How’s your marriage relationship? Do you believe it’s healthy, strong, and loving? How about your spouse? What would he or she say to those questions? Is it possible that your marriage is falling victim to some of the marriage illnesses that can cause them to be unhealthy?
“To be honest and blunt, your marriage is not automatically healthy simply because you’re Christian. So, here are a few [more] quick questions to dig deep into your honesty and find out where your marriage really is…
– Do you co-exist, living two lives in the same house?
– Do you have closeness, openness and intimacy?
– Are you constantly drifting apart for the “kingdom of God”, and justifying it?
– Are you best friends with someone OTHER than your spouse?
– Do you confide in, or share your emotional ups and downs with your friends BEFORE or OVER your spouse?” (Pastors Mike & Trisha Fox, from their article, “Healthy and Unhealthy Marriages”)
Those are tough questions, but they’re also important ones. If you said yes to any of those questions, your marriage needs a healing touch. The best time to treat an illness is right from the onset. And that includes marriage illnesses. However, if you can’t treat it from the outset, the “sooner the better” is the best approach. You don’t want them to grow and gain any more strength that could permanently damage or kill your relationship.
So, in this Marriage Insight, we’ll be sharing several common problem areas, that you need to “treat” as soon as possible for the best result.
The first two marriage illnesses, and their treatments, are from Pastor Wayne Coggins. See if you recognize any of these in your marriage. If so, apply the treatments liberally.
Marriage Illnesses That Need Treating
The first two marriage illnesses, and their treatments, are written by Pastor Wayne Coggins. See if you recognize any of these in your marriage. If so, apply the treatments liberally, and ask God for further directions.
• “MARITAL ANEMIA
“I’m convinced that more marriages are in danger of anemia (tired blood) than of getting blasted apart by a surprise affair or deception. Drifting apart a little each day can leave a couple vulnerable to all kinds of problems. For a marriage to stay fresh and vibrant it needs frequent doses of fun and re-creation. [Notice how Coggins changed the word, ‘recreation.’]
“I’m not advocating being irresponsible. But I am saying that all responsibility with no breaks for fun is a sure ticket to burnout and boredom. I often ask couples whose responsibility it is to make the time available for investing in their marriages. God’s? Should we expect God to give us an extra day of the week after Sunday and call it Funday? While that may be a nice fantasy, the truth is that if we value our marriage relationships, we must take the time to keep them alive and exciting.”
Cindy and I (Steve) have found this to be important in our marriage. And it doesn’t take a lot of money to make it work. It mostly takes intentionality, and a few creative ideas to accomplish the re-creation of energy in your marriage. If you need some new ideas, you can find them on our web site in the Romantic Ideas topic.
Additionally, Pastor Coggins gives another marriage illness that needs to be addressed as soon as possible:
• “HEART PROBLEMS
“While there are many variations of this condition, probably none are as threatening as unforgiveness and bitterness. If allowed to remain in marriage, they can clog marital arteries quicker than cheeseburgers and French fries can clog your natural ones. They cut off life-giving love and communication that are necessary for the health and growth of the relationship.
“May I suggest a simple procedure that can fix this problem? Try reaching over to your loved one. Take his or her hand in yours. Then, simply pray for one another. Ask God to help each of you to forgive the other for the hurts that have occurred in your relationship.
“You see, I believe that if God asks us to do something, He is faithful to provide the ability to do so. In Ephesians 4:32 we are told to be ‘kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’ If it feels like the walls of bitterness are too high and trust too shattered to glue back together, believe me—no, believe God—forgiveness is the miracle cure that can make healing possible [at least healing in YOU].”
This is what we have done, and we continue to do. We know, without a doubt, that God’s solution to a marital problem works best. Pray, and keep praying for the rest of your life together.
More Marriage Illnesses that Cripple Marriages
Ready for more? Here’s a common one:
• BROKEN FUNNY BONE
This isn’t a marriage illness, but it sure cripples marriages and makes them unhealthy. Over the years we’ve learned that too often spouses lose their sense of humor. It’s like their funny bones are either dislocated (where they laugh with other people, but not with their spouse) or it’s broken. They forget the importance of laughing together. Laughter helps us keep our sanity and bonds your relationship together. So, make it a point to lighten your marriage by laughing together. But beware of hurtful, sarcastic humor! Instead, proactively share and apply loving humor.
