Finding Hope in Your Hurting Marriage

Finding Hope in Your Hurting Marriage

One of the greatest advantages of being Christian Counselors is being able to look at all situations through a lens of hope.

Real hope. 

Early on, and all throughout our schooling, we were always reminded of step number one—to instill hope. Every single couple we interact with, whether it’s in a session, a group, or simply on social media, will first and foremost be exposed to hope.

Hope is always the foundational piece of healing and wholeness.

I will never forget one of our very first couples many years ago. They both had a long history of abuse and trauma. They were dealing with addiction, pornography, adultery and severe anxiety and depression. I remember this couple well, not because I was overwhelmed and concerned with how to help them. In fact, it was just the opposite. I remember getting excited because for the first time ever they were about to be exposed to hope—we knew they didn’t have it, but I knew we did.
Many couples we see feel hopeless, but the truth is, we don’t need couples to have hope when we start work with them because we are willing to share ours. We believe it is our job to share our hope with you, and to keep standing in the gap holding onto it for as long as you need us to. Hope is much like a torch that ignites, and we gladly hold ours up for as long as it takes to get yours lit. Why? Because we know that hope is real, and that hope is alive.

We know real HOPE, and His name is Jesus, and that He too is standing in the gap with us.

Jesus is who anchors us as counselors, and He is who will anchor your marriage in the midst of the storm. So, even when that storm feels like it’s taking forever to pass, He can anchor you down for as long as needed—we fully trust that, and ultimately, we want you too as well. Whether you are struggling a little or have a suitcase packed by the door, your marriage is never hopeless.

Now is the time to make a decision to grab a hold of hope; because it is when you find that hope as a couple that you find the courage and strength to move forward—and how good it is to finally believe in what could be! With hope you can trust the process, rely on God’s strength, and fully believe that He has good things to come, even if they arrive through painful processes.

Now, back to our first couple, God honored our pleas and the work they were willing to put in, to ultimately restore their marriage. He healed them both as individuals and as a married couple. It is with Him that nothing is impossible.

Restoration is God’s thing.

This is the same God that made us all out of dust. He raised the dead, and He redeemed our lives with the precious blood of His Son, He can certainly heal your marriage. If you’re believing that your marriage is hopeless, please know that it’s not. Get the help you need, trust in God’s plan, and be willing to do the work. Don’t allow your current pain to be the demise of your marriage, instead choose for it to be a launching pad into the marriage He’s always wanted you to have.

If you need some encouragement for your hurting marriage, please check out A Message From God for Your Hurting Marriage.

Always hoping in great things for your marriage,
Chris & Jamie

How to Spring Clean Your Marriage

How to Spring Clean Your Marriage

Nothing inspires us to simplify, clean and start afresh quite like spring does. So why not make use of all that motivation and get some cleaning done in your marriage too? Let’s be honest, it probably got a little dusty over the winter anyways. Holidays, the bitter cold, darker days, and of course this year’s flu season covid pandemic, all demanding your relationship be placed on the back shelf, or perhaps shoved into a closet somewhere.
Spring is here now, and it’s time to take it down, dust it off and give it a good ol’ spit shine (well, maybe not that, but you get the point!). Seriously though, when is the last time you’ve evaluated what’s in your marriage like you do what’s in your garage every year? What is lying around not being put to good use, what have you forgotten you even had, and what can you get rid of that is no longer working?

Been a while? We get it.

So, let’s go ahead and find out now…

How to spring clean your marriage

The first step is to Evaluate…

Have a good look around. Is there anything you’ve swept under the rug?
If so, now is the time to clear it out.
If you’re holding any resentments because issues weren’t dealt with, take the time to sweep those out and talk about them too. Do you have any problems that you are currently sweeping under the rug? Well, guess what? It’s time for them to also be seen and known.

 Lumps under the rug just get bigger over time. Decide together to be a couple that shares with one another. Talk about the hard things and work together to keep those marital lumps from under all the rugs. Avoiding things disrupts communication and makes it even more difficult.

Emphasizing the importance of taking care of marriage

Next, Make Repairs

Do you have anything broken that needs to be fixed?
Ask one another what isn’t working in your marriage.

Check in and see if there’s anything you could be working on to make your marriage better.
How is communication between the two of you going? Conflict resolution?

Do you both feel emotionally safe with each other?

If you identify something that needs repair, fix it! Your marriage isn’t just like an old broken rake in the garage that can be trashed, it’s a one of a kind treasure. Fix it!

Lastly, Find what’s been lost…

While you’re looking around, is there anything you misplaced or forgot you had? What’s that back in the corner underneath all the things?

A date night? Go get it!
Dust off the cobwebs and start enjoying that time together again!

 How about some lofty dreams you shared together?
Have you been taking action going after those? Now is the time!

Once you’re done, try to remember when the last time was that you’ve sat down and chatted about memories? I’m sure there are some great times you’ve shared that could be once again put-on display.
Spend some time together planning new dreams, new memories and reliving old ones.
Your time together through the years are those rare hidden gems. They are the diamonds in the rough. Polish them off and enjoy their hidden beauty. Let them serve as reminders of your love.

Spring is always a time of new growth, new life and new beginnings. It’s a time to be inspired! And while you are, don’t just reorganize your linen closet or your garage. Refresh your marriage. Declutter, clean it up and repair.
Trust us, you’ll really love the before and after!

