What I’m about to write here may not be the truth for every person in every marriage but I very much hypothesize that the bulk of it will be.
Let me start by saying, I don’t mean any of this to say marriage is bad. Marriage is a beautiful, wonderful, incredible gift from God and I encourage Christians towards marriage. It is precious and valuable BUT I think married Christians don’t do the best job talking about the hard parts of marriage openly because we all want the world to think we have the perfect fairytale. It gives younger couples a false impression of what marriage is and unrealistic expectations of what it should be like all the time and they end up feeling like they’ve failed when things are not so.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.“Ephesians 5:25
So if you are married or in any kind of relationship at all and if Christ is your savior (He is) this is for you.
My husband and I did not date in a way that glorified God at all. In fact, most of our marriage to this point has not honored God and while I do believe that our experience would be worlds different if we had both (or even one of us) been in Christ prior to meeting, it wouldn’t have changed everything. Even the purest of Christians are still depraved sinners at best, as that is simply the human condition and that fact alone will always bring suffering, pain, and disappointment into any relationship. Especially marriage. If your marriage has been blissful to date, congratulations! That’s wonderful news, but don’t stop reading now. You still have the rest of your life to go and chances are you or your spouses selfish and sinful nature will cause a problem at some point. I don’t say that to be downtrodden, I say it because I care about your marriage and there are some things I think every couple should think about moving forward.
“Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.“Ephesians 5:21
If you are struggling in your marriage, I am talking directly to you. I know how you feel. I know the feeling that you’ve made a grand mistake and thinking of any way to just survive through it or get out of it. Please don’t give up. God has plans. Keep reading.
MARRIAGE IS HARD. You and your spouse WILL disappoint each other.
It’s not the blissful, head over heels love that you see in disney movies every day for the rest of your life. In the beginning, it usually is, and many times throughout your lifetime, it will be. On a day to day basis though, when you’re taking care of children and jobs and bills and all the things that come with sustaining a household, romance is sometimes completely absent and you must make the choice to love and serve your spouse even when your feelings are not pushing you to do so. You will lose every ounce of admiration you ever had for your spouse if you do not prioritize serving them and meeting their needs, even when you don’t feel like it.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.“Ephesians 5:22
“Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body just as Christ does the church.”Ephesians 5:28-29
“However each one of you must love your wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.“Ephesians 5:33
Society is often telling us about how to handle our romantic relationships. I am here to tell you, STOP LISTENING TO THE SECULAR WORLD ABOUT WHAT A RELATIONSHIP SHOULD LOOK LIKE. Period. In case examples of worldly, popular culture relationships weren’t enough. “If your man does this, this, this or this, leave him.” What authority does your facebook friend from high school have to speak about what constitutes grounds for divorce or separation? You may be thinking, “oh, I just scroll past stuff like that.” Sometimes that’s simply not enough. I know personally, the feeling of subconscious pressure to act a certain way because that’s what the overwhelming majority of the world thinks is appropriate. WRONG. Sometimes when you see things or hear commentary like that, you literally need to stop and tell yourself, “no.” Be intentional and remind yourself that GOD is the authority on these matters and secular culture will lead you astray.
“The world is a flattering enemy, it kills by embracing. Whom the world kisses, it betrays. Is Heaven in your eye, Christ in your heart, and the world under your feet?”Thomas Watson
Get rid of your friends that are constantly criticizing your spouse or your relationship in general and telling you to leave them, or feeding into your negative feelings about them. Probably one of the most dangerous things you can do in your marriage is indulge in negative feelings about the other person, especially in the company of someone who is reaffirming your negative feelings. This is incredibly hard to learn but it is absolutely necessary. I have really struggled with this at times because it has caused me to feel alone and that is where the other side of this comes in. FIND FRIENDS WHO BELIEVE IN THE SACRED NATURE OF MARRIAGE. Find other married women in the church who will mentor you and encourage you through the tough parts of marriage and rejoice with you in the best parts. Friends like these truly want the best for your whole family and want to see your marriage honor Christ. They can be hard to find, but besides a heart captured by God, I think they might be one of the best assets a marriage can have and are therefore well worth the search. My best advice for finding friends like this is to first BE THAT FRIEND.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.“Titus 2:3-4
Here is the hard stuff.
Cheating, lying, secret keeping. Broken marriage vows. A downright unloving spouse.
First, I pray that your marriage never experiences this kind of turmoil. As I’m sure you know or can imagine, it is devastating and excruciating. I pray that neither you or your spouse ever perpetrates this evil, terrible thing on one another. But by the chance that either of you ever have or you ever do… please keep reading.
Secular culture 9 times out of 10 says leave them, and infidelity IS biblical grounds for divorce but first, please consider this.
God prefers reconciliation. We know this because He went so far as to send His own Son to be tortured and crucified on earth and spend time in HELL so that we may be reconciled to Him.
Now, I am not saying you should stay with a confessed serial cheater or abuser who has no remorse, shows no repentance, has no interest in changing, and outwardly plans to keep doing it. If that is the case, do your very best to forgive this person in your heart and move on.
This is obviously a case by case matter and you know the intricacies of your situation better than anyone else, but I think it is important to try and objectively consider the attitude of your spouse towards whatever it is they may have done. Are they truly repentant? Are they asking forgiveness from not only you but from God? If you truly believe we are to live as Christ lived and love because He first loved us, then these things matter.
“Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.“Colossians 3:13-15
I encourage you to remember that marriage is meant to be a reflection of Christ and His bride, the church. The church is made up of sinners who deserve eternal damnation. Marriage is not about what I or my spouse deserve. That is the entire premise of grace. I promise that you do not deserve grace anymore than your spouse does, yet it has been given to you in abundance. I know from firsthand experience the excruciating, scarring pain of infidelity but Jesus Christ knows pain better than any of us, and sympathizes with us. In fact he bore that pain just FOR us.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.“Matthew 11:28-30
I truly believe that if we are to reflect the gospel and Christ’s love for the church in our marriages, we must do as we are commanded, more than ever. If we cannot bring ourselves to do these things, hard as they may be, for our own spouses who we are literally one with, how could we do it for lost strangers who need Jesus?
“But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.“2 Corinthians 2:5
If I had not experienced certain pains, and chosen to forgive and reconcile, I would never have been able to appreciate what God has done for me the way I do right now. Although, our pain and sufferings will always pale in comparison to that of our Savior, I think 95% of the time pain pushes us nearer to Him and that is never a bad thing.
“When grief presses you to the dust, worship there!”Charles Spurgeon
I have made the mistake of feeling like my marriage could never bear fruit, glorify God or be a good example because of its past blemishes. It’s a lie. Because of God’s grace, our blemishes don’t ruin us forever and if we make the choice to have grace for one another, they do not have to ruin our marriages forever. Guard the integrity of your marriage and remember that your relationship will often require a sacrificial and selfless love. Serve your spouse when you least want to and furthermore when they don’t deserve it. Always be praying for your marriage and your spouse and if anyone ever asks how you can continue to love or forgive, tell them about what Christ has done for you.
If you need help in your marriage, please reach out to us! We would love to provide you with sound Christian resources that can help.