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

  1. I have only been married for a little over two years now but have been together since 2007. When we first started seeing each other she attached very quickly to me but I was fooling around behind her back with multiple women and not taking the bf/gf role seriously; though I had a huge attraction to her very early on. She got pregnant in late 07 early 08 and I ran away from her. I was honestly too scared to be a father at the time. I treated her horribly, talked a lot of negative about her and both of us were in new relationships already. Late in the pregnancy we still slept together and she would call the girl I was with and tell her that it wasn’t going to work because we belonged together.

    After our beautiful baby boy, Austin, was born we ended up rekindling our relationship. Though we were back together I kept talking to other women online and building emotional relationships. I continued to do it until January of 13 when the husband of an ex of mine contacted her and told her that I had been talking to his wife. Mind you, my wife has a male friend who I allow her to go to dinner with and hang out with without me around. Though I think that there is more than friendship, I didn’t want to put that blame on her as I had no proof. But this is also the same guy she was seeing right when I left her after I found out she was pregnant.

    Things went okay for a little bit but now she only talks about divorce. She stays the night at this guy’s house and talks to multiple men now. I don’t have proof of what the conversations are about but based on her negative attitude towards me I can imagine what happens when she stays the night at the other guys house. This devastates me every day she stays there.

    I had to leave home in October for work and the first two weeks everything was great, she even sent me some “for your eyes only” pictures and then the third week it all fell apart. I came back home for a weekend and found a pregnancy test that was positive. At first she said it was a friends but I brought it up again and she admitted that she slept with a guy one time and it happened. She slept with this guy right at the same time things fell apart, mind you. I had found another pregnancy test in her purse a few months prior and she swore it was her friends (just like when I found the recent one) but I don’t think I want to know the truth about that one if it is hers.

    We are at a point where we will be getting separate places right now and I feel so horrible. Our son is now 5 and feels the tension and talks about it. When he says, “you aren’t here because mommy hates you and just yells at you,” it crushes me because I want so hard to make my marriage work. I screwed up so bad so many times I don’t know if there is any hope. She doesn’t think she did anything wrong because to her “we aren’t together”. She talks about divorce a lot but hasn’t filed separation papers or anything up to this point. I’m scared that she will when we get different places though. Is there any hope if I want it to work and she says she doesn’t?


      1. You’re welcome. We pray it helps as you apply what will work in your marriage.

  3. “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 about certain words you say or certain actions you do). 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, and respect in word and deed, and grace”.

    Yes, I totally agree with what Steve said in Point 3 above and indeed it summarized the above post. Many couples are not doing what they ought to do in their marriage relationships while doing what they ought not to be doing which are hurting their spouse. Also, as Steve rightly pointed out in point number 4, many couples are not using the right and proper medicine to cure their troubled marriages and hurting partners.

  4. This is great article! Detailed, doable, full of instruction. I’ll translate it into Chinese and post it. If this is OK? Thanks for this article!

    1. Yes Herbert, you are more than welcome to translate this article (and any other) into Chinese and post it (them). Thank you for your encouragement. May this article make a positive difference for all who read it, and may God get the glory!

  5. My husband and I have been together 25yrs and married 20 yrs. We are parents of two 30 yrs old, 20 yrs old and a 10 year old. Our marriage has been up and down for a while. No energy put forth really on either part. My husband has entangled himself with another woman; secret with his phone and travels every 6 weeks by himself. He has moved half of his clothes out along with his personal belongings from his childhood memories and when I ask him is he moving out and filing for a divorce he will say No. I saw where he has hired an attorney, but keeps denying it. He has cut himself off from communicating with all of us. This is so painful because he’s not saying anything. We love him and want him a part of us! I don’t know what to do???? I pray and ask God to intervene. I just want my family healthy and happy. I want to grow old with my husband. Help…….

  6. Hi, please pray for me and my husband. We have two toddlers, been married almost 5years. There’s disrespect and verbal abuse, and getting drunk coming home 2:30am. I believe the devil is sending whatever and whomever he can use to help destroy my husband. Praying that God can save and bless our marriage, in Jesus name.

