It’s crazy to think that I’m writing a blog post on marriage. For those of you who don’t know my past, I was twice divorced and done, as in DONE, DONE, DONE, with men and the idea of marriage.
And yet here I am, years later, happily married. Glory be to God!
I would never lie about my past, but it’s not something I generally bring up unless prompted. Sadly, more and more couples are divorcing today than ever before, but it’s still not something to be proud of or brag about. Especially if you’re in ministry. Especially if you’re a life coach. Especially if you’re an author of self-help books.
Some nerve I have writing about marriage…
Me, Speak To Marriage?
How can I compete with the wisdom and credibility of married couples who have made it work for twenty or thirty years? I admire the steadfast and devoted folks who have survived incredibly tough times when I chose to bail for less. How can I hold my head up high and not feel ashamed of my poor decisions?
In all honesty, it hasn’t been easy.
There are times during conversations when I admit to my previously failed marriages and I wonder if those I’m talking to can see me wince. I’m certain it’s visible. If I can feel it, they can see it. It’s as if the spotlight of judgement is upon me and I question what in the world I have to bring to the marriage table. What could I possibly have to offer?
More Than I Ever Imagined
Actually, I have more to offer than I ever imagined.
The entire premise of life coaching is to speak to what you’ve personally gone through, survived, and thrived beyond. When it comes to marriage, I know firsthand what doesn’t work. And while I’ve only had six years figuring out what does, my cumulative, comprehensive experience is worth something. Quite frankly, it’s worth a lot.
In an interesting sort of way, I can impart understanding and wisdom that someone who has never been divorced can’t quite relate to. Certainly this isn’t a reason to get divorced, but heck, if I’ve already been, I might as well use my experience for good. Maybe, just maybe, I can help keep others from getting divorced!
The Key to Marriage
So, while I may not be proud of what got me to the place I am, I’m honored and blessed to be here, and grateful for the opportunity and platform to share.
Marriage is hard work.
- I don’t care how much you love your spouse, there are days you will loathe them.
- I don’t care how attracted you are to your spouse, there are days their beauty will be hidden from your eyes. And I mean gone-zo! Non-existent.
- I don’t care how devoted you think you are, there are days you will question your commitment.
It happens to all of us. We are not alone.
But we must be guarded in what we think and careful with what we say for a single bad moment can be the catalyst for a downhill slide.
The Key? NO EXIT!
Yup, that’s it. NO EXIT!
At the very same time, it will be both the easiest and hardest promise you’ve ever kept, but it will make the difference between success and failure.
NO EXIT is the commitment Lindon and I made to each other before we got married.
- We agreed that we would NEVER utter the ‘D’ word, not even in jest. No mention of it, no threats, no jokes.
- We agreed that we would NEVER open the door of doubt that our marriage wasn’t forever.
- We agreed that we would NEVER use an angry moment or disappointing situation as ammunition to fuel a retaliatory fire.
When we got married, it was going to be FOREVER. Anything to the contrary was off limits. We promised to take our vows seriously. They weren’t just words we repeated like love struck parrots. They were indicative of the commitment we were making and the vows we would keep. And notice the distinction. We didn’t just ‘intend’ to keep our vows, but we promised to. We WOULD keep them. We left no room for discussion. There is no Plan B.
What Does It Take To Make It Work?
It’s easy to agree to something before an argument or challenging situation, but much harder to keep your promise during a meltdown.
Our best advice? Keep your mouth shut.
WHATEVER IT TAKES, DO NOT UTTER A WORD THAT WOULD CONTRADICT OR COMPROMISE YOUR PROMISE. Not one word. Never. Not today, not tomorrow, not twenty years from now.
- Leaving is off limits
- Separating is off limits
- Divorcing is off limits.
Once you are genuinely invested in the ‘NO EXIT’ concept, the desire or need to threaten or leave evaporates.
There’s just no point.
Communication is more effective, disagreements are resolved more quickly, and your foundation will remain intact. No fractures, no threats, no crumbling out from underneath you.
There is tremendous freedom and joy when you are ‘all in’, and once you realize the benefit and value, it gets easier and easier to sustain… and to enjoy!
What If You’ve Already Messed Up?
What if you’ve been married for a while now and the NO EXIT boundary has already been crossed. Is it too late?
Not by a long shot.
Draw a line in the sand and start fresh.
If you’re thinking that just sounds naïve and unrealistic, consider the alternative. Do you WANT to be miserable? Do you WANT to be divorced?
If not, draw that line and begin anew.
“…Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5
Pray. Ask God for forgiveness. Ask your spouse for forgiveness. And don’t step back.
Is This All It Takes?
Is the NO EXIT sign enough?
It’s not enough if you want a joyful marriage. You can stay married, never breathe the ‘D’ word, and live miserable existences under the same roof.
There’s much more effort that needs to be made. Successful marriages require love, respect, communication, adoration, teamwork, honesty, reliability, and trust among other things. BUT, if you don’t have the NO EXIT sign firmly in place, none of the rest will matter.
Is There Ever A Reason To Leave?
Unfortunately, there are times when leaving is the healthiest choice. We would never advocate for someone to stay in an abusive relationship. We would hope and pray you would seek counseling and help as soon as problems crop up, but if you feel you are in imminent danger, whether it’s emotional or physical, you must put distance between you and your abuser.
NO EXIT Works!
I speak from experience, the NO EXIT commitment works. Hang the sign around your heart and your home and reap the benefits of a marriage built on the firm foundation that God desires. NO EXIT is not a license to abuse each other, rather the gateway towards enjoying each other. When you live without the threat of divorce and with the confidence of longevity, it’s far easier and much more fulfilling to invest your time, energy, heart, and soul into your spouse and your marriage.
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Getting married is easy; staying married is what takes work. Make the NO EXIT commitment today!
Need help? Check out our life coaching page and email us today!