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
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:
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 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.”
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.