5 Things YOU can do…even when your spouse refuses too – By Robin May
“Robin! My spouse won’t go to counseling”! If I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. So what do you do when you are willing to work on your marriage but your spouse refuses too? The answer to that question is that you do what you know is right to do.
As a matter of fact, that is exactly what the scriptures tell us. James 4:17 says “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” That almost seems unfair. But the Word is the Word. And if God has given you a mandate, He also has given you the grace to follow the mandate.
Sure…it takes two to tango. So if there are challenges in your marriage it will ultimately require both parties to fully invest in the relationship. But while you are waiting on God to do His GOOD work in your spouse, there are some things you can be doing.
Below are FIVE things you can start to do TODAY to invest in your marriage, even if your spouse isn’t willing to participate. Before we start I have to warn you. These tips are not easy. They are not for the faint at heart. Marriage is for grown folks and often doing what it takes to fight for your marriage requires you to be a REAL adult! Are you ready? Okay…let’s go:
1. Develop a Prayer Strategy
Stop! Trust me. I don’t believe in giving surface responses to deep issues. I am not suggesting that you just say “God help us”. Pay close attention to the word strategy! During your prayer time, I want you to ask God to:
• Change YOU in the area that YOU need to change. It’s so easy to see the issues our spouse has but minimize our own issues. Ask God to help you see what you need to do to improve your marriage. One of my favorite prayer requests gleaned from Author Stormie Omartian is “God give my partner a new spouse and let it be me…”.
• Ask God to saturate your spouse with more of HIM! When your spouse has an intimate relationship with God, it can’t help but improve your marriage.
• Proverbs says that God has the King’s heart in His hands and He turns it however He wishes (Proverbs 21:1). If the King’s heart is in God’s hand, surely your husband or wife’s heart is also. While you may be frustrated in your marriage, trust me your partner more than likely is too. And frustration left unaddressed turns into bitterness which ultimately causes a disconnect in our marriage. With that in mind, ask God to turn your spouse’s heart towards you so that the two of you can reconnect!
• We were created to thrive in community. One of the challenges for many marriages is that the couple lives on an island and rarely interacts with other couples. And then, if and when they connect with others, often those influences aren’t healthy or intentionally focused on growth. As a part of your prayer strategy, ask God to revamp your spouse’s community. Pray for the people that your spouse is closely connected too. Ask God to remove and add according to what is healthy for your marriage.
2. Adopt a NO NEGATIVITY campaign
Let’s be clear! We are not talking about faking it or that false spirituality. Instead, this campaign is based on Proverbs 18:21 that tells us that LIFE and DEATH are in the power of the tongue. If that is the case, we want to speak LIFE over our marriage.
Remember…the way you feel is DIRECTLY connected to how you are thinking. And if your thoughts and words are all negative then of course you will feel negative towards your spouse. So instead, change your speech, which requires you to change your thinking. And as you do this consistently your feelings will begin to align!
Commit to finding SOMETHING that you can speak positively about in your marriage. Make sure you let those you are close to know that while you use to have husband or wife bashing sessions, you can no longer be a part of it. Encourage them to join you on the campaign…you all can help one another!
3. Figure out your spouse’s REAL need
One day a long, long, long time ago (actually…more like last week) my husband came home and before he could get in the door good I was letting him have it. I know. I know. Not “Life Coach Robin May”. But it’s true. I was ranting and raving at him, the kids and even the dog next door. Initially my husband was rightfully frustrated. Remember, he’d just walked in the door and had no idea why I was on a warpath. But eventually something clicked in him…probably the Holy Spirit…and he directed all 3 of our children out of the room and they all went downstairs for the next 2 hours. By the time he came back upstairs I was in such a better space and I (as hard headed as I am) apologized for my rant.
See, Lee was wise enough in that moment to identify what my real need was (time by myself to regroup) and so he did what he could to meet my need.
In the best case scenario you shouldn’t have to guess what the need is…you can ask. But if your spouse is unable to clearly articulate it, try and pay attention to their behavior and ask God to give you the ability to discern the need.
Once you identify the need, do what you can to meet it. Consistently. This is challenging particularly when you feel neglected yourself. But this is when you remember that His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Draw on His strength to help you do what you don’t want to do.
4. Identify an accountability partner
I want to be upfront with you. Sticking to these commitments will not be easy. There will be moments that you feel that your best efforts are in vain. Your spouse may not respond positively, and it is in those moments that you will need to have someone to encourage you to keep going.
Your accountability partner needs to be someone that is in agreement with what you are trying to do and will believe God for your marriage even when you don’t!
Recently I was dealing with a few personal challenges and I sent a text to a few girlfriends and asked them to pray. I ended up spending some time with one of my girlfriends a few weeks later and I said to her “when I asked you to pray you never asked me what I needed you to pray about…” . She said “Girl, I don’t have to know any details…when you say pray, that’s all I need to know…I just start to pray”.
See, your accountability partner doesn’t even have to know all the details of your situation. They can just stand in the gap for you as you go through this part of your journey!
5. Seek professional support
If your spouse isn’t agreeable to working on the relationship the way you deem necessary, he/she probably isn’t willing to go to counseling either. But that’s okay! You can go to counseling by yourself. Counseling provides for you a safe place to process all that you are feeling in a healthy and productive way. This process should help you learn coping strategies for your own emotional well-being, give you strategies to express yourself in a more amenable way to your spouse and help you set boundaries where necessary.
I want to hear back from you! Post on our FACEBOOK page and let me know which of these tips seem doable…which seem a bit difficult. Let us know your thoughts as we all support one another on this journey.
Remember to check out Marriage Moments with Life Coach Robin May. We have a library of FREE videos for you and your spouse to watch WITH discussion questions!
Ladies, do you live in the Atlanta area? If so, don’t miss our 4th Annual Celebrating Sisterhood Luncheon happening, Jan 25th! Click HERE to get your ticket!