Being pro-active in marriage

19th Sept: 5 years of marriage
Image by scribbletaylor via Flickr

Over the spring and summer I watched the marriage of my best friend unravel.

The process has been incredibly difficult to observe for several reasons.   The main reason is because it was unexpected- to me.

M. and I have been best friends since we were in elementary school, we were in each other’s weddings, present for the birth of babies and vacationed together (as families) for years.

So, when the announcement about a divorce was made I was really in shock.  They hadn’t mentioned that was even on the table.

Am I mad at her?  No.  There are plenty of times that Mike and I have been struggling in our marriage that I have not confided in M. (or anyone else for that matter)

But, now I wonder- is that the best strategy? Should we shield our loved ones and friends from the facts of what is going on in our homes and marriages or should we be more open and transparent so that we can benefit from the support and prayers of those that love us?

There is a part of me that has always wanted to keep our marital issues private.  For the purpose of keeping up appearances at times but also not wanting to speak ill of my husband (which I believe is an important bibical mandate).

Yet, watching the aftermath of a divorce that has hit so close to home has made me stop and realize that marriage requires us to be proactive, particularly if our marriages are going to last.

Seeking Godly counsel, asking for prayer, making quality time with your spouse a priority, finding couples that are like minded to spend time with, finding couples that have been married longer that can serve as an example, and learning God’s plan for marriage need to be part of our daily lives.

Divorce is NOT God’s plan.  While I do not say that in judgment of anyone, I feel strongly that those of us that are married need to do all we can to insure we stay that way.

What do you think contributes to a healthy marriage?  Do you think it is important to keep issues private or share with others?

I would love to know your thoughts.

And for other Wifey Wednesday posts, please visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

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Comments

  1. The whole public vs. private debate is a hard one. We need to be real with each other, but sometimes voicing things can give them a life of their own. To me a big issue is that there are a lot of judgmental people out there. “Whoa! you’re having marriage problems? Gosh, I am glad my marriage is perfect” rather than people who open their arms up and invite you to talk and help you work through it. We need to get back to being a loving, caring, compassionate society. I believe THAT will help marriages.

  2. That is why we want to do a Marriage Mentor program for our church. We just are waiting on timing. We also are looking for some ideas to do it.

    Now with sharing with friends one needs to be careful. When I have had problems in my marraige I shared with some friends and they fed the monster so to speak. Godly counsel is definitely the way to go…not to someone who will side with you but someone you can trust will be brutally honest with you.

    Melissa, Thank you for being that type of friend for me! I love you! :0)

  3. I think there need to be a balance. I get really turned off from friends that tell ALL!! There is always a problem. However, I also think you do need to share when there are problems. My in-laws are going through some major problems right now. They are really 30+ years in the making, but the D word has now come up so they are REAL. My mil is so concerned about what other people know about what’s going on. I can understand to some point. It feels like failure, but like I told my husband. If no one knows, who is going to be praying for them? There are some key people that love them and would want to know enough to at least be praying for them.

    Great post. I came over from Sheilas.

  4. Amen, Marriage is a work in progress and I love being a proactive wife and mother.

  5. My best friend is going through a trial seperation right now. Im glad that she confides in me. That way I can help her every step of the way.

  6. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The pain of divorce includes not just those going through the process, but their friends, families, and communities. And the hard thing is that it comes up so quickly. I agree that we should be sharing our deep hurts and struggles with someone safe. But what happens when that someone picks YOU to share with? Yikes!

    If we were all honest I think that we are really too proud to ask for help – because it might just look like we don’t know what we’re doing in this whole marriage deal. Perhaps if we all admitted the truth.. we don’t all know what we’re doing… then help might be easier to ask for and find.

  7. I think it is super important to have that close circle of girl friends or a mentor that you can talk to when things get rough. And I think we can do that without speaking ill of our husbands… we just have to think before we speak. 🙂

    “finding other couples that are like minded”… KEY!! I don’t want to be friends with people that would easily give up on their marriage or allow me to easily give up on mine! Good post.

  8. Wow, all of you make great points! It does come down to a pride thing- which as Sheri pointed out keeps us from being compassionate with others- no one has a perfect marriage so there is really no reason for any of us to pretend that we do.

    And I love you too Kelly =)

  9. I think you can divulge some things and others you shouldn’t there are certain parts of your life that should be just between you and your husband that don’t belong to other people.

    If you tell too much they get too involved in your relationship and start offering advice and opinions that they should keep to themselves.

    I think that if I had a friendship like you describe above with someone, I would tell them: look my husband and I are having trouble and we have decided it is best for us to separate and/or divorce. We would appreciate your understanding during this already hard time on us.

    I do think it is important to have someone to talk to; who ever that might be for you: your mother, a friend, God, a therapist, etc.

