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We talk a lot about restoration. In fact, our program is called The Marriage Restoration Roadmap.
But what really is restoration?
To restore means to return to former glory, to reinstate, to bring back. In marriage, that means bringing back or returning to the former state.
The truth is, in marriage, it will never be exactly as it was before, but it can be as good as if not better.
Perhaps you have been working on your marriage and trying really hard to make this work. But, how do you know restoration has taken place? Is it a feeling? Or is it a mindset?
Restoration isn’t necessarily just the feeling or even a mindset, and it’s almost tempting to say if you have to ask “are we there yet?” you probably aren’t quite there. That’s not to say that it isn’t happening, but full restoration may not have taken place just yet.
Experiencing restoration in our marriage
Let us share a bit about our own experience with you to explain. We didn’t really think about it prior to, or even recognize when it had happened. There wasn’t a point that we thought restoration was taking place. It was more of a gradual change that we couldn’t see and didn’t realize until it had already taken place.
Looking back, what we observed by what we went through is that there came a point in the process where we genuinely couldn’t wait to spend time together. It was almost like going back to when we were dating.
You know how it is when you can’t wait to get off of work or get out of class or be done with whatever task so that you can call or spend time with one another? You want to sit and talk and just be around each other for hours, uninterrupted.
And when we get back to that, that’s when we are experiencing restoration.
For us, that’s how it was–we just genuinely wanted to be in each other’s company and spend time together. We wanted that gentle touch of holding hands, sitting side by side, leaning into one another.
When you are still seeking restoration in your marriage
On the contrary, when you are in the place of seeking restoration, you really don’t feel the liberty at all to be yourself. You tend to be very guarded, and you don’t allow yourself to laugh or be silly due to the tension and awkwardness.
Why is that?
It’s because you don’t trust your spouse. You don’t know what he/she is thinking, so your mind is always wondering…
- Is he/she looking at you with disgust?
- Are you constantly being compared?
- Is he/she wishing to be with someone else (whether in person or virtually)?
- Am I good enough?
And so you don’t let yourself relax. You don’t let your guard down at all. Somehow, you feel like by keeping your distance, keeping the wall in place, that you are protecting yourself.
You don’t trust your spouse anymore because he or she has lied to you and “cheated” on you in a way.
Until you can take the time to “feel one another out,” you find that the distance you’ve put there is keeping you safe. Oddly, that’s the way it is when two people meet for the first time, too. You go on those first couple of dates where it’s kind of weird. The whole time you’re trying to think through, Okay. How much do I open up? How much do I share? Can I trust this person? What is he or she thinking?
Eventually, you come to a point in the dating relationship where all the walls come down. It’s just friendship and relationship, and there’s vulnerability. There are no inhibitions, and you find that you really trust the person.
What restoration in your marriage looks like
In our context (a broken trust in marriage), that friendship, the relationship, the vulnerability, the lack of inhibitions–those lead to the broken trust being mended.
And that’s restoration.
In our own personal situation, when restoration had taken place it felt like it did when we were dating and when we knew, This is the one! There is nothing to hide and nothing to fear. It’s just being in love and wanting to be with your spouse.
Restoration is very gradual. At the beginning of the journey, you feel like you are dying inside, but as you walk through the steps, you work through feelings, fears, and emotions. You commit yourselves to doing whatever it takes to save your marriage, including open and honest communication and complete transparency.
And there it is. Restoration. It’s not until after restoration has taken place that you realize that it did, in fact, happen. One day you wake up and you’re like, Man! I’m in love with my wife (or husband)! This is the person. This is the one I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.
A quick word of caution:
When restoration happens, it doesn’t mean you’re done. It doesn’t mean you got through all that; now things are back to normal. There will be a normal, but it won’t be the old normal, rather a new one. And it’s another opportunity to remember that we still need to date one another. We still need to dote on one another and make one another feel special and loved.
We all joke about the honeymoon stage of marriage and how it wears off. The truth is, we need to stay in a perpetual mindset of that newness when real life sits in. The problem is once the honeymoon is over, many times we stop doing all (or at least many) of the things that connected us to begin with.
This is a reminder that once restoration happens–don’t stop. Continue to communicate. Keep taking walks together. Continue to sit on the porch and talk about things. It’s when we get back into the rut of not making our relationship a priority, that bad things can happen again.
You must be on guard together. Work together. Pull the same direction. Fight for your marriage everyday.
If you and your spouse are struggling with broken trust in your marriage and seeking restoration, join us in The Marriage Restoration Roadmap!