There are few things more lonely than being stuck in a loveless marriage. I meet couples who probably wouldn’t be together if it wasn’t for the kids. Their relationships aren’t abusive and typically both are well meaning wonderful people. Yet, their marriage feels lonely and is a disapointment.
I met Dr. Barry Ham at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) meetings. His booth was next to ours on the exhibit floor. He was also presenting a breakout that I wasn’t registered for but sounded really interesting. During our time together I discovered Barry to not only be a fun person to talk to but a person that could really help me and a lot of the parents I know. His wife Andee was able to sneak me into their overbooked session in which he shared “Eight Strategies for Getting Unstuck”.
I was thrilled that Barry agreed to record an interview. We couldn’t find anyplace quiet in our convention center and even the corners of the building had music playing. Eventually we took some chairs outside and huddled around my digital recorder.
Please take a few minutes and listen to this very important interview and enjoy the sound of planes, people and birds.
Here are some of the key things that I took away during our conversation.
- We marry pursuing the dream. We want to be fully known (mistakes, blemishes..) and inspire of our our faults to accept and love me. But then we find there are conditions to that acceptance. We tend to protect ourselves or present an ideal image of our selves and hide our true selves and eventually will find ourselves very lonely.
- Because we sweep things under the rug and don’t deal with the broken expectations we end up over time waking up to the realization that this isn’t what we signed up for or want.
- Parents hit the “parenting crisis” doing life with the kids as the focus of our attention and couples begin to drift apart. Since couples may at this point feel let down from blown expectations from one another, they begin to transfer those expectations of being completely loved to their kids. Kids become the center of the family life for 18-20 years and when kids leave the parents have nothing together.
- There are stages of marriage (newlywed, children, middle years, late legacy years). People function fairly well during the stages but the transitions between the stages are often their undoing.
- When we get blindsided we typically think it is our spouse who dropped the ball.
- “I’m not good enough” is a great place to begin if we know that God’s power and resources allow me to be a great parent and spouse even when I’m not good enough. We can do this though God’s strength which allows us to be much more connected spouse and kids.
- Our assumptions cloud how we respond to things. If we think our spouse is uncaring, we will interpret things to support that assumption. It’s a self-fullilling prophecy.
- Couples need to know they have more choices than getting a divorce or being unhappy. How do I engage and get unstuck and get the marriage to the place I originally dreamed it could be.
- Even if the couple isn’t both working on the marriage there are things that can be done.
- I’m not going to stand in the corner and wait for the person to love me, I’m going to do what God says and love them.
The Webpage : Livingunstuck.org
Information about his two books:
- God Understand’s Divorce: a biblical message of grace
- Unstuck:Escaping a Lifeless Marriage
Weekly “Relationship Tip Tuesday” – Send an email HERE to and ask to get the tips.