Last week, we started our 2-part series on common saboteurs in marriage and how to stop them in their tracks. Most marriages will likely fall victim to one of these sneaky attacks at some time or the other. They tiptoe into our marriages without a sound, and can go undetected until they have already made a mark.
However, there are ways you and your partner can fight these saboteurs. Today, we are picking back up on our series and discussing the final three: drift, debt, and pain from the past. Let’s dive in.
Saboteur Four: Drift
Many couples complain, and even quit marriage, because they have drifted apart. These unions don’t break because of a single, cataclysmic event. They break after years of slow erosion. Do you find yourself looking for alternatives to being with your spouse, or do you depend less on them? Have you quit sharing details of your life or has your sexual interest waned? If you are answering yes, it’s time to get vigilant.
· First: Begin by reordering your priorities. If your work, your church, or even your child’s needs are taking precedence over your spouse it’s time to set new standards and put your relationship on the top of your list.
· Second: Make specific requests of your partner for help in some area, even if you don’t need help. It can be grocery shopping, or yard work. The goal is to work on something together.
· Third: Reverse your drift by sharing more information about your daily routine. Even mundane experiences. When you share, you become closer.
· Last: We urge you to save up and schedule a weekend away from home together. Go someplace special that you loved early in your relationship. If you can’t go away for a night, try an all-day outing.
Most couples who have drifted apart still care deeply for each other, yet they often feel so different. You don’t have to let the increasing gap grow wider. Pull your partner closer to you and be intentional about enjoying meaningful connection again. You will be surprised at how quickly you can close that gap.
Saboteur Five: Debt
If your marriage is feeling the strain of trying to carry increasing accumulations of debt, you can begin lightening your load starting today. The first step is to recognize how much money you owe. Once you get a solid number, you can take one of two avenues: increase your income, or reduce your spending. For most couples it’s easier to do the latter.
Sit down with your partner and make a plan on where you can reduce your spending. We learned a valuable lesson early in marriage when we discovered we spent less by simply not using our credit card. When you pay with a credit card you don’t register the pain of actually letting go of cash. Whether it’s eating out less, buying less “wants” or simply putting a pause on impulse purchases, you need to find a specific way to spend less and pay down your debt.
Another suggestion is to become accountable to someone who not in your relationship. This may seem somewhat embarrassing, but by having someone step in that you both respect, you will likely stay on track. Getting out of debt will be one of the most rewarding things you will accomplish as a couple. So stick with your plan.
Saboteur Six: Pain From the Past
One of the hardest things that can sneak up on a marriage is pain from the past. Many of us have old wounds from a painful past that we carry. This can be anything from abusive past relationships, abuse in any form, trauma as a child, and beyond. Sooner or later this pain will impact your marriage if it is not dealt with.
Emotions may be buried, but they are still alive and lurking below the surface. This can negatively impact your current relationship. Research reveals that spouses who had a negative bonding experience with parents often have difficulty or may even avoid getting intimate in their marriage for fear of failure. This is only one example of many ways pain from the past can affect your current marriage.
If you are suffering from any pain from your past that is hurting you or your marriage, the road to recovery requires healing; healing for you and likely your relationship, too. We cannot begin to do justice to the steps you will need to take in this direction; there are too many personal variables. We strongly encourage you to seek the help of a competent counselor who can walk you through a healing journey.
Saboteurs in marriage can sneak up on any of us. The key is to be vigilant and stop them in their tracks before they leave a permanent impression. If you’d like to learn more about the saboteurs in marriage and how to stop them, check out our book I Love You More.
Of the six saboteurs (busyness, irritation, boredom, drift, debt and pain) what have you identified with and how did you combat it? We’d love to hear from you!