A Marriage in Crisis – Doing What It Takes To Save It

Marriage in Crisis - Canva Pixabay backgroundDo you feel like your marriage may be at a crisis stage? Do you feel like emergency tactics may be needed to save it? Are you flooded with thoughts like, “What can I do to stop our relationship from going in a downward spiral like it is?” “IS there anything that can be done?”

You might even be wondering if your marriage relationship is even at the crisis stage. If so, please read the following article first:

Warning Signs That a Marriage is in Crisis

When a marriage is in crisis, emergency tactics are needed to save it. It’s not a time to look the other way, thinking that things will get better on their own. Many marriages die that could have been saved if only heroic actions would have been implemented.

Ignoring Warning Signs During a Crisis

Sadly, the divorce courts those who ignored the crisis warning signs that marriage was on a downhill decline to failing.

“A marriage crisis typically occurs when an unusual amount of stress or unresolved conflict causes the level of anxiety to become too intense for the couple to manage. As a result, anger, resentment, dissatisfaction, frustration and hopelessness take control of the relationship. The couple typically continues the negative interactions —or disengages completely from one another, and the relationship shuts down. I call this the boiling point or marital meltdown in the marriage. (Mitch Temple, from Focus on the Family article, “Is Your Marriage in Crisis?”)

The best thing that a couple can do for their marriage when problems negatively over-shadow the good, is to look for the help as quickly as possible. The more time that occurs, the greater the damage. If things progress to the point of threatening the life of the marital union, special treatment is required to stabilize things… STAT! And even then, it’s very difficult to turn things around in a positive direction; but it IS possible.

Guidelines During Times of Crisis

So, what do you do if your own marriage hits the crisis stage? We’re going to suggest some immediate guidelines to help stabilize things while you’re in the “emergency” crisis stage, and then guide you to additional possibility care that you can apply afterward.

Before we go into the guidelines though, we want to encourage you NOT to put your energy into giving up on your marriage, if that is something you’re contemplating. Sometimes one or both spouses will be tempted to give in and give up. That is because the marital divide separating them looks too impossible to bridge.

We have to say that it’s true that a lot of situations can look hopeless and beyond repair. Keep in mind though, that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) Please don’t limit that which He can do to help you. With God, even the impossible can be, and is possible.

First, take the “D” (divorce) word and image out of your head.

Throw it out as many times as it appears at this point. It will just drain you of the energy you need to put forth to save your marriage. The enemy of our faith can be relentless in trying to tempt you to give up and surrender. This can thwart your finding a way to turn things around in a good direction. Don’t give in to the temptation.

“You’ve probably heard of the old military expression, ‘Surrender is not an option.’ When a ship’s captain headed into battle —where surrender definitely wasn’t an option —he would give the order to nail his country’s colors to the mast. After the flags were nailed up high, during the battle, there was just no way to lower them and run up the flag of surrender. When the crew realized there was no option but to fight, they became more determined to win the battle. This is the same mind set we’re to have in marriage. Our one option in marriage is to stand our ground, fight off the things that would separate us from one another, and find a way to make it work.” (Dr Norm Wright, from the book, “One Marriage Under God”)

At This Time

For now, just look to the Lord to see what He can show you to do. Put your energies into doing just that, one step at a time. Even if you find that you are taking two steps forward and one step back, at least you are failing forward. Keep in mind that God may very well have a plan for your own marriage miracle. That is, if you are willing to put all your energies forth into participating with Him instead of looking for a way of escape. You may miss out on a huge blessing if you don’t give it a try.

In looking at the immediate crisis in your marriage, you will find below several guidelines and links to additional articles, which you can read, plus recommended resources that can be helpful as you apply them, IF you apply them (not just read and forget the advice given).

We want to point out, however, that the advice given below is not set in stone. Glean through what is written and use what the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, shows you to use. Discard that, which He shows you won’t help in your situation. Just as you won’t find that every medicine which a drug store carries, will help your particular ailment, the same applies here. Use what will help, as God leads.

Different Tactics for Different People

The emergency tactics and long-term care, which will be needed to revive and grow your marriage into a healthy one may be different for you. That is because each couple has different dynamics going on in their marriage. This is not “one size fits all” advice, that is written below. Go with God in this, and work with Him in partnership, EVEN IF the process is painful —which it could be. If relationship “surgery” is needed, pain will be involved. But the point is to eventually take away the pain which is unnecessary.

Please pray and depend upon the Holy Spirit to help you to breathe new life into your marriage.


1. Be intentional in having an “emergency mind-set.”

Recognize that this is a crisis situation that could lead to the death of your marriage. Commit to doing what it takes to first stabilize matters. Afterward, it will be important to work on individual problems one-by-one, seeking the best “medicine” and help possible, even bringing in “specialists” when necessary. But recognize the fact that you are in a crisis situation.

“Just as the person experiencing acute medical distress needs special care, a couple in crisis also needs special treatment. When a person suffers from a severe medical condition, the medic or emergency room doctor doesn’t spend hours gathering a comprehensive patient history. The medical personnel need specific information to stabilize the immediate situation. Long-range decisions can be made later. Long-range plans are irrelevant if the patient is dead. The same analogy fits the marriage in crisis.” (Dr David Hawkins)

Don’t ignore or downplay what could happen if you aren’t intentional in your actions. Don’t just look at “how to” do what is necessary. Work on having the “heart to” do what is necessary. If you have the “heart to” do what is needed, you will be open to looking for “how to” do what is needed …and then actually DOING it.

2. Take yourselves to the best emergency room possible, as immediately as you can.

Just as you take a bleeding patient to an emergency room and clear it of anyone else that complicate matters, do so in your bleeding marriage situation. Don’t involve anyone outside of the marriage that can’t help it to survive and eventually recover.

