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It Takes Two to Make a Marriage Work

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Q: “My spouse is not willing to work on our marriage.  Doesn’t it take two to fix a marriage?”

Dr. E says: Yes, it takes two…but it may not be the two you are thinking of.

The common belief is that it takes both spouses to be fully committed to make a marriage work. Technically that may be true. If one partner has determined in their heart that nothing…NOTHING is going to change his/her mind, such a marriage might not be saved.

But my experience counseling hundreds of married couples – and the Word of God - tells me something different for the majority of troubled marriages.

I believe it takes one spouse and God to make a marriage work.

Stay with me here.

A spouse shuts down on the marriage because his/her needs have gone unmet. They’ve given up.

But you have the key to your spouse’s heart! The key to motivating another person is meeting that person’s deepest need, especially during conflict.

What is your spouse’s deepest need?

Ephesians 5:33 reveals this secret: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (NIV).

Note that this verse does not say that you must love or respect only if you receive the same. What it does say is that a husband is to love, and a wife is to respect. Period.

Unconditional respect melts a husband’s heart.

Furthermore, 1 Peter 3:1, 2 says a wife can win her disobedient husband without a word, but with her respectful behavior.

What did Peter know about men? That unconditional respect melts a husband’s heart.

Unconditional love melts a wife’s heart.

And Hosea 3:1 says, “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites.’”

What did the Lord know about women? That unconditional love melts even the hardest of hearts!

It takes God and one willing heart.

Bottom line: Do not wait for your spouse to join in to help “fix” your marriage. Even though your marriage feels hopeless to you, it is not hopeless to God!

I have seen hundreds of marriages come back together, even after one of the spouses has given up. It takes God and one willing heart.

Your response is your responsibility.

By seeking to meet your spouse’s needs first, you determine to be the more mature partner.

Is this fair? No.

Is it effective? Yes, more often than not.

You are ultimately responsible before God for your behavior, not your spouse’s behavior.

If anything will work, this will.

Of course there are exceptions – there are no guarantees. Some spouses choose evil over good and refuse to give in. But if anything will work, the Love and Respect connection will!

  • If you feel alone in your marriage, will you step out in faith and trust that God will do something miraculous?
  • This isn’t natural, so surround yourself with godly accountability partners who will support and encourage you in this, and pray for you.

Then watch what you and God can do!


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

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