I had a favorite sweater I loved wearing. It wasn’t too bulky but was still warm and cozy. The only problem was the threads were loosely woven together. It would snag on things, so I had to be ever so careful when I wore it.

I was always mindful of the delicate nature of this sweater so I could protect it, make it last, and enjoy wearing it time and again.

Until one day I was in a hurry. I grabbed some things I needed for a meeting and rushed to my car. I tossed all my stuff over to the passenger seat, including a spiral notebook. A spiral notebook whose metal binding wire had gotten caught on my sleeve. As I pulled my arm toward the steering wheel, the notebook came with it and pulled a huge snag in my sweater.

I unhooked myself and assessed the damage. Based on what I saw, I should have taken the sweater off, put something else on, and later taken the time to repair the snag the correct way.

But in the rush of all I had going on, I made the tragic decision to do what seemed easiest in the moment. I snipped the lose threads and hoped for the best. That tragic decision started an unraveling process that ended the life of that beautiful sweater.

Recently, my husband and I got into an argument. In front of the kids. Over something so stupid. Right before we were about to head out the door to go on a date.

In the heat of the argument he announced the date was off. He no longer wanted to go. And honestly, I no longer wanted to go either.

I wanted to go sit in a coffee shop by myself and make a mental list of all the reasons I was right. All the reasons he was wrong. And justify my perspective. But it’s at this exact moment of resistance that an unraveling can begin.

Doing what seems easy in the moment often isn’t what’s best for the long term.

I pushed for us to still go on our date. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. There were tears. There were awkward stretches of silence. But we pushed through the resistance we both felt, and eventually talked.

Talking through the snags. The pulls. The things that threaten to unravel us.

There is a delicate nature to marriage. It’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to take it all for granted and stop being careful. Stop being mindful. Stop being protective.

The unraveling can happen so quickly.

What’s something you can do today to invest wisely in your marriage? To be mindful of your mate? To protect your relationship?

For me? I had to apologize. The right way. By admitting I was wrong and asking for forgiveness. Repairing the snags the right way… tying a knot and tucking it back into the weave of our relationship fabric.

Isn’t it funny that when we get married it’s called “tying the knot”? For us, this wasn’t just an act at the altar. It’s something we have to do over and over again.

By Lysa TerKeurst

Are you looking to prove that you’re right or to improve your relationships? Lysa addresses how to have godly reactions in the midst of conflict in her book Unglued. Click here to purchase your copy!

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  1. 1

    This is something I need to be reminded of all the time, thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. 2

    What a beautiful post, thank you for your honesty.
    I am busy writing a series on Being a Lover for our Girl’s Nights – we are being brutally honest about the ‘loving’ side of our relationships – perhaps this will help other married couples too. http://www.kingsdaughters21.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/being-lover.html

  3. 3

    Oh yes, Lisa … after years of counseling couples and women, all I can say is that this is truth, plain and simple. Marriages and any other relationships unravel slowly, almost without notice, over time. To notice the snag, to attend to it, to mend it … therein lies the secret of keeping what we prize strong, beautiful, and healthy.

  4. 4

    Thank you thank you for your honesty and wisdom. Geez. You hit it on the head.

  5. 5

    “There is a delicate nature to marriage. It’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to take it all for granted and stop being careful. Stop being mindful. Stop being protective.”

    Just this morning. An argument on the way to work because of 3 words that came out too carelessly. We both have been feeling the stress of our marriage recently – reacting is easier than biting tongues and giving grace and we’ve been giving in far too often.

    And then – this was in my inbox when I walked into my office.

    What are the chances? Thank you for sharing this today. I seriously needed it.

  6. 6
    Jan frankenberg says:

    Wow…this one spoke directly to me…a knitter, wife , mother and grand mom. Having experienced…the unraveling of a scarf, a marriage, loss of grown child’s friendship and watching and waiting…lesson’s that bring us to our knees in prayer…to the one who loves no matter what.

  7. 7

    Something in your words struck me: your sweater was loosely knit. In marriage, it’s not a good idea to be too loosely knit…that’s how snags become so easily made. Maybe we need to be knit together a little more closely. Not too tight, either, as that’s when the sweater doesn’t breathe, and looks kinda weird. But juuuusstt right…the sweater looks good, provides the right warmth, and and doesn’t snag too easily.

  8. 8

    Lysa, this sweater analogy is one I’ll remember. Thanks for your words today.

  9. 9

    What a beautiful image, Lysa. I look forward to sharing it in my premarital counseling.

    “But we pushed through the resistance we both felt, and eventually talked.

    Talking through the snags. The pulls. The things that threaten to unravel us.”

    Such amazing advice and sooo hard but so healing.
    Thanks

  10. 10

    So good to know that others go through those same trials, and that we can and must get past ourselves for the good of our relationship!

  11. 11
    amy martin says:

    Lysa, we are doing Unglued in our small study group, and of us four only one is married. But as i am learning, the principles you so wonderfully write about today apply to all relationships.
    thanks again for sharing! amyfaith

  12. 12
    Heather says:

    I remind myself over and over that he intends to love me. Sometimes we miss the mark, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t aiming for the target. I know we both have good will towards one another. I try to remind myself of that often enough when the little hurts come, so that on occasion, when the hurt is a bit bigger, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Oh ya…. and I made sure he knows that should he choose to give up… he’s getting the kids… all 7 of them. ;oP

  13. 13

    I so enjoyed this post. Marriage takes devotion and work on both sides. My husband and I are friends, first. Arguing is healthy if you are in control of your words and feelings. Also, kids need to see that disagreeing/arguing is okay, as long as it is healthy and respectful. You can’t go calling each other derogatory names and use physical violence to solve your problems. This is definitely unhealthy for kids to witness. Our kids just leave the room. I believe they are secure that we will work it out. And, we do work it out. We are willing to compromise, not just give-in to the other person. Compromise means that your views are worthy and valuable. And, we all need to feel this! I keep my marriage steeped in prayer and we give each other room to stretch. Love conquers all things! Blessings to all! ~Cynthia

  14. 14

    I came by this by mistake. As I read it I felt you were nearly telling my story. I was never married but was scheduled to in may. I was in a relationship for six years and we went through a lot together. Unfortunately I never saw the loose thread and in a moments notice she was quite literally gone. We never really discussed what happened. This sent me down a very dark path. I ended up going to see some doctors and they helped me realize that I haven’t had control over my PTSD for years like I thought I had. It was my pride that blinded me and wouldn’t let me accept from her that I was suffering and hitting her in the process. Even now she will not speak to me. I finally came to Christ Christmas day this past year and it has helped me realize a few things. First of all god isn’t going to give me more than I can handle and second everything happens for a reason even if I never understand why. Now that I have finally been able to forgive myself for all the evil things I’ve done I hope that one day she and I can become friends once more. I hope you will all take something from Lysa’s message and watch closely for those loose strings that can pull you apart in a moment. Always turn to God for he is an amazing seamstress and will be able to stitch things back together as he sees fit. Thank you so much for sharing your story with ,e it has been wonderful.

  15. 15
    Dorenna says:

    Lysa, I enjoyed you article and I totally agree. If its ok to post this here, I need advice…
    My husband recently threw me under the bus so to speak at our counselors office…saying all the things I’m failing at (had failed) at home and that’s why he’s angry at me. Things we’ve already discussed (that was supposedly cleared up), areas I’ve made progress at even by his own profession yet he continues to to be angry…then after the meeting is over, he wants to be nice and kiss and hug…I don’t want him near me and I’m certainly not liking him or how he fired off all that hate at me…how do I respond to this???

    • 16
      Linda Antilley says:

      Dorenna, I’m not Lysa, however, having just celebrated 44 years of marriage, please allow me to offer some encouragement. The Bible tells us that Satan is the one who brings up past wrongs. With God, once forgiven of our mistakes, they are “…tossed into the sea of forgetfulness never to be brought up again…” It is as if they never happened.

      May I make a suggestion? Forgive your husband. He does not realize he was doing Satan’s work when he brought up all those past wrongs. Then, YOU speak first, naming each of the things he brought up, individually, apologizing (again) and ask forgiveness for each ‘wrong’. Don’t defend yourself… don’t tell Jim how you have changed. Men have such fragile egos and he was probably thinking he was about to be “thrown under the bus”, so he lashed out to bolster his ego. I’ve seen similar events when my husband and I were in ‘counselling’. That type of situation, to a man, is charged with emotion they would rather not ‘air’ with a stranger – male or female. I believe he was only trying to get back ‘his upper hand’ and had no malice (not planned before hand) towards you.

