Many of you feel that you are in a broken marriage and are suffering in silence. You are afraid of what people might think of you or what the Church might think of you. Some of you might even think that divorce is the only way out. And I am here to tell you that that was me and that you are not alone. Many marriages within the Church are struggling and many are on the fringe of falling apart, just like mine was. But there is hope.
Before My Marriage Was Broken
I had a bit of a smug attitude about how just great my marriage was for the first nine years. A broken marriage didn’t even seem like a possibility. We fought sometimes and got on each other nerves, like most couples do, but the thought of leaving never crossed my mind. We cruised through living in separate states for several years, the unpredictable nature of the military, his deployment to Afghanistan, and a significant reduction in our income when I decided to leave my full-time job. We even survived being “unevenly yoked.” I was an evangelical Christian and he was not, but we seemed to make it work.
When My “Rock Solid” Marriage Began to Crumble
And then year number ten came and my “wonderful” marriage came crushing down. I should have heeded Proverbs 16:18.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
There were a series of events that began pushing my husband and I farther and farther apart. It was the perfect storm. Before we had a chance to realize what was happening, I found myself sobbing in my bedroom while my husband looked on. He asked me pointedly, “Do you even love me anymore?” I composed myself, looked down at my feet and said, “I don’t know.”
I wanted to have compassion for this man that was only a few feet away from me, but all I had was disdain. I felt the hypocrisy of my Christianity weighing heavily on me. I was drowning and slowly losing my faith.
At the time we had bought a house in Pennsylvania, but I was still living in Virginia with my daughter at a friend’s house. The Marines had relocated my husband to PA and I was suppose to reunite with him once he returned from his deployment. Initially, we had agreed that I would come up every week for a long weekend while our “new” house was being renovated. However, as time progressed, I found myself wanting to visit PA less and less and I was reluctant to fulfill my husband’s wishes to finally move in permanently.
I Justified the Reasons for Separation
I had a million excuses on why I was justified in staying in PA.
“Whenever I am home, he is always mad and upset.”
“He doesn’t hug me or really pay attention to me anymore.”
“With his long working hours, we hardly see each other anyway.”
“He never does anything romantic”
“I don’t know anyone in Pennsylvania and my family and friends are here in VA.”
“The students at Sunday school in VA need me and if I leave there is no teacher to replace me.”
“He had the choice to stay in VA had he wanted to but because he wanted to go off to war, now he is up there and I am paying the price for it.”
“My real estate business is thriving in VA and I can’t do it from PA.”
Seeking Godly Help in My Despair
The only thing I did right during that time period was to go see a wise and godly friend. I needed to confess to someone that I was in a broken marriage and I knew that she wouldn’t judge me.
She listened quietly as I went off on a rant about my husband. After listening for awhile, and maybe even losing patience with me (although she did not show it), she said, “You need to let go of the real estate business. You need to let go of your church here in VA, and you need to move back in with your husband.”
Boy, did I resent her words, but something deep down kept tugging at me. Biblically, I knew she was right even though every part of me just wanted to walk away from the marriage. A few weeks later, my concerned parents echoed her words during a trip with them to Puerto Rico (I later found out my husband had reached out to them for help). I still didn’t accept the correction very easily; however, eventually I would take their advice. In my stubbornness, it took me several days to tell me husband, but I finally let him know that I was moving to PA and I was going to stay committed to the marriage.
Restoring a Marriage is Not Easy, but It Is Worth It.
I would be lying if I said that the road to restore our marriage was easy after that. It was not. After finally moving in, I would spend hours laying on the bench of my dining room table crying while my daughter was at school. I had to force myself to be kind to my husband and to make him his morning coffee. I had to force myself to put my best foot forward for my little girl. I had to force myself to sit down and read the Bible and pray. But looking back now, God rewarded my obedience and He gave me a sign of hope the day after I made the decision to move to PA. I found out I was pregnant.
God Extended Grace AFTER My Obedience
Infertility was one of the stresses that had led us to such a broken place.the We had tried for a few years to have a second child, but to no avail. I had given up hope. But as I made that first step towards reconciliation and things were still very rocky between my husband and I, seeing that cross on the pregnancy test gave us both something to smile about. I always say, I should have named that child Grace. In that gesture, I felt God saying, “Yes, you sinned and walked away from me, but you have repented and now I am extending my grace towards you.” His mercy is enduring.
