Have you ever had somebody tell you to no longer focus on your past, but instead only focus on your future? I have.
In fact, I’ve probably said those same words to a number of couples experiencing trials.
There was an affair.
Or severe financial problems.
Or a breach in trust due to a husband looking at porn.
Or a breach in trust due to a wife texting her ex-boyfriend from college.
There are a whole host of reasons as to why a marriage may begin to struggle.
“Fixing” the problem (if that’s even the right word to use) isn’t easy. It’s a process. A lengthy process. But there are at least three things that are important to remember as a part of this process.
1. This problem didn’t happen overnight.
If you know somebody currently struggling in their marriage (or if you are yourself), it’s important to note that this problem didn’t just happen. One or both people in the marriage took steps that led them to be where they are right now. It may have began as an ‘innocent’ flirt. It may have began by ‘innocently’ browsing the web. And slowly but surely, more ‘innocent’ decisions were made. After a little bit of time it then became clear that something felt missing, and that void needed to be filled elsewhere.
2. This problem can be overcome.
The next step is to identify ALL of the steps that were taken which led to the present circumstances. Where and how did the unhappiness of one or both spouses begin? What decisions were made to try to fill that void? What conversations does the couple need to have to talk through these decisions?
Again, this is a lengthy process. Many steps were taken to get here, and many will need to be taken for it to get healthy again. Both spouses will have to be more transparent than they’ve ever been. They’ll have to make decisions in a way they’ve never made them before – together. They’ll have to earn one another’s trust in small ways and gradually work their way back to full-on trust. But it can happen. Any challenging situation can be overcome in marriage.
3. Live in the Here and Now
One of the best activities for any couple (whether they’re struggling or not) is to always think through the following questions:
- Where do you want your marriage to be in 5 years?
- Where do you want your marriage to be in 1 year?
- Where do you want your marriage to be in 6 months? …1 month?
- What steps are you going to take to get there?
This last question in the key – what steps are you going to take (in the here and now) to get there?
In other words, don’t think about what you WILL be doing 5 years from now, think about what you WANT to be doing together 5 years from now. Don’t think about what you WILL be doing 1 year from now, think about what you WANT to be doing 1 year from now. Don’t think about what you WILL be doing 6 months from now, think about what you WANT to be doing in 6 months. If you think about what you WILL be doing and it doesn’t happen, you’re only going to disappoint yourself. But if you think about what you WANT to be doing and you’re both on the same page, you can think think through the steps you want to take – together – to get there.
But most importantly, don’t just think about the future, think about the here and now.
What can I do right now – today – to take a step towards where we want our marriage to be?
What can I do right now – today – to take a step towards trusting him/her again?
What can I do right now – today – to take a step towards earning his/her trust again?
What can I do right now – today – to take a step towards being his/her friend again?
What can I do right now – today – to uphold the vows I made?
What can I do right now – today – to BE loving even if I don’t FEEL loved?
What will YOU do right now – today?