Reconciliation in Marriage

Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
    • What can you tell me about how you’ve gotten to this point in your marriage?
    • What steps have been taking so far to reconcile?  What have been the results of those efforts?
    • Do you have children?  Tell me about how they are being affected right now by the state of your marriage?
    • What have you learned about yourself from your most common conflicts?  Any helpful discoveries?  Any difficult ones?
    • Do you relate to any of these common habits during conflict?

    –          Win by overpowering the other
    –          Yield in order to keep peace
    –          Withdraw to avoid the conflict
    –          Compromise by bargaining
    –          Resolve through consideration of all sides of the issue

    • What do you believe God wants right now from you?
    • As you think about your marriage, what would you say are the biggest mistakes that you’ve personally made?
    • Are you willing to reconcile, even if the process takes a while?  Is your spouse?
    • What is one small step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you right now to get started?
    • How can I help and encourage you right now?
Deeper Questions
    • Are you aware of the effects of unforgiveness?  Is there an area of unforgiveness that is blocking reconciliation?
    • Have you repented of any wrongdoing, however small, and asked for forgiveness?
    • Have you sought the help of a pastor or Christian counselor?
    • Do you have children?  If so, have you considered how their lives will be impacted if you don’t reconcile the marriage?
    • Has one spouse been unfaithful and has the affair ended?  What steps have been taken to recover from this affair?
    • What is one thing you can do today to move back toward your spouse?
    • Do you still believe that God can transform your marriage through the power of His Holy Spirit? (Ephesians 3:20-21)
    • Do you pray with your spouse every day?  Are you willing to start?  Do you pray for your spouse every day?
    • I believe that the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with Jesus Christ.  Can you tell me about that?
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • Visit Peacemaker Ministries to learn and apply the powerful conflict resolution principles God has given to us through Scripture.
  • - Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 115

    “It’s a lot easier to trash the marriage and for both parties to flee the difficulty of reconstructing the relationship.  Yet to divorce now means that you only take all this unfinished business with you.  It will require you to work on this by yourself.  Should you refuse and try to bury it, it will contaminate all future relationships you might develop … But for those who have done the difficult work, it’s all been worth it.”

  • - Nancy Anderson, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, p. 76

    “When Ron and I got back together, we didn’t feel like we were in love, but we began to behave in loving ways, and loving feelings slowly followed … The nicer we were to each other, the more we liked each other; the more we liked each other, the nicer we treated each other.  We began a positive cycle of kindness that grew into love.”

  • - Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 76

    “In marriages that have suffered an affair, it is critical during the recovery process for both partners to develop close, same-sex relationships to supplement the marriage relationship.  Those outside relationships can provide much of the nurturance, empathy, mutual support, and affirmation that both individuals need.”

  • - L. Petherbridge, When Your Marriage Dies, p. 140

    “It’s not uncommon to feel divorced even when there’s no legal document.  But this doesn’t change the fact that in God’s eyes you’re still married.  It’s not a piece of paper, but a covenant.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p.40

    “The cross makes a stunning statement about husbands and wives: we are sinners and our only hope is grace.  Without a clear awareness of sin, we will evaluate our conflicts outside of the biblical story–the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross–thus eliminating any basis for true understanding, true reconciliation, or true change.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 72

    “According to Scripture, the source of angry words, unforgiving looks, and cold shoulders is not unmet needs.  It’s unsatisfied desires.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 80

    “Mercy sweetens marriage.  Where it is absent, two people flog one another over everything from failure to fix the faucet to phone bills.  But where it is present, marriage grows sweeter and more delightful, even in the face of challenges, setbacks, and the persistent effects of our remaining sin.”

  • - Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect, p. 1

    “Five out of ten marriages today are ending in divorce because love alone is not enough.  Yes, love is vital, especially for the wife, but what we have missed is the husband’s need for respect.”

  • - Laura Petherbridge, When Your Marriage Dies, p. 81

    “The question isn’t ‘Can I forgive?’ but rather, ‘Am I willing to let God teach me how to forgive?’”

  • - Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, p. 96

    “Behind virtually every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepented sin.  Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.”

