Why Marriages Struggle: getting to the heart of the problem

Do you want to get at the heart of the problem why couples struggle? Let’s figure it out and see if we can find a way to help couples soar. Ask the average couple the question, “Why does your marriage struggle?” You might hear… “We don’t know how to communicate” “It seems we fight all the time” “We never spend time together” “When we do talk we can’t agree on anything” “We don’t have romance” These answers seem plausible, but perhaps they are symptoms of a deeper problem. So, let’s get to the heart of the matter okay? You see, your heart matters. So does your mate. Some couples lose sight of taking care of each other’s heart. Think back to when you fell in love. Perhaps like others, you felt a strong romantic connection. You had a lot of fun and could talk for hours. The bond you shared met a basic human need identified for love and belonging Marriages struggle when couples stop caring for each other’s heart. Neglect is a subtle pattern that forms early in relationships once couples get involved in the tasks of raising a family. A marriage cannot tolerate this too long before other patterns emerge. Conflict, emotional distancing, and over-focusing on work, kids and household tasks can push couples further apart. Once a safe haven, marriage feels more like a battleground. The longer couples go without tending to the heart of the marriage, the more they struggle with each other. To break this pattern, it is important to get back to the heart of the problem. You must come together and tend to the heart of the marriage. Here are 3 simple ways you can do this.
Tune into the heart of your spouse
When you’re struggling in marriage it is easy to complain about your spouse. You may have compiled a list of complaints and feel justifiably distant. But where does that get you? Do you know what is going on in the heart of your mate? It could be one or more of the following:
  • Worries about one of the kids
  • Pressures on the job
  • Aging parent
  • Health concerns
  • Disappointments in friendship
In order to “tune in” you have to “tune out” whatever else is going on in the moment.
  • Put down the cell phone
  • Let your guard down and listen
  • Try your best to understand
  • Validate
  • Give a word of affirmation or compliment
  • Do something thoughtful or caring (card, gift massage, draw a bath, etc…)
“When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.” Mark Twain
Open up your heart to your spouse
This is something women find easier to do than men. Be that as it may, it is important for both partners to work on. Guys often compartmentalize problems and do not think about opening up. Men don’t want to burden a spouse. Some think it is a sign of weakness and should be able to solve problems on their own. Men fail to understand that women want them to open up. It’s not a sign of weakness. Opening up your heart is really a strength in the eyes of most women. One of our biggest struggles is not knowing what to do with our emotions so men tend to suppress them. The problem is they leak out in other ways. A spouse will be less critical or make wrong assumptions when they get a sense of what is really going on in your heart. They are likely to be more compassionate and supportive if they understand what you’re going through.
Tend to the heart of the marriage in simple ways
Think in terms of three hearts: yours, your spouse’s, and your marriage. Both of you bear the responsibility of caring for the heart of your marriage. Think of one thing you can do today for your marriage. Here are some simple ideas to tend to the heart of your marriage:
  1. Express “I love you” in the beginning, middle, and end of every day.
  2. Surprise your spouse with a sentiment. A card with their cup of coffee.
  3. Compliment, compliment, compliment!
  4. Call or text each other during the day with a simple check-in.
  5. Go on a well-deserved date.
  6. Take a few minutes every day to decompress together.

Stop the struggling

If you’re turning on your heart and tuning into the heart of your spouse, you can establish a rhythm of caring for the heart of your marriage together. “The real act of marriage takes place in the heart—not the ballroom, or church, or synagogue. It’s a choice you make not just on your wedding day, but over and over again, and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” Barbara DeAngelis