If your spouse won’t go with you, then be the one to make the first step to strategize what can be done.

  • Bring your problems “in house” when that is best.

In other words, don’t work to stabilize your marriage at Aunt Sue’s party or a restaurant or any location where others, who shouldn’t be involved, can enter in to cause more harm. Take this into the privacy of your home or at a counselor’s office (one who is PRO-marriage) —wherever you can get the best healing results. IMPORTANT NOTE: We’ve got several articles in the Marriage Counseling & Mentoring topic that are important to read before choosing a mutually agreed upon counselor, if this is what you need.

If you feel that some type of temporary separation is the only option that will get you through this crisis, then be careful in doing so. (We have several articles in the Separation and Divorce topic section that can help you put together some important guidelines.)

Above all, make sure your “emergency mindset” is fixed upon working towards repairing the marriage problems, rather than escaping and finding another way of dealing with that which is plaguing your relationship.

You may want to consider the following advice from Debra Laaser, as an alternative to leaving your home during this time of separation.

She writes:

“Some relationships are very toxic. In other words, verbal or physical battling occurs and thus safety is a concern. The only way to stabilize the environment is to create space between the two people. Even if space is needed, you can create that space with an “in-house” separation. You can choose to live in separate bedrooms for a while, live on separate floors if that is possible, decide to exclude certain topics of conversation without help from a trained third party, or decide not to socialize or take family trips together while you seek to heal. Couples can get very creative about honoring separate space for the purpose of individual reflection and growth. I’ve seen such separation provide enough salve to allow deep wounds to begin to heal.” (from Growthtrac.com article “Shattered Vows“)

If abusive behavior is involved, then you need to be stricter in the boundaries that you set up to protect yourself and bring healing into the situation. (We have an Abuse in Marriage topic that can help with that dilemma.)


  • Don’t bring other family members or friends in to “help” unless you BOTH agree this would be best.

It isn’t productive to have others choosing “sides” —pitting you against each other. (Please see: Marriage Insight: Spouses Arguing in Front of Others for further insight on this point.) But also, be honest with yourselves as to whether your marriage can heal without additional help. Sometimes it is best to lower pride for a season to obtain the help of a few people, than it is to keep things private until a divorce pushes things out into the public.

  • Don’t involve your children.

They don’t need to be involved when you are in “crisis mode.” It can be harmful for them to see and listen to all of the gory details of what’s going on. It just complicates that which you need to do to get your marriage “breathing” again. (See: Spouses Fighting in Front of Children for further insight.)

  • If someone outside of the family is complicating matters, stay away from them —especially during this time.

“Crises are capable of wounding us deeply, no matter what or who causes them. Some of the most destructive and devastating traumas are those caused or created by those we care about most: our family and friends. An example of this type of hurt could be a marriage where an affair has occurred. The emotional and social pressure on the wounded partner is far-reaching and undoubtedly long-term. There is nothing that causes more emotional pain in a marriage than to be betrayed by someone you love, depend on and trust.” (Mitch Temple, from Focus on the Family article, “Is Your Marriage in Crisis?”)

With that said:

  • If there is an affair partner or a “friend” involved that a spouse feels threatened by, cut all ties.

—If it is an affair partner, the article Total Separation: The Right Way to End an Affair would be helpful to read. You can’t divide your romantic “affections” with someone other than your spouse and expect your love to remain or build back up again.

—If it is a “friend” that is causing problems, then it would be good to read and apply the principles to either QUESTIONS: Guiding Opposite Sex Friendships in Marriage or Friendships and How They Influence a Marriage or both. “Friends” aren’t supposed to divide you as a married couples.

  •  If a family member is causing problems, the spouse who is related, should diplomatically ask the family member to back away.

This way both of you can better work on stabilizing your marriage. And then you can eventually see what is to be done in the future —if this family member can be safe enough to re-enter your lives in a way that is not divisive. (The Dealing with In Laws & Parents topic of this web site can be helpful in sorting things out for both of you, when the time is right.)

“I am convinced that the emotional scars and wounds that occur in families are some of the most unpleasant and damaging on the face of the earth. Crisis is difficult in and of itself, and even more so when it is caused by people whom we care for.” (Mitch Temple, from Focus on the Family article, “Is Your Marriage in Crisis?”)

Keep in mind what Jesus said about the marriage relationship: “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:6) Not letting man (or woman) separate you in your marriage, includes friends or family members, or even yourself, to shove your spouse out of his or her rightful place in your heart and priorities.

This is a time for you and your spouse to concentrate on your relationship and NOT involve those who don’t contribute to the healing process rather than adding further contamination.

3.  Make a quick assessment of that which needs to be done to stabilize matters at hand.

  • Make sure airways are secured.

In other words, make sure that you each stop doing that which chokes your spouse emotionally (even if you don’t understand why he or she would feel this way). This is a time to try to breathe new life into your marriage, not cause more damage. And the first thing that will help facilitate this into happening is to restore treating each other with love. You are to show respect to each other in word and deed, giving grace.

“Don’t let conflict or negative feelings stop you from showing respect. While you may not initially feel like showing respect, you can do it. You can choose to show respect even if you harbor unpleasant feelings for them. In fact, this is a great way to begin changing the emotional climate in your marriage.

“Scriptures repeatedly implore us to speak kindly to one another. The Apostle Paul tells us: ‘Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.’ (Romans 12:16-18)” (Dr David Hawkins, from CBN.com article “Marriage 911”)

God’s Son or Daughter

Treat your spouse as God’s daughter/son, even if she or he doesn’t act that way. Do it “as unto the Lord” and see what God can do as you duck and get out of His way of ministering to your spouse.

