5 Steps to Take if You and Your Spouse Have Reached a Standstill in Your Marriage
- Jaime Jo Wright Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2023 22 May
We've long heard that marriage is an adventure. Entering into it, expectations may be high, or perhaps, you're one of those who have entered matrimony with the realistic view that trials will test your relationship, and that's okay.
But were you – or are you – prepared for the period when your marriage comes to a standstill? When you've reached a point of platonic existence. When you are indifferent to each other and each other's needs. No? Don't let this period in your marriage catch you by surprise. Because the odds of it occurring are quite high.
Why? It can truly be the mundane routine of life. Sometimes tragedy or trauma pushes you apart. It may be life changes and purpose differences that have created a dysfunctional chasm. Maybe you don't even feel as though the chasm is dysfunctional, so much as disconnected. Either way, many things can create a standstill. Sometimes we don't even recognize that we're at a standstill. We've just reached a level of platonic existence that feels purposeless.
Can we combat this? Is it worth trying to revive that spark? Can that spark even be revived? There are some steps you can take when you find yourself in the dilemma of a marriage standstill.
1. Be honest about the state of your marriage.
Pretending everything is fine is not a setup for a happy ending. On the flip side, honesty should be delivered tactfully and sensitively. But taking a specific set of time designated for honest and open communication is an important start.
It's definitely not going to be easy to say to your spouse, "I'm bored in our marriage," or worse, "I don't know if I even have feelings for you any longer." But it's important. Again, pretending is not a setup for a happy ending. As difficult and even potentially hurtful as it may be, honest communication is essential in the process of healing and revival in a marriage.
2. Be a listener – even to the hard stuff.
This goes hand in hand with honesty. It's one thing to deliver the message of your own feelings and place in the marriage; it's another to listen to your spouse tell you their feelings and place in the marriage. This type of honesty can be extremely painful, if not offensive. Still, it is critical to hear what your spouse perceives as problematic.
A teachable and receptive spirit will take you steps forward in revitalizing your relationship. Being willing to have open and constructive dialogue can be impactful when you both can come into the conversation ready to talk - really talk – about what lies between you.
3. Begin to show appreciation.
So often, stagnant marriages are cloaked in a feeling of being taken for granted or unappreciated. Simple appreciation can go a long way in bringing hope back into a marriage.
It's also essential to learn how your spouse best receives appreciation. Not unlike the five love languages, appreciation follows much the same order. Your spouse may not be responsive to copious amounts of admiration, but they might be shocked and pleasantly surprised when you put aside your to-do list just to spend time with them.
Find an effective way to begin to show your spouse appreciation. Make it a practice. Even if it's not reciprocated at the start, few people are ever offended when appreciation is communicated to them.
4. Counseling isn't just for tumultuous marriages.
Frankly, marriage counseling is often overlooked when a marriage is simply complacent. What is there to fix, after all? We get along; there's just no spark, no kinship, no friendship, and maybe even no glimpse of a future.
But marriage counseling isn't just to resolve tension and arguments. It's not necessarily intended for couples working through an affair, abuse, etc. In fact, even if you feel your marriage is relatively healthy, if not boring, marriage counseling can breathe new life into a marriage.
Counseling can provide new ways to communicate. It can provide that go-between when you need to be honest, but communication isn't your forte.
Counselors are that safe, outside influence who will be able to help pinpoint areas of your marriage that may be prioritized in unhealthy ways. Or, they can help to identify ways you have grown apart and ways to bring you back together.
There is no shame in seeking counseling. If you can find a biblically-based counselor, it's even better because you can incorporate your faith into the equation as well.
5. Be purposeful.
Marriage will not revitalize without a purposeful and intentioned attitude to do so. In a great scenario, both spouses will adopt this resolve, but in many cases, it may just be you. Regardless, being focused on what you want to achieve in your marriage is not unlike setting goals. Then it's a matter of deciding the tools and paths you will take to get there.
If you don't have the intention, you won't have a resolution. Marriage does not ebb and flow between healthy and unhealthy. Just like a puddle of water that has no fresh water flowing in and out, your relationship will grow stagnant without working to keep the freshness flowing.
Working at your marriage is simply a key factor in the equation. A healthy marriage cannot thrive when there's a lack of effort or attention given to it. The longer you are together, the more important it will be to become intentional.
In summary, marriages will always be at risk of the silent marriage killer: complacency. It sneaks in without being noticed, and it becomes acceptable because it's not particularly distasteful or traumatic. Routine. Part of life. Until you discover that complacency has led to drifting away from each other.
You begin close, and before you know it, you have floated silently away from one another. Returning to being side by side and a cohesive unit can be difficult and feel impossible the further away you drift.
Be on alert in your marriage. Embrace the intentional and purposeful steps you need to keep each other at the forefront of your lives. Avoid over-commitment that steals you away from one another. Steer clear of lack of communication and make time to connect on daily happenings and life matters. Be specific with your needs, and be cautious of expecting your partner to guess what those needs are. Be teachable and pliable while also being clear about your own frustrations.
In the end, marriage is something precious, and yet because life is all-consuming, marriage is often sacrificed on the altar of life's to-dos. Plan ahead. Prepare. When life becomes busy and overwhelming, that is the time you need each other the most.
Marriage is sacred. Treat it as such. When you married your spouse, you intended to be there for each other. To love through thick and thin. If you're no longer at that place, ask yourself what changed. And then begin to take steps to change it back. Watch for God's blessings as He honors your intentions. Be excited to see your marriage revitalized!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/dragana991
Jaime Jo Wright is the winner of the Carol, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. The Christy Award-Winning author of “The House on Foster Hill”, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful mysteries stained with history's secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!