When Your Spouse Refuses to Work on the Marriage

giving up
by tizoultro

There are times when dealing with a spouse who refuses to work on your marriage can feel overwhelming, hopeless, and even paralyzing. It’s easy to feel like giving up or to believe that you have no way to improve your relationship when you’ve been in that kind of frustrating situation for any length of time.

Nevertheless, there are many small, but significant, ways you can improve your attitude, and therefore your marriage without your spouse’s direct cooperation.

I know, because I have done many, if not all, of the ones I’m going to list for you below and I’ve seen results every time. Of course, my hubby “doesn’t refuse to work on our marriage.” But the point is, these ideas don’t depend on your spouse.

Trust me … You have more power (at your disposal) and influence on your mate than you may realize!

So here are 15 things you can do when your spouse refuses to work on your marriage …

  1. Pray for your spouse on a daily or even moment-by-moment basis.
  2. Pray regularly to gain a loving attitude and show positive actions toward your spouse.
  3. Seek the guidance and support of a good Christian counselor or mentor.
  4. Commit to a daily time of Bible study and prayer.
  5. Develop a positive, healthy support network (church is often the best place for this!).
  6. Journal or prayer journal about your feelings and painful thoughts.
  7. Read some good marriage books (check out my “resources” page for ideas).
  8. Keep a running list of ways you are grateful in your life and marriage.
  9. Give your mate more affection, affirmation and sex (especially for husbands) or conversation (especially for wives)!
  10. Make a point to go on dates with your spouse—at least once a month!
  11. Subscribe to Messy Marriage and read the posts regularly. 🙂
  12. Practice Reflective Listening whenever you’re listening to your spouse (Check out my link to a Reflective Listening Guide on the Resources page).
  13. Brag about your spouse to others—with or without him/her present.
  14. Regularly ask your spouse what’s one area he/she would like for you to improve on or change—then really work on that area!
  15. Work through an effective forgiveness process and emotionally forgive your spouse. 
Although these ideas are helpful, please know that if you’re married to someone who’s abusive, has addiction issues and/or mental health problems, I’m not promising your sense of being overwhelmed or paralyzed will significantly lessen by doing one or more of these actions. But I would highly encourage you to do at least number 3, because a good, Christian counselor will help to guide you through the problems and pitfalls of being in that kind of relationship.
  
So join in … tell us what other ideas you have to add to our list! 

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
 

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Linking up with NOBH, Playdates with God, Seedlings in Stone, Matrimonial Monday and Marital Oneness Monday

  • GailBP

    Tough problem for sure…and great tips. Thanks for these reminders.

    • Thanks so much, Gail. I appreciate you reaching out to encourage me. It does not go unnoticed! 🙂

  • GailBP

    Tough problem for sure…and great tips. Thanks for these reminders.

  • Lori

    Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” says that even if you are only 5% of the problem, you can change the emotional climate of your marriage by demonstrating unconditional love to your spouse. Now that’s powerful. And very God-like. I highly recommend his book, and his companion book, “Desperate Marriages.”

    • Yes, I love his books and, in fact, gave three copies of Desperate Marriages away last week in our anniversary giveaway, Lori. We have a like-mind about marriage and I’m so grateful for your encouragement and wise words here!

  • Lori

    Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” says that even if you are only 5% of the problem, you can change the emotional climate of your marriage by demonstrating unconditional love to your spouse. Now that’s powerful. And very God-like. I highly recommend his book, and his companion book, “Desperate Marriages.”

  • ro elliott

    This is so very helpful…I really encourage the woman I am walking with to journal…pour it all our to the One who has the power to heal you and change your spouse. If they don’t “dump” it on paper…they dump on their husbands in ways that are not helpful.
    thanks and blessings to you~

    • And I’m so glad that you minister on the front-lines with young or struggling wives. And yes, prayer journaling is so powerful. I tell my small group Bible study all the time to pray in that way. It’s hard for some of them to do, but it is so worth it. Thanks for coming by, Ro. Your presence here is always appreciated!

  • ro elliott

    This is so very helpful…I really encourage the woman I am walking with to journal…pour it all our to the One who has the power to heal you and change your spouse. If they don’t “dump” it on paper…they dump on their husbands in ways that are not helpful.
    thanks and blessings to you~

  • Heather C

    Always seeking help when things are not going well is a wonderful thing. Whether the help is from a counselor, friend or God. Knowing that little changes we make can cause a big impact is a wonderful thing as well.

    • Yes, it is a wonderful thing, Heather, but very often pushed aside in favor of the “safety” of isolation. I know that I’ve certainly “been there” but also know what it’s like to take charge of the many ways God can bring healing to my life and marriage. Thanks, as always, for coming by and encouraging me, friend!

  • Heather C

    Always seeking help when things are not going well is a wonderful thing. Whether the help is from a counselor, friend or God. Knowing that little changes we make can cause a big impact is a wonderful thing as well.

