7 Things You Can Do to Start Divorce-Proofing Your Marriage

Apparently a lot of people are interested in what can wreck a marriage. Yesterday’s post had almost 1000 views in less than 24 hours. Because I’m all about hope, I want to give you seven tangible steps you can take to start divorce-proofing your marriage. These are things I’ve shared with three couples I’ve done marriage counseling with this week. If you’ve hit a few bumps along the way, here are some things you need to start doing:


1. Ask for help. You can’t do this alone. If you and your spouse are rehashing the same arguments over and over, you’re locked in a toxic cycle. Seek outside help. Talk to a pastor. Make an appointment with a professional counselor. Your marriage is worth it.

2. Intentionally be around other healthy couples. If your only friends are other dysfunctional or broken couples, that dysfunction will rub off on you. They will let you get away with behavior that healthy couples won’t. Find a healthy small group of couples and invest in it. Being around other healthy couples will give you hope for your own marriage. Your marriage is worth it.

3. Get on a budget and stick to it. Money is the number one thing couples fight about. Fix the money problems, fix the majority of your fights. Take a course like Financial Peace University. Talk to a financial advisor about how to get out of debt. Sell some stuff. Downsize. Get out of debt. Your marriage is worth it.

4. Have lots of sex. This once or twice a month nonsense isn’t going to cut it. The honeymoon may be over, kids may rule the house, or you may be closer to having grandkids, but a healthy sexual relationship with your spouse is one of the surest ways to divorce-proof your marriage. There are usually always other factors contributing to a less than stellar sex life, but it is extremely dangerous to withhold sex as leverage with your partner. Have lots of sex. Your marriage is worth it.

5. Draw boundaries for your family. This goes two ways. You may need to draw boundaries to keep family in. If you’re going a million miles an hour and if you have to look three weeks down the road to find a free night on the calendar, you’re too busy. Draw boundaries so that the quality of your marriage isn’t sacrificed for the abundance of activities you’re involved in. And sometimes you need to draw boundaries to keep family out, specifically your parents. If your parents are in your marriage in an unhealthy way, if they don’t give you enough space, if it feels like there are three or four people in your marriage, you need to have a hard conversation and draw some boundaries. Your marriage is worth it.

6. Get rid of the porn (guys and girls). Pornography can erode any sense of intimacy in a marriage because it substitutes what God created as healthy with something that is fake and unrealistic. Obviously a huge problem is guys and porn. A porn addiction will erode a man’s ability to connect sexually with his wife because it’s been corrupted by porn. But there’s girl porn as well. A steady diet of romance novels, romantic comedies, and especially reality romance shows present a fake and unrealistic view of love and intimacy. Get rid of the porn in your marriage. Your marriage is worth it.

7. Pray together every night. If your marriage is struggling, you need a divine intervention. Ask for it. The Bible says we have not because we ask not. So ask for God’s help, every night. Before you go to bed, get down on your knees on the side of your bed with your wife and pray for your marriage. It’s impossible to hate someone you’re praying with continually. Pray together with your spouse every night. Your marriage is worth it.

QUESTION: What are some other things that can help divorce-proof a marriage?

4 Things That Will Wreck Your Marriage If You’re Not Careful

No one intentionally sets out to wreck a marriage. Everyone wants your marriage to work, at least at first. That’s why weddings are beautiful and divorce proceedings aren’t. When counseling couples about to get married, I share with them four things that can wreck their marriage if they’re not careful.

1. Family of Origin – How you saw your parents interact is going to be the default mode for how you treat your spouse. If your home was broken or dysfunctional, then that is a hurdle that you can overcome but needs to be dealt with. If you never saw a healthy marriage growing up, you don’t automatically learn how to have one just because you put a ring on someone’s finger. None of these issues are deal breakers, but an unhealthy family of origin means you’ll most likely to need to talk to someone professionally over a period of time to unpack your baggage and leave it behind you.

Family of origin also includes your current extended family. There can be family dynamics that aren’t conducive to a healthy marriage. Parents that are too involved, brothers or sisters stirring things up. If you’re in a remarriage, there may even be family members rooting for your spouse to fail. All of these issues can be a detriment to your marriage.

2. Money – There is no scientific number, but I believe that 85% of all spousal arguments have to do with money (or specifically the lack of money), and that percentage might be a little low. I don’t care how much money you make, there never seems to be enough to go around. In every relationship there is usually a saver and a spender. The spender has the power in this regard because his or her ability or inability to make sound financial decisions will either strengthen or strain the marriage. Unfortunately, if you and your spouse fight about money, you’re absolutely normal.

Poor financial decisions early on in marriage can lead to lingering debt that only increases as the number and age of children increase. Strong financial stewardship and shared guidelines are necessary for a marriage to overcome money issues.

