There’s a moment in the recent film The Way Back I can’t stop thinking about. Ben Affleck plays a deeply troubled, alcoholic coach of a boys high school team. During a crucial game, his team is down big against a more talented group of players. Affleck’s character rallies them to play as a team, and tells them they won’t win the game all at once, they have to chip away at the lead, do the hard work, hustle every play, remember who they are.
The movie never slams the point home, but this is what Affleck’s character needs to do as well. He isn’t going to dig out of the hole his life is in all at once, it’ll involve waking up every day and doing the hard work to turn his life around. And this is how our marriage’s are too.
I want you to pause for a second and take an honest assessment of where your marriage is at. Are you communication lines open and healthy, or have you been drifting over time? Does your spouse feel affirmed and appreciated by you, or are slow resentments building? Are you hiding the most honest part of who you are from your spouse, or learning every day to be vulnerable and transparent? Are you working as a team throughout the day, or are you doing it on your own? How is your sex life? How is your spiritual health?
Your answer to some or all of these might be positive. Maybe your marriage is firing on all cylinders right now, and if so great! Enjoy this season of life! But many of you are seeing areas where are marriages could be far better. Maybe some of you reading this right now are barely holding on. Maybe you feel the temptation of an affair circling in the back of your mind, never looked at directly, but allowed to exist. Maybe this pandemic has turned marriage struggles into seemingly unfixable fissures. Or maybe it’s not some huge crisis you see brewing, you’re just realizing part of your marriage’s walls have fallen in to disrepair.
The hard news is this: you can’t fix your marriage overnight, in the same way that your marriage didn’t get into this situation overnight. The good news, however, is that you can chip away at the problem spots. You can choose today to tell your spouse they look beautiful, or that you see their hard work, or that it’s going to be okay, or that they’re doing a good job with the kids.
You can choose today to look at that dangerous, potential affair that’s brewing and call it what it is. You can ask why you are drifting toward this person, you can set hard boundaries about how you’ll interact with this temptation, you can tell trusted friends, you can go to counseling.
Today you can choose to begin forgiving or start communicating. Today you can choose to be honest. Today you can choose to be kind. Today you can choose to serve.
And then you can choose the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And each day you’ll be chipping away at the seemingly insurmountable hole your marriage is in.
And then one day you’ll wake up and you’ll realize something: you won the game.
– What is one area of your marriage you know isn’t as strong as it could be? Be as specific as possible.
– What is one decision or habit YOU have been making that allowed it to get that way.
– What is one decision or habit you could make for the next 30 days? Something you could choose to do every single day, as best you could, that would chip away at the problem in your marriage?
Joshua Pease is a contributing writer for Thriving Marriages, and is a writer, pastor, and has a podcast called “God Is Better Than You Think.”