Now, go on and Enjoy the Journey!

For more on this topic, check out our latest podcast episode here, or on your favorite podcast player!

When Your Spouse Wants a Divorce

When Your Spouse Wants a Divorce

There’s not much quite as painful as being in a marriage with someone who doesn’t want to be in it with you. This can definitely be a challenging situation, but it’s not always as hopeless as it may seem.

“My spouse wants to leave me, but I want to fix our marriage.

What should I do?”

First things first, respond instead of reacting.

There are a lot of emotions going on, which makes it so much easier to panic and not think clearly. If your spouse has one foot out the door, sometimes the thing that pushes them to make the final step out is your reaction. They’re likely leaving because they are feeling fed up or just—done. Your response can either reinforce their feelings or cause them to take pause.

By no means are you in control of your spouse or whether or not they walk out on you, nor do you want to be, BUT, you are in the best position to be their greatest influence—and it’s your influence that will give you the greatest bang for your buck here.

“So, tell me what to do!”

Okay, what you do now is you lean in and listen. You seek to understand.

You don’t defend yourself and try to argue against their complaints, you simply receive what they share. What your spouse shares is knowledge that you need. On top of that, we all want to be heard and this is an opportunity for your spouse to feel heard. When you learn what it is they’re longing for you can now identify what they need.

A large part of the mission to repair your marriage in these situations will feel unfair and one-sided, but that’s ok, it is for a much higher purpose right now. Your goal is to seek to understand what their struggle is,  if they offer it, because not all will at this point because they may have checked out a while ago. But the bottom line is this—they want out because they feel hopeless. You engaging them and listening is breathing a little bit of hope back in.

Your next step is to make it clear that you’ve heard them and that your intention is to repair your marriage. This may go something like this…

“I am so sorry that you feel that way and that we are where we’re at, but I need you to know that I want to do everything I can to save our marriage. I still want to be married to you.”

And now here’s where it gets challenging… you begin to work on you. You step back from engaging in any usual arguments and you step back from pleading for them to stay, and you begin to create a safe and peaceful atmosphere where you are focused on making yourself a better spouse and individual. After all, a divorce rarely happens as a result of 100% one person. There may be some things you need to improve on that would make your marriage work better, for instance, perhaps you…

Swept problems under the rug… 

Turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms…

Became conflict avoidant…

Too passive or aggressive with communication…

Learned to withhold how you really feel, or…

Should have put boundaries up a long time ago…

We all have something we can improve upon, and at the very least, getting help and having someone to help you navigate this road will be beneficial.

A spouse that is leaving can often delay their leaving or recommit after seeing how serious you are about making changes to impact your marriage. Starting with you, instead of them, provides a safe place where they don’t feel forced into change and it also gives them something they may very well want to stick around and watch. They may not want to work on your marriage yet, but they may appreciate you moving forward doing the work even when they’re not invested. Your efforts will speak volumes.

Ultimately, if you lean in and listen it allows them to be heard and have a voice, something we all want. And when you share your desire to save your marriage and then apply actions that show that by getting help yourself and making changes without requiring them to change first, it gives them a space place to stay in. In your worst-case scenario where your spouse walks out, you know that you have done all that you could, and it is not on you. Finally, by getting help yourself with counseling or coaching you will come out of it in a more healthy place.

For additional resources, go to Expedition Marriage Blogs

Or for some encouragement, check out A Message From God for Your Hurting Marriage

Ep. 21: Part 4 – How to L.O.V.E. your Way Through Conflict

Expedition Marriage with Chris & Jamie Bailey
Ep. 21: Part 4 – How to L.O.V.E. your Way Through Conflict

This episode was the final episode in the 4 part series on How to L.O.V.E. Your Way through Conflict. On today’s episode we talked about evaluating the interests of both you and your spouse so you can achieve a win/win in your marriage.

Having a win/win marriage is being able to ask your spouse what their win is in addition to just seeking your own. You may or may not realize that when you fight to win, you’re also fighting to make your spouse lose.

There are three ways you can achieve a win/win marriage:

  • Common solution where you both win
  • Compromise where you both give a little for the win
  • Sacrifice where one of you willingly gives so your marriage can win

Getting to a win for your marriage requires working the problem backwards. Determine what the win is first and then figure out how to get there through communicating by using the other L.O.V.E. components like listening, observing the effects of your spouse, and valuing and validating them. Ask them their win, share with them yours, and then determine your marriage win.

17 Great Pieces of Marriage Advice

17 Great Pieces of Marriage Advice

When it comes to advice on marriage, there are a whole lot of opinions out there. Some of them are valuable, but some, perhaps not so much. As marriage counselors, especially Christian ones, we definitely have our own thoughts on advice for your marriage, but for this compilation, we looked to our Expedition Marriage family over on Instagram and asked them what the best advice they received for their marriage was. 

And let me tell you—they had some FABULOUS words of wisdom to share.

Best Advice for your Marriage

Now, if you’re interested to know what our best advice for married couples is, it’s this…

Don’t give up! Decide right from the beginning to have an “all in” marriage.

When struggles come up, when disappointments happen, and when you both grow and change, decide to always lean in and work it out.

Never run from your struggles, instead, allow God to use them to shape you, to encourage one another, and to grow you.

You can pick and choose from all of this advice along the journey of marriage, but the thing that will always matter the most is your refusal to quit.