For Better, For Worse - Dealing With Difficult Times in Your Marriage

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The door slams and your husband storms out. Sitting alone on your bed with tears in your eyes and anger in your heart you wonder what went wrong. A few years ago, you were full of joy after the wedding and the honeymoon. Now the marriage seems to be falling apart and you have no idea how to save your relationship. Yet the long-term commitment you made to your spouse still stands; for better and for worse, you are to love him. How do you get past the difficult times your marriage is currently facing and move onto better times again?

At first, this can seem like an impossible task. If every time you see each other, you exchange nasty words ending in an intense argument, you can easily think that nothing can change. However, it is possible to salvage any marriage if both parties are willing to work on the relationship. You can move from constant recrimination to fun conversation again. This journey is going to be tough, but each step along the path will encourage and build a better future together with your husband.

Step 1 – Remember the Love

If you are the sort of person who loves to write, read your journal, love letters, or love poems about your spouse from the days when you were courting and your heart was overflowing with joyous love for your husband. Reading over your thoughts about those times will help you to remember and revive those feelings.

Alternatively, you may like to make a list of everything you ever found attractive, or loved about your spouse. Even if you find that creating this list is painful because it seems as if your relationship has irrecoverably changed from this state of romantic love, making this list is useful in getting your relationship back on track.

Just writing a list of what you love about your husband, or reading your thoughts from happier days, will remind you why you fell in love with your husband in the first place. It is harder to feel angry with your spouse when you have a clear memory of the reasons why you love him. Try not to complete this exercise only to invoke nostalgic feelings. This list gives you the reasons to fight for your marriage for a better future as well remembering the joyful past.

Step 2 – Remember Your Commitment

A marriage is a commitment, and you make it publicly for a reason. Of course, no blushing bride really believes when she says, “for better, for worse” on her wedding day that there really will be a worse. The elation of romance is strong on her wedding day, and she is so much in love that she simply cannot imagine a time when the romance could not be enough to sustain the relationship with her husband.

However, that bride has now turned into the distraught woman sitting alone on her bed waiting for her husband to return. This is exactly when the commitment part of the wedding vows comes into play. Now is the time to take a firm hold of your wedding vows, made so blithely on your wedding day, and make the vows a part of your life. You have promised to live in relationship with your husband, so whatever the reasons for the difficulties or hard times you are facing you need to hold on to that commitment and find a way to make it work.

You may even need to go back to family or close friends who were witnesses to your vows on your wedding day and ask for help and support to keep those vows. This is why a wedding is a public celebration of love and commitment, and why the minister or celebrant encourages the families and friends of the bride and groom to support and treasure the newly formed family.

Step 3 -Agree to Limit the Hurt

In order to stop the cycle of arguments, pain, grief, and more arguments, you need to come to an agreement with your spouse to limit the ways you hurt each other at this time. This may be difficult, but an agreement to limit the scope of a disagreement to the here and now can really help disagreements from turning into full blown arguments. Such an agreement aims to get the focus on what is the real problem at present in the relationship, rather than getting back at each other for past hurts.

If in the middle of an argument, you find yourself saying. “I remember when you did this”, and you are talking about an event that happened several years ago, you are not communicating to solve the problem, but are simply trying to add to your husband’s pain. You are doing this because you are in pain yourself, and lashing out in anger is a common defense mechanism to disguise your own pain. Your husband is probably doing exactly the same thing: storming at you to hide his own feelings of pain and grief at your broken relationship.

The first step in actually resolving whatever is causing a relationship breakdown within your marriage is to agree to stop hurting each other further. You may need the support of friends or close family members to allow you to express your own feelings of pain to people outside of the marriage relationship, reducing the need to use these feelings as recriminations in an argument with your spouse. This agreement does not wipe away the grief from past arguments, but can work to prevent further agony in the future. It will be difficult to stop the arguments or the cycle of hurt without this agreement.

Step 4 – Start Talking Without Fighting

Before you can start to build a better future with your husband, you need to be able to talk with each other calmly, without shouting, slamming of doors, running away, or exhibiting any other signs of throwing a tantrum. You need to be free to express your feelings without fear of adding to the problems of the marriage.

This step may be impossible without some help. You may need to go to a marriage counselor, a minister, or a trusted friend who can be the safe neutral ground between you, and can intercede when either partner starts to use words as weapons again-Talking without fighting includes listening with an open mind to what your spouse has to say. You need to be able to hear and respond to his pain, grief, and troubles, without becoming nasty in return. He also needs to listen to your side of the story. This is why a neutral mediator can help you to get your marriage relationship into a better place.

You both need to develop the skills of listening and talking to each other, without the defensive walls or verbal attacks on each other. Breaking down the communication barriers that have built up between you may take some time, but is certainly possible. Make an effort to talk to your husband as you did when you were first married, avoiding the blame game, negativity, and anger that have now become symptomatic of your everyday relations.

Step 5 – Forgive the Wrongs

This is probably the hardest step in the journey towards a better future with your spouse. You need to find a way to forgive your husband for all the pain he has caused you, and you need to find a way to forgive yourself for the angst you have caused him. He will also need to work through the heartache of true forgiveness in order to move forward into a bright future with you.

A marriage does not fall apart because of the actions of one person; it takes two to make the marriage work and two to make it fail. Whatever the problems are between you, both partners have contributed to the pain and hurt. You have both made mistakes and have said and done things you regret.

If you really want to make your marriage work, you do need to work through the process of forgiving each other for whatever past wrongs occurred. Without forgiveness the pain you harbor in your heart towards your spouse will eat you inside, or will spill out in another argument in the future. Forgiveness brings healing and you have no real hope for a future together without genuine forgiveness.

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