  • Great ideas! I think for me number one is the way I keep bitter thoughts from creeping in, and I have a great man.
    I would love for you to share this at Matrimonial Mondays!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, it is a wonderful thing, Heather, but very often pushed aside in favor of the “safety” of isolation. I know that I’ve certainly “been there” but also know what it’s like to take charge of the many ways God can bring healing to my life and marriage. Thanks, as always, for coming by and encouraging me, friend!

  • messymarriage

    And I’m so glad that you minister on the front-lines with young or struggling wives. And yes, prayer journaling is so powerful. I tell my small group Bible study all the time to pray in that way. It’s hard for some of them to do, but it is so worth it. Thanks for coming by, Ro. Your presence here is always appreciated!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, I love his books and, in fact, gave three copies of Desperate Marriages away last week in our anniversary giveaway, Lori. We have a like-mind about marriage and I’m so grateful for your encouragement and wise words here!

  • messymarriage

    Thanks so much, Gail. I appreciate you reaching out to encourage me. It does not go unnoticed! 🙂

  • I have to say that learning to pray differently for my husband was a big turning point for me. In the past, I often prayed for God to change my man. Wouldn’t you know that it wasn’t until I surrendered all my expectations to The Lord that He began to work some amazing miracles? Thanks for this great advice, Beth.

    • Yes, I agree, Laura. So much of the time we focus on how we want our mates to change, but even God won’t force them to make those changes. So why not start with our willing heart? That’s such an important factor in all of this. Thanks so much for bringing it to light. I’m grateful for your support and blogging friendship, Laura!

  • Exceptionalistic

    Thanks for linking up! I loved seeing you stop by my post today. This is so amazing I’m bookmarking it for future reference!!!
    Kelly @ Exceptionalistic

    • Thanks for your kind words and for coming on by my place to visit. I hope to see ya more around the blogging world, friend!

  • I have to say that learning to pray differently for my husband was a big turning point for me. In the past, I often prayed for God to change my man. Wouldn’t you know that it wasn’t until I surrendered all my expectations to The Lord that He began to work some amazing miracles? Thanks for this great advice, Beth.

  • messymarriage

    Yes, I agree, Laura. So much of the time we focus on how we want our mates to change, but even God won’t force them to make those changes. So why not start with our willing heart? That’s such an important factor in all of this. Thanks so much for bringing it to light. I’m grateful for your support and blogging friendship, Laura!

  • messymarriage

    Thanks for your kind words and for coming on by my place to visit. I hope to see ya more around the blogging world, friend!

  • rboerner

    I copied and pasted all 15 suggestions. I plan to carry them around with them as a reminder. Bragging on my spouse and remembering what I’m grateful for is always a challenge for me because I just get tired of feeling like I’m the only one working on this relationship. Having friends who will support, encourage and be honest with me about my marriage is truly a blessing. I found a 30 day challenge on good ole Pinterest and the first thing you do is say NOTHING negative about your spouse – 30 days, really? Wow, who can do that without the help of God. Nothing like increasing my prayer life. 🙂

    • Wow! You humble me, Becky, with your enthusiasm about this material and your desire to do whatever it takes to make your marriage the best it can be. As far as that Pinterest challenge, sounds interesting and, of course, challenging! I’ve tried doing those kinds of challenges before and you really realize just how often you do that bad behavior and how hard it is to change patterns. I’ll be praying for you too in all your pursuits!

  • rboerner

    I copied and pasted all 15 suggestions. I plan to carry them around with them as a reminder. Bragging on my spouse and remembering what I’m grateful for is always a challenge for me because I just get tired of feeling like I’m the only one working on this relationship. Having friends who will support, encourage and be honest with me about my marriage is truly a blessing. I found a 30 day challenge on good ole Pinterest and the first thing you do is say NOTHING negative about your spouse – 30 days, really? Wow, who can do that without the help of God. Nothing like increasing my prayer life. 🙂

  • bluecottonmemory

    Wonderful suggestions. It is so important to see the wonderful things in a husband – to see him how God sees him!

    • That’s the secret–seeing our spouses through the eyes of Christ. 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by!

  • bluecottonmemory

    Wonderful suggestions. It is so important to see the wonderful things in a husband – to see him how God sees him!

  • messymarriage

    Wow! You humble me, Becky, with your enthusiasm about this material and your desire to do whatever it takes to make your marriage the best it can be. As far as that Pinterest challenge, sounds interesting and, of course, challenging! I’ve tried doing those kinds of challenges before and you really realize just how often you do that bad behavior and how hard it is to change patterns. I’ll be praying for you too in all your pursuits!

  • messymarriage

    That’s the secret–seeing our spouses through the eyes of Christ. 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by!

  • Mike Olivia

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