You are on your last string. You have tried to make things work in your marriage, but your spouse doesn't seem to care. You are hurt, frustrated, depressed and discouraged. You feel like your marriage is not what you always hoped for and dreamed of. This isn't what you signed up for. You are ready to leave your spouse and to be done with the marriage as you know it...FREEZE RIGHT THERE.
There is hope.
There is hope for you, for your marriage, for your future and for your happiness. We understand that you may not have much of that hope left, but do not despair. Hope can be nurtured. As you consider the idea of nurturing hope in your marriage, contemplate the following questions that may have been tugging at your heart-strings as the months and years have passed:
Is it possible that I can really go on like this when I feel like my spouse and I are more like roommates than lovers?
Can my marriage ever be a deep and fulfilling one?
Will my spouse and I ever come together over issues that have driven us apart?
In five years, is it possible that we will actually be happier by choosing to stay in our marriage than by leaving each other?
Almost always, the answer to these questions is a resounding "YES!" There is hope for your marriage, whatever state it is in.
You may have a deep desire for the kind of marriage you see others have or the kind of marriage found in fairytales — a marriage where spouses care for each other, love each other, date each other and sacrifice for each other. You want to believe that "happily ever after" is for you too, right? Well, it is. Here are three tips that will help you nurture hope in your marriage and in the possibilities for happiness that lie ahead.
1. Be positive
You are in charge of you — in charge of your thoughts, feelings, desires and actions. Choose to be positive. Sounds easy, right? It isn't. However, like any habit, the more you work at it, the easier it becomes. Trust us. Choose to love your life right now, even though it isn't perfect and even though it certainly isn't what you initially hoped it would be.
Choose to see the good in your spouse, even if it seems impossible. Choose to vocalize your positive thoughts. There is power in positive thinking. It will nurture hope within you, and it may magically spark a bit of hope within your spouse as well.
You are probably painfully aware of your character flaws, weaknesses and areas where you need to change. You don't need your spouse (or anyone else, for that matter) reminding you of these things on a regular basis (just as you certainly don't need to be reminding your spouse of his or her weaknesses).
Choose an area of your life where you know you need to improve (e.g. health and fitness, budgeting, use of time, language, manners, dress and appearance, etc.). Then start changing yourself. Don't wait for your spouse to change. In the past, you may have struggled with negative feelings or unfulfilled expectations about the person you married and all that you hoped your spouse would be. Flip the scenario, and work your guts out to become the most desirable spouse you can be. In the process of change, you will feel a new hope grow within you. Your spouse will take notice. If you are steady and consistent in your efforts, your spouse may be motivated to make a few positive changes too.
3. Love deeply
Love is a choice. You chose your spouse. You chose love once, and you can choose it again today — and every day. Unsure of what love looks like? Click here.
Love is at the center of the marriage you hope for, and if there isn't a whole lot of loving going on in your marriage right now, change that. Be the first one to rekindle love. Let love govern all you do: how you see your spouse, treat your spouse, speak to your spouse, serve your spouse, etc. Love works miracles, and love may work the greatest miracle of all in filling you and your spouse with newfound hope that your marriage can be all you ever wanted, and more! Just choose for it to be so.
In all of this, please be patient with yourself, with your spouse and with your marriage. You may have to hope against hope, but if you do so, without expectations that your spouse change, you will invite more happiness, growth and fulfillment into your life than you could have imagined.
And who knows? By choosing hope, change and happiness today, you may have begun a real miracle in your marriage — a miracle you have been hoping for, dreaming of and praying for. A miracle you will now work with all your might for. A miracle that can save your marriage and bless your life forever.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.