Are you Living with a Spouse that has Checked out of the Marriage?
Has your spouse checked out of the marriage, yet still in the marriage? Over the last 11 years of helping couples as a pastoral care counselor and a relationship coach, I have noticed an interesting scenario in a number of troubled marriages. Though both parties are still at home, running the household, attending church together, and even participating in marriage counseling, one spouse will sometimes check out of the marriage from a mental and/or emotional perspective. Is this the scenario that you are in? If so, you may feel perplexed and confused as to what to do.
Why a Spouse will not Leave the Marriage
Though physically your spouse has not left the marriage, they may have removed themselves from the marriage from an emotional or mental perspective. Hence, they may be present in body, but not so much in spirit. This tends to be a tricky situation in that even though they will go through all the motions, they seem to do just enough to get by.
At this point, you may be perplexed as to why this is happening. You may be wondering why the other person will not tell you what they want to do? Here are a few reasons as to why this may be happening:
– They may be afraid of making the first move as far as filing for divorce or separating from their spouse.
– They do not want to displease their parents, friends, or fellow church members.
– They are afraid of facing their children.
– They are concerned about violating their conscience.
– There may be tremendous financial repercussions to pulling the plug on the marriage.
So, what are the possible solutions to this problem? Here are a few potential answers:
Get out of Results Driven Mode
Stop making it your goal to change the other person, and make it your goal to do right according to your marriage vows. You will find that even though this is a small tweak, it is vital because the day to day results of trying to save your marriage can be very discouraging. However, if you make it your goal to do right no matter what the other person does, you can reach that goal every time.
Close Your Exit Doors
If you are the one dragging your feet, close your exit doors. That is, shut the mental door that you have opened and get back inside the marriage. To be honest, all of the counseling and coaching in the world will do no good if you do not mentally check back into the marriage. In fact, it is just a subtle form of suicide for the marriage in that you are waiting around for the marriage to die.
Get Outside Help
You are both too emotionally involved to try to fix this yourself.
Start Working Smarter Instead of Harder
It could be that you have worked very hard on your marriage up to this point. But, sometimes, instead of swinging the ax harder, we need to take more time to sharpen the ax (Ecclesiastes 10:10). This is precisely what marriage counseling or coaching should do. It should sharpen your relationship skills so that you can avoid many of the pitfalls that tempted you both to act like little children in the first place.
I often say that you do not have time to go through the learning curve on what makes a marriage really work. This is why God has provided specialists that deal with marriage issues every day. They are there to fast-forward you through the learning process.
Trust God for a Miracle
I am all about miracles, but keep in mind that there is usually a human element involved with a miracle. Such as, David had to use a sling and a rock to defeat Goliath, Namaan had to wash in the river Jordan, and the children of Israel had to march around Jericho before the walls fell.
Could it be that God is ready to do a miracle in your marriage, but you have stopped marching? You have laid down your sling, and you are running from the river Jordan. Remember the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth that He may show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him (II Chronicles 16:9). In fact, more than likely, God wants to do a miracle in your marriage more than you want a miracle.