Marriage In Crisis

Recently there was an unfortunate meltdown by a couple in a Burger King restaurant. And what was even more unfortunate, the whole ordeal (yelling, sobbing, one partner storming out) was tweeted (video and pictures to boot) by a newsroom developer for all of the Twitter world to see.
Now, I don’t know the status of this couple and I’m not saying that any couple who has a heated argument in a public establishment is in deep marital trouble, but the couple is very representative of a couple in crisis. In other words, it doesn’t take much to ignite World War III, no matter where in the World you (or Matt Lauer) happen to be.
I tend to think that many a couple in crisis find themselves landing at Messy Marriage from time to time.
And if that theory is true, I want to share some information that might be helpful.
You see, just this past weekend, my husband and I had the privilege of attending free of charge a “Couples Experience” for Pastor’s and wives at the National Institute of Marriage in Branson (cofounded by Gary Smalley, Bob Paul and Mark Pyatt). The speaker introduced us to the types of topics and exercises that are a part of a “Marriage Intensive”at NIM.
“Marriage Intensives” are offered for couples in crisis, very much like the “Twitter couple.”
It’s sort of like therapy on steroids.
Very often it takes a high-intensity experience to reveal the deeply entrenched toxic attitudes and patterns in a marriage, especially when traditional therapy has become stymied and ineffective.
Some of what the therapists take the couples through at the NIM Intensive is:
  1. Understanding your “Fear Dance” – which reveals what underlying fears and reactions you as a couple have when conflict arises
  2. Understanding the “Fear Cycle” – which involves mapping out your fears and reactions so that healthy responses can be chosen instead
Another great option is Love and Respect Marriage Intensives led by Emerson Eggerichs and his wife, Sarah. Their next Intensive is January 20-22, 2012 and will be held at the picturesque Billy Graham training center, The Cove, in Asheville, NC. Emerson is the author of the national bestseller, Love and Respect which is also a winner of the Platinum and Book of the Year award, selling over 1.3 million copies.
These are just a couple of options if you find yourself in this situation. And please, please know that any one of us could be in your shoes. I’m grateful to have a husband who has willingly worked on the issues we’ve had in our marriage, but many are not so blessed. I feel for you. I’m praying for you. And I hope that you find Messy Marriage a safe place to hang out.
God bless!


  1. Tara_pohlkottepress says:

    great tools! thanks for sharing 🙂 Glad to have linked up through emily’s today

  2. messymarriage says:

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit of encouragement, Tara!

  3. Yes, any of us can fall into those cycles. I’m so thankful for good resources that can help us break free of them. We’ve attended a Love and Respect seminar and it helped not only in my marital relationship, but in better understanding my male friends in general.

  4. ‘Cycle’ – Yes! We rarely experience triggers and the like as a one-off, we are always cycling and coming around the mountain again. Thanks for all of the links.

  5. Oh so many hurting marriages…my heart is to see a older couple matched with a young couple…to commit to a year… dealing with normal problems or differences before they become insurmountable… .I am finding that post marital counseling might be more important than pre….both would be best.

  6. briantmiller says:

    nice…practical…def recommend not holding you spouse hostage to go to one of these…i am sure yours is very good…the one we went to almost ended everything quite honestly…but i think you always have to be working on your marriage for sure…pre and post…

  7. I am truly grateful to have a husband who is willing to work through issues, as well. But, I know well that there are a lot of hurting marriages, too. Thank you for this advice…and I do want to do the Love and Respect Couples study!

  8. Stopping by from Thought-Provoking Thursdays. Wonderful post! Any one of us in marriage can easily find ourselves here if we’re not paying attention. Because as you said, it’s generally a cycle that evolves into the inevitable. Not one event/trigger. . . . will be thinking about this today. thank you! ~ Nikki

  9. messymarriage says:

    You are so right, Nikki. And I would add that sometimes couples find themselves in this situation even when they do pay attention. Traumas, baggage from the past, and crises can all bring on an imploding of a marriage.

    Thanks so much for coming by and saying encouraging words. 🙂

  10. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that’s a good study to do with your hubby! I may have a book give-away with that title at some point. Thanks for stopping by and so glad that your hubby is like mine–a keeper! 😉

  11. messymarriage says:

    You have such a way with words in your blog and in your encouraging comments, Emily. I’m grateful for your ministry as well and will pray that you are used powerfully by God! Hugs to you!

  12. messymarriage says:

    You make a good point, Brian. I should have probably stated that. It really is crucial to have both spouses on board or the experience can be more destructive or at least frustrating than healing. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, once again!

  13. messymarriage says:

    I love, love, love marriage mentoring, but often churches or individuals do not think to provide that kind of ministry. Thanks for bringing light to that very important need and for stopping by to weigh in!

  14. messymarriage says:

    It’s true that marital conflicts are often vicious cycles that we get caught in like a hamster on his wheel. And if we let those cycles go on for too long without intervening, they often become too difficult to change on our own. That’s why I’m grateful for ministries like NIM and Love and Respect. Thanks for stopping by and you’re welcome for the links!

  15. messymarriage says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Lisa. Your encouragement means a lot to me.

  16. Anna-Marie says:

    I feel bad for the couple who now have their fight on the web.:( I have not needed to attend a marriage retreat as I am most fortunate in having a wonderful husband who gets me and all my quirks and I get him. We aren’t perfect but we fit beautifully together:) Thanks for sharing this on NOBH>

  17. krista bordelon says:

    I love this! We attended a marriage class at our church and it was more geared toward couples going through difficulties. A newlywed couple decided to leave the class since they felt it wasn’t “for them”. Having been through the hard times, and knowing they will come again, makes me aware (even in the great times) how fragile a marriage relationship can be, and if you’re not actively working on it at ALL times it could very easily get off track! Thank you for the encouragement! Even though I don’t need these resources right at this moment, who am I to say in the future we will not be that couple.

  18. It is so sad to see marriages start to break under the strain, and the husbands and wives decide that they are too far gone for help. I know someone (not believers) in that sinking boat, and my heart breaks for them, as I know there is a way back. I pray, I offer resources when the openings occur, but it is so hard to stand on the proverbial shore, ready with a lifeboat, and having friends more prepared to sink, rather than letting go of pride and past hurts and grab for that hope.

    Thanks for your writing, the resources and hope you offer for those in need.