In Robert Frost’s poem, Fire and Ice, he opens with these two lines:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.

Destroying a marriage isn’t that much different from destroying the world. Will it be by fire or by ice?

The Fiery Methods

Affairs are fiery. Statistics vary widely, but suggestions are that at least 40% of marriages have had a cheating partner. Roughly 30% of those marriages survive the affair. That leaves 70% of marriages that go up in blazes. That makes affairs a sound means of marriage destruction for “those who favor fire.”

Addiction is fiery. Addiction comes in endless forms: alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, shopping, etc. Some forms destroy relationships faster than others. All addiction starts with partners taking that first unwise step, little anticipating the destruction they have willfully chosen. Addiction is progressive and greedy. Abusers want to flee from a spouse who holds them accountable. Enabling spouses cling, cover, hide, and will go to any extreme to avoid allowing the abuser to face the consequences of the addiction. Seldom can recovery occur with an eager enabler and a deceived addict. Smoke, fire, destruction.

Fighting is fiery. Proverbs 13:10 makes the cause of contention crystal clear. Where there is contention, there is pride. At the heart of every fight is someone who is proud. Pride eats at our discernment. It blinds. It deceives. Pride drove Julius Caesar to the senate floor where he met death instead of the crown. Pride escorts spouses to divorce court. It starts out with a little push to force our ideas for the budget or for managing chores or for childrearing. It gains power until every decision becomes a power struggle. Fights turn dirty. The pride in a spouse’s heart may lead that one to feel entitled to make all the decisions for the family, with little regard for anyone else’s ideas. A spouse may belittle the partner’s needs or contributions. Pride becomes defensive, angry, sarcastic. And then, the fires burn.

The Icy Methods

Preoccupation is icy. Society gives us a variety of choices for our preoccupations. Whether the neglect takes the form of the physical, emotional, or spiritual, it invites destruction. When conversation could be reduced to “transactions” that are written on a white board in the kitchen, a marriage is in danger. When good things cause a spouse to neglect marriage, the relationship can grow dangerously distant. Work, children, managing a household—good things. All things that we should do. All things that the amazing Proverbs 31 woman pulled off. She managed her household. She dealt with imports and exports, real estate, and charities. There was nothing she wouldn’t take on, but none of her ventures preoccupied her mind in a way that would compromise her commitment to her husband. So how about it? Can you manage the household, work a job, serve the community, and raise the kids without becoming preoccupied and letting the marriage slip? Can you watch your investments, have a showcase yard, homestead, and coach the kids’ teams while staying devoted to your marriage? If not, it’s prudent to carefully evaluate what merits your attention. In many marriages, becoming preoccupied is more of a temptation than having an affair. Lost interest…neglect, and the ice storm hits.

Stonewalling is icy. Maybe it’s the clutter. Maybe it’s spending. Maybe it’s the “to do” list. Maybe it’s the collective bondage resulting from poor health choices. Every spouse and every marriage has those areas that need improvement. Those weak spots don’t spell destruction to a marriage until a spouse refuses to invest in the problem and silently rejects the need for change. When it becomes a moral issue, that you’d rather die than make the needed effort to improve the marriage or listen to a spouse’s concerns, icicles start to form.

Frigid bedrooms are icy. Whether it is a physical, emotional, or historic issue, an issue of ignorance or of the relationship itself, marriages can go through seasons where sex is infrequent or missing. Couples grow apart; stress engulfs; affairs and pornography plague. It hurts, knowing day in and day out that something is deeply wrong in a marriage. Biblically, sex should be free and available within marriage, unless both spouses have agreed upon a reason why they would not have sex for a specified time. If the bedroom has become frigid, don’t feel like you are alone. Many married people have been successful at defrosting the marriage and heating up the relationship again.

And in the end…There’s not a lot any of us can do about the destruction of our world. By contrast, we can do a great deal to regulate the temperature of our marriages.

So…how is a marriage destroyed? Some say by fire; some say by ice.

Don’t let your marriage be destroyed. If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990 to speak with someone or use the form below to request more information about our Marriage Helper workshop for troubled marriages. Our success rate over the last decade is saving three out of four marriages, even when adultery, porn, anger, or other things have deeply hurt the relationship! (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.