Ugh. The pain of relationship burnout. You’re still together, but everything feels exhausting. The constant arguing and debating. The loss of connection and intimacy. No listening. No understanding. And everything just irritates the life out of you.
The first twelve years of our marriage were like life on a perpetual roller coaster. Tremendous highs followed by dangerous lows. Looking back, I don’t think Larry Dale nor I had an inkling about how to orchestrate a stable marriage. For one thing, we were both third-generation descendants of broken marriages. And both of us divorced from our first spouses. To be sure, the generational pattern had continued unchecked.
One day, after another infuriating dead-end argument, I packed a bag and stormed out. Leaving was my thing. It was all I knew to do. So, with one foot inside the car, I froze at the sound of Larry Dale’s deep, urgent voice, Sandra! If you leave again, be prepared never to return.
Something in his tone and the seriousness of his face told me he meant exactly what he was saying. The gig was up. And just like that, I unpacked my bag and never threatened to leave again.
If you’re going to be married forever, at some point, you have to take leaving off the table. My bags were unpacked, but I’ll I could think was, Now what?
Leaving was off the table, but nothing else had changed. Absolutely nothing had been resolved. The relationship burnout was real. And I was at my lowest point. I could feel our love dying.
Crying out to God in my journal one morning, I wrote, Am I destined to be unhappily married while I wait for Larry Dale to change?
Wait a minute. Something’s wrong. My pen was stuck to the page, refusing to write even one more word.
You see, around that same time, I had been reading this amazing book by the wonderfully wise Evelyn Christenson. And upon writing, Am I destined to be unhappily married while I wait for Larry Dale to change? Unable to continue writing, her words came to mind.
You’re the one crying out to Jesus. So you’re the one he’s talking to. Besides, you have precisely zero hope in changing someone else.” Evelyn Christenson
For crying out loud! Quickly, my eyes began to open to how I was contributing to the frustration in our marriage and in our home. I had sincerely thought Larry Dale was the chief contributor. Wrong. Shockingly wrong. Oh, the arrogance.
Lord, Change Me
Hard-headed, passive-aggressive, and sometimes overly sensitive – I can be a lot to handle. In short, a bit of a pistol, really. Now load that gun with a powder keg of childhood trauma and family dysfunction. Look out! Cause whatever is about to happen, ain’t gonna be pretty.
Finally, my pen released three simple words, Lord, change me.
Three simple words, Lord, change me. But a major perspective shift. And one extraordinarily powerful prayer – Lord, change me.
Why is it such an extraordinarily powerful prayer? Well, first, healthy adulting is all about taking responsibility. Taking ownership of your own crap. And in doing so, you discover the second benefit – it takes your eyes off everything you think is wrong with your spouse. Just those two things alone will save you from relationship burnout. But there’s more!
Here’s the pièces de résistance! Lord, change me – will set your eyes on Jesus, the Agent of Change. Evelyn’s right, you have precisely zero hope of changing someone else. But when you pray, Lord, change me – you’re surrendering and asking Jesus to change you. And my friend, that’s a prayer he will always answer with a resounding, Yes!
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” Colosians 3:2
…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phillipians 2:13
As I began to pray, Lord, change me, the Holy Spirit tenderly opened my heart to the truth, There are always two sides to an issue. And you, Beloved, are one of them. Now hear me clearly, sweet friend, the Holy Spirit’s words were completely void of condemnation or shame. But full of hope and possibility.
Here’s the thing – Lord, change me, rescued our marriage. God humbled my heart and saved our marriage from relationship burnout. And he’ll do the same for you!
Is your marriage dying? Yeah, you’re still together, but everything feels exhausting. And the constant arguing and debating are crushing. The loss of connection and intimacy grieving your heart. No listening. No understanding. And everything just irritates the life out of you. Well, good news! There’s hope, my friend!
Pray three simple words – Lord, change me. And keep at it. Everyday. You won’t believe what happens next!
Lord, Change Me was first published in 1977, twenty-something years before it made its way into my life. And it’s still going strong! Evelyn’s one wise chick.
Super fun note – years later, Larry Dale and I were happily off the perpetual roller coaster, and I had the unexpected privilege of being seated next to Evelyn Christenson at a women’s conference. She was the keynote speaker. Eighty-two and vibrant! I’m telling you, my heart was doing cartwheels. I couldn’t believe she was right next to me!
Omgoodness, the gratitude for all that God had done from those three simple words she taught me – well, tears began to flow. I so wanted to scoop her up in my arms and overwhelm her with thanks and kisses of honor. But probably not the most appropriate of actions given the moment. We had just begun our time of worship before she would take the stage to speak. So, as we worshiped side by side, I ever so slowly leaned to my right until our arms were just barely touching. And as we sang, I thanked her silently from the depths of my heart. Talk about a full-circle moment!
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Thanks for stopping by! Until we meet again, remember – Trusting in Jesus, you’ll have more treasure than pockets. From my heart to yours,