Marriages can become so severely wounded by crises like abuse and adultery that their survival seems impossible. But nothing is impossible with God.

If both you and your spouse are willing to work with God, your marriage stands a chance - even if it's on life support. God's help can get your marriage's vital organs to function again. And, since simply returning to the way things were isn't good enough, God will breathe new life into your relationship to transform it into a healthy one.

So cancel your marriage's funeral. It can survive - and thrive - if you work with God for reconciliation. Here's how:

• Commit yourselves to reconciliation. Decide that you won't dissolve your marriage, or settle for a return to an unhealthy relationship. Instead, actively commit yourself to restoring love and trustworthiness on both sides of your marriage (the injured party and the transgressor). Put all of your heart, mind, and strength into pursuing the goal of a transformed marriage.

• Look to the cross. Understand that Jesus' work on the cross is the ultimate model of reconciliation. Ask Him to guide you and work through you with His power as you strive to reconcile with your spouse. If either of you haven't yet begun a saving relationship with Jesus, do so soon. Repent of your sins, accept His forgiveness, and begin to live for Him.

• Establish a training regimen. Decide together what specific ways you'll change your lives so you can train to strengthen your marriage. Stop hostile behavior. Remind yourself why you married your spouse in the first place, and why you've chosen to remain married thus far. Find ways to slowly but surely reestablish safety and trust in your marriage.

Make whatever sacrifices are necessary to make your marriage a top priority in your life. Eliminate distractions so you can focus on each other. Realize that small, day-to-day decisions like speaking kindly to one another are crucial. Attend seminars, read books on marriage, participate in a Bible study, or seek counseling to discard unhealthy ways of relating to each other and learn healthy ways.

• Draw support from a community. Identify people who care about you and your spouse. Ask them to pray for you and mentor you as you work to reconcile. Accept help from family, friends, your church staff, and others for whatever you need.

• Grow up together. Pursue greater maturity alongside your spouse. Strive to develop a clear knowledge of who you are in relation to others, the ability to see yourself and others as uniquely created by God, the ability to tell the difference between what you think and what you feel, a lack of fear of engulfment or abandonment, and a tolerance of pain for the sake of growth.

Make a list of your values and plan for how you will hold onto them during stressful times in the future. Identify unhealthy patterns of behavior when you get anxious and decide what you can do to change those patterns.

Focus on changing your own behavior rather than your spouse's behavior. Know that only God has the power to change your spouse. Recognize that your partner is a separate individual with competing preferences, needs, and agendas. Give your spouse permission to be the unique person God made him or her to be within the bounds of healthy behavior. Accept responsibility for your own mistakes in the relationship rather than just blaming your spouse. Believe that you can improve, with God's help.

Take breaks from the hard work of training to have fun together (without discussing difficult issues) so you can rebuild your friendship.