In the case of Jim and May, Jim determined that the costs of taking May back were not as high as the costs of losing her. While some in his life ridiculed his decision, he had taken time to deliberate and consider many aspects of their relationship and the future they could have. Years later, he is happy with his decision and feels that the benefits indeed were much better than the emotional costs.

Pray

Don't forget to submit all situations to God. In the midst of so many swirling factors, the Lord can be a source of peace and clarity.

Set Rules

If one is to forgive and reconcile, there must be solid understandings of behavior that is acceptable and behavior that is not. There should be consequences tied to negative behaviors. For example, if a man reconciles with his alcoholic wife, they would do better to have a written agreement as to consequences that would come into being if she were to get drunk. When those type of contracts are made and agreed to, there must be NO mercy or grace offered. Make the consequences more intense with succeeding infractions, culminating with a final doomsday scenario. That means an end to the relationship. Struggling or straying spouses need to know they cannot continue bad behavior indefinitely.

Develop the Relationship

Forgiving and reconciling are not enough. Even boundaries are not enough. To keep the relationship from falling into old routines, there must be a plan to make it grow and develop into a better one than it was. There are many ways to do that, including many marriage books, courses, workshops, and the like. Being involved with a good marriage group can help.

(By the way, Jim and May kept the baby. He is about ten now. He and his siblings and parents are doing great.)

Joe Beam founded LovePath International, an organization that provides marriage help to hurting couples.

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