  10. You made valid points!
    I tend to make myself and “island” when it comes to not so perfect situations. We want to created the illusion of a perfect marriage and family so much that we hide our troubles behind close doors. I feel that if we can talk to a trustworthy friend, we may find that our toubles are more common than we think, and we wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed when we fall of the pedestal.

  11. For me being proactive in my marriage means both of us are communicating honestly and truthfully. I usually don’t have a problems with this, but often times when I speak my hubby takes it as criticism or thinks he is responsible for my feelings, then he goes into his “I’m not good enough” issues. When that happens there’s no way to communicate because he isn’t listening. We are working on this and it’s getting better. Communication it’s the solution. As far as other people if the two people in the relationship having the issue aren’t communicating you can talk to all the people in the world and it won’t help.

  12. Kel- very true about getting opinions from others that may just complicate things!

    Ann Marie- you said it! I think the tendency to be an “island” hurts us more than helps us in situations like this.

    Wendy- you are so right…if the couple isn’t invested in fixing things, no amount of outside influence will change that.

    Thanks for joining in the conversation ladies!

  13. I have two 2 different perspectives: one as a wife and another as a marriage/family therapist.

    As a wife, I would do whatever I could within my power to fight for my marriage unless there was a really good reason not to (i.e. if there was physical abuse going on, etc).

    As a therapist, I think there are times when divorce is the best answer or the healthiest for the family/children’s environment.

    I think it’s easy for people to keep marriage struggles secret because they don’t want to look like a failure at marriage. But on the contrary, you’re not a failure if you’re struggling and you seek help or support from friends/counselors. You are a fighter if you do that and should be proud of reaching out to others.

    It’s similar to struggles with parenting or postpartum (which I recently suffered from and am blogging about in my 2-3 part series I just started today). No one wants to admit it b/c they think others will judge them. But when you open up about such things, you find out you’re not alone, that others aren’t judging you, and that you feel much better getting the support and realizing others deal with the same exact things!

    Great post and topic!

    Tamara
    http://www.theunexperiencedmom.com

  14. Thanks for your thoughts Tamara! I agree that blogging and talking about our problems opens doors to support I know I never could have dreamed of when I started blogging. And I only wish the internet had been as active 12 years ago when I suffered from PPD.

  15. I have been through things in my marriage where it was my friends who sustained me and helped me through some dark times. While I am thankful that I was not alone (and probably would not have survived without their help) I also wish they did not know as much as they did. Now when they ask me how things are I feel that they expect me to continue with the details where the details need to be between me and my husband. Since I wasn’t able to seek the advice of clergy or even a therapist (two month waiting list in my rural area) I am glad there was at least someone I could turn to, but now that the crisis is past it needs to stay between me and my husband. I guess everything is situational.

  16. Communication is the key. I believe that communication issues are the #1 reasons why marriages break up. There’s little constructive dialog between 2 people. There’s plenty of silence and also destructive dialog. But people who can discuss their differences without getting heavily emotionally involved in the argument are a rare breed.

    How to do that? First become happy with your own life. Do what makes you happy, not your spouse. If there is a fundamental difference then divorce may be neccessary. By fundamental, I mean core issues: what people do for a living, having children, are a few.

    If you made a mistake, it needs to be corrected. You’ll both be happier in the long run. There are billions of people on earth to choose from.

    Many get the idea that marriage is only sacrifice and struggle but if you choose the right partner for the right reasons your union is natural and fairly effortless. Be happy with your life first and you’ll make the right decision when choosing a mate. Too many rush to get married just to get married; for fear of running out of time, wanting to have kids, wanting to start a family, wanting to please their parents, wanting to marry before their friends.

    Get married after you are happy with your life. Find someone who you have a great deal in common with but also have some stark differnces. Find someone that you can talk to, that you can discuss issues with, that you get along with for 95% of the time. It’s possible folks, you just need to be patient. Don’t be in a rush to get married because hurry is fear and will always lead to something destructive.

  17. Ryan- your comments are always insightful and right on target! Thanks for the feedback!

  18. There IS that tension b/t telling all and honoring your spouse; it’s so sad, though, that you found out about this obviously good friend when it was “too late”.

    Having been married 22 years, I KNOW it requires effort and intention. During low points in my life (& marriage) though I had the insight of why people might choose divorce, I always imagined the repercussions after the fact. One of my friends who’s married to a divorced man said this: “Do whatever you can to save your marriage…the consequences of divorce last more than a lifetime…” (difficulties w/his ex all the time 🙁 ).

    I feel for those in unhealthy marriages…and this is a good reminder to be diligent in protecting my own!!

  19. I so agree, Robin. The repercussions of divorce are yucky, for everyone! And, all of this with my friend has made me appreciate what Mike and I have even more! Thanks for your thoughts and congrats on 22 years!

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