That’s kind of a given, right? Marriage hooks you to another sinner physically, emotionally, financially, even spiritually. Your wellbeing is affected by what they do or don’t do. Marriage also uncovers the holes in your own soul and the prickly parts of your own character. And Satan loves to target marriages with his destructive harassment. Of course you’re stressed and anxious about your marriage!
Most people get surprised when things are difficult. But as Jay Stringer says, “A committed relationship is doing what it’s designed to do when it flushes out the relational and sexual difficulties in each partner. Sometimes we think the relationship is broken when in reality the marriage system is working flawlessly.”
And you add on the other stresses life brings; parenting, economic uncertainty, societal division, and all the other junk going on in our world. The marriage you hoped would be a source of strength and peace may have become the biggest source of stress making it seem harder to handle everything else.
So what do you do about it?
The Conversation in Your Head
You have a conversation going on in your head all the time. Start paying attention to what your brain is telling you. When it comes to how your marriage is affecting your anxiety level, it might sound something like this:
- I must have married the wrong person. If my spouse would only (have sex with me, pay more attention to me, be less irritable, or . . .) I wouldn’t be so upset.
- I’m stuck. There’s nothing I can do. I’ll just hide, ignore the problem, and hope maybe someday things will get better.
- I must be a terrible person for not being able to make my marriage work. Nothing I do is right. It’s all my fault. I’m hopeless.
Such conversations in your head run in the background and cloud your ability to be present, interact in healthy ways, and make appropriate decisions. Just noticing them can help lessen their grip on you. But you’ll have to take further steps also.
What You CAN Do
Research has demonstrated repeatedly that focusing on what you cannot change only adds to your mental/emotional distress and limits your effectiveness in handling problems. This was powerfully shown in prisoners of war. Those who were able to focus on the often very small decisions they could make came through their horrendous experience able to regain resilience and wellbeing.
Here’s a newsflash; you can’t change your spouse. As if you haven’t discovered that already. If you’re still trying to change them, how’s that working out for you? Trying to manipulate them, criticize them, or push them to do something they’re unwilling or unable to do only leaves you more stressed and anxious.
Just as hurtful is settling for miserable marriage détente, giving up, embracing the lie that there’s nothing you can do about your own wellbeing. When your marriage is in trouble giving up can seem the easiest thing to do. And if you want to be just as miserable next year as you are right now, that’s your choice.
So instead of giving up or trying to control, or alternating between the two, it’s time to choose to focus on what you can do. Many studies show that doing so leads to better physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
Taking Charge of What You Can
This starts by taking charge of your own soul. None of us do this perfectly. But God has not given anyone else executive authority over your life; He expects you to be in the driver’s seat. That doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want. But it does mean you choose to respond rather than react. You decide who you are choosing to be in this situation.
There are many things you can do in working on the relationship between you and your spouse. But today I’m focusing on your own heart and how you can deal with the emotions, anxiety, and feelings of stress. Here are a few options.
- You find yourself being so drained you have nothing left to offer your marriage. So you learn to feed yourself without expecting your partner to fill you up.
- If your marriage is toxic you may have stayed too long. You do the hard work of discerning whether God is releasing you from this marriage.
- You’ve become a miserable person to be married to. So you focus on finding healing for your past baggage and taking in soul nourishment from other healthy people.
- You’ve been trying to do marriage your own way rather than God’s way. You decide to invest deeply in coming closer to God, trusting Him with your marriage.
Regardless of whether the outward circumstances in your marriage change, you can change.
The Journey to Emotional Wholeness
Fear, anxiety, and stress is a reality in our contemporary world. In many ways it’s always been that way. But today’s world adds much to the feeling you already have of being anxious about your marriage. And we want to help.
We have a brand new resource Defeat Your Fear and Anxiety, an online course designed to retrain your brain so you can overcome stress, leave worry behind, and experience emotional wellbeing.
This is not a marriage course; it’s focused on you and your internal world. You’ll learn practical steps for winning the battle in your mind and experiencing God’s peace in your everyday life. It’s you choosing to take charge of what is within your ability to do something about regardless of what’s happening in your outward circumstances. You’ll discover the keys to retrain your brain so you can address your marriage challenges with more wisdom, creativity, and peace.
And you have more ability to direct your internal world than you may have realized.
Get the Defeat Your Fear and Anxiety course now! Join me in this journey to experiencing wholeness and lasting peace.
And who knows; your transformed internal world just may transform your marriage too!
Questions? Contact me here, and I’ll respond personally.
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- You may have good reason to feel anxious about your marriage. Taking charge of your internal world is more possible than you realize. And doing so is likely to transform your marriage. Tweet that.