When a person needs resuscitation, the signs are obvious: they stop breathing and become non-responsive. It’s no question that a person displaying these symptoms requires immediate help if they’re to survive.
But when it comes to marriage, the signs and symptoms of a couple needing resuscitation are not so obvious. Why? Because over time, couples learn to adapt and function despite their critical status. Yet, over the years, I’ve heard from thousands of couples who claim that simply functioning in marriage is not what they really want. They want to experience joy and fulfillment…they want to thrive! So how can we bring a dying relationship back to life? It’s time to administer some marriage CPR with these four steps.
First, Be Patient.
Marriages don’t fall apart overnight. A dying marriage is the result of countless moments of hurts, habits, and hardships. In the same way, marriages don’t recover overnight. Instead, reviving your marriage is a process that requires time and patience. But once we understand how to practice patience, we’ll be more equipped to patiently work towards a healthy marriage.
Second, Be Determined.
Love does not come easy. That’s why every morning when you wake up, you must choose to love your spouse well. Couples who have been married for 30, 40, 50 years or more will all tell you the same thing: A key to a healthy relationship is to work together through any and every problem. For them, quitting simply wasn’t an option. So I encourage you to be determined to pump life back into the heart of your marriage.
Third, Forgive and Seek Forgiveness.
So many marriages fail because of one thing: unforgiveness. A spouse may have many reasons to not forgive their husband or wife. Perhaps they want to wait until they’re “ready” to offer forgiveness. Perhaps they don’t want to be seen as “weak” for giving forgiveness. Or perhaps they believe that forgiveness means forgetting how they were wronged. But as I discuss in my blog Forgiveness: It’s Not What You Think, these are not valid reasons for remaining bitter. Instead, forgiveness has the power to restore and heal relationships. Yes, forgiving and asking for forgiveness is difficult. But it’s worth it.
If the person you need to forgive in marriage is yourself, you may want to check out my blog 9 Tips for When You Can’t Forgive Yourself.
Fourth, Earn Trust.
The final step to reviving a dying marriage is to reestablish trust. In my blog Unlocking the Door to Intimacy in Marriage, I define trust as having confidence that your spouse is authentic, honest, and dependable. Unfortunately, trust is much easier lost than gained. A single word or action can empty a relationship of all trust. This means that trust must be earned back. Over time, a dying marriage is brought back to life by rebuilding the level of trust between you and your spouse. For more specific solutions, check out my blog How to Build Trust in a Relationship.
What have you done to revive your marriage? What worked? What didn’t? Share in the comments below.