It would be good to set boundaries to help stabilize the situation. But:

“Don’t set boundaries you are not ready to enforce, or make idle threats. Don’t tell them you will inform their family, employer and neighbors about their actions. Again, this only pushes them away. They will feel your manipulation and resent it. This “nasty,” desperate side only gives them more reason to leave.

“Do set boundaries. … Let them know you must be treated with dignity, and if they cannot do that, it is best that they do leave. This show of self-respect will make a powerful statement to your mate.”  (Dr David B Hawkins, from the Crosswalk.com article, “Don’t Divorce on Friday: 7 Ways to Save Your Marriage”)

To find out more on this important part of your marriage, please read the following Crosswalk.com, Dr Hawkins article:

Paper Fences: The Boundaries We Fail to Set in Marriage

  • Also, make sure to KEEP the airways clear.

“When the husband sees the spirit of his wife deflate, he should realize he’s stepping on her air hose and get off it.” (Rev. Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.)

And the same is true for the wife to get off of that which causes her husband to deflate in spirit. To better explain this concept, please click onto the Love and Respect article (and the corresponding articles they provide) to read:

OUCH! You’re Stepping on My Air Hose!

  • And then stop doing that which causes additional emotional bleeding.

To do this, you must each stop the assault on the relationship. You need to come to an agreement to work together. Agree together, “We will immediately stop doing those things that have created this crisis.”

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

— So don’t be “reckless” with your words.

This is a time to open the lines of communication, not slam each other’s ears and attitudes shut. That means no name-calling, slander, belittling, yelling, screaming, or using the “silent treatment” to try to get your point across. Those are things that immature children try to do to get their way. We’re given some great advice in the Bible to challenge this type of behavior:

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

“If you’re in a pattern of put-downs and cruelty, consider its destructive effects: It tears down your mate’s confidence. It puts you both in a negative light around others. Also, it blocks intimacy, and erodes your spiritual well-being. Plus, it teaches your children to be inconsiderate and unkind.

“Fortunately, you don’t have to remain locked in this dance of disrespect. You can take productive steps to freedom, and changing your patterns can affect your children and your children’s children!” (Louis McBurney, from article, “When Couples are Cruel”)

— Stop doing that which is causing more damage.

“Agree to stop the conflict. Yes, it can be that simple. Agree that you will not fight about anything, and will set hot issues aside until you’ve learned the skills necessary to talk about them in a respectful way. Agree to end defensiveness, so you can truly listen to the needs and concerns of your mate.” (From a question and answer article written by Dr David Hawkins, please read, “Help! We Love the Lord, But We’re Cruel to Each Other”)

— Make the agreement: “we will do whatever is needed to stabilize this marriage.”

It can be called, “Cocooning.”

“Crisis takes our breath away, sometimes completely knocking us off our feet. An unexpected death. Sudden illness. Natural catastrophe or family emergency. A good name ruined. Financial disaster. Critical times stir up anguish, fear or anger so fierce it can destroy a marriage. If we turn inward, withdrawing from our spouse, we risk damaging the beautiful oneness of marriage.

“So how do couples respond to crisis? What helps? I believe God wants us to cocoon together, as husband and wife. Doing so strengthens a relationship, eases heartache and deepens love for each other through the shared pain. (Karilee Hayden)

To learn more on what to do during a crisis, please read:


If one of you steps over the line during this time of cocooning and is “reckless” in word or deed, give each other the permission to give some type of (polite or humorous) signal or say a certain phrase (that isn’t offensive, which you both agree upon) to signal the other to stop. The other spouse is not to take offense at this, but rather stop. This is a time to start re-training yourselves to do things differently and change offensive words and behavior both now and in the future.

You might think this will seem unnatural and awkward not to just blurt (or hurl) out whatever comes into your mind. And honestly, it will be, at least for a while. But as Dr Phil McGraw asks, “How’s it working for you the way you’ve been doing things so far?” The obvious answer is “not too well” because if it was working for both of you, your marriage wouldn’t be in crisis mode. (Remember, marriage is about partnership, not about being an “island of me.”) Again, what you are trying to do is first, stabilize the marriage so more damage isn’t being done, and then work on doing things in the future in healthy, rather than destructive ways.

Tools to Help

We have tools that can help you resolve your conflicts in constructive ways, so healthy communication CAN happen. As you are stabilizing the marriage, now is the time to use one of them. We actually have it in two different versions. One of them is titled Resolving Conflict Guidelines — With Scriptures. The other is: Resolving Conflict (Condensed Version). It might be good to view the one with scriptures first (so you know the biblical background behind each guideline). You can then USE the one in the condensed version.

Use these guidelines, or come up with substitutes for some (or all) of them. Use whatever you agree upon TOGETHER. But the idea is to start talking through issues in healthy ways. Emergency crews approach matters in a: “Don’t wait, don’t delay … ‘we will start doing those things immediately'” type of manner. AND, ‘”We will immediately stop doing those things that have created this crisis.” This should be your motto as well.

One Issue At a Time

After you have put the above tools into place, work through issues, one at a time. If it takes several days (or more) to work through one issue, so be it. Try to be patient with the process. You didn’t get to a crisis stage over night and you won’t fix it in that timing either.

You may be impatient. But remember that you promised each other that you would live together for the rest of your lives. Taking the time and making the effort NOW to work through your issues together is only a fraction of the time you promised each other. Be patient. “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)

As you work through your issues, you may find it very, very difficult at times. But that is all part of the process. Don’t give up. “Let us not become weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Look together to Jesus who understands what it is to suffer and the temptation that is before you want to give up.

