Christian Living


Marriage 911

Ready for Real Change in Your Marriage?

“He says he is going to change, but my trust is gone,” Sheila said with conviction, her brow furrowed looking intently at her husband, Ken. “He’s promised to change before. How do I trust it now?”

“I have the same concerns,” Ken said, raising his eyebrows as he made his point. “I can say the same thing about you.”

Ken and Sheila have been married for 10 years, but the last several have been “rocky” and this brought them to The Marriage Recovery Center. Trust had long since been eroded by his struggle with drugs a few years back and her unfaithfulness early in their marriage.

Their marriage was a mosaic of struggle and victory, not unlike many others who come to me for help. Ken had battled with substance abuse, but in recent years, largely through his participation in Celebrate Recovery, had reached some success in recovery. During their more difficult years, however, Sheila, had been unfaithful and this also cast a shadow over their marriage.

Now they looked skeptically at each other, wondering how they could trust the other would really embark on a journey of change.

I don’t blame Ken and Sheila for being skeptical. Many vow to make changes and then give up part way to their goal. Many are vague about their goals, failing to derive a clear vision and then failing to reach any espoused destination.

Their struggles, along with the countless other couples who I’ve worked with over the years, prompted me to think about this concept of change—and how it actually occurs. What are the mechanisms by which we actually change, and what are the roadblocks to change? I call these The Five I’s of Change:

1. Change begins with Interest.

There is a popular saying, “There is no breakthrough without a breakdown.” I certainly wish change was easier and that we arrived at the decision to change without catastrophe propelling us into the change process. But, unfortunately, challenge or discomfort usually leads us into first being interested in change.

So, change begins with active Interest. We are uncomfortable living the way we’ve been living. We don’t like the results we are getting, and hence we are interested in change. Do you have an interest in changing?

Scripture tells us, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). One of the qualities of children is curiosity or interest.

2. Change proceeds with Intention. 

Interest is not enough for change to occur. We must add to interest an Intention to change. Intention is an energy we bring to a situation, informing everything we say and do. If I intend to learn to play the piano, which is true for me, I must have an intention to learn. I must take lessons, practice and be guided by a teacher. The same is true if you wish to improve your marriage. Do you really intend to improve your marriage? Do you intend to rid yourself of unhealthy personality traits?

3. Change continues with Intensity.

Change cannot continue without a definite level of Intensity. We must be resolute about that which we want to change. We must be focused and purposeful. Learning never occurs without due diligence, and this is driven by intensity. We find helpful classes, engage a mentor, attend recovery groups and seek depth marriage counseling.

4. Change reaps rewards with Impact.

Change occurs in an endeavor where we have impact. Not only must we be impacted, but we must impact our life. We must choose where we are going to change and then impact those behaviors that reinforce change, eliminating behaviors and activities that hinder change.

4. Change comes to completion with Spirit Indwelling.

Change often requires a power greater than ourselves. Most of us come to the end of our own capabilities, and here we must lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to change us. Through prayer and Bible study, we let the Spirit and scripture change us.

Scripture says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold the new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Are you ready for real change? If so you will exhibit Interest, Intention, Intensity, Impact and Indwelling.


For more on this subject, please visit my website. Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.MarriageRecoveryCenter.com and YourRelationshipDoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.    

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