Susan* came into my office convinced her marriage was over. "But I promised myself and Bob that I would at least try counselling," she said. Three months later, they reported that their marriage was restored and better than ever. Why? Because Bob and Susan chose to ACT.

Assess attitudes

Susan and Bob agreed they had hurt one another and expressed genuine regret for the pain each had caused. They recognized that focusing on getting their own way so much of the time had resulted in anger, resentment and tension. Failing to actively serve one another was a big reason their marriage struggled.

Cultivate commitment

Both Susan and Bob saw that being unhappy was not a good reason for abandoning their commitment. Instead, it was an opportunity to work at their relationship. They reaffirmed that commitment is about character, perseverance, faithfulness, stability and maturity. They said to one another, "I will finish what I started and will do my best." This determination to work things through was foundational to their success.

Take up some tools

Most people need tools to help them repair a troubled marriage. Counselling (to which Bob and Susan both agreed), retreats, workshops, books, tapes and assessments can all help a couple stuck in poor relational patterns. If what is going on in the relationship is making one or both people unhappy, make changes. Change requires new input, new ideas of some sort. Sit down (preferably together), make a plan and learn together.

ACT

Attitude, commitment, tools . . . they’re inner and outer resources. Although Bob and Susan experienced marital trouble before they tackled it, happy couples whose marriages are strong can also grow closer after taking emotional inventory and employing the selfless techniques Bob and Susan discovered. This couple successfully applied them to their marriage. When your marriage needs a little help, don’t forget these resources are available to you, too.

*Names changed to protect privacy

© 2007 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.  

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