Jul 182017 7 Responses

Exhaustion Is Killing Your Marriage

When marriages end, one or both individuals are normally exhausted. They are tired of trying, fighting, and being disappointed. While the aftermath of divorce is also exhausting–few things are as wearisome as grief–it’s more appealing than the fatigue they are experiencing in their relationship.

The relational byproduct of exhaustion is often divorce. Yet what many couples confuse is the cause and effect of exhaustion. They think they are tired because their marriage is bad; they don’t realize their marriage is bad because they are tired.

It’s hard to love when you are weary. It’s possible, but it demands much from us. While we might be able to muster the actions of love for a time, there comes a breaking point. We either replenish or we will stop being able to act. Love requires actions and actions require energy.

The Relational Dangers of Exhaustion

Consistent weariness threatens our relationships on multiple levels.

It clouds our judgment. Weariness leads to bad decision making. When tired we can’t properly process information. We don’t have the strength to gather as much information and we can’t process what we do possess. This is why we eat poorly when tired. Weary spouses make foolish decisions which hinder their relationship.

It accentuates our apathy. A good relationship demands intention. The number one cause of divorce is apathy and apathy is often the byproduct of exhaustion. When we are tired, we stop initiating, acting, and loving. Tired people drift apart, sometimes without knowing it and nearly always without doing anything to change it.

It empowers our selfishness. People full of energy can deny themselves and put others first. Tired people can’t. Weariness weakens our resolve and deceives us into making selfish choices. We can easily justify putting ourselves first at the expense of those we love. Selfish spouses are bad spouses. (See: I Tired of Being Nice)

It diminishes our self-control. Willpower is finite. While we can build our self-control like building a muscle, there is always a limit. When our resources are depleted we do things we should not. A spouse without self-control is like a rabid dog–they might appear cute, but they are dangerous.

How to Have Enough Energy for Marriage

Weariness is a danger to marriage, but it’s also unavoidable. Every season of life has elements which drain us of energy. New parents can’t avoid exhaustion. A couple taking care of ailing parents or dealing with struggling teenagers can’t help but be tired. Husbands and wives going through medical issues can’t bypass weariness. It’s part of life. Some seasons are more difficult than others, but every segment of life has elements which will drain our energy.

A healthy marriage doesn’t result by avoiding everything which can drain our energy; it results from couples recognizing the dangers of exhaustion and responding properly.

They must:

Avoid unnecessary exhaustion. Because life is exhausting on its own, a couple must preserve their energy. Work, relationships, parenting, and even marriage itself will drain us. It’s unavoidable. But there are elements that cause exhaustion which can be avoided. Adding unnecessary stress to our relationships is a recipe for disaster. Debt is exhausting. The consequences of foolish decisions compound weariness. Vain pursuits of material things use our limited energies. We only have so much energy so we must direct that energy toward those things that matter.

Practice times of renewal. If exhaustion is unavoidable, spouses must learn to refill their depleted resources. They must discern what rejuvenates them both individually and as a couple. But discerning is not enough. They then have to willfully choose to engage in those activities in a rhythmic pattern. They can’t wait until they feel exhausted to find rejuvenation. They must continually expend and refill, work and rest. Many relationships fail, not because they are doing the wrong things, but because they are not recovering from doing the right things. They run out of energy which leads to exhaustion and exhaustion erodes their relationship. By learning how to rejuvenate themselves and each other, they can have a healthier marriage.

A Healthy Marriage Drains You and Fills You

Every marriage is exhausting, but good marriages also replenish an individual. They are both a source of weariness, but also a site for rejuvenation. Couples who develop a healthy marriage will face less exhaustion–fewer fights, less stress, less uncertainty–than those in unhealthy marriages and will experience more rejuvenation from the relationship.

For those in relationships that are struggling, they must properly diagnose their weariness. While the relationship may contribute to the exhaustion, is it the only source? In most cases, the answer is no. Instead, outside stressors and an inability to properly rest is wreaking havoc on the individual and the marriage. If they would work on the marriage while finding healthy ways to deal with current stresses, they would feel replenished and more in love.



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