Obedience Came First, Understanding Came Later
One of the reasons I had started to pull away from my husband was because of a state of continuous grumpiness. For most of our marriage, laughter had been a powerful glue, but for reasons I did not understand, my husband stopped being funny. He was all of a sudden almost always irritable. Even our intimacy in the bedroom took a nose dive.
Fast forward many years later, I finally found out the reason behind my husband’s apparent bad moods. During that time period, he had been going through a very difficult time at work. My husband has never liked to talk about his problems nor open up. While he was trying his best not to bring work issues home, his frustrations at work and the effect it was having on him emotionally was causing him to be quieter than usual and to be short with me.
I felt like he was rejecting me, but that was not his point of view. He liked having me in the house with him, even though he didn’t feel like doing anything nor wanted to talk. My presence was comforting. When I started to not want to visit him, it would cause him to fall into an even greater depression that I would interpret as disdain for me. It was a horrible cycle.
Through my obedience to move back in with him, he began to feel comfort from it and it gave him a reason to bear the difficulties at work. His moods eventually changed for the better. I also changed. All those feelings that I thought were long gone starting coming back and my love and respect for my husband since then has grown exponentially. Eventually he also accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. (To learn how to help your husband change, read “How to Change Your Husband.”)God pulled us through but it took an act of obedience on my part and my willingness to take the first step. Click To Tweet
Even Trials Serve Their Purpose
It was a very difficult time in both of our lives, but good came out of it. We both have learned wisdom in the ways to best guard our marriage and we both have gotten closer to God. I also learned the importance of having good godly friends (and parents) who are willing to provide that gentle but honest correction when you need it most. Reaching out was instrumental. I reached out to my friend and my husband reached out to my parents. We will be forever thankful for their wisdom.
Things You Can Do To Help a Failing Marriage
My final words to you is that if you find yourself in a failing marriage, there are steps that you can take. Here are my suggestions.
Find a trustworthy and godly person to talk to about your marriage difficulties.
You may be tempted to find someone that will egg you on, agree with you 100%, and side with you completely. Those types of friends are always available, but will only lead you to the road of perdition. Instead find a person that will be 100% honest with you and take you back to God’s word. They will be the friend that will give you gentle correction, but lead you to a road of restoration.
Remember That Marriage Is a Covenant
Marriage is a sacred thing and we often put our feelings, emotions, wants, and needs before God’s will. It is the reason so many marriages end up in divorce. But put God first. Put His will first and be willing to surrender to Him even if you cannot yet surrender to your spouse.
Even though moving back into my house was emotionally agonizing, I chose to be obedient. I knew it was the Biblically correct thing to do. And although it would take a few years for me to “fall back in love” with my husband, God was faithful to my obedience. He gave me the strength to endure during the hard times and also proceeded to radically transform my husband.
Own Up To Your Mistakes
Even if it is 99 percent the other person’s fault, own up to your one percent. Confess your mistakes to your spouse, ask their forgiveness. In the fog of our struggles, initially, I did not want to admit any fault. I interpreted my ungodly actions only as a reaction to his. “If he hadn’t done this, then I would have never done that.” The honest truth, is that as Christians we are always called to take the higher road—regardless of what others are doing. I had to be very patient and wait many years before I heard my husband apologize for his role in our struggles, even though I had confessed my own sins to him and asked for his forgiveness. But the wait was well worth it.
People can change dramatically when you show kindness when they are being unlovable. Unconditional love can do wonders to soften peoples hearts. However, we will not always see the change that we want or expect. Only God can radically transform anyone. So we are left with one option, getting down on our knees. So pray for your spouse and pray often. Prayer is powerful.
A Final Note for Those in Abusive Marriages
My advice in this blog is for marriages were the couple themselves are decent people that for one reason or another have marriages that have begun to fall apart. However,
If your spouse is physically violent please find a safe place first and then seek help. There is never a reason for any spouse to physically injure another—does not matter what you did. If this is you, please seek help now.
if you have lost the will to live….
if you feel that you are completely worthless….
if you feel life has lost all meaning…..
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship. Please talk to someone that can get you the help you need. A pastor, a counselor, a close friend. Don’t suffer alone. If you don’t have anybody, please contact me directly and I will be happy to put you in touch with someone that can help you.