He can relate to you:

“Jesus experienced many trials. The prophet Isaiah called him ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53:3). He experienced poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9), homelessness (Matthew 8:20), and criticism (Mark 2:16). There was rejection (Matthew 11:20), and betrayal by a friend (John 18:15). Jesus also experienced temptation (Matthew 4:1), and a need to be alone. (Luke 6:12; John 6:15) He was also grieved (Matthew 26:38), and falsely accused. (Mark 3:22) Jesus was conspired against (Mark 3:6), and beaten and humiliated. (Matthew 26:67) Yet with all the frustration He encountered, He never sinned. He never doubted His Father’s love. He never threw up His hands and called it quits.” (Cindi McMenamin, from the Crosswalk article, “Finding ‘Comfort’ in the Crisis”)

Things will get difficult, but God can help you become victorious if you don’t give up. Keep in mind through all of this:

“The issue isn’t whether you fight, it’s how you fight and how rich your stockpile of good feelings is about each other to weather difficulties and keep your basic attitude toward your partner positive.” (John Gottman)

And that brings us to the next guideline while you are stabilizing your marriage.

4. Use the proper medicine for the proper injury so healing can begin.

While you are working through your issues, infuse fun times together on a regular basis. “Humor IS good medicine.” Find ways to laugh together and enjoy life together. At first, this may seem more like work than fun (and things may seem strained for a while), but eventually, as you “stockpile” good times, your defenses will eventually start to drop and “good feelings” will have the opportunity to help you to grow closer together again.

“Learn to laugh with each other. Light-hearted evenings are great stress relievers. Two leading marriage experts have found that a marriage that thrives and last over 50 years has a 5 to 1 ratio of positive experiences to negative ones. So, they advise that you make all of your date nights and trips together free of arguments. Sign a short contract between you that there will be no fights or angry arguments while we’re having fun and kicking back together. That agreement will add to the ratio of the ‘5 to 1’ positive experiences” (Dr Gary Smalley).

You dated each other before you married, and fell in love through the process. So begin dating each other, and infuse humor and laughing together again now so you can grow to love each other again.

“The strength of your marriage depends on the choices you make to improve it.” (Doug Fields) Love is an act of will, both an intention and an action. “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

Become Students

As you work through the above process of stabilizing your marriage, you will eventually be ready for more, to help your marriage to heal and to grow. Now is the time to become students of each other and of marriage. Again, this will take time and intentionality, but eventually you will see the benefits. A good article to read will be Getting a Masters Degree in Marriage.

We recommend that you start by going into the Conflict and Communication Quotes topic of this web site. Read through it together. You don’t have to read through all of the quotes in one sitting. But decide upon a certain amount of time (like a half hour or so). Then take turns reading and discussing what you can. You don’t have to agree with each other or agree with the quote read. But use the time to talk together, trying to build communication bridges. Go through the next group of quotes during other agreed upon times.

Next, go through articles in the Conflict and Communication topic that you think you will benefit from reading. You can go through additional quotes in other topics and articles as the Lord prompts you.

A few additional guidelines that you might find helpful are:

  • Deal with “stinking thinking” and emotions that can ambush your marriage recovery.

“When a marriage is flooded with negative emotions, as is the case during most crises, we forget the good qualities that attracted us to our mate in the first place. Our positive feelings are obliterated by so many hurts and hurdles that we can hardly find our way back to where we once were. We distance ourselves from the positive feelings in order to survive. This is a natural aspect of denial.

“The good news is that the positive feelings are often still there, but they’re buried beneath the ruin of harsh words, degrading actions, and distant demeanor. We become separated from what has been good and vibrant in our marriage, and now, striving to maintain an open mind, we must remember. We must reattach ourselves to those wonderful qualities that currently lay dormant. These positive feelings, often razor thin, can help form the foundation of the bridge that allows us to find our way back to our mate.

“Just like those designers and visionaries who looked at the aged buildings in downtown Seattle and Tacoma and saw vibrant shops, lofts, cafes, and walking malls, you must work hard to remember the beauty that lies beneath the ashes in your marriage. Rather than rehearsing the pain that screams, ‘There’s nothing left to save,’ you must force yourself to remember and reconnect yourself to the good that lies buried in the hidden places of your marriage.” (Dr David Hawkins, from Crosswalk.com article, Strengthening the Positive in Your Marriage”)

  • Quit the communication game-playing with each other.

We’re not talking about “game playing” where you are enjoying each other and laughing together. We’re talking about communication game-playing. It’s the type where one spouse is trying to “win” an argument by using unfair tactics.

The truth is we ALL have times when we don’t communicate as we should. And a lot of how we interact with each other can be seen by experts as “game-playing.” By game-playing, we’re talking about communication traps we use that can throw our “opponent” off and give us, what we perceive to be, the winning edge, in an argument. The motive: that way we “win” and our spouse finally sees how wrong they were.

But how foolish that kind of reasoning can be! What makes us out to be the “winners” when in order to win, our spouse has to lose, feel defeated, and possibly feel humiliated? We ALL lose in that type of scenario! And the marriage itself especially becomes the loser!

For more, please click onto the article below to read (and recognize, and hopefully stop):

Serious Games People Play

Also, in a Crisis:

This is not a time for “right fighting” —where “winning” the argument seems to be of utmost importance. Here is an article that can better explain this issue:



  • This is a time for interacting with each other in humility, not pride.

“Pride pushes us away from each other. It exalts itself, it seeks to win arguments, and it aims to advance self and get noticed. Humility draws us toward each other. It seeks to understand, and it aims to achieve intimacy. Pride is one of the greatest enemies of marriage. Humility is one of marriage’s greatest friends. Sadly, while pride comes naturally, humility must be pursued. Unless we consciously practice humility in our marriages, we’ll naturally fall into prideful disposition.