“Wherever you are on this continuum of humor, one thing is certain: Laughter, on a daily basis, is like taking a vitamin for your marriage. And it is a healthy habit all loving couples enjoy. … Laughter is a literal healing balm for your marriage. It has important physiological effects on you and your spouse. Of course, this isn’t news. Since at least King Solomon’s time, people have known about and applied the healing benefits of humor. As Proverbs tells us, ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine“’ (17:22). So, study your spouse’s funny bone and add more laughter into your relationship.” (Les and Leslie Parrott)
Do what you can to:
“Laugh in the midst of the grind and remember not to take yourself too seriously. Your marriage needs several good doses of the ‘laughter’ medicine. Don’t keep it hidden away and stored in the medicine cabinet. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of laughter. Now go! Enjoy life with your spouse!” (Ted Cunningham)
To further help you in this healing mission read and apply:
• Look for Humor for Connection and Healing
And then below are a few additional marriage illnesses that need addressing, if your marriage relationship suffers from them:
• EYE PROBLEMS and BROKEN PERCEPTIONS
To work on this marriage illness:
“Look for the Positive. This simple step can be revolutionary for some couples. It involves trying on a new mind-set, one that looks for good things about your spouse and positive solutions for your predicaments. Each of us sees whatever we have prepared our mind to see. This step, then, becomes vital to changing a bad attitude.
“If you have a negative attitude you can’t seem to shake, you’ve created a convincing mind-set. Maybe you see your spouse as sloppy, selfish, or insensitive. Whatever the negative trait, the idea is to look beyond it. See if you’re wearing blinders that prevent you from seeing his or her more positive qualities that balance out the negative ones. See if your mind-set is making one bad quality worse than it really is.”
Keep in mind:
“If our sensitivity levels are set too high, we can take offense when none is intended. We can look for slights when they aren’t really there. We can assume the worst when it may not be true.” (Gary Oliver)
Apply Philippians 4:8-9:
“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.“
These scriptures are our “go to” as far as how we view each other. When one of us is feeling particularly negative toward the other (especially over a long period of time), we meditate on them. As we look for the positive in our spouse, God does His amazing healing work. You’ve heard of a chiropractic adjustment? Sometimes in marriage we need a vision/attitude adjustment.
And then lastly, as far as Marriage Illnesses:
This is a common one:
• MOUTH PROBLEMS
We all know this one. This is where our mouth takes us in unhealthy, unloving verbal directions. It’s when we allow our feelings to take control of our brain and spew out words we shouldn’t. We don’t need to elaborate on this marriage illness. You know it firsthand. Always keep in mind that a marriage license does not give you permission to speak to your spouse in ways that are not God-honoring.
On this issue, here’s a suggestion from Doug Fields:
“Don’t say everything you think. As sure as the sun rises each morning, there are going to be times when you will think up snappy, cutting remarks and comebacks. You’ll probably even rehearse them in your head. They will probably sound good rolling around in your brain. But just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it. It sounds simple, but it’s tougher to follow through than you might imagine.
“When you are irritated at your [marriage] partner, give yourself a timeout to cool off. Think about what you need to say before you say it. Then, make an appropriate and constructive comment in a loving way. Try it! Keep that sarcasm and snark to yourself—you won’t explode.” (From the article, “Sarcasm Could Be Ruining Your Relationship”)
Applying Healing Medicine
And then here’s the medicine from God’s Word that we are to apply to the way we talk to our marriage partner. Always keep in mind what we’re told in the Bible:
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life; but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)
When talking with your spouse, choose life. Speak life-breathing words into your marriage partner!
Concerning Marriage Illnesses:
You may feel there are more “illnesses” in your marriage that need healing. And you could be right on that one! The above list isn’t all-inclusive. Or maybe you feel that your marriage is close to “death.” If so, Wayne Coggins has this encouragement:
“The Lord, who is the Great Physician, can and does heal and restore marriages in need of a miracle moment of healing. He also shares His rich wisdom with us so that we can build healthy marriages right out of the chute. The fact is that He wrote the Book on it, and His office is never closed.”
That’s true; His ‘office’ IS never closed. That’s why we have a Prayer Wall posted on the Home Page of our web site for you to use. Pray, and keep praying. Listen for God’s directions, and do what He says. When you invite God to help you, even the worst of marriage illnesses can be redeemed in some way.
At times, we all experience some types of marital “illnesses.” But there’s hope because we can receive a touch from the Great Physician to bring healing in some way, shape, or form. But you need to ask.
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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2 responses to “Treating Marriage Illnesses That Weaken Your Relationship”
(USA) Steve/Cindy, Appreciate your article. I now have a dead marriage and my wife dropped the “I don’t love you” (I don’t feel anymore) bomb on me 6 months ago.
Long story short, no other person is involved; she says after raising kids 25 years in the home, now is the time for her and during that process she became emotionally dead to me. As time goes on, she (being a Christian) has stopped morning devotion time by herself and won’t let me pray with her. I told her at this point, until we surrender our marriage to God, this is going no where. Pastor and professional counselor did not help her -she thought there was nothing new to offer her.
She does not accept the idea her verbally abusive and physically abusive father towards her mother has anything to do with her just wanting to check out of family life and be single again. I have read thru the Psalms and find myself wondering really where is God now. I have confessed just about everything I ever did in my life to make sure that I have no unresolved sin. Here is the kicker though, and I appreciate any feedback. When asking her if there is anything in me that gives her reason to not want to try or qualitites in me that make her afraid, she says no, there is nothing I am doing as a Christian spouse/father that would cause her to not try. She says she is just tired and wants out.
