3 Questions for an Ailing Marriage

I’ve discovered three questions you can use to diagnose an ailing marriage. I would like to tell you I discovered these questions while completing my graduate degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, but the truth is, I discovered these questions while lying in a hospital bed.

A couple of weeks ago, I wound up in the ER and spent a few days in the hospital. It turns out that it was not as serious as we had feared, but it did force me to spend a lot of time lying in a hospital bed waiting for test results.

On one of those days, I was unable to sleep. So I started looking around my hospital room and noticed a sign on the door. The sign started off with these words: “Don’t forget to ask us three important questions.” That got my attention. As I read through the three questions, I thought, “These questions would be good questions for spouses to ask when their marriage wasn’t feeling well.”

Here are the three questions:

This is a great question for two reasons. First, it calls me to look at my problem, not my spouse’s. This is really hard for me. It’s always easier to look at my spouse’s problems. But this question forces me to start with my own issues first. It’s what the Bible talks about when it says we should remove the log from our own eye before we try to remove the speck from someone else’s eye. (Matt. 7:5)

Secondly, this question calls me to focus on my main problem, rather than getting bogged down with a lot of smaller problems. It’s really easy for us to spend time and effort on lesser things, rather than spending our time and effort on the main thing. As the old saying goes, “We need to make the main thing the main thing.”

This is another great question for two reasons. First, it puts the responsibility on my shoulders. It doesn’t say, “What does someone else need to do about it?” We all would like to believe our problems are caused by other people, and those people need to fix our problems. There may be a kernel of truth in that, but if we’re serious about wanting change, the best thing we can do is start taking responsibility for our problems.

Secondly, this question tells me I have to actively do something. I can’t sit back and passively expect things to get better on their own. Everything in life (including marriage) gets worse if you leave it alone and do nothing. If something is going to get better, we must put time, effort, and resources into it.

This is a key question because my answer to this question will determine my motivation to do what I need to do. It’s always easier to make a quick decision rather than take the time to think through the possible outcomes of my actions. But thinking about what could happen if I fail to deal with my main problem can provide the motivation I need for change.

Don’t wait until your marriage is in the ER or hospital to ask yourself these three questions. Ask them. Honestly answer them. Then do something about them. You may be surprised just how much of an impact this will have on your marriage.

If you’re in an ailing marriage, try asking yourself these three questions. Take the time to really think through your main problem…not your spouse’s. Think about what you need to do. Understand why it’s important for you to do something about this. Then, take a step to actually do something. 

Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg

Leave a Comment