Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

Why Not Just Give Up On a Bad Marriage?

  • Michael Smalley
  • 2005 29 Jan
Why Not Just Give Up On a Bad Marriage?

As one of the Sopranos might say, "Forget about it!"

Don't hassle with an unsatisfying marriage. If you are not happy -- move on to a better life and a better spouse.

After all, you've tried everything possible. You simply married the wrong person. You are probably feeling, "I love you, but I'm not 'in love' with you." The passion has died. The romance is long gone. Don't waste another minute in a depressing and doomed to fail marriage. Give up!

As terrible as this advice sounds, sometimes I want to say these very things to couples who come to me for help. Couples pleading for a better life. Couples desperate to turn a hurting marriage into a healing marriage. But you want to know something ridiculous? Once I try to give them advice, I get dismissed with comments like:

"Oh, we've tried that."

"That won't work for us."

"It's more complicated than that."

"You're asking a lot."

"He will never respond."

"She will never stop."

"It's too late for us."

"We've just fallen out of love" (which is my most hated comment of all.)

So I'll say it once more, why don't you just give up! Throw in the towel. Kick the bucket. Bon voyage. Hasta la vista baby. I want to give you permission to say you want to leave a bad marriage. Because if you refuse to admit you want out, then there is no place for you to begin healing.

Sometimes we need to be honest about our current state of feelings. If we try to deny that we want out, then we will never be able to truly face the real reasons our marriage is hurting. So just go ahead and say it to yourself (do not say any of this to your spouse): "I want out." Now that we've got that out of the way, let the healing of your marriage begin!

Why healing? Because there are 3 reasons you don't want to abandon your marriage:

1. Research shows that if you can simply wait it out, your marriage will take a turn for the better. There was a study done out of Chicago years ago that followed several hundred couples. It tested their marital happiness and their satisfaction with life. At least half of the couples were stressed out and dissatisfied with their marriage and their life.

Five years later they tested the same couples again and discovered something quite amazing. For the couples who ended up divorcing, they were still just as unhappy with their life and their relationships. For the couples who stayed together, they reported being happy with their marriage and satisfied with their life. Sometimes it pays to have a little patience when it comes to marital difficulty.

2. Your children are a huge reason to stay together and resolve your conflict. Research is very clear that children of divorce have a harder time resisting peer pressure, succeeding in school, and succeeding in their future relationships. There was a time when therapists and psychiatrists felt couples should divorce despite the children because it was worse to stay together. Well that time has passed.

3. If you don't resolve the difficulties in your current marriage, they will simply haunt you in your second marriage. This is the most depressing news of all to couples who divorce, especially if they have children together. Because what they realize, often very quickly, is that the same negative patterns that destroyed their first marriage are creeping into their second. Why? Because divorce doesn't solve anything. It only makes everything more complicated and hard. This is why divorce rates are so much higher for second marriages.

The real tragedy is they eventually have to learn to get along and repair the damage. Then they find themselves smacking their heads saying, "Why didn't we figure this out when we were married?"

As coach Jimmy Valvano -- who was dieing of cancer at the time he made this famous statement -- would say, "Never give up!" It is not worth the pain of divorce. You can get help. There are therapists and relationship coaches who know what it takes to turn your marriage around. It will take effort. It will take time. But it is worth the energy because God will truly bless those who never quit.

For more information, please go to Michael and Amy Smalleys official