3. Sex – Sex is a huge issue namely in that it’s something that couples rarely feel comfortable talking about. Typically the complaint is that sex is not enjoyable (her) or there’s not enough of it (him). Your sexual past, previous relationships, any abuse that might have happened earlier in life, pornography addictions, can all contribute to an extremely frustrating and unsatisfying sex life.

But unlike money, which seems to be much easier to talk about, sex is a taboo subject. So the frustration builds silently, creating an intimacy barrier that can hinder any marriage. Couples need to find a safe place to talk about their sexual issues and frustrations, whether just the two of them or with a counselor. Couples need to explore all of the non-physical issues that can contribute to a less than satisfactory sex life (including diet, sleep, stress, emotional health, spiritual health, relational connectedness, mutual respect, etc).

4. How You Fight – All couples are going to fight. It’s normal and natural for two strong-willed people to have differences of opinions. The problem is when couples don’t fight fair. In each marriage there’s usually one side who wants to talk and talk and talk through a problem and one who wants to shut down and avoid the issue. The talker gets frustrated by the lack of response from their spouse, which compels them to talk more, which causes the spouse to further withdraw, which . . . (you get the picture).

Just like in basketball you have fouls, you and your spouse need to establish ‘fouls,’ agreed upon rules of how you will and will not resolve a fight. And that’s the goal, to resolve a fight. If couples can’t resolve a fight, those arguments can eventually pile up into a mountain that can become unscalable.

QUESTION: What other things can wreck a marriage?

Repost: 11 Reasons Why Marriages Fail

originally posted June 3, 2013

We see marriages around us fail for a multitude of reasons. Underlying the causes of divorce are some common themes. Here are eleven of them:

1. Lack of communication. Constant and meaningful conversation is the lifeblood of a marriage. You would think that all marriages have meaningful conversation, but they don’t. Couples don’t carve out time. They’re too tired. The husbands don’t want to talk. Television replaces conversation, and separation begins.

2. Busyness. We can be too busy for our own good. A career is good, but not if it comes at the expense of your marriage. Hobbies are good, but not if it comes at the expense of your marriage. Friends are good, but not if they come at the expense of your marriage. Even kids can drain away precious energy from your marriage. The couples that can’t cut back see their marriages float away in a sea of busyness.

3. Selfishness. At the core, marriage is about serving your spouse, about submitting yourself and your needs to the needs of your spouse. If the couples can’t grasp this, submit their ego and embrace the concept of mutual submission, then fault line cracks will appear at the base of your marriage.

4. Can’t overcome your family of origin. Many spouses were raised in broken, abusive, or dysfunctional homes. They walk into marriage knowing only destructive marriage habits from the example of their parents. If they can’t overcome and move past their family of origin, their parents’ destructive marriage will become their own destructive marriage.

5. Unwilling to grow in your marriage. Marriage is all about change. You change. Your spouse changes. If you’re unwilling to grow and change with your spouse, you don’t have much of a shot. The trick of marriage isn’t finding a perfect spouse who will never change, but to find a way to continuously fall in love with your ever-changing spouse.

6. Lack of investment in your marriage. Husbands, your marriage isn’t complete when you say “I do.” Without constant and intentional investment, your marriage will struggle. Just like a farmer’s work isn’t done when he plants the seed, neither is your work done when you walk the aisle. Marriage takes hard work, lots of it.

7. Addictions overwhelm a spouse. Sometimes a latent addiction can rear up and consume a spouse. An eating disorder, a pornography addiction, alcoholism, if left unchecked, will wreck a marriage. It takes two people to make a marriage work, but only one person to wreck it.

8. Bitterness and unforgiveness overwhelm you. Your spouse will hurt you more than any other person on the planet. They will continually remind you that they are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. Because you’re the person closest to them, you will deal with the brunt of their imperfections. If you choose to hold on to past hurts and slights, bitterness will poison your soul and consume you.

9. You give up too easily. Make no illusions: marriage is tough. It’s not for the faint of heart. Every couple will come to points where divorce seems like the easy option. The marriage that works is the marriage that chooses to fight when things get tough, not quit.

10. Sin entices and destroys the marriage. Sin is always looking for a way to destroy the beauty of your marriage. It may use the approach of greed, selfishness, an affair, or any other number of enticements. If you’re not constantly on your guard, sin will destroy your marriage.

11. The love grows cold. Love is like a campfire that must be constantly tended to and stoked. If left alone, the fire will eventually burn itself out and grow cold. When the love grows cold, there doesn’t seem to be much left to save. Don’t let your fire grow cold.

QUESTION: What other reasons cause marriage to fail?

image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Married to This Spouse?