  7. (UK) my name is Scott 29. I am going through a crisis with my wife of 3 years. It all came to a head 6 weeks ago when she finally told me she needed space. I realised in that moment after just listening to what she had to say that I had turned my beautiful, vibrant, outgoing wife Shelley from a bright flame into ash. My pride, hurtful comments, indifference and emotional neglect were totally descructive and self serving.

    Since taking space and respecting my wifes wishes it has allowed me to see my input in our marriage and I’m ashamed I hurt the one person I vowed to love and cherish forever. I’m now working one day at a time to build the bridge of trust, respect and love back with my wife. Life is too short on earth to put pride before humility. Thank you for this article. It has helped strengthen my resolve. I know now that my new path is to continue building that bridge back to my wife and making our marriage burn bright again. Peace and respect.

    1. Thank you Scott for sharing this. I pray the Lord gives you favor and helps you to know specifically what it will take to win your wife back, not just for the short term, but for the rest of your lives –to build a healthy, happy, self-giving marriage, which glorifies God and fulfills you both. May you be blessed. “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)

  8. Thank you Cindy for this Wonderful article. I am 60 years old, married 39 years, wife tells me she does not love me anymore. She said it was like it just turned off. There have been a few things I have done wrong, (not affair or gambling, etc) financial issues, that have turned her away. This has been a slow spiral down. Then COVID cutbacks at both of our jobs, family issues I did not respond to correctly. She wants space, no flirty texts, asked if I would move out for a while.

    I moved to the other side of the house. All is not lost; we still eat together, go to church together, watch TV & small talk. But no touching, kissing. Give her space, work a 2nd job, so I am gone at night a lot. We had painful conversations, painful to me. I decided last night that I will not talk about this with her. I will keep my distance, Pray for myself, then her, give her as much distance as possible, and give her distant love, kindness, showing her I am better, and ask her for a date. Please pray for us…

    1. Oh Bob, I am so very sorry that you and your wife are in this place in your marriage. But please don’t give up hope. We have heard of much worse marriage situations completely turning around to where the marriage relationship is better than ever. There are no promises here. I don’t know if that will happen with you, but it could. And I believe it will.

      I think you were wise not to move out. It’s hard to work on a marriage (unless there are abuse issues) from separate spaces. And the “plan” you have, seems to be wise, as well. Pray, get close to the Lord and ask for wisdom. Then with the Lord’s guidance (as you get into God’s word on a regular basis), do as you believe God is telling you. Pray for your wife, and work on your issues. Also work on finding out how to be the best husband/marriage partner possible. You want to rebuild this marriage so it’s more solid and loving than before.

      I recommend for you to get 2 books (hopefully you are a reader). The first is, “Sacred Marriage” and the second is “Cherish” both written by Gary Thomas. The first one will give you a good idea on building a good foundation for your marriage when your wife is more open. And then you will also be ready to implement the principles in the second book to help her to know that you still consider her your bride–just as Christ considers us His bride. He is our example. These books and the leading of the Holy Spirit will help you to lavish love on your bride, just as God expects. You wife needs some romancing… maybe not now, but as you get closer, she will. And you will find out that you’re all the richer for it, as well.

      And whatever you do, be patient. It took a long time for your wife to get to the place she is (even though you might not have known it). It may take her a long time to get to a better place. I’m reminded of the gold miners who reportedly gave up digging because they thought it was hopeless. But then years later, it’s discovered that they were SO close to finding gold. If they just would have pushed through a little bit longer, they would have been richer than they could ever have hoped for, but they gave up too soon.

      During this “mining” time, you want to work on your own issues (we all have them) so you build better upon the firm foundation that God will help you build as you lean into His leadings. We’ve seen these principles work time and time again and know they are rock solid. The only variable is the human element of our having free wills and sinful natures. But God can even help you with those.

      Again, Bob, I’m sad for you that you’re in this place. But God is in the resurrection and rebuilding better “business” so it DOES happen. I pray for you and pray for your wife. Steve and I will add you to our prayer list. Also, you may want to post most of what you said here (except for addressing me) on the Prayer Wall. We have others that pray for the requests posted there. You need all the prayer support you can get. … And thank you for your kind words. They are so appreciated! May God bless you and work within you and within all you do to help you in your marriage!