“To help us counteract this, Paul gives us an effective spiritual exercise [in Philippians 2]: Pause for a moment. Don’t look only to your own interests. Look to the interests of your spouse. Think about him or her. Consider his or her challenges. Empathize with the stress your spouse is feeling. …Pride is a wedge. Humility is a glue. Which spiritual tool will you wield?” (Gary Thomas, from the book, “Devotions for a Sacred Marriage: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Couples”)

“Pride goes before destruction a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25) And the death that is described, could be the death of your marriage if your pride isn’t buried.

“It is important to be humble enough to recognize you and your [spouse] have developed some very destructive patterns of behavior. It is those behaviors, occurring repeatedly, that are destroying your marriage. Left unattended, they will do even greater damage. These destructive patterns of communication, ineffective conflict management, and the gradual erosion of loving behaviors, over time lead to resentment and loss of trust.” (Dr David Hawkins, from the Crosswalk article, “Help! We Love the Lord, But We’re Cruel to Each Other”)

And lastly:

  • Work to make your marriage a sacred one.

If you don’t have a spouse that will do that with you, then be the one who will follow God with your whole heart. Allow God the elbow room to convince your spouse to do the same. Keep in mind that you are not your spouse’s Holy Spirit… God is. Ask God to show you how to help rather than hinder the work He wants to do in and through your marriage.

If you and your spouse are unequally yoked, you may find help in the Spiritual Matters topic.

If you DO have a spouse who is a believer, it would be good to obtain a couple of resources. One is titled, Sacred Marriage. The other one is titled Devotions for a Sacred Marriage: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Couples.

Above all:

“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 15:13)

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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Filed under: Save My Marriage

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31 responses to “A Marriage in Crisis – Doing What It Takes To Save It

  1. (USA)  I have been very enlightened by the atricles and advice that have been shared. Marriage is very different for all of us and what may work for some does not always work for others. I have a wonderful, pretty, beautiful, smart, creative, tender, affectionate, etc, wife whom I love very much. She is very thoughtful and caring. She is also a stay at home mom, who has to deal with the worry of the battle front. She tends to worry about the impossible more than me. I let it go; no sense in worrying about that which I have no control. She tends to bottle and I want to put in the table and find a resolve.

    This has caused some trouble in the years past. Finding a balance that allows the important stuff to be dealt with and the insignificant to pushed away is beating a dead horse. Know that I am an engineer who is paralyzed by analysis who just wants to know that that unresolved issue are taking away from the relationship at all. Any advice?

  2. (USA)  I pray that something can be done with the relationship between my wife and I. I don’t know what to do???? She is not willing to seek out the church for help.

  3. (USA)  Some good tips if you have a spouse willing to work along.

    Not much help if the spouse is having an affair. After all, one cannot dismiss the affair partner on behalf of the unfaithful spouse.

    This really only works if both are on-board. Even the tips about going it alone. Eventually, the unfaithful spouse has to end her affair and get on-board. As long as she’s unwilling to do anything on this list, there is no hope to save your marriage.

  4. (USA)  I am reading Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved: 12 Truths for Rescuing Your Relationship by Joe and Michelle Williams. You can find it at any Christian bookstore [or at the Amazon.com link provided]. I am finding it to be very helpful… my husband is not living with me, and the book can be read by people in all stages of their marriages, couples who are on good terms to couples who are getting ready to file divorce papers. It will even help you understand some of the differences between men and women… it has a personality test. Personally for me, it has been a good book. It might not help anybody else, but I thought I’d share.

  5. (NIGERIA)  I must say the past few days of reading your article has given me a turning point in my marriage. I now see marriage as a company whereby both spouses have to work hard to succeed. It’s not who is wrong but who loves. I cherish my wife more and I understand if I love her I will go the extra mile to make her happy. We argue a lot and it gets to me. But now I have realised I need the change. I am working on resolving our quarrels as quickly as possible because Jesus came to build and no matter what the Pharisees did, he was dipolomatic in resolving the issue. I thank you for your website and beautiful messages. God bless you.

  6. (USA)  I sat still after getting into a big disagreement with my wife about her sons. This disagreement has been going on for the last four years of our marriage. After sitting still, I truly felt led by the spirit to go on line and look into help for my marriage that is in crisis. I also called the emergency pastor on call and he prayed with me. I appreciate the feedback on the guidelines and suggestions. I humbly appreciate the word that comes from God about saving your marriage. Thank You Marriage Mission International.

  7. (USA)  By reading this article I feel confident to face the challenges we are facing in our marriage. One of the big issue is communication. We just don’t have a flowing communication to reach the bottom line of issues affecting us. We have hurt each other with words and expressions that diminish who we are I have great hope and faith that our marriage will survive the storm.

  8. (USA) Hello, my wife of 4 years and I have been separated for over 4 months. Last week she texted me to leave her alone to let her live her life. She further proceeded to tell me that she was seeing someone new and he treats her better than I could ever imagine. This has left me devastated. She has filed for divorce and swears she wants nothing to do with me anymore.

    She constantly berated me and belittled me and as a result I sought attention elsewhere. I never cheated but I did email pics of my genitals to women and she caught them a couple times. 4 months ago she got to the end of her rope I thought, and it got semi violent. I threatened her and I ended up in jail for a month. When I got out I sent her flowers. She called me and we started talking again, trying to work on things. However a month ago, after a nice weekend together, I messed up again and sent some pictures to an ex. She still didn’t trust me with good reason, and found the email. There was no intention with the emails. My ex chided me and challenged my prowess and I felt the need to prove her wrong. We have not seen each other in over 10 years.

