When You are the Only One Working on the Marriage


I often receive the question, “Is there hope for my marriage even if I am the only one working on the marriage?” Let me take a few moments to provide some help for those that feel they are a lone ranger of sorts in their marriage.


The Two Types of Spouses

only one working on the marriage

There are typically two types of people in a relationship: the one that will change no matter what the other person does and the spouse that will only change once the other person makes the right changes.

If you are reading this article, then you are probably the one that will change no matter what the other person does. If this is the case, then you may be more of a power broker in your relationship than you realize. However, it is important to realize that if you are both waiting for the other to change before making the right maneuvers, then you may both be waiting for a long time. In essence, your marriage will be in what I call trench warfare.


Do Not Be Fooled


Do not be fooled by the spouse that acts as if they could care less what changes you make. You may feel they are in control, but, more than you know, they may be more of a responder than you realize.

Keep in mind, what most people give off that they are the most is what they are the least. And, the spouse that acts as if they are Mr. or Mrs. Independent is usually the one that is everything but that. In other words, you may be married to someone that I would call an amazing contradiction.


Do Not Allow Yourself to be Emotionally Imprisoned


If you are the spouse that will change no matter what the other person does, then it is unbelievably vital that you not allow your spirit of joy, peace, and confidence to be dictated by the other person’s actions. For some reason, when this occurs, it has a way impeding growth in the marriage. Here are a few possible reasons for this:


1. Crying Out for Help


Personally, I believe that many spouses in this case are looking for someone strong enough and wise enough to pull them outside of themselves. In a sense, they are often looking for someone that is able to do the job that their parents failed to do.
When you allow a spouse in such a case to dictate your level of confidence and joy, it sends out a subtle message that yet another person is too weak to do the job.


2. A Sense of Control


Other spouses relish in the control that they gain when they can keep those around them in a state of misery. Believe it or not, but some will struggle with relinquishing that sense of control.

Keep in mind, when you allow someone to control your happiness, you are placing yourself in an emotional prison and handing the key over to the other person. And, once again, many a spouse becomes quite comfortable with that sense of power.

In chapter 1 and 6 of our marriage book, I discuss the importance of breaking out of this emotional prison. If this does not occur, then I find that all the changes in the world will only go so far.


Making the Right Changes


There are two primary areas where we encourage change. These areas include the following:


Your Behavior


The scriptures teach that we are just as responsible for the way we react to dysfunctional behavior as the person that commits the original relational crime. These scriptures include I Peter 2:23, Romans 12:17, and Proverbs 25:21.


I Peter 2:21-23 – “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”

Romans 12:17 – “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”

Proverbs 25:21 – “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:”


In our coaching and our marriage book, we teach couples how to lay aside behavior that does very little to glorify God and pick up weaponry that will help to promote viable change in their relationship.

Mark it down, the way you are tempted to initially react to your spouse’s dysfunctional behavior is almost always counterproductive. God’s ways almost always lead us in a way that is contrary to the stream of emotions that flow when conflict arises.


Your Spirit


Your spouse is a spirit being, and if you fail to affect this area, then you will certainly fall short of affecting them for the highest good. We teach this in chapter 4 of our marriage book.

In our coaching and our marriage material, we teach couples how to better affect the spirit of their spouse rather than simply their mind. This characteristic of our marriage and relationship coaching may be our most defining element as to why our coaching is effective.


Know It’s Been Done Before


Though I am a huge proponent of doing what I call burying the seed of expectation, it may encourage you to know that the lone ranger or solo method has worked before. That is, I have seen a very good number of individuals promote change in their relationship even when they are the only one that is willing to make the first move.

Once again, there are those that will change no matter what, and there are those that will only change once the other has changed. More than likely, you are the one that must take the first few steps. However, do it in faith and out of obedience to your marriage vows, and you may find that the ghosts that life has sent your way that scare you into feeling hopeless are just that . . . ghosts. That is, they may be dark clouds without rain, and your propensity to walk in faith though you scarcely see the benefit may be the catalyst for your faith to become sight.

“Lord, help our readers to be followers of that which is good, knowing that you hold the reward in their hand, not their spouse.”

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10 comments on “When You are the Only One Working on the Marriage
  1. Tina says:

