Ask anyone who has been married for a long time, and they will likely tell you about a difficult time in their marriage. But just because marriage gets hard doesn’t mean it’s time to quit.
In fact, some of the most rewarding marriages grow stronger after a period of great dissatisfaction. Here are some signs you might consider before giving up on your marriage:
1. You both remain open to getting help and going to counseling. It can seem like husbands and wives speak different languages at times. Sometimes, they need a translator to help smooth out their communication. Sometimes, they need deeper insight into the other partner’s fears and anxieties. If you are both willing to roll up your sleeves, and learn more about each other, then don’t give up. Instead, get in touch with counselors and relationship coaches who are successful at helping couples work through issues.
2. You “choose” to stay in your marriage. You are not staying because you feel like you have no other choice. Staying is a choice you are making because, for whatever reason, your marriage meets your needs. If you feel like you don’t have a choice, financially or emotionally, you need to seek advice. You always have options. Learning about your options can help you decide whether you should in fact choose to stay in your marriage.
3. You are experiencing a temporary set-back, but have good reasons to believe that things will turn around in the future. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, are all circumstances that can make marriage challenging. There are lots of resources that can help you get better at managing money or getting healthier. Let the set-back be your opportunity to build a healthier marriage together.
4. Your spouse treats you with respect, even though he/she doesn’t always agree with you. Kindness and respect are rare qualities in this day and age. A little kindness and respect will go a long way towards healing wounds that can hurt a marriage. If you’re not receiving kindness and respect, then stop and ask if you are giving kindness and respect yourself. It might be that through offering it first, you will tap into a marriage saving strategy. Without kindness and respect, resentment can fester into contempt, which can seal a marriage’s demise.
5. You continue to look forward to sharing certain family and holiday traditions. Traditions have the power to bind our families, and give us perspective that connects us with those who have gone before and those who will come after. Shared family traditions can provide an anchor in the rough waters of a turbulent marriage. If you have holidays and/or family traditions that you both look forward to, find new ways to build upon the shared traditions.
6. You have shared friends who support your marriage. A community of friends who care about and support both you and your spouse can be a saving grace in times of difficulty. Seek out the counsel and support of friends who care about you both and in whose values and opinions you trust.
7. You/your spouse are willing to do the work to make amends for a mistake. No one is perfect. If you or your spouse made a mistake, whether big or small, and there is true remorse and regret, your marriage has hope. Seek counseling. Learn how to rebuild trust. Infusing your marriage with grace and forgiveness at times of great hurt can heal a broken marriage. But it takes work and commitment on both your parts to succeed.
8. You are both committed to being committed. Sometimes, the sheer desire to stay married may be all you have keeping you together. And that can be okay if you both are willing to stay the course in hopes of a better day tomorrow. Save up your energy to find ways to reinvest in your marriage, and you will find that you share more than just a commitment to being committed – you may share an actual life together.
9. You share meaningful common goals, and are actively working together towards them. If you still have a common vision of what you want for your life, or you are willing to support each other in pursuing your separate goals, keep going. You are separate people, and you will have different likes and dislikes. Learning to accept each other’s differences will make for an interesting marriage!
10. You still know how to make each other smile. Your inside jokes, your partner’s quirks, your terrible sense of humor – if you can find ways to bring a little joy and humor into your partner’s life, keep finding more. You have a foundation to build upon, and can continue to build joy in your daily lives.
If you do not see yourself above, believe you may be in a marriage that isn’t working, want additional resources, or you want to learn more about whether divorce could be an option for you, the Hargrave Family Law team is ready to meet with you for a confidential consultation.