Married? Get Off the Island!

by Joe on May 20, 2011

This article comes from one my favorite marriage counselor, author and speaker Mark Gungor – it was previously published on his blog page.  Hope you find it helpful.

There is a very troubling phenomenon in churches today and it’s having a terrible and very destructive effect on marriages. Far too many couples are living on their own “islands” and are actually living a lie.  Millions of Christians husbands and wives are experiencing struggles and trials in their marriages, yet they are going through life in isolation, refusing to tell anyone or to bring their pastor, their friends, or family into it. They come to church and go about their business acting like everything is just hunky-dory, when the reality is, they are miserable and going through hell. What on earth makes people think that they can just be dishonest and lie and pretend that nothing is wrong? They are deceiving others and they are lying—that is sin!  It sounds harsh, but it’s true!

Living a LIE

Why are so many people lying when church community and family surround them? These are the people that we should go to, ask questions of, talk things out with, and get wisdom from so we can effectively handle the challenges of life. But instead, we end up being on an island. It’s just the two of us and all the stuff we’re dealing with.  We are playing Survivor and trying to see who gets voted off and who stays on the island—the problem is pretty soon we destroy our marriage in the process!

Are people too embarrassed to share their issues? Are they too prideful to get help? Everyone has issues and we all argue about stuff—sometimes over the stupidest things! (Even my wife and do it!)  It’s only in bringing it out into the open and letting someone else in on your “stuff” that we can get a perspective of the situation, bring attention to what’s going on, and get help where it is needed. Lots of problems and issues are easily solved with a third party helping, but most often people think they can just tough it out and go it alone. They don’t get help and things don’t get better.

The reality is, we aren’t supposed to do it alone. We need to be in community; yet, something in the mentality of so many people tells them that no one should know their business. No one should know that they argue and scream and fight.  So no one knows that he is hitting her or shoving her around. No one knows that there is sexual infidelity or sexual addiction issues. No one knows they haven’t had sex or slept in the same room for two or three years. They are struggling miserably, it’s a secret and nobody knows. This is absurd!  Letting these kinds of situations go on and on is ridiculous. You have to get counsel; you must seek out help and advice to get these issues out in the light where they can be dealt with. And do not be so foolish as to let years and years go by before you do something about these things!

Act NOW!!

You need to deal with this stuff right away, don’t wait! If you are having an issue that you just can’t seem to solve or deal with on your own, don’t let years go by in misery while your marriage goes down the tubes because of it. Let me give you an analogy that is easy to understand. My wife, Debbie, had skin cancer. Now, she went and had it taken care of immediately and even though they said it was terrible and the prognosis was doom and gloom, praise God it all came out perfectly fine. Now, what if she had waited on this? What if she saw a problem and just thought, “It’s nothing. If I ignore it, it will just go away. It will be fine”? But then it’s not fine and two years down the road she would end up at the doctor and there would be tumors all over! Now it’s a desperate situation and way worse than if she had just taken care of it in the first place. The doctors would wonder why on earth she didn’t come in sooner for help!  That is exactly what millions of people are doing in their marriages.

They wait and wait and wait, thinking that somehow by the sprinkling of fairy dust, or just the right prayer, that the issues are going to magically disappear. Or because so many couples don’t want to deal with the conflict, they think if they just ignore it, it’ll go away. They keep putting the problems on the shelf and won’t don’t deal with them until the shelf gets so heavy it collapses. This is not working and is destroying marriages.

Honestly!!!

God did not create us to be islands on our own. He put us in relationships, in community, in family for a reason. When you are having trouble, seek out the guidance and support of others. Find a stable couple that you know is happily married or has weathered the storms—maybe similar to the ones that you are facing—and get counsel.

This brings me back to the whole issue of being honest. If you and your spouse have struggled be it with infidelity, stepfamily issues, health issues, work issues, pornography—whatever it is—and have overcome the trouble, you can be a great asset to other couples! But you have to be honest and you say, “Look, we aren’t perfect! We’ve been to hell and back, but by the grace of God, have survived!”  If you and your spouse are currently struggling with any issues, you have to be honest and say, “Look, we aren’t perfect! We’re in hell! We need help!” Sadly, herein lies the rub.

Christianity is so often just a fake, plastic world that millions of people live in—not being real, not being honest—pretending that everything is “just fine!” They give everyone around them the impression that they are “just great!” It’s baloney!  The bible says we should confess our faults one to another. We need to shine the light on this stuff, but we’re not doing it. We hide and pretend that everything is wonderful and have to keep up this false front, where no one can know what is really going on. It’s just between you, the devil and the dark and it keeps getting worse and worse. It’s exactly what the enemy wants. If it all stays in the dark, it can grow and fester and consume and destroy you. Once you are honest, confess it and the light of truth shines on it, then and only then can it be fixed and healed.

Christians need to tear down this artificial standard, throw out this ridiculous and destructive game that we play showing off our Sunday best all the time. It’s time to get real with who we are, and with what’s going on. You need to find people who can work through the challenges and questions you have.

People ask me questions all the time about this or that particular situation. How do I solve such and such?  What do I do with this circumstance?  I can give them general guidance but usually tell them they need to be connecting with other mentor couples—whether that is relatives or their church family—to help figure this stuff out. When your spouse is doing something outrageous or even something that you find questionable or objectionable, you should go to your friends and family who know you guys! Sometimes you will need to go to your pastor, but why not run it past the others in your life? After all, the church is supposed to be the priesthood of believers where we are ministers to each other.

A wife should be able to go to her husband’s friends and ask them—“Hey, guys, let me ask you a question. My husband, Bob, is spending five hours a week in a chat room on the Internet with his former girlfriend. What do you think of that?” She needs to feel safe enough to go to a support structure and get help. Then these guys need to sit Bob down and have a come-to-Jesus-meeting with the dude. They need to tell him to knock it off!

But people won’t do that. Instead they sit there in misery, letting the secrecy destroy their marriage and family.  Here is another example: Say Suzy hasn’t had sex with her husband for five months. She just doesn’t feel like it and comes up with excuses. They’ve argued repeatedly, gotten nowhere, and the dude is climbing the walls. Many couples will wait and let this continue for years! Don’t do that! As difficult as this seems, they need to sit down with someone in their support structure and deal with this. Often times just having a third party there helps to diffuse the entire situation—especially when it is full of pain and so emotionally charged to the point that you end up screaming and yelling and fighting with each other. With another person or couple present, you generally behave better and have a much more calm and reasonable discussion, not to mention they will be a source of wisdom and insight for you!

Churches are meant to be a place where we can walk out our faith, encourage one another, give guidance and help. Church doesn’t exist to be the social club where you make yourself look good!  If you are yelling at your husband all the way from home to the church parking lot, ready to strangle him and then when you step through the front door of the building, put the phony smile on your face and masquerade like all is well, you are a fraud. You are living a lie. Do not kid yourself.  The Church needs to be a place where truth prevails…even when that truth is the good the bad or the ugly. It should be a place that is safe enough to talk about what the real issues are.

Stop with this nonsense already, because marriages, families, and children are being destroyed and it doesn’t have to be that way. Couples will fair so much better if they get other people involved.  Get off the island!

What are your thoughts?

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  • { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    ross July 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    relationships are always difficult, people shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help if they are having difficulty. Its even tough to live with roommates that you aren’t in a relationship with. I’ve talked to counselors with my wife and it’s really helped alot. It just makes it easier to understand the other’s point of view. It can help keep the lines of communication open.

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