A love saturated marriage is the glue that keeps families together but more families are falling apart than before. Some people ask, how do you know when your marriage is falling apart? Others are scared to get married even though they refuse to admit it.
As an alternative and an ever present way out, they choose common-law relationships while others hop from relationship to relationship, never settling with any one person for long.
In spite of all this, many people who choose marriage, fight to some extent to save it. Most times the effort comes long after things have apparently gone too far to recover.
The Little Things
The steps on any journey are always small ones. For a successful marriage, little things count. The failure of a marriage also begins with the little things.
Have you ever had a disagreement and later on, after reflection, you wondered what all the fuss was about? I have, and at times, if you follow the process, you would find out that it was just you or the other person seeking to have his own way no matter what. In other words, selfishness.
And while the words are flying back and forth, the damage is being done to each person, many times without them being aware of the destruction. Hurtful words, deeds and looks may be repented – yes, I said repented, you may be more comfortable with apologized – of/for, but they can seldom be erased from the mind. The speaker may be able to do so, but the depth of the wound on the receiver may be unforgettable. Unless effort is made to forget.
And still, after forgiveness is offered and received, it may be impossible to forget what was said or done, but a person can choose not to resurrect the feelings that they had let go of.
If you are unforgiving, hurt comes not only to you, but to all who you associate with. It destroys relationships, including marriage. It is always better to talk out a situation than to allow hate and misunderstanding to fester. Make up quickly.
So there is that “fight” and then, because no one wants to back down, or one person wants to get revenge on the other – you know, you want him/her to feel what you felt, and even deeper – you pull apart and refuse to talk to each other. That silent treatment that many women enjoy dishing out to their husbands/partner.
And I realize that some men are becoming good at it too.
So the silent treatment is dished out and you think that soon things will be back to normal, but it never will be, because the other person takes note, and is also planning revenge. Some try to be proactive, but not in a way that will grow the relationship, or should I say, preemptive.
In my family of origin, I can’t recall a day when anyone of us was able to stay angry with each other for any length of time. Even my parents didn’t do it. There were times when my father would leave for work having disagreed with my mom. If, when he returned home, she was still upset with him, he would playfully tease her until she relented and started to laugh. That would be the end of any tension between them.
I only found out about the silent treatment when I got married.
Yes, there will be disagreements, but how you decide to handle it would determine the growth or withering of your relationship.
Biblically, we are counseled ; “let not the sun go down on your wrath”. Can you imagine what would happen if we took this seriously and make that effort to reconcile before the day is done? What a wonderful marriage we would have.
If you realize that communication is braking down or has broken down, do your best to restore it before it is too late. Forget the idea of “O, I’m not a talker”. Speak up, kindly.
For a different approach to saving your marriage, click here
As The Marriage Falls Apart
I have come to learn that many times married partners delude themselves as to the true state of their relationship. It may be one partner or both of them.
Couples find themselves talking bad about each other with friends and relatives as the marriage fall apart. While they do this, no effort is made to discuss the issues that are pushing them apart with each other. Or if effort is made, it comes from one person and not the other. The one who is reluctant to make the effort is usually the one who is hurt the most or who has given up on the possibility of a marital revival.
In some cases the spouse is replaced with something or someone else. That lime with the boys or girls becomes more and more frequent. Sometimes longer too.
Emotional distancing begins without anyone realizing what is going on. One or sometimes both, has already begun to prepare for the physical distancing that they are expecting will soon become reality.
They also begin to hint to friends and family that things are falling apart, thus preparing them for the coming change and also drumming up support for themselves and against their spouse.
Communication becomes shorter and most times more and more harsh. The female usually displays frequent bouts of emotionalism and crying while the male hardens himself so as not to be affected by it. They spend more and more time apart and this is usually the time when a third person – sometimes a fourth – becomes involved in the relationship.
Probably the most telling sign is that of withdrawing sexual relations. It begins in small ways, most times by the female and as disagreements accelerate, it becomes more pronounced and obvious. This allows for the other partner, or both, to begin looking for that sexual fulfillment or love, outside of the marriage. This further rips apart the relationship.
We also engage in financial withdrawal. In our present age, where both parties are employed, persons begin to speak about what is mine and what is yours in the home. My money and your money. If only one spouse is employed, the other is usually subjected to the withdrawal of that financial support. More anger and resentment results.
By this time, battle lines are drawn and support for each partner has been gathered from both sides of the family and friends.
I hate to mention it but this too is a part of a marriage falling apart – abuse. Although it does not necessarily occur in every failing relationship, physical, verbal, emotional and other forms of abuse are too often present when marriages fall apart.
