1. You have to be just the person your spouse needs you to be
Are you free to be yourself in your marriage without any restraints? I am not talking about doing whatever you want without any regard for your spouse’s well being or feelings. I am talking about being pretentious, or a people pleaser, who bends backwards just to make your spouse happy, while you don’t feel yourself, or that you have an opinion of your own. If you don’t know what it’s like to be yourself, then you are more likely codependent on your spouse. Your job is not to be who your spouse wants you to be in order to make your spouse happy, or to meet his/her needs. Your spouse should be happy for who you are and more importantly, you should be happy for who you are. If not, then you must ask yourself why.
2. You are not sure what you are worth but your spouse knows
Self- respect creates respectful relationships. If you value who you are, then you will value your spouse and will expect your spouse to value and respect you for who you are. Anything less than that standard will compromise the health of your relationship. If you uphold this principle, you will never tolerate any form of abusive behavior in your marital relationship. Respect leaves room for disagreements and differences without the threat and intimidation of devaluing one’s self worth. There is no room for name calling, pointing fingers, or simply attacking each other for punishment. That is because you are secure in who you are and you have no false humility about your true value as a unique person created in God’s image and likeness.
3. You can’t tell your spouse many things for fear that he/she will judge you
When your spouse believes in you, it is very easy to encourage you and cheer you on in your journey together. It often comes natural. But if you often feel negative about yourself after you interact with your spouse and struggle with feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, or simply criticism, then begin to ask yourself why. This is a red flag in the relationship. Even if you often find yourself having to avoid your spouse so that you won’t get disappointed and hurt by his/her cynicism, criticism, or simply pessimism of life, then something is not healthy there. You are not being the best you can be when you are with such a person. You and your spouse need help.
4. You feel bored, uninterested, and unmotivated in your marriage
This is where marital fulfillment comes alive at the very heartbeat of the marital relationship. There is a God given destiny and purpose at the heart of every marriage, much like at any individual’s life. I don’t believe that the sole purpose of marriage is to procreate and therefore continue the human race. There has to be more to life than just being alive. This is what makes us as humans different from animals and plants. We don’t just perpetuate the life of the human race, but we get to write the history of the human race and influence our planet by the way we live. That is right, our life ought to be bigger than us; it has to extend to the universe around us, therefore allowing us to create a legacy. Each family has its own legacy to create and when you get married, you partner with your spouse to create your own legacy as a family. You both co-labor and get inspired from God and from each other in life to be creative and to reign with God as His people on earth. Is your spouse inspiring or complacent in life? Does he/she have dreams that he/she wants to fulfill, or has he/she given up on his/her dreams? Have you given up? If your spouse has given up for whatever reason, it is likely that life with your spouse will be more like a dry place, lacking the excitement and the fulfillment of a God given purpose. You and your spouse must resuscitate the life that you both have lost in your marriage.
5. You and your spouse made mistakes that you cannot get past in your marriage
There has to be room for mistakes and disappointments in your marriage. This is part of life. Things will not always go as planned and people around you will disappoint you, including your spouse and children. Many marriages end in bitterness and resentment between spouses because of unfulfilled desires and dreams. The question is, will you remain angry, hurt, and bitter, or will you grow up, get healed, and become better? I am not suggesting that you ignore the problems and challenges in your marriage; I am simply saying that you challenge those challenges by fighting back for what you value in your life. This is not a complacent and passive attitude for the wrong doings of you and your spouse, but rather a tenacious resolve to do the right thing in the midst of the injustice of the wrong doings and failures. You are not able to change the past, but you are able to respond and therefore change and shape your present, having the hope of God for your future. Hope and faith in God change things for the better no matter where you come from. His promise to us who believe in Him is to exchange our ashes for His beauty. Are you up for the challenge?
By Kayla Roberts, BCPC, RMHCI