I have read your article about holding the rocks and I understand where she is at, but it is like, Oh I’m leaving and there is really nothing you can do to help me. That is torture for any husband. I WILL NOT give in like a lot of Christian men and just send her away. I am holding God at his word that he can do a miracle in my wife. If he can’t, to me, that verse about him hating divorce is going to be questionable, then at that point why can’t the rest of the Bible be questionable?
I believe this is where the 20+ crowd is at. They see their parents sin, and they are questioning not only the validity of God’s word, but even if God is really up there. Churches need to wake up and stop just throwing verses at families and think it is all going to go away. Thank you for this site you have because, trust me, this has been the only real applicable place for me to find practical help but with biblical backing. What leaves me baffled, is that, I think wouldn’t a woman kill to have a Godly, loving husband who wants to open up and share their thoughts and feelings? I am so blown away, sometimes I think I am losing my mind. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Hi Dave. How sad I am for you and for the place you find your marriage right now. I hope that you don’t panic and try to rush your wife sooner than she’s ready, so she can eventually clear the cobwebs out of her vision and get her head screwed back on, and reignite your relationship in a positive way, as we pray and hope she will. Your steadfast loyalty, and love for her, despite all she is doing may help to be a saving grace for her as she looks back and is able to say, “what was I thinking?”
From what you’ve written of her background it sounds like she may have thought that she never got to “play” because she had to grow up faster than she now thinks she was ready for and that’s why she wants to rebel a bit. That doesn’t mean it was your fault… it’s just what happened. I hope that eventually she can see that you both can play together. If she wakes up… it would be good to find ways to dream together, to find ways to laugh and explore life, contrary to how you did before. I’m not sure… ask God what that might look like, if your wife gives you the chance.
As for your pessimism, I get it. I’m not sure if I could put a positive spin on this at this time, if I were in your place. This is tough stuff, to say the least. You said you read through the Psalms. As you can see, King David also questioned where God was at different times when he didn’t see God’s hand as active as he thought he should have. As he wrote in Psalm 73, which I refer a lot to during those doubt storms, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.”
Concerning doubts, “there are hailstorms. There are rainstorms. And there are doubstorms.” Max Lucado talks about them in his book, “In the Eye of the Storm.” He says that “Doubtstorms are those turbulent days when the enemy is too big, the task is too great, the future too bleak, and the answers too few. But then there are Gentle Lights. Gentle Lights… God’s solutions for doubtstorms… not thunderbolts… not explosions of light… just gentle lights… visible evidence of the invisible hand. It’s soft reminders that optimism is not just for fools.
“‘When God comes,’ we doubters think, ‘all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil and no questions will remain.’ But because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. But it is in the burnished candles that God comes and through whispered promises he speaks: ‘When you doubt, look around; I am closer than you think.'”
God tells us in the Bible in Daniel 2:22, “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He who knows what is in the darkness. And the light dwells with Him.” Hope, like an anchor, is fixed on the unseen and upon whatever light we can envision and see. We need to look for His Light and trust Him through the darkness that we encounter –through the Doubtstorms. It’s difficult, no doubt. My husband and I have been on a looonnnnng journey with our two prodigal sons. The one son has been living his testimony for over 20 years now. Sometimes our knees are numb and our hearts are definitely shredded while praying for him to wake up. The tears we’ve cried would fill an ocean it seems… and yet, we know we are to keep standing and trusting.
Something that Oswald Chambers wrote comes to mind to give you. In his book, My Utmost for God’s Highest, he wrote, “God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of FAITH, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith… Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds.
“Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him –I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” I hope you are. I get the feeling that you are battle-weary and want to give up and yet, something (I’m thinking it’s Someone) within you is letting you know that the battle is not over and you must keep persevering. I hope you can. I pray strength for you. For the sake of your 25 years together, the covenant you entered into, the “kids” who are watching and waiting, others who are watching, and for the victory that can be had by your remaining “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” I pray you will one day “know that the work that you do for the Lord is not wasted.” I’m not trying to give you a “rah-rah” speech, but to let you know that we sense your tiredness, your confusion, and your wanting to give up.
Yes, you’re right… “most women WOULD kill to have a Godly, loving husband who wants to open up and share their thoughts and feelings.” And why your wife doesn’t appreciate that at this point, I don’t know. She’s definitely blind in many ways. I pray the Lord opens her eyes and I hope that once they’re open, she turns them towards you and lavishes her love upon you for your faithfulness. We all are given choices… but what we do with them is the variable in all of this. Just because something doesn’t appear to be happening, it doesn’t mean that it’s not. What it means is she has not taken her freedom of choice, to go in the way she should right now. How I hope for you it will be different in the future and that you will be able to stand faithful for whatever length of time you should. I lift up in prayer and hope for you Psalm 112:4, “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.” “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)