Romantic movies continually portray society’s picture of the ideal spouse (namely cute and witty). But I’ve got a better picture of the ideal spouse that I think we would all rather be married to. Who wouldn’t want to be married to a spouse:


  • Who overflowed with visible, tangible love for you all the time?
  • Who was so full of joy that it was contagious to everyone around them?
  • Who was at peace with who God created them to be; never needy or clingy?
  • Who was patient with you, always quick to give you the benefit of the doubt and forgive you when you made a mistake?
  • Who was always kind, never mean or spiteful to you?
  • Who was a genuinely good person, whom you knew would always do the right thing?
  • Who was faithful to you, in such a way that you never had to doubt it? What if your spouse’s faithfulness became a bedrock that undergirded your entire relationship?
  • Who was gentle towards you, forgiving of your faults, full of mercy, never assigning blame, always there to help you and comfort you in your moments of weakness?
  • Who was full of self-control, discipline, worked hard, didn’t give into temptation, made you and the family better people?

Here’s my question: who wouldn’t want to be married to that person!?! This ideal spouse was described 2000 years ago when the apostle Paul wrote to the early church about the characteristics of someone who is full of the Spirit of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

As much as you wish this for your spouse, realize that your spouse is sitting opposite of you, wishing the exactly the same thing about you! As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, the way to be the best spouse you can be is to get as close to Jesus as you can, to the point where His characteristics, His values, His power begin to bleed over into your life, making you the ideal spouse.

How Wives Can Show RESPECT To Their Husbands

Yesterday I shared how husbands can show love to their wives. Today is the second part from the book Love and Respect, on how wives can show respect to their husbands.

love and respect

Conquest – Appreciate his desire to work and achieve. Your husband will feel you appreciate his desire to work and achieve when . . .

  • You tell him verbally or in writing that you value his work efforts.
  • You express your faith in him related to his chosen field.
  • You listen to his work stories as closely as you expect him to listen to your accounts of what happens in the family.
  • You see yourself as his helpmate and counterpart and talk with him about this whenever possible.
  • You allow him to dream as you did when you were courting.
  • You don’t dishonor or subtly criticize his work “in the field” to get him to show more love “in the family.”


Hierarchy – Appreciate his desire to protect and provide. Your husband will feel you appreciate his desire to protect and provide when . . .

  • You verbalize your admiration of him for protecting you and being willing to die for you.
  • You praise his commitment to provide for and protect you and the family (he needs to know you don’t take this for granted).
  • You empathize when he reveals his male mind-set about position, status, rank, or being one-up or one-down, particularly at work.
  • You never mock the idea of “looking up to him” as your protector to prevent him from “looking down on you.”
  • You never, in word or body language, put down his job or how much he makes.
  • You are always ready to figuratively “light the candles,” as E.V. Hill’s wife did when they couldn’t afford to pay the light bill.
  • You quietly and respectfully voice concerns about finances and try to offer solutions on where you might be able to cut spending.


Authority – Appreciate his desire to serve and to lead. He will feel you appreciate his authority and leadership when . . .

  • You tell him you are thankful for his strength and enjoy being able to lean on him at times.
  • You support his self-image as a leader.
  • You never say, “You’re responsible but we’re still equal, so don’t make a decision I don’t agree with.”
  • You praise his good decisions.
  • You are gracious if he makes a bad decision.
  • You disagree with him only in private and honor his authority in front of the kids.
  • You give your reasons for disagreeing quietly and reasonably, but you never attack his right to lead.
  • You do not play “head games” with him to make him back down and be a “loving peacemaker.”


Insight – Appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel. Your husband will feel you appreciate his insight and counsel when . . .

  • You tell him upfront you just need his ear; don’t complain to him later that he always tries to “fix” you.
  • You thank him for his advice without acting insulted or like he doesn’t care about your feelings.
  • You recognize his problem-solving approach as his male brand of empathy.
  • You realize your vulnerabilities, especially among males, and value his protection.
  • You counsel him respectfully when you differ with his idea (you can be right but present your views in a wrong way).
  • You sometimes let him “fix things” and applaud his solutions.
  • You let him know that you believe God has made us male and female for a purpose and that we need each other.
  • You admit that you make mistakes and thank him for his perception and godly counsel.


Relationship – Appreciate his desire for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship. Your husband will feel you value his shoulder-to-shoulder friendship when . . .

  • You tell him you like him and you show it (he knows you love him, but he often wonders if you really like him).
  • You respond to his invitation to engage in recreational activities together or you come along to watch him (you don’t have to go every time, but just now and then will energize him more than you realize).
  • You enable him to open up and talk to you as you do things shoulder to shoulder.
  • You encourage him to spend time alone, which energizes him to reconnect with you later.
  • You don’t denounce his shoulder-to-shoulder activities with his male friends to get him to spend face-to-face time with you. Respect his friendships, and he will be more likely to want you to join him shoulder to shoulder at other times.


