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weddingringsAre you looking for marriage help when your marriage is hard, but don’t know where to turn? See HERE for a list of marriage resources, both for general marriage troubles and the really tough stuff.

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The other day in my facebook news feed I saw a post from a website I follow. Every week they take reader questions; this week was from a reader discussing how her marriage is hard. The gist went like this: 

“My husband and I have been married for 6 years but I can’t even remember the last time I felt like I liked him. He’s nothing like the guy I thought I married. He’s mean to me and I’m mostly unhappy. I sometimes think about leaving but don’t want to because I think it’s important for our 18 mo. old son to grow up with both his mother and father. I want my marriage to work, but I’m tired of getting nothing back. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up.”

Note that the poster said that she did not want to leave her marriage and wanted it to work out. Unfortunately – though somewhat expectedly given today’s marriage culture – here was much of the “advice” given:

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I didn’t respond in the facebook thread. Instead, I’m writing this post as my response. This whole thing has been a topic on my mind for a long while now, but the above post finally spurred me into action. Because apparently, as evidenced by the popular “advice” espoused above, no one wants to say what I’m about to say anymore.

But I’m going to say this any way. Because it needs to be said. Hopefully I’ll still have readers left after I post this, ha ha. Here goes:

Just because you are currently unhappy in your marriage does not mean that you’d be better off ending your marriage.

I’m sure I’m about to be burned at the stake for such a revolutionary statement, I know, but oh well, now it’s said.

I mean it too.

dashedbar-300x23[IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER HERE: There is obviously a huge difference in being emotionally unhappy in your marriage and being in PHYSICAL DANGER in your marriage. If you or your children are in actual physical danger – you MUST stand up for yourself and get out and get somewhere safe! Once you’re in a safe place you can then decide what next steps in your marriage relationship you want to take…which should include counseling for both of you no matter what direction you go.]

marriage is hard marriage advice marriage counselingTime has a way of slowly changing many things. You were probably once all giddy and in love with your spouse and thought things would never go awry between you. Conversely, it may seem that your current relationship will never get back on track again. But give the future a chance. Just as it was a slow and gradual decline into the depths of your marriage despair, it will be a slow and arduous climb back out to the top. But – it can be done and you can do it. You do not have to give up hope in your marriage just because you are seriously unhappy right now.

A few years ago, KP and I starting having trouble in our marriage. We couldn’t communicate. Everything turned into a fight, so we didn’t interact if we didn’t have to. We grew apart. Stresses in life came up which only distanced us more. I saw sides of KP that I hadn’t before known existed; I’m sure he could say the same of me.

We were not happy together. He was not the same guy I thought I’d married. We were mean to each other. Sometimes really mean. There was yelling. Sometimes a lot of yelling. I felt stuck. To make it all worse, we’d act normal out in public so people assumed we were doing just fine. And to be fair, we would in fact have some good days together, but then we’d turn around and have a longer succession of bad days so that the few good days paled in our memories.

There was absolutely a point where I wondered why I was sticking with this marriage thing. I wondered if I would have been better matched with someone else, if my marriage had been a mistake, and if there was any hope at all of things getting better or if I was unluckily doomed to an unhappy marriage forever.

But then a conversation with an old friend changed everything and I stubbornly resolved that no, divorce would NEVER be an option for me. I was determined to make my marriage work. Somehow. I would not give up.

I began searching online for marriage help. I looked and looked for marriage support, for someone to tell me that there was still hope, that my marriage was not too far gone, and to give actual practical advice for how to remedy a situation like ours. Here’s all I could find:

  1. Websites that focused on basic marriage encouragement, like “here are some cute date night ideas”.

  2. Advice like “oh, your husband’s probably going through a tough time, be extra nice to him and do nice things for him, and try not to be argumentative to show him how much you appreciate and love him still“. However, while this advice is great for many couples, for other couples, depending on what their particular issues are, especially if there are emotional abuse/control issues – this can backfire in all the wrong ways.

  3. People, like in the facebook post above, who were quick to encourage personal happiness above all else and advise jumping off the marriage ship. 
  4. I’m hesitant to list this one because, well, it’s kind of sensitive to say especially for many of my readers, but I think it’s worth noting here still. The fourth kind of marriage advice I could find was religious advice. Advice such that KP and I should pray together, or seek out a spiritual leader, or that we should put God first, or Bible verses were quoted at me.

    While I really do appreciate that it is often only within religious circles that commitment in marriage, even through the hard times, is so strongly encouraged – spiritual advice only works if both individuals share the exact same belief system. When each member of the couple, and/or the person giving the advice, aren’t all on the exact same page in this aspect, the marriage advice – though likely good advice still – is unfortunately lost on deaf ears.

And that was pretty much it. Our marriage was too far gone for the cute marriage stuff, trying to improve our relationship all by myself only made things worse, and I was determined not to jump ship on my marriage. So even after all the online “advice” I could find, I was only left more stuck.

I’m sharing all this in hopes that it will resonate with someone else. Marriage is hard and I hope that if YOU reading this are in the same difficult place in your marriage, that you will know that you are not alone and you are not the only couple who’s gone through this.

My marriage has not always been easy and I want to be honest about this. I think a lot of people keep their struggles hidden and don’t realize that others have really hard times in their marriage too…and that other marriages have survived those hard times. KP and I are still married and are proudly celebrating our 10th anniversary this fall. Though our marriage is far from perfect, we have come out the other end and are in a much better place now in our relationship. I hope we can be an example, not of a perfect marriage, but of a couple that values marriage, has stuck it out and is continuing to stick it out.

Having a husband who came from a broken home and seeing how this has affected him in life, I can honestly say that I would much rather keep our family intact and be an example to our kids how to fight through the hard times of marriage than to just give up on my husband. Just as I will never give up on my kids even when raising them gets hard and unpleasant. Yes, even if that means I must suffer (temporary) unhappiness. Love is a commitment and I firmly think marriage is worth it in the long run, even if the difficult short run blinds us of this truth.

