Vol 2, No. 1 Nov 2011

...A monthly newsletter designed to help make your marriage great. Each issue contains articles, tips and more.


by Lynn M. Griesemer

Have there been times in your marriage that required endurance?  If you haven’t had many hardships or intense challenges in your relationship, someday you may encounter a situation where endurance will play a major role.       

People think of endurance as a term reserved for athletes.  Endurance is defined as “the act, quality or power of withstanding hardship or stress…the state or fact of persevering; continuing survival.”

Consider the following scenarios:

-In the still of the night, 12 years into your marriage, you wonder, “Is this all there is?” 

-You feel  exhausted by serving as a “single parent” in your marriage, with a spouse who is uninvolved, or more detached than you would like.

-You think  you’ve tried everything to get your spouse to admit alcohol or drug abuse and are waiting for some  - any  - type of breakthrough. 

-You’re raising a disabled child and haven’t had much of a break or vacation with your spouse in 5 years.

-Your life turned upside down when you discovered that your partner had an ongoing affair with a co-worker that lasted a year.

Situations like these can test a marriage to the breaking point.  Some people are tired of waiting or believe they’ve tried everything possible to move beyond the difficulties.  They may see no glimmer for a better future and feel stuck in the present situation. Those who are not able or willing to endure prolonged pain might be tempted to dissolve the relationship.

How is it that one person can endure 15 years in a dissatisfying marriage and another chooses  divorce after a year of struggling?  Is a person a fool who has stayed in an unhappy marriage for more than 15 years? 

Do you hear people encouraging you to hang in there and that there will be cycles over the course of marriage?  Where are the cheerleaders shouting, “Give me an E-N-D-U-R-A-N-C-E!”?

Each individual and couple arrives at decisions in different ways for different reasons.  The tolerance level varies, but in a society where self-fulfillment often comes before everything else, there is sometimes pressure and advice to end relationships if the going gets too tough.  Some will choose to seek professional help as a last resort.  Others will try to quietly solve their problems on their own or reach out to friends for advice and support.    How does one endure heartbreaking or devastating experiences?  Does it mean having patience and waiting for time to pass or your partner to come around?

Endurance is not patience, but more.  Patience is tolerant understanding or the capacity for calm endurance.  I believe patience is not a temperament trait we are born with, but is something that is freely chosen and developed.  Endurance involves deciding to cope with something that requires patience.  Endurance lasts longer than patience and is more comprehensive.  In order to endure something, we must develop strategies and techniques ahead of time.  Marathon runners expect and train for the moment in which they must break through the wall.  Some anticipate an encounter with the little voices that whisper or shout, “it’s time to give up.” This is usually more mental than physical.

Let’s say you are waiting in a long line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Being patient, means you will simply wait until you are called upon.  Enduring an hour-long wait means that you have decided to accept the situation and you’ve chosen ahead of time to not complain or stew in anger and frustration.  Perhaps you have reading material to pass the time.  You reason that some situations  are not what we would choose, but must accept as part of life.  Patience is more of an outward politeness and not as much as an inner acceptance.  You can feel anxiety while being patient, but endurance includes more calm and centeredness.

Endurance is a choice that individuals make without regard to the spouse. Those who stay together are not  fools, nor do they have special qualities.  They do not necessarily value commitment more highly than others who do not seem able to endure the pain.  They have made the choice to endure the hardships.  Endurance does not mean you carry the burden alone.  Examine your particular situation and consider reaching out for the proper help for your marriage, your most important personal relationship.

While in a period of waiting, the marriage may be tested like never before, but there is usually an unexpected breakthrough.  To experience this point in marriage is one of the most profound turning points.  It puts the hardship in a different perspective, opening the way for gratitude and growth.  The couple can now proceed to deeper levels as they continue to build their histories.  Sadly, many people will not choose the difficult road of endurance.  

Lynn M. Griesemer is a Marriage Coach and has been happily married for over 25 years. She helps struggling marriages improve and good marriages become great. www.marriagecoachlynn.com.

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I’d like to offer a few thoughts for those who suffer:  (1) add this phrase to your description of your hardship:  “at this point in time.”  This could help you to put in perspective that everything is temporary.  Believe that things will change and that your current situation is not your destiny.  (2) We have to believe that we will not be stuck forever.  Being stuck can be in the physical realm or mental world.  Examine your mental world.  Contemplate the meaning of hope. (3) Be active and proactive during your period of endurance. Don’t sit and wait patiently.  Improve yourself.  (4) Seek resources that could help you.  Books, workshops, trusted advisors or support groups might help, but also consider professional consultation with someone skilled in emotional focused therapy.  Try to determine if you feel that you are “spinning your wheels.” Endurance will take more out of you emotionally and is not eliminated by learning a new behavioral skill.

Picture Couples Corner

Meet Troy and Shannon.  Married since 1987, they have eight children.  Shannon says that two people can never meet each other’s needs completely and believes that it is important to examine your standards of perfection.  Early in their marriage, she wanted to hold her husband to preconceived notions of husband / wife roles.  He didn’t match her high standards, and her journey took her to one of acceptance. “I’ve always known he’s loved me, but there have been many times we did not like each other.”

During their 12th year of marriage (July 1999), their 10-day old son Duncan died. Troy and Shannon were grieving the loss of their beloved baby boy, and discovered that up to 80% of couples get divorced after the death of a child or diagnosis of a severe illness / disability.  Troy and Shannon know that God’s grace is what will help them to endure the hard times in life.   “There will be cycles and seasons in marriage and we must step back and recognize those periods.  We also have to understand that we are two different people.  He can tend to be a more ‘don’t worry, be happy’ kind of guy and I am prone to depression at times.”   Shannon jokes, “We’re too stubborn to quit.”


“Functioning at our best means processing emotional experiences as they arise, rather than creating a backlog.  It entails keeping ourselves open to experience, even when we’ve been put through the wringer.” – Charlette Mikulka, Author of Peace in the Heart and Home:  A Down to Earth Guide to Creating a Better Life for You and Your Loved Ones.   Charlette was a guest on “Your Marriage Matters” on 10/25/11 and 11/1/11 (www.blogtalkradio.com/marriagecoachlynn).


www.marriagecoachlynn.com – See if Marriage Coaching might be something you’re interested in.  The concept of coaching is similar to a personal trainer for the body and is a way to boost your marital health by becoming stronger.

www.blogtalkradio.com/marriagecoachlynn -Weekly internet radio program that encourages and supports lifelong, happy marriage.

Nurture your marriage and invest in resources, conferences, weekend retreats, therapy or coaching as a way to deepen your understanding of yourself and your relationship.  Just as professional development to one’s career,   your marriage is important.  Please add “Reenergize Your Marriage in 21 Days” to your personal library.  You won’t be disappointed!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59883 Here’s what others are saying about the book:
“If couples adopt just one exercise, they can benefit from this program.  Whatever you want to change in your marriage, find an exercise to repeat.  Stick with it until it’s automatic.  Certain behaviors elicit positive behaviors.” –Kristine

“My husband and I really liked the recreational exercises. Thank you.” –Julie

© 2011 Lynn M. Griesemer

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