How Do You Know
Unless you are constantly on the alert, it is possible to miss all the signs that will warn that everything is not all right. I do not speak here as an expert but as one who has been through a failed marriage and know of too many other failed marriages and relationships.
I recall as a boy hearing our pastors, elders and parents say that when you get married, you should continue “the early attentions”. That means that the things that were done in the early days of courtship to win the individual’s heart, must be continued and built up after the marriage.
In hindsight, I recognize many areas in which I failed to continue “the early attentions”.
It would be good then, to frequently examine yourself for the presence or absence of those early attentions. They tend to go first. Note that I said yourself, not your partner. It is always easy to see the lack in the other person and not ourselves. While that may sometimes appear to be good, the downside is that we then attempt to change the person and this most times result in further conflict.
The first time this idea was put across to me, I totally rejected it. In my mind, I was not at fault, she was. She needed fixing. Truth is that both of us needed fixing but I could not fix her, I had to focus on changing myself.
If you realize that you are constantly seeing faults in your partner, check yourself. Remember that when you all were courting you could see nothing wrong in this person, even when others pointed it out? So continue to look for and see the good. It may be difficult, but the other way will surely lead to destruction.
Quarreling and nagging in a marriage/relationship, is another sign that things are falling apart. If you find that you are having difficulty in settling the smallest issue, then you know that love is fading from your relationship. Where love is present, every effort is made to find solutions to problems/issues in the quickest possible time.
The break down in a relationship is also always noticed by others. If you have true friends, they will notice and point it out even before you can see it. Even not so good friends at times tell us what they are seeing. But even then we are in denial so we refuse to see and often distance ourselves from those who are telling us the truth.
“Mind your own business”, we often say to others.
When you are in love, that person is most times in your thoughts. You find it difficult to be separated from them for a long period. Everyone else takes second place to the one who owns your heart. If while you are married, you realize that that is no longer so, watch out, things are falling apart.
Beware also of the use of technology in your relationship. If it is replacing your normal relationship, you need to cut down on its use. While social media is useful to keep in touch with others, it should not be allowed to divide your marriage.
There are some who have taken the time to study relationships/marriages and can tell you when they are falling apart. More so, they can help you rebuild what seemed to have been destroyed or what was destroyed.
Today there are many who specialize in marriage counseling/coaching in various forms.
There are those who write books that can be a great source of help even prior to marriage. No one can perfectly prepare for marriage, but the more of the right preparation made, the higher the possibility of having a successful marriage/relationship.
I recall reading a lot when I was preparing for marriage. Today I know that I should have read a lot more and follow the counsel of one of our church pioneers – to pray three times more than usual. Such preparation should be done by both male and female in order to have a much more successful marriage.
Then there is direct counseling. There are many able pastors and qualified counselors available today for free. Others charge a fee and also provide very good help. It would be in your best interest to approach one of your choice before or even during marriage. Some have been known to help restore marriages/relationships that had totally fallen apart.
And then there are those who do seminars, going into much more detail with those who attend and thus enhancing the possibility of the success of the marriage and future generations.
In this technological world and time of Covid19, there are even those who are prepared to provide their help online or via CDs and downloadable videos.
What’s Most Needed
In spite of all that has been said before, the best keeper of your marriage/relationship is you, your spouse and God. He should be the only third party in your marriage
You may not know or believe in God and may doubt the above statement, but that does not make it a false one.
Why then, you may ask, has my first marriage fallen apart? Simple, because neither of us made Him our continuous guide as we charted the unknown course of married life. Instead, we abandoned the principles of love that He outlined, and tried to meet our problems and issues with our own solutions. None succeeded.
Marriage/relationships teaches us about unselfishness and putting the other person first. Sadly, we cling to selfishness and wanting all our needs and wants to be met first and then, if we feel like it, we attempt to meet the needs of our spouse. That is basic human tendency.
Only God can teach us how to be unselfish and put our partner first. After all, love originated with Him. If His love is in both hearts, then the problems that appear in marriage will be treated as opportunities to grow stronger.
One person cannot keep a marriage together. It is a couple’s thing. So you may find it difficult, even when you have a solid relationship with God, if your spouse does not. It is crucial then to ensure that both of you have that personal relationship with Him and that it is maintained.
As that becomes an integral part of your relationship, no one will be enquiring as to how to know when your marriage is falling apart. Instead, you would, by word and example, be a true model of a successful marriage.
Share with us your experience on this topic. If you have a successful marriage, share with us what you did to do so. Enter your opinion/views in the comments box provided down below. Same if you have questions, I’d love to hear from you.