From time to time I meet with couples in crisis. They find themselves stuck. They have been hurt by each other. What used to attract them to the other now annoys. They trigger each other. They are tearing each other down rather than building each other up.
When both in the relationship are followers of Jesus, I have found that hitting reset by helping each of them reconnect with Jesus brings a great deal of healing.
If both are pursuing Jesus then they will end up closer to each other.
Here are some practical ways I encourage couples to work towards healing and a new start:
REFOCUS ON YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
1. Pray daily on your own – Communicate with God.
“God help me to become who you created me to be. Show me your ways, and help me trust you as I obey your leading.”
Praying through the Psalms can be a helpful practice.
Be sure to include ACTS:
- Adoration (praising God for who He is)
- Confession (asking God for forgiveness)
- Thanksgiving (thank God for specific answers to prayer or blessings)
- Supplication (asking God for help in specific situations).
2. Read and Meditate on the Scriptures – Listen to God.
8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:8-9
Read through the Gospel of John
Before you read, ask God to reveal Himself to you and show you His ways.
• The Three Day Plunge – Read 7 chapters a day for 3 days in a row.
• The Seven Day Challenge – Read 3 chapters a day for 7 days.
• The Twenty-one Day Experiment – Read 1 chapter a day for 21 days.
Read the Letters of Paul. Ask God to guide you through each day to love Him and love others.
Read through the Psalms. Notice how honest the authors of these poems was with his feelings.
Read through the Proverbs. Notice the characteristics of the wise person as opposed to the fool.
To understand the context of each book of the Bible along with themes throughout the Scripture, go toThe Bible Project.
3. Listen to messages based on the Scriptures.
Find a local church. Every Sunday ask God to speak to you through the service and to show you ways you can serve another person that morning.
Listen to the messages below.
Consider podcasts from the following:
- Gateway Church Austin*
- Tim Keller
- Andy Stanley
- Brian Loritts
- Exploring My Strange Bible with Tim Mackie
*.Gateway Austin messages notes are posted on Mondays at ericbryant.org.
4. Seek ways to serve your spouse.
GROWING AS A COUPLE
1. Find community
Find a men’s group, a women’s group, a couples group, or a recovery group.
2 Go on a date weekly or at least regularly
Ask each other what you have been discovering in your relationship with God and what has been good about the week. Use dates to celebrate and continue to pursue each other and get to know each other. Dates are great times to remember moments that brought you close to each other in the past and dream about the future together.
Take the following assessments to discuss on dates (and get to know each other at a deeper level):
Avoid discussing finances, kids, or any other topics that trigger your conflict during dates.
4. Share a monthly or regular breakfast “business meeting”
Set aside time together in a public setting to discuss areas you want to work on in your marriage.
Setting this time aside will help you go to bed without being angry and helps you avoid arguing throughout the week. “Let’s talk about this at our next breakfast.”
Come with 3 or 4 areas you would like to discuss – areas needing improvement.
If you both listed at least one item in common then choose that one to discuss.
- What has helped us with this issue in the past?
- What are some things we have tried that did not work?
- What are some new things we could try to grow together in this area.
Choose at least one thing to try together for the next few weeks to make improvement.
If you find yourself struggling to brainstorm new things to try together, use the next several weeks to brainstorm independently from each other. Come together at your breakfast time to discuss the 8 to 10 ideas you had to improve this area. Choose one that you might have in common to build upon.
5. Pray daily with each other and for each other.
Ask God to bless your spouse. Ask God to be with your spouse in the ways he or she needs Him to be.
The Secret Sauce for Marriage – couples that pray together daily divorce only 1 out of 10,000 times
5. Listen or watch the following messages together.
- Relational Rollercoaster
- Love Is Sexy
- Love Is Exhausting
- Love Is Enduring
- If I Only Knew Then… Dating
- If I Only Knew Then… Marriage
- Epic Fail? Marriage Failure
6. Couples Counseling
Finding a Christian counselor can be a truly relationship-transforming experience.