When my husband and I first got married we sure did have a lot to learn. I was a tad bit controlling and a bit of a yeller. He on the other hand was the opposite—a pleaser to the max! This was not a great combination to have in a disagreement. I would rant and yell and he would quietly withhold until he just couldn’t anymore, and then before you knew it, we were two explosive nuts!

Our fights got painful fast—I didn’t have self-control and would say all kinds of harsh things and he would eventually just go for the jugular with one big hurtful comment in an effort to just stop the fight.

Sounds delightful, right?

Well it wasn’t.

After many years of marriage and after becoming new believers in Jesus, we decided it was time for a change. Our marriage wasn’t fulfilling to either one of us and we certainly weren’t helping one another grow.

That’s when we decided to do apply these three principles to our marriage.

Three things to do when your marriage is struggling.

1. Remember that you’re on the same team. The Enemy is so quick to jump in and make you believe that your spouse is your enemy—that they are against you and not for you. He is also quick to try and get you to think the same thing about them. This simply isn’t true. When you’re struggling as a couple it’s usually because you’re each dealing with some form of hurt, fear or frustration and NOT because you are against one another and intentionally trying to inflict pain.

Develop a mindset that it is the two of you against the problem, not the two of you against each other. Remember, your enemy cannot be your spouse because it is not flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12).

2. Get a PhD in your spouse’s upbringing. There is no doubt that the way both of you respond under pressure is a result of what you were taught and what your normal is. If your spouse came from a home with lots of yelling, yelling will be a trigger. If they came from a home where all problems get swept under the rug, then it’s likely they won’t have the best conflict resolution skills.

When it comes to your spouse’s history, know it well. Seek to understand all the ways your spouse was shaped and molded—because it matters. It’s almost a guarantee that your spouse’s negative reactions come from a place of self-protection. Understanding that helps, and so does letting them know that they don’t need to protect themselves from you because you’re on their side.

3. Keep the memories of how you won each other’s heart alive. When you’re in the middle of the struggle it’s really hard to look for the good. The hard and the heavy yell at

you much louder demanding all the attention, when really what’s most helpful is to keep your focus on all that’s good while working out the hard.

When your marriage is in a tough place, take a look back. Remember those traits your spouse has that you once adored, remember the person you fell in love with. Although life is hard and people change, that person you once completely adored is still in there.

Marriage can be a challenge at times and hard things happen, but when they do be sure to remind your spouse that you’re in this with them, that you’re for them, and that you love them.

And lastly, pray. Never stop praying.