Why your marriage is a mess… and what to do about it #1

Why your marriage is a mess… and what to do about it #1

There’s probably a bazillion reasons why your marriage is a mess, but we’re going to start this week with a LONG and small segmented series on respect – one that will deepen our relationship with God, ourselves, and others to help you straighten things out.

And even if your marriage is NOT a mess – there’s stuff you need to know so you can help others. 🙂 

It’s what I call Minutia Momentum – and it’s based off a couple of proven (and Biblical) ideas. And it’s not going to make you a doormat.

First, understand what a “Minutia Moment” is by reading this. 

Then, get the skinny on Transforming Your Habits by subscribing to James Clear. He doesn’t know me, and I don’t know him, btw. He’s just a stinkin’ smart guy who understands how vitally important the tiny decisions we make every single day are.

We get freaked out when we think about the mess our marriage is in – and that freak out leads to behavior that actually makes things worse.  My marriage isn’t now nor has ever been PERFECT. It’s had plenty of messy moments, some that last a while. A LONG while. I admire my husband’s approach – it’s actually a bit better than most, and totally goes against our natural tendencies. He just focuses on one small thing at a time – and over time, those small things add up to lives CHANGED.

NOT focusing on the small daily positives (positive minutia moments) often creates more problems than are fixable. Check this for the top ten ways to destroy your marriage if you want to understand some of the Gottman Institute research behind that.

Too often when a man or woman starts making changes in their marriage after things have been bad for a long time – TLTL syndrome sets in…  “It’s too little, too late.” Both people need to understand that the minutia moments are the most important – if there aren’t many good ones, or if most is negative and not much effort is put into things, it’s unlikely the marriage will make it.

So we need to both give the small – and receive the small.

Because people are usually lousy skill-wise at something new – so we need to give ourselves and others TIME (and grace) for things to get easier and become more natural.

Ramping up the little positive things is often the best thing people can do. If your marriage is in a state where Gottman’s four horsemen of the apocalypse are present, however, you need immediate triage. That starts with apology. And probably a Gottman counselor (85+% success rate with couples as compared to 20% traditional counseling. Spend the money. GO.)

We’re going to assume you don’t need triage, however. (If you do, leave a question in the sidebar and we’ll get to it in September). 

And stick with me to the end here, so you can chime in on how often you want the experience of what we’re about to start (although if you’ve been doing the dare journey with us, you’ve already started!)

So here’s what we’re going to do. James Clear talked about how adding just a little weight each day to his workout made it easy to have an end result weeks later that was actually a lot more weight – this works in relationships, too, and it’s part of the reason Daughters of Sarah and The Respect Dare book work.

We’re going to stop listening to our nature:

You know what I'm talking about. It's (1)And after that, we’re going to take small, consistent baby steps toward respecting God, ourselves, and others, and we’ll see our relationships start to change. 

Small, doable steps, done daily, over time – minutia moments + time = momentum.

So I’m going to toss out SMALL Minutia Moment sized dares for you – ones that will change your relationships if done consistently over time. They’re Biblically based. 🙂 Research supported. Legit.

I’m going to get started Wednesday morning this week – you can join me, and I’d encourage you to bring a friend or two as we have learned that peer pressure can be a good thing if it’s encouragement toward the right behavior.  

We are wired this way for a reason and we can use this social influence to our benefit if we will but seek out the influences that encourage us in the direction we want to go. We have seen the famous Asch Experiment repeated in multiple demographics and it always turns out the same – people will knowingly go with a crowd, even if the crowd is obviously wrong. 

Wise women surround themselves with people who have the same goals as they do.

In other words, if you want to turn your marriage around, stop hanging out with the women who are busy husband-bashing. Stop spending so much time with people who are divorced or having marriage issues and thinking about divorcing.

Surround yourself with STRONG WOMEN. Seriously – and I mean strong as in, “I’m not giving up on this, God means all this for good, and I’m going to do my best to bring glory to God no matter how long it takes or how hard it is.”

Not kidding.

Why? It literally can be as simple as: if you want to get divorced, hang out with divorced people. If you want to get fat, hang out with fat people. It’s called conformity.

It’s real.


We’re wired this way. Purposefully.

And we can use it to our benefit.

Frankly, my ego is a little damaged by how simple this is, but God knew what He was doingwe just need to listen and use it to our best interest. (His best interest for us!!) That’s why the Bible tells us to avoid angry people or we’ll become just like them.

Other people are CONTAGIOUS.

Their thoughts, their habits, their lifestyles, even the way they look… So be wise in who you pick for “besties.”