Sexuality – Appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy. He will feel you appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy when . . .

  • You respond to him sexually more often and initiate sex periodically.
  • You understand he needs sexual release just as you need emotional release.
  • You let him acknowledge his sexual temptations without fearing he’ll be unfaithful and without shaming him.
  • You don’t try and make him open up to you verbally by depriving him of sex.

How Husbands Can Show LOVE To Their Wives

Ephesians 5:33 says, “However, each one of you [husband] also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

love and respect

In his book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs shares practical ways that husbands can show love to their wives. Buy his book for more ideas, but here are the highlights:

Closeness. She wants you to be close. Your wife feels close to you when . . .

  • You hold her hand.
  • You hug her.
  • You are affectionate without sexual intentions.
  • You are with her alone so you can focus on each other and laugh together.
  • You go for a walk or jog . . . or anything that results in togetherness.
  • You seek her out . . . set up a date night . . . eat by candlelight.
  • You go out of your way to do something for her, like run an errand.
  • You make it a priority to spend time with her.
  • You are aware of her as a person with a mind and opinions . . . let her know you enjoy discussing things with her and getting her insights.
  • You suggest the unexpected . . . get takeout and each on the beach . . . take a walk to see the full moon . . . park on the bluff and watch the sunset.
  • You pillow talk after making love . . . lie close with your arm around her and share feelings and intimate ideas . . . and never turn on SportsCenter or Nightline.


Openness – She wants you to open up to her. Your wife feels you are open to her when . . .

  • You share your feelings, telling about your day and difficulties.
  • You say, “Let’s talk,” ask her what she’s feeling, and ask for her opinions.
  • Your face shows you want to talk – relaxed body language, good eye contact.
  • You take her for a walk to talk and reminisce about how you met or perhaps you talk about the kids and problems she may be having with them.
  • You pray with her.
  • You give her your full attention . . . no grunting responses while trying to watch tv, read the newspaper, or write e-mails.
  • You discuss financial concerns, possible job changes, or ideas for your future.


Understanding – Don’t try to “fix” her; just listen. She’ll feel you’re trying to understand her when . . .

  • You listen and can repeat back what she said.
  • You don’t try to “fix her problems” unless she specifically asks for a solution.
  • You try to identify her feelings.
  • You never dismiss her feelings, no matter how illogical they may seem to you.
  • You say, “I appreciate you sharing that with me.”
  • You don’t interrupt her when she’s trying to tell you how she feels.
  • You apologize and admit when you were wrong.
  • You cut her some slack during her monthly cycle.
  • You see something that needs to be done and you do it without a lot of hassle.
  • You express appreciation for all she does: “Honey, I could never do your job.”
  • You pray with her and for her.


Peacemaking – She wants you to say, “I’m sorry.” She’ll feel at peace with you when . . .

  • You let her vent her frustrations and hurts and don’t get angry and close her off.
  • You admit you are wrong and apologize by saying, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
  • You understand her natural desires to negotiate, compromise, and defer, and you meet her halfway.
  • You try to keep your relationship “up-to-date,” resolving the unresolved and never saying, “Forget it.”
  • You forgive her for any wrongs she confesses.
  • You never nurse bitterness and always reassure her of your love.
  • You pray with her after a hurtful time.


Loyalty – She needs to know you’re committed. She is assured of your loyalty when . . .

  • You speak highly of her in front of others.
  • You are involved in things important to her.
  • You help her make decisions, such as ones regarding the children.
  • You don’t correct her in front of the children.
  • You don’t look lustfully at other women.
  • You make her and your marriage a priority.
  • You are never critical of her or your children in front of others.
  • You include her in social gatherings when others may leave their spouses home.
  • You tell the kids, “Don’t speak to your mother that way!”
  • You call and let her know your plans.
  • You keep commitments.
  • You speak positively of her and the children at all times.


Esteem – She wants you to honor and cherish her. Your wife will feel esteemed when . . .

  • You say, “I’m so proud the way you handled that.”
  • You speak highly of her in front of others.
  • You open the door for her.
  • You try something new with her.
  • You give her encouragement or praise with kindness and enthusiasm.
  • You notice something different about her hair or clothes.
  • You are physically affectionate with her in public.
  • You teach the children to show her and others respect.
  • You value her opinion in the gray areas as not wrong but just different – and valid.
  • You choose family outings over “guy things.”
  • You make her feel first in importance.
  • You are proud of her and all she does.


Tomorrow I’ll share practical ways that wives can show respect to their husbands.