For many married couples, it can be smooth sailing one day and rough waters the next. When you find your relationship headed for a sandbar or rocky shoreline, what you do next will make the difference. Will you choose to let the relationship capsize and sink, or will you throw out a lifesaver to keep it afloat?
Often it’s in the nitty-gritty areas of life that trouble brews. The tiniest circumstances can trigger the biggest arguments; she doesn’t like the water droplets or whiskers he leaves on the bathroom counter, he doesn’t like the money she spends on cosmetics. Issues like this will surface repeatedly in most relationships, so it’s important to know how to navigate them rather than allow them to tear down a marriage.
Think Big Picture
In order to keep your marriage afloat, it will help to have a big picture mind-set. Your big picture will be the mainsail that keeps your marriage on course. Having a big picture mind-set means setting it firmly in your mind why marriage is good, why you wanted it, and what you’ll do to keep it alive. Commitment is the underlying thread that will keep your mainsail steady. Big picture thinkers will commit to reeling in a troubled relationship.
- Commitment to a relationship might include these virtues:
- A commitment to restore peace and respect.
- A commitment to do what’s right.
- A commitment to work through the rough spots
- A commitment to avoid foolish arguments
- A commitment to take responsibility for a problem.
- A commitment to work as a team.
- A commitment to help make the marriage enjoyable.
- A commitment to work on avoiding sandbars and rocky shores in the future
Calm the Waters
There’s no instant cure for many of life’s daily battles.
Each party in a marriage will each have strong opinions and emotions. It’s appropriate to express them. But it’s also important to be careful not to make major decisions based on feelings.
When the waters get rough, take a step back. Everyone needs space, once in a while. Give the waters time to settle. In rough waters, check whether you or your spouse might be short on sleep, not feeling well, or under stress from an outside source. In other words, determine if the relationship distress is substantiated, or if something else might be at play. Whatever is causing division may have nothing to do with the relationship itself. Gaining proper perspective early is important.
Clear the Air
When things don’t go your way, don’t presume your spouse is mad at you and no longer loves you. Everyone gets angry or irritable once in a while. Extend the same grace you’d like to be given, and resist the urge to let your spouse’s bad mood affect you personally.
If your spouse uses angry words toward you, step back or offer support rather than become confrontational. Bite your tongue and wait for the air to clear before resuming the discussion. If you don’t, the problem may escalate causing more damage to the relationship than necessary.
Protect Your Marriage from Possible Storms
Every crew member on a sailing vessel should know how to use the boat’s safety equipment in the event of foul weather. Every marriage will face storms. Troubled waters are part of life. Use these tips as safety equipment for your marriage. Think big picture. Do what’s best for the long term, and in the meantime, safeguard your crew.