A Marriage Crippling Arrangement

Every so often when I become moderately acquainted with a man or woman before I meet their spouse I wonder why their spouse puts up with them. Then I meet the spouse and it becomes clear – they have an unspoken agreement to put up with each other’s rudeness, faults, and sins. They each pretend the other is okay in return for the same treatment from their spouse.

A Marriage Crippling Arrangement

I’m all for grace, but what I’m talking about here isn’t grace. It’s an “I’ll ignore your drinking problem as long as you ignore my shoplifting” kind of thing. It’s two broken people who would rather put up with a dysfunctional spouse than work on their own healing.

These marriages rarely last for a lifetime. One of two things happens: 1) One person gets tired of being broken and starts to heal and grow, at which point they no longer have a reason to put up with their spouse’s brokenness. Or 2) One person gets so bad the other feels what they have to put up with is far more than what their spouse puts up with. Either of these results in a lot of ugliness followed by a messy divorce. 

Grace is great, ignoring sin and major dysfunction is not. Grace encourages healing, pretending problems don’t exist doesn’t. Grace is biblical, avoidance is not. If you’re ignoring, pretending, or avoiding, please know the odds are good it will become worse. Likewise, if you’re counting on your husband ignoring, pretending, or avoiding. If this is a big issue in your marriage it could well be what destroys your marriage. If you see your marriage in this, please find good help ASAP. If hubby won’t go for help go alone.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I hate slow-motion marriage catastrophes

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6 Comments on “A Marriage Crippling Arrangement

  1. Good thoughts, Paul. Sometimes one’s upbringing is a driving force behind it. If the ideas “you can’t enter marriage expecting to change your spouse” and “forgive seventy times seven” have been drilled into your head your whole life, but you’ve never been taught about setting boundaries, it isn’t necessarily a conscious choice. You may think it’s what you’re supposed to do.

    “1) One person gets tired of being broken and starts to heal and grow, at which point they no longer have a reason to put up with their spouse’s brokenness….results in a lot of ugliness followed by a messy divorce. ” Usually, but not always. In some cases, when the growing up spouse doesn’t put up with it anymore, they learn to set boundaries and the other spouse decides to change.

    • @T – Yeah, I can see how those messages could cause some real problems. Sure helps when we teach all of God’s word!

      And yes, sometimes one person changing precipitates change in the spouse. Sadly this is not the norm when there have been years of dysfunction.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There Are No (Good) Marriage ShortcutsMy Profile

  2. Recently, my dad told me that he had been happily married one year out of fifty and it was the first year. I went to a counselor because we had some triangulation issues and the counselor said that they had a co-dependent relationship. He said to get out of the relationship as soon as possible because when their world fell apart, I would get the blame! My dad took my mom to counseling one time and she refused to go back. She told my dad that he was the problem, she was just fine the way she was. They are still married and both are miserable! My message is things will not get better with time unless you commit to working on it!

  3. Regarding “These marriages rarely last for a lifetime.” In my opinion (if let’s say 80% of marriage are exactly like this situation), as long as they are still together, and they haven’t decided to divorce yet, the odds are still high in saving their marriage and make it work.

    I am less than a 100% sure, that either one of them still want their marriage work. And if that’s the case, one of them could step forward, learn how to go back to where they used to be before they got married, and then save their marriage eventually. What do you think?

    Come to think of it: You can ignore his drinking problem. My wife has that problem back then (and I don’t have time for our relationship because of work – the situation is almost the same), but she suddenly stopped drinking. I asked her why. Her answer is, “I wanted to learn how we can make this marriage work.” In verbatim.

    I tried fixing my time management so I could give her some of my time, but it took me months before I get used to it. I still don’t have time, but she knows that I’m trying my best to give her some.

    By March 2018, we’re expecting for a healthy son to join us in our journey.

    To sum it all, I think this type of situation could be saved as long as one of them still wants to make it work. The other one will follow once they have realized that.

    They got married not to have this kind of relationship, but they have a dream marriage that they are still holding on. And, they can learn it.

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