    My husband wanted no intimacy from me from the beginning of dating. He said he just wasn’t a very affectionate person and he was tired a lot. So, I accepted it because he was funny and we had fun together. He has a daughter that is very broken and he had a lot of heartache in his last relationship that carried over to both of them. I kinda assumed his proclamations were not true but more of him being guarded and that he admitted as much. Our first 10 mths were rocky and he abruptly ended it with me. In short order he started dating and sleeping with women who he had had on his FB the entire 10 mths. He came crying to me and told me he felt he was cheating on me and I told him that we were broke up so no. But it was like a punch in the stomach because this is a man who wanted zero to do with me intimately at all. We didn’t reconcile at that time, but a few mths passed and he came to me very sincerely and said he realized that I was the best thing that had happened to him. He apologized profusely and slowly I allowed myself back into the relationship, against my better judgment. Part of the reason was I loved his daughter very much too. Things were great and he was the most loving and attentive man. This was nothing like the first 10 mths. He asked me to marry him about 8 mths after reconciling and I said yes. We got married and I thought this is going to be good. Then our wedding night came and he abruptly told me not to expect a night of love. He just wasn’t into it. The following mths he became the unaffectionate indifferent person he had been before. He told me a couple of wks after the wedding that he was a very good actor and asked me if I agreed. I did. Our honeymoon was scheduled for a couple of months after our wedding and he said to me on the way, “I guess I have to have sex with you this wk or your will get mad.” The years that have followed have been awful. He has allowed his mother to disrespect me in the most horrible ways, as well as his daughter, he continually lies to me, he has lied on both me and my children saying he has paid all of our way when he squandered through a huge inheritance that neither my children nor I got any of and wouldn’t have taken if offered, he is addicted to video games, never makes time for me, addicted to porn, and is a spoiled rotten child who won’t keep a good job and squanders what money he makes on his true love, the most important thing in his life, POT! We just came back from a vacation in a foreign country and he could not even go 24 hrs without approaching a local to buy pot. He put both he and I at risk but didn’t care. Now his days are filled with hours upon hours of getting high, playing video games, missing work to do things he wants to do, doing things only he wants to do, never taking me out, never spending time with me, and demanding when he wants actual sex instead of his sex toys and porn for me to initiate and make him feel wanted. I can’t. So much damage has been done. I didn’t mention his countless social medias that he follows half naked or naked women on. But I am supposed to come in and grab him and take him to bed and show him how much I want him. I pray for us. I am not cruel or mean to him. I am 100% loyal. But this is the man I am with and on the rare occasion I try to talk about our marriage he denies he said the things he said, did the things he has done and does, and tells me I am the problem. I don’t know what to do. He is 100% non-supportive, doesn’t care what I am dealing with, isn’t there for me in anyway.

  2. Rose says:

    I woke up this morning, feeling defeat,feeling I could no longer fight for a marriage if only one was fighting for it. For this last year, I have been on the bottom and where I expected his support and strength (my best friend) to help me get through,he revealed a side of him I had never imagined,a man that started kicking me when I was down. After benefiting everything he needed from me and saw I had nothing left to give,abandoned me,in the sense we still live together but now it feels like I’m with a stranger,and once my protector,I now fear him. A man I love so much,I want nothing more than to love him through this,a journey of healing for both of us,not of hurting him more by my response due to fear,frustration, rejection,confusion, etc. For I know his action only validate suffering he is enduring alone as well. Communication has become pure defense and attack mode. The point is…I prayed and this morning I found you! Multiple books that I know will help. Thank you for being my blessing, and God,Thank you for delivering my answer clearly!

  3. Brock says:

    Hello. I wanted to ask for your opinion on this …. I’m going to start from the beginning but making it a short story. My husband and I met in 1988 I was 15 & he was 16. We had a daughter in 1992, we got married in 1998 four months into the marriage he cheated on me and also committed a crime that he did 10 years in prison . After his release in 2007 we reconciled been together since now very happily married, purchased a new home a year ago, we have a 4 year old granddaughter, very happy family.February 29,2017 my husband told me that he’s not happy and he said it’s not another woman and it’s not me , he said that I’m a great wife. When he said that he’s not happy changed my life because I didn’t see this coming in a million years! We still respect our marriage and make love, we tell another that we love each other every day. April 3 our 19 anniversary , instead of us celebrating like we have every year my husband told me that he has been thinking about divorce, wow! Can you imagine how I felt that night?!? Hurt!! Disappointed!! Confused!! I asked why he said that he wants to be free! What ever the hell that means?!? He said that he doesn’t want to answer to anyone any more he wants to go as he pleases, a week later I asked him lets separate for 6 months so that he can really see and think about what he’s doing. He will be moving in with his sister on May1st. How do you think that this are going to go? Thank you for reading this please respond, to let me know what can I do I want my marriage

    • Anonymous says:

      My husband did a similar harmful maneuver 1 year ago. He literally blew my mind. After 29 years of marriage, 5 kids, and a stable marriage despite his crazy making behavior and obvious anxiety, I found out he was having an affair. He had been addicted to pornography without me knowing it for almost our entire marriage. He had seen prostitutes without me ever suspecting. By God”s amazing grace, we are back together, but not without strong, strict boundaries such as: abuse counselor, sexual addiction counselor, std test, lie detector test, and ongoing spiritual growth. The only cure for my husband was my strong obedience to God, him seeing unconditional love toward him (with boundaries…unconditional love does not mean staying married to an emotional, sexual, abuser.

  4. Discouraged says:

    There are secrets upon secrets and lies upon lies.
    It started before we were married 11+yrs ago, and many have been slowly unearthed. However, almost daily I uncover more.
    I respect my vows and take them seriously or would not still be married.
    Sadly or not, I’ve been told I’m honest to a fault, that being so is detrimental.
    Our communication is almost non-existent because I no longer can believe what I’m told.
    I want our child to know a godly marriage, so I keep on, keeping on.
    Is this truly God pleasing and healthy for our child?
    We’ve done counseling and spoken with my pastor multiple times to no avail.

  5. A says:

    My husband & I have been struggling for months. Things were better for a while when he met with our pastor. He stopped and has pulled away. Many days I don’t get anything but a goodbye when he leaves for work- no other communication. I can’t help him- he knows how to fix this and our marriage but refuses to turn to God. He even stopped attending church and gives us looks when the kids & I say grace.

  6. Amy West says:

    Dear Sharon, I too tried the talk approach, years of it, decades, but it didn’t work. Get Dr. Force’s book & audio, study the book of Esther, the Five Love Languages, Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl, and know that as you love your husband as you promised, and don’t get love back continuously, you will better understand what it feels like to be God loving you or anyone. And people are watching your faith. I finally relaxed about my husband when I realized the main purpose of marriage for the Christian, which is winning others to our God that helps us love & respect unconditionally (as they heard me promise on our wedding day, or know we made unconditional love vows.) Intimacy is a gift you can give your husband. I know it feels awkward to snuggle with your husband when you’d rather punch him, but if you can choose to meet his needs when he’s been a jerk, God’s love is made perfect in your weakness. And besides, if you really are enthusiastic, it may heap burning coals on his head. I just love God’s way of letting us experience sweet revenge without sinning. Study the chapter of 1 Peter 3. Don’t think of him as a Christian or his faults will make you that much more bothered. I doubt he’s been born again. Think of him as your #1 mission project. Know that your audience for your unconditional joyful love & respect is not just him, but thousands of others who see you together. Don’t give to get. Give to prove your Jesus is the real one and His love through you is unreal! Haha! Play his games with him (snuggly if possible), and bring him drinks & snacks (gourmet healthy would help his mood better, but whatever he wants.) If you want to talk, write me at . I sooo know how you feel! We are 9 years post marriage saved, been together 26 years, married 1993. 4 Kids…10 to 19. (HUGS) for ya, sister!

  7. Sharon says:

    My husband refuses to have any type of relationship conversation, says he doesn’t need anyone telling him how to have a relationship. He doesn’t have interest in learning how communicate & how we should treat each other. He just goes thru life & it seems about as shallow as a puddle….he professes to be a Christian but does not lead his family. The extent of his faith is going to church on Sunday. When intent to talk with him about it he tells me it’s his personal relationship with God & not my business. I am really struggling to respect him & love him when he is not honoring the Lord with his life. His walk & talk don’t match. He spends probably at least 4-6 hours a day playing video games & this is excessive. I feel he’s untouchable because all he seems to care about is his agenda to play video games. He only has interest in the marriage for sex & has told me that because he pays the bills, I should be willing to have sex with him. It is really hard to engage intimately when I feel like we have no true marriage & if I tell him that, he states it’s a biological need & I should just crave it….he doesn’t get that sex is to be a result of the connecting that’s going on in the relationship on a mental, emotional & spiritual level. I REALLY want to honor the Lord in this & don’t see how. I feel like such a failure!!!

    • Sharon,

      I am sorry that you are dealing with this situation. I will pray for you as the Lord leads.

      Here are a few thoughts:

      1. I would encourage to read the following article. It is an excerpt from chapter 6 in our marriage book. If possible, you may want to order the book and read the entire chapter.



      2. You wrote:

      “I feel like such a failure!!!”

      You want to be sure not to attach your self-esteem to the results of your behavior or changes that you make. When this occurs, you will find an unnecessary pressure in your marriage that will turn your husband off.

      Your husband’s issues are not not necessarily about you. As stated in my anger book, you are like an archaeologist. You did not create the artifact, as much as you discovered it. The gun of selfishness was loaded and cocked long before you arrived on the scene. You just happen to be the one within the line of fire at this point.

      Thank you,

      Dr. Force

      • Laura Lisowe says:

        This is well said in your response. Praying first is the most important. Letting it at the foot of the cross and waiting.
        Also we can not predict the future of our spouse and their choices.
        But remember to draw lines for protecting your heart and the covenant of marriage. Again seek God in prayer and hang on through the storm.

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Marriage and Relationship Coaching

Over the Phone
Call Us at 1-888-642-3036
Talk Now - Live 24/7 Help
Order Our Marriage Book
How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another


  • Learn our 2-step Process to Solving Marriage Issues
  • Use for your next Bible study
  • A Biblical and Refreshing Approach