you’re in this mess to begin with, right? Perhaps you’re thinking, “If only he would just change, then things would be different.
Well, as long as the two of you are still breathing, there is hope. And you have a God who restores and transforms souls if you’re willing to surrender to His will–but the key here is if you’re willing. I can give you biblical instruction all day long about strengthening your marriage, but I what I can’t do is make you willing. This, my friend, is a simple act of having a teachable spirit and the emotional toughness to change your will.
Personally, I had to get to that place of surrendering my ways for the Lord’s ways, but only after I ran my life into the gutter! I could be quite the stubborn and proud woman who needs no one telling me what to do. But I needed help because I didn’t want my life to stay the same. I wanted it to change.
In order for the transformation (change) to happen in your marriage, you must commit your ways to the Lord’s. But first, you need to be humble before God.
Definition of humble:
not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
Definition of humility:
freedom from pride or arrogance : the quality or state of being humble
For the record, my least favorite virtue to work on is humility! However, I have learned that if I want wisdom then I need to embrace having a humble spirit. Friend, humility is the door to wisdom. God will not give you wisdom if you have a proud spirit. And why do you want wisdom? So you’ll know how to have a thriving marriage.
Are you willing to cooperate with God? Let Him transform your marriage? If so, know that it’s going to hurt a bit. The sanctification process always hurts.
“…For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1–3
Ask yourself if your marriage is worth more than your pride? Or your pain?
Men want to feel needed, appreciated, and accepted (as do women, but I’m here to help you restore your marriage). The first step you need to take is to reconcile with your guy. Show your husband Christ-like love by your actions and attitudes.
6 Steps to Take to Save a Dying Marriage
Step #1: Decide to reconcile.
Definition of reconcile:
to restore to friendship or harmony
to cause to submit to or accept something unpleasant
Send him a text saying something like the following:
“Come home. I miss you and need you.” (If he’s sleeping on the couch or in another room, ask him to come back to your bed.)
“Let’s start over.”
“Can we call a truce?”
Relationship Skills 101 is knowing that you will either offend him or he will offend you because the two of you are sinners. (This simple concept was something I had to learn. Go figure!) When the offense happens, take action: Apologize humbly and quickly.
If you don’t reconcile, you can’t resolve, restore, or rebuild your marriage. A marriage built without habitual reconciliation is like a home built on sand. The minute a wave comes crashing down, your marriage will fall. Shore up your marriage by laying a Christ-centered foundation built on reconciliation.
In case you’re wondering, reconciling in my marriage happens on a regular basis, it’s a marital habit that Eric and I have put in place since the beginning of our marriage. If this stubborn, stiff-necked woman can do it, you can too!
Step #2: Decide to change your mindset.
What are you going to dwell on?
Will it be your broken marriage or hope?
Will it be his actions or yours?
Will it be God’s truths or Satan’s lies?
Use God’s weapons to knock down strongholds in your life.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
Step #3: Decide to delay addressing the issue.
When he comes home, give him some space. Most men aren’t looking to talk about their feelings or problems anytime soon. Remember, he’s a man, not a woman.
Keep in mind that the two of you have just walked off the battlefield and you’re probably emotionally weak. You’re battle fatigued. He’s wounded. You’re wounded. Addressing your marital problems while you’re weak and exhausted is not wise.
Get some rest.
Then go into battle but be mindful of who your enemy is. It’s Satan, not your husband. Sure, you and your guy may lack the knowledge to build a better marriage or the two of you are too proud to make the necessary changes, but I seriously doubt that your husband wants to destroy your marriage, just like I seriously doubt you’re looking to destroy it. The only one who wants to destroy your marriage is Satan. Don’t let him win.
In the meantime, implement the following:
The Marital Be-Attitudes
- Be agreeable.
- Be flexible.
- Be kind.
- Be gracious.
- Be accepting.
- Be friendly.
I know this is a long list but you’re restoring trust and cultivating a spirit of acceptance and vulnerability in your marriage when you put these traits into action. Think of the above list as you being a friend, not an enemy, to your husband.
Step #4: Decide to lighten up and laugh.
A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
Sometimes when I’m mentoring a wife I ask her if her marriage always consists of such seriousness? And this question comes from a very serious and responsible gal! But for the sake of my marriage, I can’t always be so intense. I need to lighten up a bit and have some fun with my husband, otherwise, our relationship is viewed as a chore rather than a delight.
Of course, there are conversations that need to take place. I’m certainly not telling you to sweep things under the rug. But what I am telling you is, there is a time and place to have such conversations and when he returns home, give the two of you a fighting chance to enjoy one another. Then, make some plans to have the serious conversations so you can resolve your conflict. For help with this next step, you can listen to our podcast episodes below:
Proverbs for Couples Series Part 1: How to Communication in Marriage,
Part 2: How to Resolve Conflict in Marriage,
Part 3: Creating an Emotionally Safe Place for Communication.
Step #5: Decide to put to death the grudge and/or martyr-complex.
In other words, get over yourself. These two poisons are off-putting and will hinder the growth of your marriage. Anyone can act like a martyr and hold a grudge (ask me how I know!) But what will you reap in your relationship if you sow these seeds?
The answer is an emotionally distant and disconnected husband–two things you don’t want.
You’re probably thinking why am I putting all of this on you? Well, for three reasons:
- You want change in your marriage, right? The only way things will change is if you change because you only have control over you–your actions and your attitudes.
- God created in you, the wife, the ability to influence your husband. Some wives realize this and some don’t. (This is a blog post topic for another day.)
- I mentor women, not men. This is a biblical command I hold to according to Titus 2:3-5. It is the sole reason why this blog exists. God has called me to the ministry of discipling women and wives, not men.
Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. Titus 2:3-5 NLT
Sure, men read my blog but I write for the estrogen gender, not the testosterone one. Men are encouraged to listen to our podcast where they’ll receive biblical guidance from my husband (as well as my perspective as a wife.) Originally, the podcast was designed to help wives, which is why you hear me doing most of the talking. But over time, we’ve tried to encourage couples to come together to learn, grow, and strengthen their marriage.
Step #6: Decide to keep your eyes on you.
Don’t look at what your husband is doing or not doing. Instead, focus on your actions and attitudes.
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16
Live a poured out life for Christ,