Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant and author who’s inspiring millions through her books to tidy up their homes and find joy in their living environments, is changing lives. Her principles have helped my own cleaning habits. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. she writes,
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” (Marie Kondo)
This applies well to the four corners of my home, but can you imagine if we practiced this principle to the marriage relationship? Oh my! When my husband isn’t speaking my language or sparking joy in my heart by leaving his beard trimmings in the sink or not doing what I want in that exact moment, I can’t just throw him out or chuck my marriage away because it’s not bringing me personal fulfillment and happiness.
We made a commitment to one another—a face to face, hand holding, eyes locking, from the depths of our heart promise on the altar before God, family, and friends to sacrificially love one another until death we do part. We swore to love one another no matter what—even if a day would come where we didn’t feel the joy inside.
Many of us know, years pass on, and you can lose the “feelings” of joy especially with the ever-changing seasons in a relationship. Perhaps you’ve been there or are there right now. The elation and thrill in your marriage has been stolen. Your home might be clean—but your relationship is suffering. This is normal, but what do you do next? Here are five steps:
- Reflect on where you’re at. Was it a hurtful word spoken, unmet expectation, feeling unloved, or refusal to forgive your husband that’s caused the tension? It’s interesting how bitterness can reside in our hearts without realizing it. Is there something in your relationship threatening your oneness? Ask God to reveal it. Often times, we have a hard time remembering exactly the offense. You may have to do some back-tracking. Be prepared for a range of emotions when rehashing old wounds.
Perhaps it’s an overloaded schedule dividing your time together. Evaluate your days and schedule a time just the two of you together to focus on your marriage and reflect on the past few months. Where can you do better? Which area in your marriage suffers most (communication, finances, sexual intimacy, and more), and how can you and your husband begin praying fervently over the area you struggle most?
2.) Humble yourself. My fellow writer on TheCourage.com Meg Marie Wallace wrote this amazing article on what pride does in a relationship and how you can spot it. I’m always astonished when I look back at arguments my husband and I have had and how ugly my pride was to not want to say to the man I love with everything, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” In my sin nature, I want to be right. I don’t like to admit my faults. I’d rather point the finger.
God’s will is that we humble ourselves and take the log out of our own eye before we look at the speck in our spouse’s. Humility says, “I know I’m part of the problem. Where can I take ownership for my offense against my spouse?” It takes humility to seek oneness again and ask forgiveness—to be a team again and confess where we’re wrong.
3.) Widen your circle. We’re called to live in authentic relationships with other believers—including the areas of our marriage. God’s given us the gift of allowing others to really know us. If problems are too big and you can’t shake whatever you’re in conflict over, invite trusted friends in to offer insight, encouragement, prayer, counsel, and help. This will require a lot of humility too! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking faithful friends to step inside your struggles. Their job isn’t to fix your marriage, but they can be a support.
When others are aware of our challenges it allows them to help carry our burdens as Galatians 6:2 beautifully states. They’ll know specifics in how to pray for you. Most people want to offer help to those they love who are brokenhearted.
4.)Seek counsel. Some hurts and habits in our marriage require professional counseling and there’s no shame in that. Seek out solid biblical counseling from a private practice, ministry, or church in your area. Ask around for recommendations. Work on “you” in this time and you alone. See it as a gift to yourself. You’ll learn insights and discoveries you never imagined.
There are countless ministries devoted to helping marriages and families thrive. I’ve listed a few at the end of this article. These ministries were birthed because of the many marriages that need help, and there are many of us who do (and no, you’re not crazy if you do too!).
5.) Get back to the basics. What did you and your spouse do when you first met? Some of the things my husband and I loved as newlyweds were dressing up and going out to dinner, walks or runs in nature, working out at the gym, watching movies, and taking trips away from the familiar.
What was it that sparked your joy and passion for one another? Think about the memories you made to grow your relationship and learn more about each other. Chances are good that you still love those same things today, you just have to make time for them again in the midst of life’s increasing responsibilities.
Finding the spark of joy in your marriage is attainable as you take personal responsibility in your relationship. Every marriage goes through ups and downs and there’s always hope for your marriage, too.
Never forget: Every relationship needs a reset at times. And every marriage is worth fighting for.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com She also enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.