When you’re struggling to invest in a marriage that just isn’t improving and you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle in your relationship, the above image feels a million miles away. The feelings it elicits are complicated: recalling a time when dancing on the beach felt like a possibility instead of a fantasy, a memory which only serves to fill you with pain at the distance between then and now. Feeling like your partner has given up and wearing yourself out to try to get through to them leaves you feeling isolated when you want nothing more than to work together on saving the future that you once planned together.
Whether you are at the end of your rope in working through the struggles of your relationship or determined to overcome the hurt and honor your vows, there is one indelible truth:
You are not a failure.
Read that again, and then maybe a third time for good measure. You have not failed because your marriage isn’t thriving. The tools you’ve tried are good enough, just as you are. There is nothing wrong with you for the position you are in or the results you hoped to get but are not seeing. You are not failing, even if your marriage is. You are not failing for feeling hurt or defeated and for seeking support in overcoming the exhaustion of spinning your wheels to heal a hurt that lives in two hearts using only your own.
When you have reached a point of frustration in trying to make your marriage work, taking a step back and caring for yourself is important. Your self-care becomes the armor you can wear into a world that’s trying to wear you down. Care doesn’t always look like the luxurious ideas we see propagated on social media. Massages and bubble baths are certainly one form of self-care, but so is validating your emotions and lived experiences. Seek solace in prayer if that’s what feels right to you, find comfort in caring for your own needs, and make space for them. Be honest with yourself about what’s happening, where you’re spending your energy, and how that feels for you.
There is so much you cannot control but you will always have the power to control your own narrative. Even when things aren’t going as planned in repairing your relationship, you can construct the story you tell yourself to acknowledge the ways you’re trying, whether they’re successful or not. Making space to feel heard when you are otherwise feeling so powerless is a critical part of caring for yourself in the face of a floundering marriage.
Men struggle too
No one wants their marriage to end. Though it happens, we try not to consider that it could happen to any of us. When we do arrive in spaces where we accept or consider those ends and picture one partner fighting to save a relationship, often it’s women we see struggling to revive things. But that’s not a realistic picture. Both parties ache, even if only one is fighting, and it’s not always the women who are doing the work of trying.
When men are the ones working hard to repair damage and rebuild a solid foundation, it may feel both isolating and largely invisible because that’s not the way the narrative looks for most folks. Men often have less emotionally intimate friendships and as such, have less space in which it feels safe to discuss feelings or the experiences of others. If you’re a man fighting to save a relationship that’s still struggling, you deserve to take up space with your worries and to have your energy validated.
There is hope for you
No matter the fate of your relationship as it hangs in the balance beyond your hands, you should know that there is hope for you. Your worth does not depend on the outcome of your marriage. Whatever comes of your outpouring of energy to save and repair what was once your forever, there is so much value to what you’ve put into this. Give thanks to your effort, your spouse, and your past while honoring your now. Regardless of what the future may hold, you have hope to hold onto for what the future may bring. The efforts you have made matter, the space you take up and offer to your spouse is valuable, and you will find a way forward that brings you peace.
You’re making a tremendous effort and we see you. If you are struggling with the weight of uncertainty and failed attempts, we would love to offer you the support you so deserve, alone or with your partner. We currently serve the Chicago and Arlington Heights areas for both online and in-person options. If you’re longing to reconnect with your partner and close the gap, we’re here to support you. But no matter what comes next, the sun will rise tomorrow, and so will you.