Finally, be open to the possibility that there are things you do that may provoke her. Consider how you might help her in real change. But be certain that the "problem" is hers, and not partially yours. Understand also that just as many men resist doing "the work of change," she may resist this intervention as well. Any of these problems may take repeated efforts before you see significant change.

Dear Dr. David,

I have been married to my husband for nearly twenty years, but he says the spark is now gone. He says he is not attracted to me anymore, since I have gained a little weight. He also says he is bored in our marriage. I work full time and it is hard to eat healthy or exercise the way I know I should. I have been losing a little weight, but he says it doesn’t make any difference now. He says he doesn’t want to leave until our twelve year old son is grown. Since he informed me that he no longer loves me he sleeps in another room, stays out late at night, and has not been intimate with me for months. He attends church less frequently and refuses to talk to our pastor. I have prayed about this situation and feel hopeless. I am torn up inside and see the hurt in our son too. Am I married or divorced? I cannot stand the thought of living like this for the next six or seven years. I want a marriage. What can I do to win my husband back? Help.

--Ann

Dear Ann,

I sense your broken heart. You love your husband and want desperately to save your marriage. I am glad that you are standing firm on your marriage vows. Know that God hears your prayers and honors them. We are told to "Cast our cares on Him, for He cares for you." He will be with you in this most difficult time.

What can you do to save your marriage? Although I am in no way condoning your husband giving up on your marriage vows – bored or excited, we should stand by our vows -- your note gives one important clue as to his concerns. You say that he is not attracted to you since you gained weight. Physical appearance is an important and delicate issue. This is an issue I think too many of us dance around. Let’s face it—both men and women appreciate a spouse who stays fit. I receive equal numbers of responses from men and women whose spouses quit caring for themselves physically.

Ann, I believe we are responsible to ourselves, and to our mate, for keeping ourselves fit, healthy and attractive when we are able to do so. You certainly shouldn’t feel pressure to compete with the air-brushed models on the cover of the latest women’s magazine, but God tells us to treat our body as the temple of the Holy Spirit which suggests that He wants us to keep ourselves fit.

I am not suggesting, however, that this is an easy task. There are millions of people with eating disorders, and perhaps it is that kind of struggle for you. If so, take whatever steps are necessary to eat healthy and develop an exercise regimen. If it is an addiction for you, significant assistance may be needed. You are trying to lose weight, but you may be one of the many who use "half-measures," entrapped in the yo-yo dieting syndrome. Your husband may see this recurring problem and be discouraged. Take decisive action—get into a support group or weight loss program suitable to your need.

Finally, your husband is bored in the marriage—a common plight for many. Suggest to your husband that you two become more adventuresome. Talk about the kinds of activities that you both used to enjoy. Shut off the television and read a book together. Plan a vacation—and take it. Reinvest in your faith together through a new ministry or Bible study. You may be surprised to find these changes can bring the spark back in your marriage. Be patient as you take one step at a time, discovering that small steps, done day after day, add up to a big difference.

Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family?  Dr. David will address two questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com