(And I’m not saying dump your friends when they hit a rough patch – everyone has them. I’m saying have 3 solid friends who will love you enough to tell you the truth regardless of what it is.)

If you are currently doing the new dare journey with us, you’ll see this fits right in and is intended to carry us through to the next thing. I know some of you are doing groups with that, and this should fit into your groups with just a little tweaking. Please forgive me for being inconsistent with it – long story short, there were things I didn’t know I didn’t know. But we’re moving forward now. 🙂 

So what do you think? How have you seen small things impact your relationships? Are there small things that are done or not done that over time have caused issues? What do you think about turning this direction as we keep working through the dare process?

And here’s one more big question – how often do you want to talk about this? Is 2-3 times a week too much?

Can’t wait to talk about these things with you this week! 🙂 Give me a little grace on the timing of my responses – have a deadline with my publisher… 🙂 (Can’t wait to tell you about it, too! 🙂 )

Love to you,


If you are just joining us, these might be of interest, too:

Dare 6: Got friends?

Dare 5: Are you destroying yourself?

Dare 4: Where to Start When You are Wounded

Dare 3: Who do you think you are?

Dare 2: Identity

Dare 1: Expectations

If you got this as an email forward from a friend who cares about you and your family, know we’d love YOU to join us on this journey. You can join the journey, get marriage TIPS! articles, a free copy of my latest eBook to help with your marriage, and other marriage info here.  :) We promise not to share your email with anyone, ever. You’ll get just one or two TIPS! articles a week, plus a blog post as they come, usually 1-2 a week.


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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

12 thoughts on “Why your marriage is a mess… and what to do about it #1

  1. “. . . if you want to get divorced, hang out with divorced people. If you want to get fat, hang out with fat people. It’s called conformity. It’s real. We’re wired this way. Purposefully. . . . . Other people are CONTAGIOUS.… So be wise in who you pick for “besties.”

    How totally true!!! But how, oh how, do we find these REAL “besties?” REAL “besties” to consistently hang out with? . . . . I ask and ask ladies at my Bible church if anyone wants to meet and work on Christian love and humility and prayer and going deeper with Christ and understanding how to hear the Holy Spirit more clearly. . . . crickets. . . . just —tu te rends compte, crickets. . . . . NOW, you would have thought I asked them: “Hey, do you want to read and discuss a few books from former believers now turned sceptical New Testament scholars like “The Case Against the Case For Christ: A New Testament Scholar Refutes the Reverend Lee Strobel” by Dr. Robert Price –or- “Gospel Fictions” by Dr. Randel Helms –or- “There was no Jesus, There is no God” by Dr. Raphael Lataster –or- “On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt” by Dr. Richard Carrier –or- “Jesus: Neither God Nor Man -The Case for a Mythical Jesus” by Earl Doherty, etc., etc., etc., etc.” —Hellfire & Brimstone, I would have fared better asking random people at an airport. . . .instead just boomin’ crickets.

    You also say in a comment below: “. . . .this side of heaven, that’s all it is, a beginning.” —Wow, I never even thought of it like that before. I need a plan to find these REAL “besties?” REAL “besties” to consistently hang out with!

    “I’m saying have 3 solid friends who will love you. . . . “

    Three? Three!!! . . . . how about just one! . . . . Dear Lord God please give us Holiness because without holiness, we know we will not see you Lord. Lord give us Humility because we know You, Lord God oppose the proud and overconfident, but give grace to the humble. Help us, Lord God, to humble ourselves under your mighty hand so that You may lift us up. Lord, help me always to have a servant’s heart in all things toward others. Help me Lord God to trust only in your strength. Lord, give us the faith to ask and expect great things from You for we know that without faith it is impossible to please You. And Lord God —MOST of all— I plead and pray for Wisdom because I need it so badly. . . . . Lord may our darkness be broken into by the inescapable Light from You. . . . My rock, my fortress, my shield, my strength, my comfort, my peace, my salvation, my refuge, my Lord God, help us to be “besties” and bring us “besties” —Amen.

  2. I had to stop sharing my struggles with a large portion of people in my life. I found them to NOT be supportive in the way that I was seeking to become. I had to search out TITUS 2 type women. I was very lucky to find a few. Had i followed the crowd and listened to them, I would be divorced right now.

  3. I’m in, though I don’t have any friends to do this with. I’m starting a Daughters of Sarah in a couple of weeks and hoping that will lead to some godly girlfriends.

    • OH AMEN!! This will totally compliment that! 🙂 Invite THEM to join when you get started! And yes, you’ll get close and fast! 🙂
      Love to you!