      Since he, obviously, doesn’t think anything about what he said and is clueless that his words hurt you so much, if you love this man and want a loving relationship again or to begin… swallow YOUR pride (he won’t) and be the one to apologize first. otherwise, this could and will fester in your heart and mind until a root of bitterness takes root inside YOU and could lead to the end of your relationship. DON’T let that happen! Especially when you have the power to nip it in the bud right now. It will help to go back in your mind and remember what made you fall in love with him to begin with. Then, dwell on that and all his positive qualities.

      Please feel free to private message me via Facebook. I’ll give you my phone number and email so we can talk more, if you wish. Maybe you won’t need that counselor any more. The Bible says that the ‘older women’ should instruct the younger women in how to love their husband’s.

      I love you in the Lord and am concerned for your pain and feeling of betrayel.

      ~ Linda Antilley ~

  16. 17
    Amber Oatman says:

    I loved this Lysa and really needed it. Thank you for your honesty and beautiful analogy <3

  17. 18
    rosie davila says:

    Love it! Thank you!

  18. 19

    Lysa, when you speak “write” from your heart it surely touches mine! Thank you for that!

  19. 20

    I grew up in an angry household and so when I married I and my husband agreed to no yelling. Discussions only. So for the past ten years, we have only had one angry (not yelling) argument (not discussion) where we both ended up in tears because the other one was in tears and both of us wanted to take responsibility for the stupid argument so the other wouldn’t cry or be hurt. Otherwise, both of us have learned to listen to each other. Sometimes, I’m right. Sometimes, he’s right. Sometimes, we’re both wrong.

  20. 21

    I’ve felt those moments. Those moments where you have to fight within yourself between doing the easy, instantly gratifying thing (say those words, prove your point, just leave) and doing the thing you know will mend the snag (be respectfully silent, be the first to forgive). I’ve gone both ways, but certainly one path leads to a much better marriage. And start making too many on the easy side, and things do begin to unravel. It is about thinking for the long road.

  21. 22

    yes. amen.

  22. 23
    Becky Jones says:

    My husband and I are working on our 54 year together and this still holds after all these years and the things we have been threw together. He has stood by my side with a lot going on. He has always been with me threw a lot with me and God by our side. Enjoyed today blog a lot. Just keep on trying as you are with God by your side and it will all work out fine.
    Becky

  23. 24

    This is a great post and for all of us recognizable I think. I am a newlywed and my husband and I keep talking about not wanting to take what we have for granted, or forget our long years alone before we met. Even for a newlywed your post is so good to read!!

  24. 25
    Beth Williams says:

    Lysa,

    This is so very very true! One has to work hard at keeping the snags from unraveling. I apologize quite often–right or wrong. Also I do little things to make his day–get clothes ready, pack lunch, etc.

    If people would do simple small things for each other then nothing would unravel.

  25. 26

    Pray for each other and with each other. Forgive them and yourself.

  26. 27

    Pray for and with each other. Forgive them and yourself.

  27. 28

    One thing I have learned after 23 yrs. Of marriage is to also be mindful of others that “pull” on your threads as well.

  28. 29

    Amen! I have only been married for a year and a half or so, but I know this feeling of not wanting to talk it through, but wanting to cling onto anger and why I’m right. I think anyone who is married…or in any kind of relationship can understand that! But I have found that, in my marriage, these are the common everyday ways to grow individually and as a couple, to make that knot stronger! Marriage is full of opportunities to sacrifice and become a better person, to love each other more. Thanks for a beautiful picture of such love.

  29. 30

    Such a needed reminder! The last few months have been tough as we’ve watched our dear friends marriage fall apart. It’s so easy to say “Oh, that will never be us!”. But without working on it and protecting our marriage it *can* unravel oh so fast.

    I love finding accountability from others to do what’s right and avoid short cuts.

  30. 31

    I tried registering to win a tee-shirt, but the icon to send my email address to you was not responding. Is there another way to register, and will we be able to purchase the tee shirts if we do not win one? Blessings galore, Andrea

  31. 32

    Lisa, this is one of your best posts ever I believe! Thank you… for transparency and words we can all relate to. Been there, done that. I love the sweater comparison. We need to nurture these delicate relationships, and bless these men who sometimes drive us crazy and can be so weird. :) The older I get, the more I value this man of mine and the gift he is… From God. Blessings to you. Many have heard your words.

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  1. [...] The Unraveling of A Marriage by Lysa TerKeurst at in(courage). From the post…”There is a delicate nature to marriage. It’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to take it all for granted and stop being careful. Stop being mindful. Stop being protective.” [...]

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