Editor’s Note: This post is from Randy and Melody Hemphill, authors of 30 Days of Hope for Hurting Marriages. This powerful resource is full of hope and encouragement for marriages in crisis. It’s a practical and helpful resource for your own marriage, a friend, family member, or pastoral counselor.

  1. Be honest. Instead of dismissing or denying the pain, choose to open up to your spouse about any struggles. Hidden pain can eventually turn into resentment and blame. Your honesty with your spouse may be the starting point for a journey of healing.
  2. Wrestle with God. The trite answer would be, “Well, you just need to pray.” You may or may not feel like praying right now. You may even be angry that God allowed this to happen. Instead of retreating or resenting, engage God with honest prayers. Wrestle with Him through Scripture reading and prayer.
  3. Remember. One of the words used throughout the Old Testament is “remember.” God knew that His people were prone to forget and rely on feelings in their circumstances. To remember is to go back and trace the larger story of God’s grace in your life and marriage. There was a time when the marriage was alive and growing. Take time to remember.
  4. Focus on your own field. One of the most common toxins for tough times in marriage is to blame. “If he would just . . . ” “If she would stop . . . ” “Maybe I should have . . . ” Blame is our way of trying to make sense of the difficulty or assign “payment.” This only widens the marriage divide. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What can I do to grow through this?” or “How might I be contributing to an unhealthy relationship?”
  5. Do not make any hasty decisions. When emotions run high, this is the worst time to make major decisions. Hasty decisions can be regretful decisions. Slow down and take small steps.
  6. Fight the enemy, not your spouse. Though you may feel like your spouse is an enemy, you have one enemy and his name is Satan. With a deep hatred of God and the institution of marriage, Satan wants to destroy your marriage and family. Funnel your anger toward him.
  7. Surround yourself with wise counsel. You need a few trusted companions who will listen and offer sound advice.
  8. Develop community in a local church. Churches are intended to be safe places for hurting people. You need a community of brothers and sisters who will love you through this season.
  9. Guard your heart and desires. A hurting marriage can be the perfect storm for an affair or addiction. Instead of moving toward your spouse, the temptation is to find validation from another. Guard your heart.
  10. Write a new chapter. God is a loving Father who uses hardship and trials to shape us. He desires to use this season in your life and marriage to usher in something new. Turn the page, take up the pen, and ask God to write a new chapter.