So I was glad to see at least one of the posters in the facebook thread that started this post agrees that marriage is important to children too:

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weddingringsAre you looking for marriage help, but don’t know where to turn? See HERE for a list of marriage resources, both for general marriage troubles and the really tough stuff.


 

The Second Part of this post will will offer practical advice and suggestions for how to keep going when your marriage is hard.

A Quick Note About Marriage Counseling: Counseling is often the go-to advice for struggling marriages and I absolutely do think that counseling can be a great thing and give a couples a chance to speak freely and really dive into the truth of their convoluted struggles. However, marriage counseling is not always the magic fix-it-all either. I’ve known couples who’ve gone to marriage counseling only to have their COUNSELOR encourage them that they’d be better off divorcing!! And for couples already struggling to communicate, having the “we should get counseling” conversation can be near impossible to bring up.

Please know that none of the advice below is suggested in lieu of professional counseling (nor am I a licensed marriage therapist) – I am offering these suggestions specifically for the individual or couple who for whatever reason is unable to attend counseling right now. Whether it be for financial reasons, or you don’t yet feel comfortable broaching the subject, or you/your spouse is not currently interested in seeking help – the below were things that I found helpful during the difficult time in my marriage and I hope they can help you too.

dashedbar-300x23marriage is hard#1 First – and this is the single most most important factor of this entire post:

Do you WANT your marriage to succeed?

Your answer to this question makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. If you are only pretending to want your marriage to be saved, or if you already have one foot out the door and are just looking for an excuse to leave for good, this is not the blog post for you.

This blog post is for those who WANT to save their marriage, they just don’t know how. As I’ve stated before, the most important component of surviving the difficult times in marriage is to remove the option of divorce from your mind. Once you’ve planted the seed of divorce, you will only water it each and every time you imagine the possibility of non-marriage. If you want your current marriage to succeed – you cannot give yourself any other option.

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marriage is hard#2 Look at yourself first.

I am assuming right now that if you are reading this, it is because you are one-half of a marriage relationship. While you could have your spouse read this article too, only YOU can be responsible for your own actions within your relationship. So before you criticize your spouse’s bad habits and behaviors that are contributing to your marriage struggles – make sure you’ve looked honestly at your own contributions first.

Are there things that you’re doing that are hurting your marriage? Are you overly-critical of your spouse? Do you treat him/her poorly? Do you listen to them? Most likely, you deep down already know the ways you’re negatively contributing to your relationship – but you’re probably telling yourself that you deserve to act that way because “I’m only doing this because of the way my spouse treats me”.

You have got to stop thinking in these terms.

Yes, it’s extremely likely your spouse is also contributing to the trouble in your marriage. Marriage issues are rarely one-sided. BUT, you are first responsible for yourself and your own actions. How can you expect your spouse to make changes in his/her behavior, if you are not also willing to make changes in your behaviors?

And yes. I KNOW that this is usually the very, very hardest step in marriage reconciliation. I KNOW anger is probably rising in you right now and you think I am just a stupid internet woman who has no idea at all what’s happening in your marriage because if I did I’d surely not say this to you. I KNOW. Please hear me out and don’t automatically jump to the comment section and leave me mean messages.

When we are hurt, especially when we are hurt deeply by someone we love the most, the first reaction is to get defensive and deflect blame onto the person we are hurt by. But as you’ll see in #3 below, this reaction is especially self-destructive to relationships.

Even if your spouse is 85% of the problem – you must take ownership of your 15% before either of you will be able to move toward reconciliation.

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 marriage is hard#3 You and your spouse are on The Same Team.

You and your spouse are on the same team in life, pulling together on the same side of the rope – not tugging-of-war against each other where even if you pull the other a few steps closer to your side, you’re still the same distance apart.

There is no winning or losing in marriage. You are on the same team. You either BOTH WIN, or you BOTH LOSE. There’s no other way. It is completely counter-productive to defensively (or offensively either, for that matter) approach discussions with your spouse. Conversations can not be about what you have to prove to the other, but instead should be about coming to a shared conclusion together

Last fall, there was an Business Insider article that went around the social media circuit titled “Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits“. The part of this article I found especially enlightening was the idea that to those in destructive relationships, sitting down and having a conversation with their spouse was, to their bodies, like “facing off with a saber-tooth tiger” because they were always on edge with each other, both ready to attack and be attacked.

When your relationship gets into this destructive pattern, you feel powerless to breaking free from its cycle. When you constantly feel emotionally attacked by your spouse, what else can you do but try to defend yourself by attacking back? But as I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, though the climb out of your marriage depths may be slow and arduous, it can be done, and it is possible for you to break out of this destructive cycle.

It all starts with your perspective. Even though you may not be able to change you spouses perception, you can at least choose to look at your own interactions with your spouse. When you fight, are you fighting so that you can “win”? If so, the next time you find yourself wanting to defend yourself by attacking your spouse back – don’t. Take a breath. Try to calm yourself before responding. Look for something productive to say instead of something destructive. Refuse to fight your spouse’s fire with more fire. If you can, and the conversation allows it, try to remind him/her that you are ultimately ON THE SAME SIDE as them in life. Remind him/her that you want to make it work together; that you are resolve in your commitment to not give up on your marriage and that you will not give up on them either.

This will not come easily at first. It will be very hard. Eventually, your spouse may likely catch on that you are no longer attacking them and they’ll realize that they don’t have to attack you back anymore either. (However, please be sure to see #6 below. For some couples, there is a fine line between being agreeable and giving up too much control, so you need to make sure you maintain a proper balance.)

If you don’t already know the book, I also strongly suggest The 5 Love Languages. It’s a pretty quick read and helps you show your spouse love and appreciation in ways that will actually sink in for them. I guess this book is pretty famous, but I only discovered it a couple years ago, so hey, if you’ve never heard of it, now you have. It’s worth reading. And getting your spouse to read too if you can.

 

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marriage is hard#4 Look for the best in your spouse.

Your spouse may legitimately be a jerk right now. He/She may be mean to you. He/She may even yell at your kids. I am not dismissing any of these things as unlikelihoods – because I know that when your marriage is already at a really bad place, that you typically see the worst sides of your spouse imaginable – but, I’m suggesting that you do not ONLY focus on these negative traits of your spouse right now.

I do not know your spouse. But you do. You likely know your spouse way better then anyone else. So you tell me. Are they acting out of character from the person you thought you knew or thought you married? Is there something going in in their life right now to cause them stress, grief, pain, turmoil? Does the way they are acting right now stem from something going on in their life – or is it something part of their deep-set inner character?

If you believe that they are treating you poorly due to their true deep-set inner character, then you likely need to have a professional step in to help at this point and my advice won’t be able to help.

However, if you believe that deep down somewhere your spouse really is a good person and you have previously seen and known this amazing person – choose to see your spouse for the good person you know underneath the ugliness they’re instead showing you.

Instead of picking out and focusing on the many things about your spouse that irritate and distance you, force yourself to remember the personality traits of your spouse that you were originally attracted to. More than likely, though they may be overshadowed by all your spouse’s negative traits and behaviors, your spouse still has some, or many, of those some traits you fell in love with him/her for.

Focus on those good traits. Focus on the things you are thankful for in your spouse. Even if it feels like there are a million things you are unhappy with your spouse about, force yourself to focus instead on the few things that you actually do appreciate about them.

And if you can, and if the opportunity presents itself, thank your spouse for one of those things. Start the flow of good karma between you. However small it make start and even if the positiveness doesn’t last long. Just take a step. You’ll never know how or if that first step will elicit a reciprocal response until you take a chance on seeing your spouse in a positive light again.

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marriage is hard marriage advice#5 Surround yourself with pro-marriage supporters.

If you were to confide to your friends that you were having trouble in your marriage, would they give you the same “advice” that the facebook poster from Part 1 of this post received? Or would they encourage you to keep strong in your marriage and help you and your spouse get the support you needed?

I’m not suggesting you abandon all your friendships who’ve suffered broken relationships (that would be heartless), but I am saying you should pay close attention to the ratio of pro-marriage to anti-marriage talk you willingly let yourself absorb. Just as in #1 above where I exhorted you to remove the option of divorce from your mind so that the idea doesn’t plant itself and grow – I’m also exhorting you to purposely surround yourself with people who will ENCOURAGE you to fight the good fight for your marriage. And not people who will tear you – and the institution of marriage – down.

If you have kids and you find yourself struggling in your parenthood abilities – you seek out other parents or people who can help, support, and guide you in your temporary parenthood struggles. You don’t seek out people who dislike kids so they can complain to you about noisy kids in restaurants. You surround yourself with people who will affirm you in parenthood journey, not those who will discourage you.

It’s the same with marriage. If you want your marriage to succeed, you need to spend time with people who think highly of marriage.

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marriage is hard#6 Stand up for yourself.

This is an important issue to bring up, BUT, I want you to be very careful when you read this section. Nothing in this section should cancel out what I’ve already said above. Every marriage has a different control balance and it’s important to find the right balance for your marriage – without letting the balance swing too far off in either direction.

To be specific, there can sometimes be a fine line between refusing to engage in an argument with your spouse, and coming across as bending to your spouse’s will. Not every couple’s dynamic leads as easily to this outcome – but it is something extremely important to watch out for, as it can cause even more complicated problems to dig yourself out of if you let yourself get into it.

You spouse may not be being kind to you – but by not retaliating in anger this does not mean that you are giving up control to him/her. You spouse needs to be aware of this. Maybe your spouse already knows that. Maybe they don’t. If you think your spouse may interpret your refusal to engage in angry discussion as a bending of the will, you must be sure to speak up and stand up for yourself! You can do this by speaking plainly and without losing yourself to anger – but you cannot just remain silent.

Talk to your spouse still. Do not just give up to whatever they say because you’re too tired to stick up for yourself. That will only make everything exponentially worse. Also, do not play the passive-aggressive game either. Let me say that again – Do not fall into the passive-aggressive trap. Your relationship will go nowhere.

Pause. Take breaths. Stay calm. Do not let yourself be so overcome with emotion that you can’t think clearly. Talk rationally to your spouse and do not return their emotional attacks. But do not remain silent.

Again, this is a fine balance and one that you will have to gauge within your own marriage.

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marriage is hard marriage counseling#7 Seek counseling from a trusted third party.

Though I’ve tried to offer several practical suggestions for how to keep going when your marriage gets really hard outside of marriage counseling – if you’ve made it all the way down here to #7 and still aren’t seeing any small improvement in your marriage at all, then it’s probably a good time to get some type of third-party counseling.

 

Marriage Friendly TherapistsThe above is an EXCELLENT database of marriage therapists who are committed to saving marriages whenever possible (instead of just encouraging individuals to do whatever makes them happy): Marriage Friendly Therapists.You can search for therapists in your area. If you’re looking for an in-person therapist, I suggest looking here first. 

Or, there are also a few online marriage counseling programs available, that you and your spouse can work through from home. Please see this post for a List of Online Marriage Counseling Programs, some with reviews as well. 

 Either way, I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage you to give marriage counseling a try if you are still completely stuck in your marriage. Sometimes you and your spouse just need to have an objective listener to confide in and explore issues with.

However, you must remember #1 above – a marriage counselor or counseling program cannot magically make your marriage work for you unless you WANT to make your marriage work. If you view counseling as a perfunctory step toward separation, then that’s exactly what it will become for you and where you’ll end up. But if you go into counseling with a desire to make your marriage work, then you’re far more likely to come out the other end with your marriage intact and your relationship growing.

If finances are holding you back, I encourage you to ask the counselor if they have any financial aid programs. Some might. You never know until you ask, but I’ve found that in situations like this, there’s often a way to still get the help you need even if the finances aren’t there.

 

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I don’t know if this blog post will help anyone, but I hope that it will reach those that it needs to and that if you are struggling in your marriage that you will be encouraged to not give up.

I truly believe that marriage is a sacred life-long commitment and is worth fighting for and want to encourage others to fight for their marriage as well.

 

You may also want to check out some of my other marriage posts:

Where To Find Help For Your Marriage  
How Emotional Abuse in Marriage Starts
Why “Never Speak Negative About Your Spouse” Is Bad Marriage Advice

The Person You Marry Will Change
Why Millennials CAN Handle Marriage 
An Election. Marriage. Communication and the Movie Arrival. 

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41 comments on “When Marriage Is Hard. Really, Really Hard.”

  1. Thank so much for writing this: I’m sharing all this in hopes that it will resonate with someone else. Marriage is hard and I hope that if YOU reading this are in the same difficult place in your marriage, that you will know that you are not alone and you are not the only couple who’s gone through this.

    I feel like you are in my head. It’s so easy to give up – but takes courage and love to work through it. Can’t wait to get to know you more!

  2. Thanks for sharing, I agree with so much of what you write. Especially (D) the internet is full of that.

    We’re having a rough time at the moment. Can’t seem to see eye to eye on the important stuff, I feel very stifled. I love him but it’s so hard right now. Married 18 years, together 22 – the last 4 years have been hard.

    • Thank you for the comment El and I’m so sorry you’re in this rough patch. I was actually just thinking last night about writing a post about marriage when you aren’t on the same page on the big stuff. But I have to first figure it out for KP and I too, as there are things we have such different opinions and beliefs on too and I don’t always know the best way to proceed together either…other than to just not give up completely for the time being and try to find ways to sort it out and make it work.

      Thank you again for commenting and I’m glad you found this page.

  3. I appreciate these words. Even when marriage is going really well overall, it’s hard when something bad erupts and suddenly things seem grim. It really is about the long journey, and it’s really helpful to read posts like this to get assurances of that. Thank you!

  4. I am 35 and husband is 34. We dared 2 yes and have been married for 5mths. We are getting ready to have our first child in couple mths. I love my husband very much but I’m unsure of how much he loves me. We have had lots of problems through our time together. He cheated on me and lied to me couple tims early in our relationship. He refused to prioritize us and placed work, his hobbies and money as more important. I feel like I’m the only one that needs his time and prescence. He does not need much from me. I feel alone and unloved. I’m not perfect either. I have difficulty bringing up issues that hurt me in a non aggressive way. I start out being calm but when I feel shutdown or minimized I get angry and yell and scream at him and this pushes him further away. I end up feeling terrible boutique my behaviour and the cycle continues. We’ve been through this exact cycle with nothing tesolved. He has made a few changes but it feels forced and like a chore when he does things for me. I don’t feel likea it comes from his heart or a place of care and it hurts. I know he loves me ( sometimes I feel he loves himself more) but we are so different and it’s hard to be on the same page for us. I’m frustrated and sometimes want to give up and not care. I want to shut down my feelings so it won’t hurt and I won’t feel so needy.

    • Lisa, I’m so glad you found my site and reached out in your comment! After he cheated on you in the past, did you both seek any kind of counseling and did he seem genuinely remorseful? Infidelity (even in early relationship/dating) that is left unresolved/not thoroughly worked out can cause serious issues for a relationship as it goes on. For that reason, if you can afford it, in your case I strongly encourage talking to a marriage therapist at least for a few sessions, just to see if there are any remaining deeper issues plaguing your relationship.

      Did you see this link I posted above: https://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/ I’d start here when looking for a marriage therapist in your area. This way you can be sure you’ll be talking to someone who values marriage and truly wants you to try to work it out if you can.

      Or, if you can’t afford counseling, or if you don’t think your husband will be up for it, I then suggest: https://www.ourrelationship.com/ It’s a FREE online couples counseling program. KP and I did this one. It’s not as great as meeting with an actual person – but if you’re both deep down wanting your relationship to improve but have no idea how to get started, then this program can be extremely helpful getting the ball rolling in how to have productive conversations with each other.

      Congrats on your upcoming child! Parenthood is an amazing new step for a marriage relationship, BUT with the changes it brings, it can also be hard for relationships to make through the transition. So it’s good that you’re reaching out now to try to work on your relationship before letting it get too bad before doing anything about it.

      Overall though, I’m really glad that you found this page and I hope that you’ll consider my suggestions above and that they can help you as you approach your relationship during this time.

  5. I just want to say I love your article. I’ve been married for 7 years, and it’s been one heck of a ride. My husband and I are both passionate people.. We fight passionately, love passionately. Earlier this year, we hit the roughest bump in the road thus far, and almost ended out journey together. We have three small children, we both have demanding jobs, so no need to tell you that we have a lot of stress, on to of dealing with each other. My husband had an affair with a girl that worked at his company( I’ll say girl just to keep it….. Nice). I did not think we could recover..not after that. I mean, I had given everything for this man. I was faithful, I cooked, cleaned, tended to our children, always have into fulfilling my wifely duties( You know), so how could I forgive when I couldn’t make sense of how I deserved this?! Truth is, no one “deserves” it, but I must keep, in mind..the intent was not to hurt me,after all, I wasn’t suppsed to find out, right?! Truth always has a way of coming out though, and I couldn’t deny that I had my flaws. I too had cheated, maybe not physically, but with my thoughts, and by not giving the best of me, being the one he fell in love with. When you love someone, you should always forgive, because you Never know when you’ll need that same forgiveness for yourself, we are all human,after all. We spent some time apart, and that’s When I realized that this was just the world coming between us, the one thing we swore we would never allow to happen. It was another woman..for others, it may be drugs, alcohol, money..etc. You get my point. Don’t let the world, or the people in it take away what you have blood,sweat, and tears for! Don’t be that weak! Marriage is for the strong, definitely not for the faint of heart. He came back home. We made a pact to talk every night about something that was important to,us, no matter what it was, just as long as we were sharing with each other. We both told the other what we did and didn’t like about each other, and decided to work on the dislikes, together. See, my children were worth it to me to try. They love their Daddy, they love me too. We both wanted our children to have a better life than we did. If your children aren’t good enough reason to try, what is?! After all, there are the most beautiful example of the love you both have and will share!!! I will never give up! I love unconditionally. We are better than ever now, so glad I didn’t take the world’s advice, or I would have missed getting to fall in love with him all over again, my children would be just another statistic of a broken home. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here, just had to let you know, this article is great, and I hope a husband or wife that need it, read it just in time!!!!

    • Thank you for all this. I love this. Thank you for sharing. We need to hear more stories like this; I am so encouraged to hear that you and your husband decided to give it another shot and as you said, find a way to “fall in love with him all over again”. I’m also encouraged that you thought about your kids in this too and that you desired to raise them in an intact home.

      I’m so glad you found me and so glad you commented and told your story here!

  6. What a great read! As my toddler is napping I decided to google ‘why marriage gets hard?’ And this came up and I’m happy it did! First and foremost the part you touched on taking responsibility for your part. For me that’s the biggest and most effective way to understand what’s going on in my marriage. You have to be willing to look at yourself and what needs to be changed in you. My husband and I have been married 2 years together 4. It has it’s ups and downs for sure. Right now it’s down. But like I said before, once I take a good inventory on me and my attitude I can then start to heal and get into acceptance of what is. Usually my expectations are too high, I think my husband will do things a certain way and one more time again he doesn’t and I’m a ragging biotch because he didn’t follow my plan! How dare him! Lol! Another part I really liked was looking for the good your husband does and not focusing on the bad. One dark thought about my husband sends me down the rabit hole and I’m then thinking awful thoughts about him all day. I also liked how you mentioned praise. Just to take a second and let your spouse know that you do see his good side. I think that’s a great suggestion! I came from a broken home and I choose to never give up on my marriage. I never want my kids to have to go through what I did. Which is probably why I don’t know how to have healthy relationships. Anyways, I’m very grateful I came upon this reading. Thank you for the reminders.

  7. Great stuff you wrote!! 31 first anniversary today. We are both flawed individuals but have made it so far using the principles you have shared. Are we happy? No, not currently. Lots of chronic health issues, retirement/$ issues, all kinds of issues! We look back and understand more why we are what we are through looking at our elderly parents.
    And yes, if a parent has bailed out on them “divorced”, then when they grow up , they have the same propensity to run when things get bad (and they will).
    Keep up the good work and as you say, “look at yourself “. Don’t blame your spouse for you unhappiness. Oh, The Five Love Languages is a good book. Knowing your spouses temperament and what They need really helps.
    Appreciate you baring your soul.

    • Thanks Liam, I really appreciate this. And Happy Anniversary even though it sounds like y’all are going through a rough patch right now. I think it’s awesome that you’ve made it 31 years thus far; that’s definitely something to be proud of. But I know that anniversaries can sometimes be a tough reminder of what you once were but aren’t currently. It sounds like you have a very healthy view of marriage though, and that will certainly help you both work through this current, temporary, time of struggle. You’re in my thoughts. Thanks for reaching out.

  8. Thank you for sharing….at times I felt as though you were documenting parts of my marriage. Truly inspirational and encouraging.

  9. Thank you so much for this advice. From someone who has no close family ( and no one to therefore help pull me in check sometimes) I found your advice on looking at myself totally refreshing. It has also helped me take back control and allowed me to see clearly that I do have control on how I I act/ feel in my relationship. It has also been so comforting to know that I am not the only woman feeling this way, and that things can change. Thank you again for reaching out to me…, I have just ordered the book that you recommended and will work on all other points mentioned. Xx

  10. Thank you for writing this. Today my husband made me so angry I had him stop the car so I could get out. I slammed the door and walked my 36 week pregnant self back the 5 blocks home. In the snow. I was livid. When I got home I just stood at the door, unsure what to do. Today was supposed to be a good day spent with our 2 year old, and I had somehow found myself at home, alone, angry and sad. We’ve been together for 10 years and have been having problems for a while, but they got so much worse after son was born. Some days I just feel so stuck and really awful thoughts go through my mind – like, did I marry the wrong man? Will it always be like this? But I want it to work. Both of us do (we’ve had that talk) and yet we continually find ourselves back at the same place. He bottles up his feelings then explodes and emotionally attacks me (like today in the car), and then I retreat, close of and feel so sad. We need to break this cycle, and I’m not sure how. I’m going to re-read this and really think about some of the stuff you wrote – hopefully it helps. If not, perhaps we’ll check out that online resource you link to.

    • Thanks so much for writing and I’m so sorry that you guys are going through this right now. And with being pregnant on top of it all, when you most need your husband’s support. I get it, we’ve been there and I’m so very sorry. I am glad to hear that both of you want your marriage to work out, even if you’re feeling stuck right now not knowing what to do. That’s really a good sign, despite everything else right now. You mentioned feeling emotionally attacked; I don’t know if you also read my post on How Emotional Abuse in Marriage Starts, but what you’re describing sounds a lot like when my husband and I went through too. I knew that deep down he was a good guy somewhere still, but we’d gotten into a pattern where he was showing me only his worst sides and I didn’t know how to break out of the cycle. It was my most difficult and personal post to write, but I hope that maybe you can find some help in it as well. http://www.screenwriterswife.com/how-emotional-abuse-in-marriage-starts-and-why-this-blog-came-to-be.html

      • Thanks for your response, I read that other article you link to and the first point you made about having your memory questioned is a little too familiar. When he does this I then get confused and start to question my feelings – granted, my memory does suck – but I hate that I feel like I’m quizzed on who does what, who hasn’t done what, and what exactly was said during our last altercation. I feel lately he has been keeping score and I just can’t win. But like you say, it’s not about winning, we’re both losing here. Also, another thing that resonated with me that you wrote was “I did not have to submit to his frustrations with his own life.” I often think how his unhappiness or frustrations or stress or whatever is affecting our relationship, but I know too that I can’t control his shit, I can only control how I react and how I internalize all this stuff. Ugh, marriage is so hard!!!! Especially while pregnant!!

  11. Great article… I have been separated from my WIFE for the past 2 months and it seems like time is going slow etc… All the music that I hear is music that keeps my mind thinking about her… I was having trouble finding a job in her city… The employment was dried up and the emails and text started from her with links to jobs that I could take… She asked me to come back to my home city to find employment here so I did… As the MAN I noticed people did not want to talk to me or even hang around… I started to really miss my WIFE… The silent treatment was on for some time and her last text to me was… She was wishing me a happy birthday and to remove he name off the nonprofit organization that we were doing… I did not reply to this cause at this point… I did not want to chase her… So 2 weeks later she text me on Facebook messenger… I had come to the conclusion that my Facebook account was deactivated which it was… But my messenger was still open… I had no idea… So she text me again saying why did I block her from my Facebook page when she already knew that my account was deactivated before our separation…

    So do you think this text was to talk to me??? Cause I did not reply to this message as well… 2 days afterwards she blocked me on Facebook but I get the point… Our Wives want total control… Maybe if I would have replied she would have not blocked me but I understand that she is mad with me… Financial Stability is big today… I had been working for years until now and soon as I unemployed this evil from her starts… I have found a job but I have not told her but I have also started to go back to school to finish up my degree… I want to save my marriage but since the silent treatment from both sides… As the MAN what should I do to get my WIFE to trust me again… Note: I never cheated only had trouble with employment… Should I write her an letter… I find this romantic… What should be in this letter???

    • Wow, Galen, thank you for reaching out to me! And it’s so encouraging to hear that you want to try to find a way to save your marriage. So many people would rather just give up when it seems easier to keep fighting and I applaud you for wanting to give it another go and try to win back your wife!

      However, please know that I am not qualified, professionally nor personally, to give you exact advice for your specific situation nor tell you what to do. I don’t know you personally, nor your wife, nor the situation other than the details you’ve provided. YOU probably know your wife and the details of everything going on way, way more than I do.

      However, as a woman and a wife who values marriage, I can say this – If you want your marriage to be saved, Don’t Give Up until it’s absolutely, finally over!!

      I would think that the fact that your wife is reaching out to you via text/fb message, that she’s looking to connect. She might not know what to say or how and there’s probably a lot of emotion and frustration built up still, so it won’t necessarily be a smooth conversation – but reach back out to her. If you want to find a way to make your marriage work again, LET HER KNOW! Tell her how much you still love her. Tell her you found a job. That you’re going back to school. That’s you’re trying to make your life better. That you want to win her back. Ask her what you can do to earn her trust back. Share your heart. Be honest, as you’re being honest in this comment to me. Let her know you’re willing to take the first steps to meet her where she is and reunite with her.

      The words don’t have to be beautifully written – just heartfelt. She probably knows how you talk and how you think and will know when your writing is truly coming from the heart…even if it’s full of run-on sentences.

      You cant control how or if she’ll reply – you have to let that go and realize that the way (or if) she responds is in her control, not yours – but if you want to stop the silent treatment that’s happening on both ends, stop it from your end. That’s the end you do have control over. Reach out to her, in love, in reconciliation, in honesty, in humbleness. Then give her time to digest it.

      I pray that you’ll be able to connect with her again and reconcile your relationship. I don’t know if this is something that you’re willing or able to do right now, but you might also consider finding a therapist or counselor you can talk to to help you sort through any emotions you might be dealing with – you could also suggest that you and your wife talk to someone together if you think that would be something she’d be open to considering as well.

      • Ronni thank you very much… You need to have a degree in this matter… I have been very emotional these days without her… I truly feel the pain of it and it really hurts my heart to not be with her around the Holidays… I just feel that I don’t know what to write about… As a MAN I was failing her big time and it was getting to me… I even got depressed for some time… I when I could not find a job… My first marriage came to an end because I did not understand how to FIGHT for my marriage and not knowing the Marriage Covenant of GOD… I need some help on this letter to and what to really write… I need to know so I will not go overboard… I will take the RESPONSIBILITY for all that has taken place because I am the MAN… I want to tell you more but not on this comment section… Would it be OK for us to talk if you don’t mind Ronni???

        • I really can’t tell you exactly what to say in your letter, you have to write what is best for you and what you feel like you need to say. However, I think the things that you’ve been commenting sound wonderful. Tell her everything you want to or that she needs to hear. If it’s really long, divide it into two letters. One you send now, Part 2 a couple days later.

          If you’d like to email me, you can through my About Me section. However, though I really do love helping people in their marriages, PLEASE PLEASE know that I’m not a therapist or counselor or professional by any means and that you will probably have better luck going into details about it all with someone who knows more than I do. I always suggest starting here when looking for a marriage friendly counselor: https://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/

  12. Hi, my husband and I have been together for 5 years (married for 5 months and separated now for 16 days). I appreciate all the advice and encouragement to help my marriage. I don’t belive in divorce. As I read this blog and saw every thing I was doing wrong in my marriage. Some of the behaviors I could not control because of all the anger that was built up inside me from the destructive behavior from my husband. I love my husband who is an alcoholic. All of our arguments start when he’s drinking, after he sobers up a or when he brings up my actions of what I said or done in anger during those times. We fight, curse, and are down right nasty to one another and I hate the way I’ve become just like him, only sober. We both have kids from previous relationships. My daughters are grown and families of their own. We have a 15 year-old son from his 1st marriage who my husband has full custody of. Some of our arguments are started because GS doesn’t like any rules, authority figures and he lies about any and everything when he wants his way. My husband rewards the bad behavior because he feels guilty for the drinking behavior. My husband involves GS in every conversation he and I have, but I only find out about it later. My husband bribes GS gifts just to pretend to get alone with me. The communication between us all is like billing teeth. I catch them both in lies and that’s another argument. I’ve tried to show my husband that GS is only playing us against one another and I will not put up with that type of behavior. A child needs to stay in a child’s place. My husband once stated that he drinks because he’s torn between his wife and his son. I’m tired, I’m feed up and I have had enough. Our last fight was on New Years Eve 2016. GS was ready to lie to the police to make sure I went to jail instead of his dad. My husband lied about what happened as well, and was firat arrested on forgery charges. Something else that was kept secret/hidden in our relationship/marriage. Since I had bruises to prove my point of view, my husband went to jail for CDV as well. I can truly say that my husband is a complete different person when he’s sober. He’s loving, caring, compassionate, a great provider, hard worker and loves God. I wouldn’t be posting if he had not sent it to me. I don’t know if i want to work on rebuilding our marriage because it’s like a roller coaster ride, he promises to get help through counseling, he talks to a few people for a week or two, I give in and accept his apologies, then it stars all over again. So what do I do, really, where is that type of help and support. It’s clear that I have trust issues and problems with holding grudges (God is working on me with that one). Constructive criticism is something I welcome into my life on a daily basis.

    • Hi Deborah, I’m so glad you found this page of mine and that you were able to be open about what’s happening in your life. It sounds like you are in a very tough and complicated situation. I know you mentioned that your husband had talked to a few people in the past – does this mean a marriage counselor? Or someone else? Also, was it just an individual session or did you two go together to talk to someone?

      I’m not a professional at all, so I’m not qualified to give advice on several of these issues you mentioned. But it sounds that there are some more complex situations at play here (his drinking, bringing his son into things, bruises you’ve received, trust issues, etc.) that you BOTH need to talk to someone qualified in helping in these areas. Have you looked at the website https://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/? This might be a good place to start to find someone who can help you both.

      You might also want to look into some of the resources I’ve listed here: http://www.screenwriterswife.com/marriage-resources-list.html especially in the Abuse section. I don’t (yet) have any resources for alcohol abuse, but you could probably start here: http://al-anon.org/ which is for family members of those struggling with alcoholism. They might have some resources as well that can help better in your given situation.

      Thank you so much for reaching out, and I’m so very sorry that you’re going through all of this right now.

  13. #6 really hit it home for me. So many people give the advice “don’t engage”, “walk away”, but my silence always turns into acquiescence for my husband’s version of the story, which most often unfairly vilifies me, then he comes up with terms and conditions I do not agree with. When I realize that I cannot simply not engage, and being to stand up for myself, I feel like I failed the advice, and that I’m in lose-lose situation, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. This is how I saw my marriage for the longest time. But I see now where I failed was that I would hold back as long as I could, emotions bubbling inside and the “standing up for myself” begins when the lid blows off and I can no longer contain the storm inside of me. No need to explain why that didn’t work. So thank you, truly, for the non-religious, non-superficial marriage advice that has opened my eyes to the long difficult journey that I need to make for myself in learning to contain my emotions when standing up for myself.

    • Sonya, I’m so glad you stumbled onto this post of mine! Yes, #6 is a tough one for those it applies to. I don’t know if you’ve read any of my other posts, but you might want to also read How Emotional Abuse in Marriage Starts (http://www.screenwriterswife.com/how-emotional-abuse-in-marriage-starts-and-why-this-blog-came-to-be.html). It was a really difficult post for me to write, but I was able to explore more into what was going on in our marriage during this difficult time. I don’t think that every marriage gets itself into this situation as easily as others, but it’s definitely a hard place to be because, as you said, it feels lose-lose no matter what you do.

      I’ll be thinking of you and you’re very welcome for writing this all out. I’m glad you found it; I wrote it to help others, so I’m glad you found it helpful.

  14. Thanks a lot for writing this. I google ‘marriage is hard’ and found this post. My husband and I are currently having one of those couple moments. We had a ‘text message battle’ and said very unkind things to each other. We have 3 kids and married 7years. I really want my marriage to work. Have a very busy work and school schedule and quite frankly there’s a lot going on in my personal life . He really likes to bear grudges against me rather than calmly make his point.
    Frankly, I decided to cope in the past by just ignoring it and very quickly try to get him to talk and make peace even though most times I’m the one who’s been attacked. However, he’s done it so much that I no longer make an effort. I’ve gotten so used to it that we could probably go a month without talking to each other while living in the same house. It bothers me because I fear my children will grow up to act the same way and think it’s ok.

    He does something wrong and then tries to deflect it or backup his wrongdoing by digging up something. His play is always that I have male friends that I constantly chat with, cheat with and talk about him with.

    I’ve never cheated on him but I know he has cheated on me. Counseling is not an option for us because he is too stubborn and wouldn’t go. I really want to give up so so bad… I don’t think he’s fighting for our marriage and I can only fight if he wants to save our marriage just as much as I do.

    • Thanks Brea. I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now. If counseling is not an option, do you think your husband would be open to either reading a book together (have you read The 5 Love Languages?), or even doing an online program together? Sometimes it may seem like someone doesn’t care about saving a marriage, when in fact, they don’t want to give up on their marriage….they just don’t know how to make it better and the thought of the effort required seems overwhelming to them. I obviously don’t know your marriage and you know your relationship better than I, but maybe taking baby steps toward reconciliation might help? Or just starting with small changes that might encourage communication more? And then, from there if a moment ever feels right, you can calmly and non-confrontationaly let him know that you’d like to find a way to work together so that BOTH of you can feel better understood in your marriage?

      I hope that you and your husband are able to find a way to work things out. I know how hard it is when there’s so much between you that isn’t being communicated and you have no idea where to start to make things better. I’m glad you were able to stumble onto y post and I hoe it could help some.

      • Thanks a lot for your response. During the day, I sent him heartfelt messages apologizing for anyway I’ve hurt him even though I’m hurt as well. I even told him how much I’m willing to save my marriage.

        You may ask why through text messaging? He’s not much of a talker and I’m a more of a face to face person.
        He never responded to my msgs or even acknowledge me when I got home. Honestly, I’m not grieving as much because the ball is in his court now. It seems like he’s intentionally trying to hurt me.

