Every marriage faces difficulties at some point. Sharing a life with another person is hard, and arguments and disagreements are a common part of married life. But if you’re going through an especially difficult time due to infidelity, addiction, mental health issues or the like, you may be wondering how you can save your marriage, or whether you want to continue with it at all.
Recently on Go Ask Your Father™, Monsignor Stuart Swetland suggested three steps to take if your marriage is in trouble.
Seek Outside Help
If you’re having marital difficulties I think you should seek counseling. And it’s not a weakness to seek help with your marriage. It’s a weakness not to seek help for your marriage.
There are probably marriages that will never need outside counseling, pastoral or otherwise. But I think they’ll probably be the minority. I think most people, at some time in their life, are going to need some outside help in just getting through a tough patch in marriage.
It’s not unusual for a priest, or other people who work for the Church, to need counseling. Hopefully every priest is in spiritual direction, and hopefully every priest is going to Confession on a regular basis. So they have more than one person to help them specifically in their ministry.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve used counseling at times when I’ve had to deal with particularly difficult times in my life. It’s a weakness not to seek counseling when you need it. It’s never a weakness to seek counseling, to seek help. We’re in this together.
Let’s now turn to the question of grace. When you’re going through a difficult period in marriage or in any other vocation, the temptation can be to lessen one’s prayer. But when you’re going through difficult times you need to pray all the more. And if prayer is difficult it’s even more important that you pray all the more.
If you can pray together as a couple, that’s even better. But you have to redouble your efforts in the spiritual life during difficulty, so that you will avail yourself of God’s grace. Ask for the help to see things as God sees them.
As you’re working with a counseling or a guide or a pastor, you follow their insights and help as you pray. You figure out how to do that together.
Remember Your Vows
This can be a difficult one. Remember perseverance, remember patience, and remember your vows. Perseverance will win all things. One has to be patient with one’s self and with one’s spouse, because we are not perfected yet.
I don’t have a bumper sticker, but if I did it would say, ‘Be patient with me, God isn’t through yet.’ God isn’t through with any of us yet, and we are on the way to being perfected if we are cooperating with the grace God gives us. So we have to be patience with ourselves and with others.
We have to be persistent in fighting the good fight of faith. That’s where the third part of that, remembering our vows, comes in. Because we made certain commitments in our vocational life. We discerned after a great deal of prayer and a great deal of work whether we were called to be married.
Remember back to when you did that discernment, and when you followed God’s call and answered the call to marry this person. Recognize that you made certain commitments. For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, until death do us part.
That means God gave you all the grace you need to make it work. And if you rely and live those vows it will be good for you, it will be good for your spouse, it will be good for the Kingdom.
Listen to the full response below: