The Dangers of a DIY Marriage

by |


hat is it about the DIY movement? There’s something about doing things ourselves that is looked so fondly upon by so many in our daily lives. It’s a great thing, but it can be dangerous or even toxic if you apply it to your life or your marriage.

The other day while on the phone with a good friend several states away, he told me about a deck he’s working on adding to the back of his house and how much he had struggled with one of the foundational pieces. There was one very large board that he had to attach to the house. Everything else connects to this board. Being a foundational piece of the deck, it had to be perfectly in place, level, and very strongly fastened. If it wasn’t, the whole deck would be crooked, or it could even fall away from the house and hurt somebody. My friend is an engineer, and he knows that anything worth doing is worth doing well, so he had the biggest, strongest piece of lumber he could find for this important role. For the size deck he was building, it was probably close to 200 pounds and 30 feet long. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to lift and balance a 200-pound object 30-feet long, or tried to hold that object perfectly in place and fasten it securely, but to say that it can be difficult is an understatement. It’s not the easiest with two people, but he was trying to do it alone, and no matter what he did, he just couldn’t get it quite right. He was understandably frustrated.

Many of us are doing the same thing every day without even realizing it. I know that I’ve done it many times. Let me explain. When Jess and I were first married, we set off on the path of building a marriage. Having never built a marriage before, we didn’t know where to start, so we could only guess at how to get the results others seem to have. We knew we wanted to build a strong foundation, and I was ready to hit the ground running. I’m one of the biggest do-it-yourselfer types you’ll ever meet. There isn’t a tool I’m afraid of and there aren’t many things I haven’t fixed or built–I can’t remember the last time I hired anyone to do anything.

You Can’t Always DIY Your Marriage

I took that confident (arrogant, really) mentality and applied it to our marriage. When we were first married, we fought a lot. There was so much that was new and felt out of control that it was easy to see there was a problem, and I set off to fix it. I tried and tried, and somehow I kept making things worse instead of better. This was a problem I didn’t know how to fix. I didn’t know which tools to use. I didn’t even know if the right tools existed. But I was determined to figure it out on my own. Jess and I were lifting the 200-pound board by ourselves, trying to get our marriage foundation secured, but it was throwing us around. We were weak with exhaustion, but I insisted that we couldn’t give up.

Jess had suggested we talk to the pastor that had married us and ask for help–at times she even pleaded–but I wouldn’t listen. I didn’t want to ask for help, and I thought she was weak for wanting it. If I’m being quite honest, I was ignoring God’s leading in our lives, and Jess was trying to follow it.

Ask For Help

My friend will tell you that he isn’t one to ask for help, but when he was struggling with building his deck, he admitted he was stuck and picked up the phone. A few hours and a couple extra hands later the board was in place.
But we tell ourselves that marriage is different. If I were to admit that I needed help in my marriage, I’d be weak. People would think less of me. I’d be a failure and make myself and my wife look bad. Everybody else has it together, why can’t we?

I didn’t need anybody. I thought that we could fix our marriage if we only tried harder. We could do it. We could fix us.

If you’ve read our story, you know that I was very wrong. When Jess had given it everything she had, and she had nothing left to give, she left and I collapsed. The board pinned me to the ground. There was no more denying it. I was stuck and needed help.

The day she left, my first step was to call the pastor who had married us. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and he was gracious enough to take time away from his family to talk to me. I broke down like I had never broken before. I remember sitting on his couch trying not to cry and failing miserably. I poured my heart out as the tears flowed, telling him every last detail. When I was done, he encouraged me. He prayed with me. He gave me the biggest hug. And he connected me to the counselor who helped us save our marriage. He lifted the board just enough that I could breathe and rest a bit. In that moment, I wasn’t doing it on my own. I had someone helping me, cheering me on, and wanting me to succeed. I hadn’t just let him in, but I also let God back in. There was still a big mess to clean up, with a seemingly impossible mountain to climb ahead, but for the first time, I didn’t feel alone in the journey.

We are not designed to go through life alone. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

“We are not designed to go through life alone.”

Share Tweet

In most situations in a Christ-centered marriage, we can consider our spouse to be our second strand and Christ to be the very strong third strand that holds us together. But sometimes the obstacles we have to conquer aren’t ones our spouses can help us with.

4 Tips to Get Started

  1. No matter what you’re going through, know that you don’t have to do it alone.

  2. The best thing I ever did for our marriage was to ask for help. I took the initiative to call my pastor. I took the initiative to call the counselor and schedule an appointment. And I’m so glad I did. If you’re struggling, reach out to a trusted friend, family member, pastor, or counselor and try to open up just a little bit. Sometimes that’s all it takes for the walls you’ve put around yourself to start falling.

  3. You may not want to ask for help because you feel that everyone else has it together and you don’t. Do it anyway.

  4. I’ll tell you right now that nobody and no marriage has it all together. No matter what it seems like, every person and couple has their struggles and quarrels. You might be surprised who would be genuinely blessed to help.

  5. Recognize where your spouse isn’t equipped to help you through a situation.

  6. If it isn’t something they can help you with, reach out to someone who can.

    My friend wasn’t about to ask his wife or toddlers to help him wrestle the board into place, so he called a friend of his and they got it squared away.

  7. It takes three strands.

  8. The single reason we were able to save our marriage, is the ever-present third strand in the cord of our relationship–Jesus Christ.

    Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

That day in our pastor’s living room, I embraced those words. I was the weariest I had ever been from trying to carry the heaviest burden I had ever shouldered. I found rest. Everything wasn’t suddenly better, but as I aligned myself with Christ over the following days and weeks, the load became bearable and my soul continually found just enough rest to continue pushing forward.

Do you have a burden in life that you could reach out to someone for help? Tell us about it in the comments below…

Want to dig deeper?

Check out Radiant Marriage Academy, our free 16-lesson course!


(Fully free. No catch.)

adam & Jess

Hi, we’re Adam & Jess--we’re so glad you’re here!

Our marriage got off to a rocky start in 2014 and quickly escalated into a full-out crisis. God healed us, and now we're inviting you to walk with us as we all journey toward healthier marriages together!

7 Days to an Awesome Marriage

Check out our free eBook and connect with your spouse!

7 Days to a More Intimate Marriage

Follow Us

Treasuring the Tiny Moments

The goal for the day was simple...Get food for dinner and prepare a delicious meal for our friends who were coming over (while still social distancing). I had gone to the store and had everything that I needed...except for the fish. I was planning on making fish with...

Choosing Your Spouse Over Your Checklist

We published an image of a quote on our social media not too long ago, and it struck me in just how profound it is. The quote, by D.L. Moody, is this: “If I wanted to find out whether a man was a Christian, I wouldn’t go to his minister. I would go and ask his...

How to Love Your Spouse Through Their Rough Day

There I was in my car in the garage processing through the events of my day. You know those days where everything just seems to go wrong? This was that day. From dropping a smoothie onto the floor in the morning to having a rough interaction with a friend to work...

7 Game-Changer Questions to Fight Disconnection in Your Marriage

Have you ever gotten to a place in your marriage where you felt completely disconnected from your spouse...and didn't have a clue how you got there? In these times, it can be so easy to ignore the problem and become apathetic. In the moment, ignoring things seems like...

10 At-Home Activities to Do as a Couple

Let’s be honest. The past few weeks have been a bit insane. Have you been going a bit stir crazy? Have you craved being with your friends or family? Do you miss hugs? Are you finding yourself losing track of days and time? Us too. In the midst of being under “shelter...

4 Ways to Take Charge of Anxiety

Army. Green. Couch. Can you picture it? Now hold onto that image and I’ll come back to it. If you have read my posts for any length of time, you know that I struggle with anxiety. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized how much I can fixate on things…...

Faith in the Midst of Uncertainty

I t was dinner time when we found out that Washington had issued a “shelter in place” mandate. While we live in Idaho, Adam works in Washington. And Washington was the first of the two to issue the mandate. Like many of you who have these state rules right now, we...

7 Ways to Grow Your Marriage During COVID

This last week has been insane. I feel like I woke up on Friday last week and the world had started to end. Grocery stores were being emptied, in-person church services had been canceled, schools were closed, and my graduate program was put on hold...and I couldn’t...

Abandoned, Alone, and Afraid

Abandoned, alone, and afraid. These three words have been the theme of my feelings over the last month or so. We're in this weird stage of life where so much about our current situation feels unsettled and nothing is secure. Our finances, not having a home base, our...

Building Momentum in Your Marriage

Having a great marriage isn’t based on one moment, one action, or one success, but rather a pattern of right actions (and corrected wrong actions) over time. This may seem obvious--doing the right thing is commonly best practice--but the effects are less obvious. It’s...

Want to build an awesome marriage?

Get started with Radiant Marriage Academy, a 16-lesson online course to help you build an awesome marriage.

The best part? Thanks to our patrons, it's completely FREE. No credit card. No upsell. No catch. Just great, free marriage tools to help you make your marriage awesome.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest