Q. My husband and I have been married for 25 years. We can’t resolve an issue that we’ve struggled with many times. We work it out for a while and then it pops up again. I love my husband but I’m not sure I can stay in our marriage any longer unless we resolve this. What do you suggest?
A. You sound frustrated and upset about your marriage - at your wit’s end. Do you know that most couples feel this way at times? Your marriage may seem hopeless, but it probably isn’t or you wouldn’t have stayed together twenty-five years. No matter how long you’ve been married it’s never too late to work on your issues. Couples of all ages now seek help through counseling, reading books on marriage, watching marriage tapes, or attending marital groups or seminars. A twenty-five year marriage should not be thrown away – at least not easily.
Read The Case Against Divorce by Diane Medved and Married People - Staying Together in The Age of Divorce by Francine Klagsburn. Medved, who has been divorced and remarried, says “Leaving a marriage without exhausting its potential [for change] should be called running away.” She also says you can’t go through a divorce emotionally unscathed. Marriage isn’t easy but divorce will hurt more - in spite of what our popular culture says.
A marriage of 25 years lasts, in part, because of the positives in the relationship, because of the loving or exciting times. Are you focusing on this one problem and forgetting many other areas or times in your marriage that have been good? Most couples stay married in spite of difficulties. They struggle with differences, work out some of them and live with others unresolved. As a result they grow and mature as individuals and as a couple. They love each other and are generally content though they know they may have new struggles in the future.
Someone has said, “Commitment means a willingness to be unhappy for a while.” Commitment also means we’re willing to work on the relationship; we’re willing to put time and effort into resolving issues, even 25 year old issues. At times marriage may feel like an ordeal because it forces us to give up some of our self-centeredness and face our own flaws. We can’t always have our own way. We aren’t always kind and loving. Sometimes we control and manipulate. Life is a learning process. We learn not when things are easy but when they’re difficult. Perhaps God designed marriage to force us to grow rather than to make us happy! Look at the differences and difficulties in your marriage as opportunities to learn and grow.
I recommend Christian counseling. Educational programs such as The Third Option or the A Weekend to Remember can also help you get unstuck and can help you regain a contented, growing love for each other. For possible counselors or marriage programs contact a local church and ask for resources. Also check out www.smartmarriages.com.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3