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Dr David Christian Marriage Advice

5 Powerful Ways to Avoid a Marriage Crisis

5 Powerful Ways to Avoid a Marriage Crisis

Speaking at a marriage conference recently, I asked the men in attendance to rate their marriage on a 1-10 scale, with 1 equaling “poor” and 10 equaling “excellent.” Nearly all of the men rated their marriage as an 8-10, with one man blurting out, “It’s a 10 if she rates it a 10. I’m happy as long as she is happy.”

Other men in the group laughed and heartily agreed.

Asking the women to rate their marriages drew a much different response. Most of the women rated their marriages between a 2-4, with neither men nor women being surprised at these responses.

So, which response is more accurate? Were their marriages really an 8-10 or 2-4? It is a trick question, really, because both answers have validity.

Let’s unpack the responses a bit.

While certainly these responses are a stereotype, not meant to speak for everyone, there is much truth in the notion that as long as their wife is happy and content, many men are generally content. There is also truth in the generalization that men tend to rate their marital satisfaction higher than women. Why is that?

Again, speaking generally, men tend to ignore problems in their marriage while women, being more relationally oriented, feel the various highs and lows of the relationship. Women tend to read books on relationship, watch television shows pertaining to relationships and seek counseling to improve those relationships.

Sadly, I rarely receive phone calls from men asking for help until their wife has issued some kind of threat, or worse, has moved out and has threatened divorce. At those times men, universally, frantically cry out for help.

To be fair, men are not oblivious to what is happening in their marriage. They care about their marriage and genuinely want a close, intimate relationship. However, they become lazy and focus on many other things than their marriage, including work, money and sports.

What are some questions you can ask yourselves to determine the state of your marriage?

  • Are we able to talk about problems in a respectful and collaborative manner?
  • Are we able to effectively solve problems, offering forgiveness to each other?
  • Do we enjoy each other, able to share physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy?
  • Do we both feel cared about and respected by our mate?  
  • Do we keep our marriage a priority?

How can couples find help before their relationship reaches a crisis? How can couples maintain a steady eye on their marriage so they can avert a crisis? How can men and women work together to ensure they are watchful so that they are not the victims of an addiction, affair, separation or divorce? Here are some ideas to consider.

One, maintain communication about your marriage. I have said this often, and it bears repeating - any problem my mate has is of my concern. If she/ he isn’t happy, you shouldn’t be happy. We all must maintain vigilance over our marriage, maintaining communication with each other. Both should maintain active conversation about the state of their marriage.

Two, keep problems in front of you. Marital problems magnify when they are ignored or denied. Problems kept in front of us can be dealt with, talked about and effectively managed. Healthy couples aren’t afraid to sit confidently with each other to talk about problems and collaboratively seek solutions. As they solve problems they grow in their ability to solve problems in the future.  

Third, continue to work on problem areas. Problems are rarely settled once and for all. We are human and as such, we are in process. We will make mistakes. Healthy couples recognize this and assume they will be always be working on problems. That said, healthy couples also make progress on problems. Progress, not perfection.

Fourth, seek help with stuck points. Most couples will find themselves grappling with problems that overwhelm them at times. Subsequently, they refuse to be prideful and they reach out for help. Scripture encourages supporting each other in times of difficulty: “Greater love has no man than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Finally, make your marriage a priority. Marriages don’t fail—individuals in marriages fail to make marriage a priority. While we are willing to give emphasis to our work, our homes and even our children, we need to also give an emphasis to our marriage. We must always remember that our marriage is fragile and can fail through neglect. Are you tending to your marriage? How is your marriage, really?

added for clarityDoes your marriage need extra attention? If you would like to learn more about finding a way back to your mate amidst emotional conflict, please go to our website, and our new website, and read more about the Therapeutic Healing Process. Please send responses to me at and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage

Publication date: March 31, 2015