Enough is Enough!
I once lived in the neighborhood where this bandaided water main exploded every other spring, and finally, this week, burst to the point of blowing up the main road concrete above it. I’m no civil engineer or plumber, nor do I play one on TV, but that thing looks like it needed SERIOUS repair a long time ago. Might also be a joke, but honestly, I would believe it if it wasn’t!
I bring this up because maybe your marriage has been undergoing the “unhealthy downhill slide” for a number of years… and maybe now, you need to do something or you’re going to burst. Maybe you aren’t quite there yet – but you both have enough hurt that you keep missing each other – neither of you can hear or understand the other because of your own wounding.
What too commonly comes after this stage is divorce.
This week, while attempting to navigate a new 8 week old puppy and two dogs under 16 months old, during a moment whist both slept, I managed to squeeze in a quick blog read of Gary Thomas’, “Revisiting Enough is Enough – Why the Church Must Stop Enabling Abusive Men”
He had posted this same blog seven years ago and it caused quite a stir in the Evangelical and Baptist communities. His post is good – I highly recommend the read.
Over the nearly 20 years we have been doing marriage ministry, I have seen a few “trends” play out. Perhaps the most concerning is the way “abuse” has been approached. I put the word in quotes because the Bible doesn’t use that language – it is a word created by humanity to label harshness or worse, some of which is mentioned in the Bible.
Modern society has managed to come up with some special flavors of these things such as gaslighting, narcissism, sociopathy, etc. Human beings are notorious for creating labels for all sorts of things; honestly these terms can be useful as they help us describe what we are dealing with in ways that explain our experiences.
What is also true is that none of these are listed as reasons we can divorce. I know. That makes everything harder. But hear me out… first understanding that I KNOW you are hurting. I know how hard you have tried to be seen and heard, how you long for connection, how you have read a bunch of books, listened to podcasts, taken courses, gone to therapists, even drug your spouse to couples counseling… and maybe it gets better for a minute and then things are just unbelievably hard again.
You’ve been putting ring clamps on a main that is ready to burst.
Good news is that the knowledge you’ve gleaned was honestly worth it – IF you can experience a way that actually WORKS to put things back together.
PART of the problem (not all, mind you) is a highly disconcerting notion that has grown within our society – one of throwing things away. Remember things like the refrigerator your parents had for so many years that the avocado green finally went SO far out of style your mom wanted to replace it but your dad was completely opposed to the idea because he paid good money for that frig and it still absolutely worked just fine? Remember the washer and dryer you grew up with? And the repair man that may have shown up to replace a part? Now we literally just call the store, the appliance dealer shows up, carts the old out and installs the new shiny washer and dryer… they may work for about five years if you are lucky. Replacing appliances bothers the tar out of me, and yet we have had to do it because the repairs now cost more than a new one – if they can even get the parts! Did you buy the extended warrantee? Ooops! Better buy another set!
As a culture, we have started to do this replacement thing with people. Growing up, I knew next to no one who didn’t speak to their grandparents, sister, friend, etc. because back then, people knew how to have a difference of opinion, or a full on conflict, and still maintain the relationship. We live in an age where too many “spiritual leaders” encourage their followers to cut off their parents like Teal Swan. She has millions of followers and claims to be not only an alien but also clairvoyant. Her perspective on suicide is terrifying:
“We have to decide whether we are going to commit to life or not. Let me remind that death is not wrong, so make this decision based on the truth of what you want instead of what you think is right to want.”*
Why are we talking about this?
Here’s what you absolutely need to know to fix your marriage:
- It will take 6 months to a year minimum to create the HABITS that will fix your marriage for the rest of your life – and YES, I’ve been to the “Intensives” that last a long weekend or a week – they do the “are you forever changed?” survey right at the end of those, when everyone has a “new info buzz” and thinks everything is all better now… the ones that check in two years later (and few do, find that people may still be married, but they are still struggling – they don’t ask that question, just “are you still married?”). And btw, you may still need occasional “tune-ups” for two years to land and stay solid. Giving back also helps. We provide a way to do that.
- Working as a couple in therapy FAILS 80% of the time – usually the counselling appointment starts off with, “What do you want to talk about?” and degenerates quickly as the most recent conflict is laid out in front of the therapist, who then asks for each person’s perspective, which HARMS both people attending… and HURTS the marriage further… and generally doesn’t resolve anything. In the worst of situations, the counselor and one of the spouses seem to form an alliance to “fix” the other person – which then makes it unlikely they will want to come back after they quit again.
- If people don’t also develop a new mindset around their identity in Christ, the enemy, and adhere to proven relationship-saving and enhancing BOUNDARIES – nothing changes.
- You need a group with you to do this – and one focused on FORWARD MOVEMENT NOT REHASHING THE PAST. Makes me crazy when people try to move a relationship forward by ripping scabs off old wounds… it just doesn’t work. A group of forward moving people is contagious – in a positive way.
- Healing needs to include FUN. Most of the time when people are trying to save their marriage it is this hot depressing mess of constantly talking about the problems… There are very specific things you need to do to create positivity within the marriage as you support the healing. To fail to do these things causes more destruction and loss of hope because the process is just focused on the negative.
- If you are swinging between states of “This has to change,” and “Things are kinda calm right now,” but no real change has occurred, know that is a PATTERN – and the pendulum swings get shorter and shorter out of the “this has to change” space. That’s when serious damage is occurring and things take longer to fix. If you are swinging between those, look at how many times a year you feel like giving up. Is it quarterly? Monthly? Weekly? Bet it used to be every few years or not at all. Think about where that is headed if the trend continues. Don’t buy the lie that the calm will continue if the evidence is showing you otherwise. Take action NOW.
So yes, enough is enough when it comes to the multiple failed approaches, lack of awareness, and turning a blind eye to the crisis the church is facing with marriages right now.
I had no plans of doing a marriage intensive until fall 2024, but we have two couples waiting for two to four more and we will start it. If you want to have a different outcome, pray about it, and if you feel led, join us. Your marriage and YOU will be different in a year (which we highly recommend as the duration for most people). If you have even considered divorcing or separating, know that you’ll spend TONS more money setting up separate households and the average divorce costs around $15,000.00 to $20,000.00, with highly contested divorces shooting up as high as $100,000.00.
And the cost to your kids… you’ll still have to interact with your spouse, also. So you really haven’t solved anything. Second marriages end at an even higher rate than the first – the issues within us are still there. I believe God put you in the marriage you are in – especially if you felt led to marry this person in the first place. I also believe He wants to use your marriage to grow you and your kids – if you’ll let Him.
Want to know more? Reach out to me via email at coachnina (at) greaterimpact.org, or if you got this in email, just hit reply. We will set up a time to visit and decide if this may be something for you.
Love to you,