I have seen the worst marriages, marriages characterized by many years of dysfunctional and abusive behaviors, change. I believe that there are several reasons for this.
- Each spouse stopped blaming the other for their problems.
- They took honest and meaningful responsibility for their own issues.
- They stopped playing the “If you go first then I’ll go…” game.
- They each took responsibility for their own role in the relationship’s problems, regardless of the size that role played in the problems or of the other spouse’s actions or in-action.
- They let go of their resentments and grudges, often learning to see their lives in a more spiritual context. (Keeping a grudge is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to become ill.)
- They stopped trying to change their spouse.
- They learned to appreciate, express, nurture and support their spouse’s uniqueness.
- They stopped keeping score of who is responsible for what and who did what when; i.e., they learned to think in terms of giving rather than receiving, and trusted that they would receive what was needed.
When two people have the commitment and will to accomplish the intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth necessary to change on their own, regardless of the other’s actions, things can happen that are worth staying in the marriage for.
When we have done what we are supposed to do, when we have exerted the maximum effort that the situation we are facing calls for and deserves, then we can, in the deepest faith, calmly give over the problem over to our Creator. At that moment, when we have done our part, it is not our job to complete the task. Unless we exert that effort, however, we are responsible for the outcomes.
If you are having issues in your marriage how do you answer this question: Have you put in the consistent time and effort to be able to say, “I have done all I can do”?