Skip to main content

How We Saved Our Failing Marriage

Paul: We just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary and we’ve never been happier. But it wasn’t always that way. Around year 7 of our marriage, we began to struggle. And we did what so many married couples do – ignored the warning signs telling ourselves things were not that bad. We swept issues between us under the rug and after another 5 years of sweeping there was no more room under the rug! We were just roommates co-existing in the same household each playing our respective roles.

Steph: Somehow, we had lost the intimacy between us and couldn’t see a way out of our deep despair and disillusionment. We still cared deeply for each other, but our situation seemed hopeless. We mutually decided at year 12 to separate. We found out later that less than 30% of couples who separate reconcile and stay married. [1]  Most get divorced.

We’d like to share with you how we managed to climb out of the immense hole we had dug for ourselves. It started with a commitment to give our best effort to make our marriage work for us and for our children.

Paul:  First, we found a marriage and family therapist (MFT). I will admit that I placed no hope or faith in this step. I decided to go for only one reason – so that I could look my parents and our children in the eye and tell them I “tried.” Fortunately, we found the right counselor. We had no idea back then that 60% of MFT’s are “marriage-neutral” with no vested interest in helping couples stay together. They simply want to help couples “move-on,” regardless of whether that’s toward reconciliation or divorce. 
Take-Away: When searching out marital counseling, find a therapist who is pro-marriage and committed to helping you make your marriage work. [2]

Helpful Reading
Steph: We also began reading books on marriage and communication. Some notable standouts are: Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by John Gray  The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman; and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. While we read other books together, these three made the most tangible difference for us. 
Take-Away: Find reading material that is time-tested and reliable.

Marriage Enrichment
Paul: After working hard on our relationship for several years, we were in a much better place and decided to  attend a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend. This decision has had the single most positive and enduring impact on our marriage. This is not a weekend away at the mountains or the beach, but an organized program designed to help take couples deeper into intimacy. We learned key concepts such as: love is a decision that we must make over and over again and that healing and forgiveness are essential in any relationship. We learned a communication technique where we share our feelings daily to foster more intimate communication between us and so much more. Now, we make it a point to attend some kind of marriage enrichment event at least once per year. 
Take-Away: Find a Marriage Encounter weekend near you right now – while your marriage is still good! [3]

Steph: Our journey from disillusionment to joy is the beautiful “work” of marriage – work that is ongoing. If you have an experience that was helpful in saving your marriage, please share it with us in the comments below. 


Other Popular Posts

Great Sex!

Sex between a married couple is not only good, it’s very good. If you read the research and surveys, you will find that married couples experience better and more frequent sex than non-married couples. Married couples are healthier, happier, and live longer. When we went on a WorldWide Marriage Encounter weekend, we were more than a little surprised when a priest told us that our love-making is good, is important for us, and is important to the world. He encouraged us to “make mad passionate love!”
    So, why has married sex become something else? Society and media portray sex for married couples as dull and lifeless, a tool used to manipulate, something to joke about, and something that - beyond the newlywed phase- gradually drifts away. We’ve been sold this bill of goods, and we often buy into it! What we really crave in our sex life is to give and receive something powerful- to experience the depths of our passion and love for each other, to be as intimate as possible. Our freq…

8 Misunderstandings That Are Hurting Your Sex Life

Why are we writing about sex again?  Sex in marriage is more important than most people think.  It's mysterious. There are a lot of "layers" and complexities to this whole topic.... read on...

10 Stay at Home Date Night Ideas

Date Night has become a household term in recent years and many couples strive to make this quality time together a priority in our increasingly fast paced lives. Throw some kids into the mix (or in our case a granddaughter), and it’s even harder to carve out quality couple time. Not to worry because finance guru Dave Ramsey has come to our rescue with not only a whole host of date night ideas, but most of them are budget friendly. We’d like to highlight 10 of Dave’s Stay at Home Date Night ideas! 

Annual Marriage Tune-Up

A number of years ago, some friends of ours told us about a little trick they use to keep their marriage healthy, strong, and vibrant. Every year, they pledge to attend some kind of marriage enrichment event together. According to our friends, this does not mean weekend getaways to the beach, skiing, or going to a bed and breakfast together.

How to FIX Your Spouse

Does your spouse do anything that absolutely drives you nuts? Would you like to know how to “fix” them once and for all? Read on.

Marriage Manners Matter

"Fine!" and "Whatever!" These 2 powerful words have the incredible potential to bring nearly any discussion to a screeching halt.  They send the insensitive message of "I don't care. Discussion over.  Period. Full stop!"   As married couples, we have probably used these or similar words.  And, if we have raised children we have probably employed time out, taken the car keys or other forms of discipline.

Those 2 little words are not  the focus of this blog.

I Married YOU, Not Your Family

Growing up and getting married means that we leave our family of origin and start a new family.  We’re not asked to forget about mom and dad, but we do need to remember that our spousal relationship is important to take care of because it becomes the solid ground where we plant our new roots.

Come On, Baby, Light My Fire

One reason married couples end up together is because there is a physical attraction between them. Some call it chemistry. There are times when we can’t keep our hands off each other.  We make any excuse to be close, to be intimate.

Quarantine Romance

We have been under a stay-at-home order for 5 weeks now due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Just being in the same house together doesn’t ensure a close, intimate relationship though; we must decide to take actions that bring us together.  We decided to view this mandate to stay at home as an opportunity to find new everyday ways to romance each other.

Advice From a Divorce Lawyer

Yes, this is a strange twist.  We recently heard about James J Sexton's book, "If You're in My Office, It's Already Too Late."  James is a divorce attorney from New York, who started noticing some patterns after 20 years of working with couples whose marriages were ending.