    I know I was wrong and I am extremely remorseful for what I have done. She hates me so much now. All I want to do is fix my marriage and be a better man. I have been going to counselling and church and fixing myself. Since she has cut me out of her life and ignoring my calls and messages she has no way of seeing the man I have become. I am so lost and I have no idea how or if I can bring her back to me. She has told my friends and family that I caused her seven years of stress and she wants nothing to do with me anymore. Everyone is telling me to move on and let it go.

    I refuse to sign the papers. However, I think this is just making her more hateful towards me. She is used to having her way. She is very independent and believes she doesn’t need a man for anything, yet she is already seeing someone else. I don’t know what to think or how to feel. I am so hurt and I beat myself up because it is all my fault. I feel like I drove her into the arms of another. I truly want her back. She has refused to go to marriage counselling and just wants to end it. She is fed up and tired but I want to fix it.

    My mind races about what she is doing with this man. I am not in a good state. She truly is heartless now. Is there any hope for us? Can anyone offer a solution that may work in my favor. She says she is happy now with him but as much as she may believe that, it is always like that in the earliest. But once the honeymoon period ends, that’s when it really ends. She has to fix herself first but does not want to acknowledge that. No one wants to talk to her and she refuses to hear what anyone has to say. Please help.

    1. (USA) I’m going to be perfectly honest with you… You’re marriage is over!! Secondly, you have to go to Church & get right with God and get saved!! Then & only then can you seek out with God’s direction the mate he has chosen for you… especially since you’ve given your heart & life to the Lord!! Showing your genitals to anyone EVER except your current wife during the love making process is WRONG!! It’s pornography & it is a major sin in the eyes of God!! Repent & accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior & allow God to move on your life. When you’ve proven to him you’re willing to be 100% faithful.. he’ll open the doors you need open in your life & will send the woman he has chosen for you!!! & it may be that he sends you the very woman who’s left you. But don’t ever look back. Let God do the sending & the mending… not you!!

  9. (UNITED STATES) After 20 years of marriage, we are at the end of our rope. There was an issue between us that has been unresolved, and came to a head recently. I mistakenly thought that he was slipping back into an old pattern, and I tearfully revealed information to a women’s group at my church a month ago that I am certain that I should have kept quiet. This is not the first time this has happened, but because I am dealing with clinical depression, as well as symptoms of behavioral disorders, this is now a big mess. We already had three years of no intimacy due to my two suicide attempts, and we have been in counseling on and off for the majority of the marriage. At this point, he has given his word to our pastor and our counselor that he will work on his individual issues, but will make no efforts towards the marriage being healed, until he sees some major improvement with me working on my issues. Please pray that all is not lost, and that God will heal our damaged emotions, and that we will continue in the marriage. Thank you.

  10. (US) I’ve been trying hard to save my marriage. I won’t go into details, but I’ve made several mistakes the past few years to damage my relationship with my wife. We’re at a point now where we can’t even talk about our problems without it becoming a shouting match. I’ve suggested counseling several times for us, but she doesn’t want to go. I’m trying not think about divorce, but there are times when it feels like that’s what needs to be done. She comes across like it’s up to me to take on all the blame for us getting this way. I can have a terrible temper at times, and she’s asked me to not get so mad so much. How can I let her know that my frustration with this time in our lives is making it difficult to maintain control without putting her on the defensive?

  11. (USA) This website has really opened up my eyes…to see marriage as it should be. I am active duty military and have been deployed four times now. The impact of this on our marriage life has not been very good. My wife is solid, she takes care of three kids, finances and everything else she is expected to do when I am gone… however her family has history of depression, which doesn’t help especially with the loss of her brother. I try to be the husband that I should be, but sometimes I feel that it doesn’t really matter. Communication is hard for both of us, and when it becomes unusually hard, that’s when troubles start to happen. I am not perfect and have lost her trust during times in our marriage, but I feel neglected…to an extent, and I’m sure she does as well. If anyone can understand anything I said, do you have any thoughts or suggestions?

  12. (USA) Please pray for me and for my marriage. I feel really bad and don’t know what to do. I’ve been married for the last five years and my husband has such an strong co dependency towards his mother and his ex-wife, and it’s affecting our marriage. We looked for help, but he cannot see this problem. He just says: All are wrong. He left our house two days ago and

    I wrote him the following letter: (thank you for all your support. “This is the last letter I am going to write about this matter, just because we talked about this a dozen times before and unfortunately you can’t see in front of you the big issue that is not to put boundaries into your marriage.

    “Yes, I can’t deny it, you and me could be the perfect couple full of love without the influence of your mother, or your ex-wife. However it is like a ghost following us, everywhere, because you allow it; you can’t put and stop on it. Now, and after all these years, I am thinking that you must enjoy it; that you really like to live in conflict (because all the years you live with K… on daily arguments). I’m from a different culture. I was taught to put away that causes pain and you with your attitude of not respecting my feelings and putting your mother, ex-wife and daughter before me is breaking this marriage down.

    “Preachers, Psychologists, friends and even family have been telling you to set boundaries and to look for your family, however you think that you are right and that the rest of the world is wrong, that even in the bible is written to ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined (cleave) to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ and also in the bible is written: to support for your family. However, there is no worst blind than the one that does not want to see.
    G is a great kid, and you know how much I love her. However, step by step she has been developing the same image of her mother, she has been learning how to manipulate the entire family and how to be the center of all the attention. Lately I have been noticing that she has been turning worse. She could manage different kind of personalities to get what she wants, and if she doesn’t get it, she creates drama and confusion (she even can limp to catch attention even when we all know she is ok).

    “She really enjoys to get Mike (his step brother) in trouble and put him down. According to her mother, she does not want to stay here because Mike mistreated her and calls her names. As far as WE know, Mike DOES everything she wants (to avoid trouble) he even let her once to put make-up on him to make him appear as a girl and take pictures of him (against his will). Everytime we have lunch with your mother, g… seat us where she wants us to be seated and of course she also ordered the menu a day before). If we don’t do what she wants, she makes such a Drama and locked herself in the bathroom to cry out.

    “Even though she is ten years old, she has been telling Mike about condoms and sex, and how your ex-wife is planning to go with the boyfriend on turn to bed. She has been asking Mike about his father and later she uses what he said to let him know: He just has friends because they feel sorrow for him because he does not have a real father.

    “A…I have been trying to teach her, to give her advice, to lead her to be part of the family. You know that I never treat her bad. She has been receiving the best of me, however, I AM NOT HER MOTHER, I can’t replace her. I always have been trying to be her best friend, but you know that lately she has rejecting me, even at church.

    “Several times, your exwife has been trying to prove that Mike (he is 14) is dangerous for Grace (maybe it is her childhood trauma for having two child offenders/gays stepbrothers into her family). She was looking at all the ways to damage his image (asking for school records) as well as mine (with her statement in court about my criminal past, that of course I don’t have). She said at court that we put Mike and G to sleep in the same bed and she even suggested ‘they were playing under the covers’ and that Mike had sexually abussed her. Looking what is happening now and trying to avoid troubles, I told you that you could spend all your time with your daughter during the weekends you are entitled for but not involving us. You cannot understand how afraid I am that G later being influenced by her mother and to make her happy could make such an statement damaging Mike and later all of us we will regret. We all know she is able of it, G is so alike to your exwife and I want to protect my family.

    “Unfortunately with this, you accused me of breaking the family, you accused me of being bitter and raving lunatic, and just God knows what other things. Once again you can’t see and if you can’t see you can’t understand. Your ex-wife has called your mother several times, mainly to accuse you and now she called her to accused Mike. Your mother still has a relationship with her and for me It is not normal. I am not judging your mother but do you think it is normal to have ANY relationship with the person that has been trying to destroy you, trying to destroy our marriage over and over again, taking you to court no less than 4 times with different kinds of allegations all of them based on lies?

    “Few days ago with the problem of the child suupport enforcement she could send you to Jail, and your mother still taking her calls and listening to her. She asked you to go to over her house (not to bringing me) to discussed about her phone call with your exwife and to discuss about Mike’s behavior. Your mother believes in your wife, she does not believe in you or in me. It seems too your mama she does not how to put boundaries either (maybe it is where you learned from) or maybe your mother with all this she also wants to see us separated. You know that always I have been good to your mother, even in things that I do not agree, however nothing is good enough for her.

    “A long time ago I wrote your mother a letter (with your consent) telling her how bad her relationship with your exwife affects us. In that letter, I asked her not to let us know anything about her with your exwife. However, that letter caused six long months of separation (it was her decision) between us and your mother. Sadly the problems arose again, even when I asked, even when she knows how to do it.

    “For me, instead of having the love, support and attention of my husband, He sees me as his worst enemy. According to your statement, I have been training you for not tell me what is going on, you know I do not need to train you. You will turn 50 years old and you still depend on your mother in everything, not just economic. Sadly, I realize that you don’t put boundaries because you are afraid to lose her support. You can’t live away from your mama’s wing. To set boundaries is not to fight it; it is to respect your image as husband and to respect, and protect your wife. Priorities into a family are: God first, second your spouse and third your kids. Priorities in your family according to your mind set are: Mama, God, ExWife, Daugter, Kids, and I dont even know if I have a rank into your hierarchy.

    “The decision to have a divorce for me is so painful, you could even imagine because even with all these I still love you, however these kinds of troubles have been for the last 5 years and we cannot change. I need to teach Mike and Dave based on the example. I want for them a healthy family enviroment that we don’t have here. I want them to grew up having support and love for their spouses, and putting me behind not dictating their lives. I don’t want them to believe that their mother will resolve all their problems when they perfectly can do it by themselves, because they will.Please I don’t want to fight anymore.

    “To close this chapter we could do it in a civilized way. I don’t want to walk away from this marriage full of hate and discouragement; to survive and not to put my kids into a dangerous situation. Please I need the money I have been giving you. You know here I don’t have a car, phone or family or a way to move. I hope you don’t drag me into a situation just to be here trapped between four walls. You have everything: Family, a Car, Friends, everybody here knows you, however my situation is quite different. I don’t even have a way to go back to school. I know you don’t have the money, but I also know your mother will be more than happy to give it to you finally end with this drama.

    “Another thing, please forgive me all the bad moments, all the ways I hurted you, you were the only one capable to take out the worst of me. When you could feel how much you hate me please remember how happy we used to be with nothing in between.”

  13. (CANADA) I pray for the people whose marriages are in crisis who took the courage to post on here. Please pray for me too, my marriage is also in deep crisis. From the beginning – My marriage was good, my wife always complained that I was impatient and had a bad attitude (which was true) and that I had poor money management skills (true). I had got involved in chatting with 2 friends which started off as innocent and soon became more in depth and sexual chat, with feelings developed on both sides, to the point where they exclaimed “I Love You”, which I replied in return. I had no intentions of leaving my marriage, ever. I have suffered with depression for a while, and I believe I was in the midst of a depression pit at this point. My mother in law tried to help and ask me if there was anyone else, which I denied, because in my eyes there wasn’t. My wife and I went out for dinner, and agreed to start over and fresh. I went home, and was logged in to facebook, and forgot to log out. My wife got on it in the morning, and the 2 women that I was technically having an emotional affair with, messaged me, and my wife noticed it, called me on it, and kicked me out of the house. We have a 4 year old son who is the world for both of us, and it took it pretty hard, not really thinking about how my wife was feeling, but played the poor me card for a while.