  • - George Kenworthy, Before the Last Resort, p. 12-13

    “No matter what your situation, I’m confident that there is hope for any marriage—as long as you are willing to believe that God, through His Spirit and His Word, can powerfully change your lives.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 66

    “Scripture does not give me permission to make the sins of my spouse my first priority.  I need to slow down, exercise the humility of self-suspicion, and inspect my own heart first.”

  • - Bill Elliff, Forgiveness: Healing the Harbored Hurts of Your Heart, p. 20

    “God only allows two people at a time in the boxing ring.  If you want to get into the ring and try to fight your own battles, God will let you.  But He’ll get out.  If you want God to fight your battles for you, then you must get out of the ring … and stay out.”

  • - Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, p. 107

    “When I hear of couples who break up after just three or four years, I feel sad because they haven’t even begun to experience what being married is really like … Becoming one—in the deepest, most intimate sense—takes time.  It’s a journey that never really ends, but it takes at least the span of a decade for the sense of intimacy to really display itself in the marriage relationship. “

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 58

    “Our real opponent is not on the opposite side of the bed, but within our hearts.  Our enemy is the desires of our flesh that oppose the desire of the Spirit.  This is the fiercest and only true enemy of our marriage.”

  • - Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III, Bold Love, p. 283

    “True repentance will lead to feelings of indignity and anger at the past damage, a desire to make restitution, and a renewed longing for purity and godliness (2 Corinthians 7:11).”

  • - Clarence Shuler, Your Wife Can Be Your Best Friend, p. 65

    “Many couples, young and old, find themselves in an unofficial lifetime game of competition.  It may be played to prove that one spouse is smarter than the other is, or it may be played to establish which spouse will be head of the family … It might begin as fun, but if often ends in pain for the partner who is unable to win consistently.”

  • - James Walker, Husbands Who Won’t Lead and Wives Who Won’t Follow, p. 75

    “When marriage is filled with more withdrawals than deposits, it’s easy to forget why you married in the first place … The same love that drew us to our mates so that we wanted to spend our lives with them is still there.  It may be covered over with the trauma of irritations and the loss of romance, but it’s there nevertheless.”

Next Steps
    • You are to be commended for your willingness to seek reconciliation in your marriage.  Ask God to continue giving you a willing heart.
    • Rather than considering divorce, choose to believe that God can still change hearts and your marriage. Nothing is impossible with God.
    • Be involved in a local, Bible-believing church for spiritual growth and accountability.
    • Remember the goal in marriage is not to be conflict-free, but to handle conflict correctly when it occurs. Reflect back on how you have responded to conflict and how you may do it differently in the future.
    • Reconciliation may take a while, but the process glorifies God and is worth it!
    • Read Six Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage and discuss it with your
      spouse and/or a mentor.
    • Keep in mind that the most successful marriages are those where forgiveness is often sought and richly given. Pray about areas where you may need to seek or grant forgiveness.
    • Seek the help of a pastor or Christian counselor if the issues seem too big
      and overwhelming.
    • The efforts of only one partner can lead to reconciliation in a marriage.  Be the first one at the foot of the cross, willing to confess your contribution to the conflict.
    • Consider attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage conference
    • Invite God into your marriage by praying together—even for just a few minutes each day.
    • You cannot control your spouse’s actions, only your reactions. Contemplate what a godly response would be in this situation.
    • Remember that your spouse is not the enemy.
    • Only God can produce change in your spouse
    • Avoiding any conflicts will not make lasting peace and could prolong the problems.  Determine whether this is a conflict worth bringing up or if it needs to be overlooked for long-term benefit.
    • Make a “wish list” of 3 things you desire in your relationship with your spouse.
      Take turns sharing your “I wish” statements with your partner and describe how
      you would feel if your wish came true.
    • Name one thing that you most enjoyed about your relationship today and one thing you were dissatisfied with in your relationship today.  Discuss these with
      your spouse and determine if either of these represents patterns you see
      repeated often.
    • Think of something (hobby, sport, recreational activity) you would like to pursue together.
    • Talk about one of your favorite dates.  What was it about that date that made it so memorable? Is this something you could do again?