      • I will, though can I ask you a favor. Can you delete my response to struggling husband and then delete this request?

  4. Oh I am so excited about this! can’t wait to join you all in this 😀 I think 2-3 times a week would be great! That will keep us motivated and not allow us time to get bored 🙂

    • Ok I have been working with a wonderful Titus 2 lady and I totally agree with Nina about getting some good Godly friends who are dedicated to their marriages.

      First and foremost I had to deal with my wounds, the lies I had believed about myself, and see myself as a much loved child of God. This is critical, cannot be skipped or overlooked, it’s got to happen first.

      This meant not hating myself anymore, and learning to see myself as a loved child and love myself too. You cannot love others while hating yourself (ask me how I know ;))

      After I started to go to the LORD with this (and I’m still being discipled in these things) and started to get free from my own hurt, I was able to see other people as hurting too. All the sudden life wasn’t just about self preservation, but a desperate need from my Fathers arms and guidance. Those walls we put up, guess what, they don’t just block out the people who hurt us….

      It was after this, I was able to start implementing little things in my marriage. My Titus 2 sister in the LORD, suggested these things, one at a time, over time.

      So here’s a few of those little, yet not so little, things:

      – asking God to help me see my husband the was He sees him. (Only about a week ago I was given a totally different view if my husband, I went from hating him (I’m very serious) to accepting him as he is, to admiring and loving him, total God thing here! Nothing I could have done of myself)

      – daily reminding myself that “my husband and I are one” I put up a picture of the two of us with the verse that says the two shall become one over my kitchen sink so I would see it every day. Some days it was through gritted teeth that I would remind myself of that, some days it even took effort not to smash the picture in anger, but daily affirming the truth does make a difference in how you see things!

      – scheduling time for sex, literally, I commited to make myself available a couple times a week, and told my husband what time and days this would be and made it a point to leave that time open. At first I didn’t really enjoy or look forward to it, it took effort to not schedule other things or be too busy, it’s totally paid off! This was a huge thing. Sex is really important, I am told physically there are hormones released during sex that cause husband and wife to become closer to care more about each other, from experience I would say there is truth in that.

      – kissing my husband every morning in the forehead, whether I wanted to or not. Consistently doing it every day, even if I was upset with him.

      – after a while of doing that (a month or two) I started adding a short back scratching to each morning, after a few weeks of this I started noticing he would occasionally touch me when he walked by!

      -adding more touch, a touch to the arm or shoulder when I walk by just acknowledging his presence, holding hands when we are driving in the car, sitting next to him on the couch when we sit in the livingroom instead of choosing the armchair across the room.

      – instead of nagging him about eating healthy, catering to his preferences, asking him if I can pick up something for him when I am out (he likes fast food, what can I say)

      – taking part in his activities. This was a big one too, and it took laying aside my wanting to do what I want to do all the time. He likes to play video games and watch movies. Rather than being so rigid and legalistic and refusing to take any part in it, watching one with him. Now I would not condone watching intentionally filthy or highly sexualized movies or anything like that, but these are ok movies that have an occasional swear word or joke in them that may be against my taste.

      – complimenting him on things he does, and not mentioning the things he doesn’t do. I’m trying to make a point to daily tell him at least one thing I really appreciated that he did that day.

      – complimenting him on his appearance, did you know guys actually care about this (I didnt) well they do!

      I could go on and on, but I better wrap up now since my children will be getting up soon 🙂

      A few little statements that have changed my life:

      Acknowledge, when someone says something to you, acknowledge it without judging.

      Accept people for who they are.

      Allow people to feel their emotions rather than pushing them to stifle them.

      I also would add that I highly recommend Neil Andersons books, “stomping out fear” and “victory over darkness:realizing the power of your identity in Christ”

      Looking forward to reading about what you all have learned, and finding more ways to build my marriage and love my husband better!

      Praise the LORD! He takes the years the locusts has eaten and makes things new and beautiful!

      • Tara –
        I think you are spot on. 🙂 SO glad you are here! 🙂 And yes, we have NO CLUE how He really sees us… and when we start to understand that, it changes everything. I say “start” because this side of heaven, that’s all it is, a beginning. 🙂

        Love to you,

      • Tara –I love your post and list, that is great info!!! . . . Yesterday in counseling, it became so clear to me that all of my expectations of other people are just projections of my own self-centeredness. If I can let other people simply be who they are, and rejoice in that, then I will have tremendous peace! If I am aware of my own sins, I can never judge anyone. I can begin to love them as I love myself, and excuse their falling short as I forgive myself.

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