    When my wife was talking about going to a lawyer for separation, I assumed the marriage was over, and I made the mistake of dating someone for a few weeks. I believe this did more damage to the marriage than almost anything, and I completely regret it. Ive tried the apology route, ive tried finding my way with God, Ive tried self healing(which has not worked at all), and 6 months later were still separated and headed towards divorce as far as I can tell. We are getting along, and chat or Skype frequently, usually because our son is involved. We text back and forth mostly to do with my son, but when the conversation turns to anything about the marriage, she shuts down and ignores it. I know she is hurting and I totally respect that. I have tried so hard to give her space and try to become the man she deserved to have, but I have also become so depressed not having my son with me, that is hard for me to focus on anything(work, friends, church, life), and its really dragging me down. I want to save our marriage, I would do anything humanly possible to save our marriage, and bring our family back together. When I told her a while back that I missed her, she said “You only miss that I used to take care of you”, which I think at that point may have been true. I have gotten to the point of missing her a lot, every time she drops our son off, Its hard to see her, and I feel like im falling in love with her all over again. I complimented her the other day and told her how pretty she looked, and she said thanks, then I made the mistake of telling her I always thought she was pretty and I hadn’t seen her look that pretty since our wedding (which I regret bringing up) and she shut down. Her mom, a divorcee, has refused to talk to me in the last 10 months, and has always been a huge influence in my wife’s life. I firmly believe she is 100% against us working on our marriage, and has filled my wife’s head with nasty images of me and how bad of a husband I am and that’s shes better off getting divorced.

    My mother in law, as well as my wife, have never downplayed how good of a father I am to our son, but I feel like my wife is thinking that I can just re-enter this marriage because our son is getting upset and crying out for us both a lot when were not together, and that she’s thinking about herself and her future. She has said a lot of things that have made me feel like the marriage is done in her mind (lawyer discussion about simple things, thoughts of selling our house and buying a house for her and our son, and when I brought up whether she was filing for divorce in may when our 1 year separation was up, she said financially she wasn’t really thinking about it right now but she hasn’t changed her mind about things). I have also been paying for everything since we split for the most part. I have gotten my own apartment, and have been paying the mortgage, the car loan, a home reno loan, child support, my share of legal payments, and she hasn’t been working since before we split, so is relying on my support and government support.

    I just don’t know where to begin, what to do, how do I stop pushing her away further from our marriage. I know God can heal all and I firmly believe that, but I also know that god gave us free will and would not interfere with my wife’s choices. I don’t want to guilt her to come back, I want her to come back because she wants too, I just don’t think she does, and might not ever. I just keep waiting for May to come and the papers to come. I can’t seem to focus on anything else, except our son, whom I have a hard time with to a degree because I want our time together to be quality time, and he has developed quit an attitude (from me I bet) and I get frustrated with him, and then I feel like an asshole for losing my patience with him, and getting mad at him. It all boils down to, if nothing else, I want our son to grow up to respect me, love me, and never question how much I love him or how proud I am of him, or that I’ve been trying so hard to bring our family back together and have been fighting to do so. I just don’t know if I’ve been fighting the wrong way, and doing the wrong things. I would really appreciate some feedback, as I need to get my life back on track before I lose control of it too.

    God Bless

  14. Joe, I really hope your real name is Jason and you are my husband. I have a similar situation as you. My husband had been doing some inappropriate things and this is the second time I have left him this summer. After I came back the first time my husband started hoarding his phone and locking it every night. It was KILLING me. Then I busted him with a Yahoo Messenger account and that was my breaking point. The phone thing was the worst and I think I was just waiting for something to have an excuse to leave him again.

    I am so distraught. I really love my husband and want to come back, but I need him to tell me he wants me back. I’m not sure why I even want this marriage to work because he has accused me of an affair for 12 years. The first time I left him this summer was because my son busted him with a phone line (a year or two ago) and my son finally broke down and told me about it. I was crushed. Then to ‘forgive’ him and come back only to have him continue to do this makes me sick.

    He is stubborn and everything that he has done is somehow my fault. He takes no blame for his actions. In fact, when my son caught him with this phone line, my husband turned around and told my son “well, your mom has cheated on me.’ I was horrified that he told my son that! It is not true and now I have to defend myself to my son.

    Anyway, I truly love my husband and my family and want this marriage to work. Unfortunately he is an alcoholic and it is a disease that destroys families – including mine. We have been separated for 4 weeks now and I am hoping he is missing me – but needs to tell me that. He did invite me to watch football with him last Sunday, so I’m thinking that’s a good first step. We haven’t discussed the divorce (which we’ve started on the paperwork) for 2 weeks now. He seems to find excuses to text me and I’m normally pleasant. I want to go home. I want my old husband back. I pray constantly everyday for God’s guidance because I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing or not. I don’t know if my leaving is making him realize how much he loves me or if my leaving is pushing us further apart. I feel for you Joe and wish you luck. Talk to your wife. Tell her you love her and miss her. What do you have to lose?

  15. I’ve been married for 13 months now. Before I got married to my husband we used to fight over stupid things like if I missed his calls he would make that a big issue. We got married without seeking pre-marriage counseling. We had a big fight 4 months ago and I was so devastated I ended up filing for a divorce. He didn’t have a problem with that.

    A week later he came back to apologizing and telling me that he still needs me. We sat down and we agreed that we must seek marriage counselling and we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. We were happy for two months and now we are back to square one. We are sleeping in different bedrooms. We both took off our wedding rings. I’m tired of this. Maybe we were never meant to be. There is only one thing on my mind and that is to leave him. I’m tired.