        I don’t have family to talk to. I’m constantly enduring his grudges and hardheartedness.

        • I don’t know if this would apply to your situation, but have you read this post of mine too: https://www.screenwriterswife.com/how-emotional-abuse-in-marriage-starts-and-why-this-blog-came-to-be.html You might be able to relate, especially as far as the non-acknowledgment goes from your husband and how everything seems to be on his terms only.

          Also, I totally get the text message thing. Most of mine and KP’s most significant communication is done, or at least begun though, email or chat rather than face-to-face. I’m the one who finds it easier to broach a difficult topic through typing out my thoughts (probably make sense that I have a blog, huh?), and we seem to both be less confrontational when we have time to read and digest words before responding. So, if text message works well for you guys, then I have nothing against it and totally understand this communication method!

  15. Thank you for this post, and your honesty. I want you to know it makes a difference to people even now. I have been married to my wife for 16 years and in that time I focused on all the wrong things making her feel left behind. I said hurtful things to her and placed my career before her. I see how badly I hurt her and we are in he roughest time of our marriage now but this gives me hope. I will do what I can to fix the issues I bring to the table and to Love her as she needs for as much time as our marriage has left whether it’s a day or the next 50 years. I know I won’t quit and hopefully her stubborn side keeps her from pulling the plug on us but only time will tell.
    The five love languages was a great read and I wish I had known this information when we first got married. Thank you again and keep on posting

    • Thank you Paul for leaving me this comment, too. I don’t always know how or if my words are making a difference to anyone, so your note is encouraging to me as well. I hope your wife is able to see your devotion to your marriage and feel how much you love her and want to work things out. I wish you both the best. Thank you again for the note.

  16. Hi there, I googled “why is marriage hard” and your blog came up and it felt like it was written exactly for me. Haha. We’ve been married for almost 4 years and the last year or 2 have been really hard. To be fair it was mostly caused by me changing in something quite fundamental and it changed us too.. we are trying to be better but it feels like no matter how much I try, it still feels like there’s a mountain ahead. thank you so much for speaking the truth in love and reminding me of what I can do (and having the right perspective that it takes time!) to slowly see improvements. Thank you thank you thank you!

  17. I think it is very important for people to distinguish between those marriages that are hitting a rough patch, perhaps unexpectedly, and those marriages wherein there is emotional abuse and even physical abuse. When someone reveals that six years into a marriage, they are unhappy, it needs to be asked, why the unhappiness?
    My mother was unhappy in her marriage – she was a social climber and my dad was not of the personality type to be able to maneuver in his career in the way that made her happy. Too bad for her. And for others like her.
    But if the person is complaining because the guy is emotionally NEVER checking in, always snide and sarcastic those few times he does respond, that is emotionally unfulfilling. Often then it is better to get out sooner than later.
    A spouse who cheats or who is physically abusive also needs to be booted out the door. (Important to get lots of support from those close to you if this is going on – a physically abusive person is very likely to go after the person leaving. Statistics prove this.)

    • I 100% agree that if there is physical abuse that a person needs to get somewhere safe before further communicating with their spouse/partner. Above all, we have to be responsible for keeping ourselves and our children safe. However, there is a difference between a spouse shoving the other out of the way in the middle of a heated fight…and a spouse punching the other person in order to purposely inflict harm or punish. In both cases there might be anger issues to address, but imho at least, the former instance might still be a salvageable relationship. Safety is the important thing to recognize. If one finds themselves in an unsafe situation, they must get themselves someplace else. THEN they can begin to work through whether or not a relationship can, or should, be attempted to reconcile.

      Also, I realize I may in the minority in saying this, but I don’t believe that infidelity must always lead to the dissolution of a marriage. Cheating does happen, and it is very wrong, and causes a lot of hurt and pain and can bring a relationship to the brink of destruction…but I’ve also seen many instances where couples were able to reconcile. Now a dishonest spouse who continually lies about and tries to hides their infidelity is another thing altogether. If spouses cannot be honest with each other – even the really, really, really hard things, like admitting failures/infidelity – then they have no foundation on which to build a relationship.

      As far as emotional abuse. This is an extremely complex issue. How some slide into the manipulative behavior and language, how others unknowingly allow it to grow and continue. I can’t claim to be an expert on this, but I did write a post about it: https://www.screenwriterswife.com/how-emotional-abuse-in-marriage-starts-and-why-this-blog-came-to-be.html I can’t imagine subjecting myself to stay in a relationship where there has been many years of emotional disconnect and abuse…however, I think that even emotionally unfulfilling relationships can – if BOTH partners are willing to put forth effort – be saved. There’s often a lot going on under the surface that’s not being discussed in these kinds of relationships. Getting the right kind of support with a marriage-friendly therapist or counselor can help a couple untie many of the knots they’ve tied for themselves that got themselves into the mess they’re in.

      I guess, overall, I’m saying that I don’t disagree with you. There is a difference between, and important to distinguish between, those marriages where it is possible to get through the rough patches, and those marriages where one or both spouses refuse to make the needed changes in order to reconcile. This is why I have have listed at #1 that a marriage can only improve if the spouses WANT to improve. However, I believe that even those relationships that experience cheating and emotional abuse can possibly be saved if the partners are both seriously willing and wanting to do what it takes to reconcile.

  18. Awesome, awesome article – thank you so much for writing this! One thing that really helped me get through a seriously tough time in our marriage – and this relates to your Point #2 – was getting a therapist for myself and discussing our recurring arguments and my own triggers with her. Eventually, my husband started coming so he could tell the therapist his side of the story. 🙂 My/Our therapist was very insightful and helpful and continually pointed out the great parts of our marriage to us. It was wonderful.

    • I’m so glad you were able to get the help you needed in order to discuss what was going on in your relationship. I’m also really glad that you were able to find a therapist who was a great fit for you AND encouraging of your marriage! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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