Valentine's Day is nearing, the annual celebration of love and, for those who are married, wedded bliss. Yet, not everyone looks on these occasions as a time to remember their "happily ever after". In a struggling marriage, Valentine's Day and anniversaries may be marked by tension, wishful thinking or, worse, bitterness.
I've walked this path, I know its twists and turns well. Combing through my old website's posts, I stumbled onto the perfect message to update and reshare as we walk through the month of love. Each of the "excuses" I cover, not only have I experienced, but I have also heard on repeat from wives over the years. These points are valid concerns and, I believe, every valid concern deserves a valid answer.
My hope is to inspire anyone who is struggling in their marriage - or those who know someone who is - to be able to revive and find reconciliation. After all, God's Word tells us He HATES divorce! If that is the case, then our goal as wives should not be to give up, but rather, buckle down and make our marriages work. So let's break these down…
1 - "I'm just not in love with my husband anymore/the 'spark' is gone"
This statement drives me crazy. They all do, actually, but I think this one does the most. First of all, you can re-spark if your heart is rightly focused (read on to see what I mean). Secondly, this idea completely escapes the purpose and power of marriage as God designed it and turns it into a self-serving vehicle which is suppose to propel one through life. It implies that our spouse's value in love status, hinges on emotion rather then devotion. My personal favorite quote from the Bible on this point:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~Jeremiah 17:9~
Our feelings are fickle. We may go through a day… or even a week… or even a few years, of not feeling in love with someone. But if God didn't stop the marriage before you walked down the isle (even if you were secular, and I will address that in a minute) then he has kept you together for a reason.
I could write for hours on this one but the other points will add to it and, can I just say, put your feelings in your feelings wagon and pull it along as long as it takes… trust me… if you serve your husband as if you serve the Lord, and doing so with a love-because-Jesus-does kind of love… you won't regret it. Which leads to the next point…
2 - "You don't understand what a pain he can be, it is so hard to love him, besides, he never does anything for me… even when I bend over backwards for him…."
I do, actually, and so does Jesus, His self-sacrifice embodies this. I prayed for my husband in his absolutely impossible attitude for 10 years (no exaggeration) and in that time, God showed me my roll: to serve my husband for God's Glory: To bend over backwards day-in-and-day-out with absolutely no reward for years on end. To this day, it is a big part of my husband's testimony: a wife who's attitude was so completely different towards him that he couldn't help but wonder what Power could love him even when he was unlovable.
Think about it like this … what if Christ grew tiered of bending over backwards for us? What if he yanked the whip out of the hands of his torturers, or punched and spit back at his accusers, or got down off the cross and said "You know, I don't think so, no one ever does anything for me except treat me like junk and use me…." How DEEP was the love he showed when we (you and me) didn't deserve it? How extraordinary is it that this very love is what exemplifies sacrifice and how we ought to be to one-another?
LOVE isn't gushy, mushy feel-good reciprocatory stuff. No, Jesus tells us exactly what it is:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~John 15:12-13~
You may say… Jesus said to lay down life for "friends"… don't use semantics, it is as simple as it sounds and whether you think of a spouse as a friend or otherwise… it is all the same. As a matter of fact, your spouse should be your best friend and if he is not, you might want to start working there.
3 - "He has changed since we got married/he's not the man I married."
And so have you. Whether or not you see it in yourself. For good and bad. Life is full of change, especially the personal kind, it is also part of what keeps relationships interesting… re-learning and understanding each other. See above two points if this is a difficult concept.
4 - "I never really loved him to begin with"
I'm sorry to hear that. But walking down the isle was your choice. Whether or not you (or your spouse) were a Christian at the time or getting married for good reasons or bad. You are married for a reason. God honors your union (again, He could have stopped you before you walked down the isle, but he didn't) now you need to honor God in your union.
For centuries (and even in some countries to this day) betrothal was common place. Many of these relationships did not start in love, but God often grew love there for those who let Him work. Point #1 and #2 above can be applied here as well. Even if you weren't Christians to begin with… even if you are the only Christ follower in the relationship… God has you together for a reason, trust Him, trust His plan, I promise, it is a good one. God will grow love if you let Him and offer yourself up for the tilling, planting, fertilizing and producing.
5 - "We weren't Christians when we got married…." and either the Christian version of the marriage is different and dis-satisfying or one spouse is saved while the other isn't…
Neither were me and my husband. I can't begin to tell you the spectrum of tough things he was doing, and continued to do, even after I re-dedicated my life to Christ. I begged God to let me leave and this is what God showed me:
To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy…. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? ~1 Corinthians 7:12-14,16~
Did I mention God has a plan? After 10 years of prayer, I really began to doubt that I was ever going to see my husband embrace salvation. Then, one day, he did. Not just a pew-warmer kind of faith… no, a drop-down all-in-no-turning-back kind of faith is what God rewarded us with. He still has his quarks and areas in which he challenges my patience and my "love". But, remember, love isn't an emotion, it is devotion. Christ stayed devoted to me so, even on the hardest days, I stay devoted to my spouse ♥
So why do so many people ignore all these facts and still grab after the Big "D". Honestly… their eyes are not on God. Nope. Eyes, at that point, are on what a person wants for themselves and feels is best for self and thinking they know better then God on the matter. You see this in statements like, "I just want to be happy" or "I can't be happy with him" or "He just doesn't make me happy anymore". But we aren't guaranteed "happiness" in this life under any situation, even marriage.
The other problem… too many women compare their marriage or husband to others. They see happier wives or more doting husbands and the longing kicks in. Whether these 'model' marriages have more going on under the surface then we see, or not, is irrelevant. That is the other person's marriage… that is not where God has called us… it is where He has called them: what we choose to do with those God gives us and if/how we allow God to shine through us to others is much more important then the model life or what we think would be better vs. what God knows is in HIS plans for us.
What's more, remember, God HATES divorce and it goes against every GOOD plan he has for us. Not to mention, divorce goes against the very character of the unity of the God-head. God speaks His heart simply on the matter through Paul:
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. ~1 Corinthians 7:10-11~
Most people considering divorce, falsely assume they would be happier and more fulfilled with someone else.
A) according to God's Word, you are commanded NOT to remarry if you divorce, it is considered adultery if you do! and
B) the grass really isn't greener. I know, I've been there, before I rededicated my life to Christ.
A concept I like to remember in this 'grass is greener' idea is, what I call, the "escape hatch". Think of the escape hatch as you see it in submarines - there in the floor or on the wall with a turn-handle you can grab and spin to lift the lid and slide down for a quick 'out' in the event of trouble. NO marriage should have an escape hatch.period. If an escape hatch is 'in the room', you will be tempted to focus more on it than on the marriage. You will keep thinking how much 'easier' it would be to pull that lid and even, perhaps, inflaming situations or making excuses to do so. However, if NO escape hatch exists then the only thing to focus on is the dials and gauges of your marriage and all which needs to be done to make sure you are ship-shape in your journey.
Like my own story with my husband, God can use YOUR attitude and perseverance to draw your husband into relationship with Him. It isn't always easy… but God never promised that it would be. Are you willing to lay your life down for another… especially the one who you pledged to, 'till death do you part'?
There is hope in renewal of the love that can exist in the bond of marriage. Your marriage is your ministry… first to your spouse and second to all who may need to know what devotion looks like. I promise, a love like this will bring such depth to your marriage once you find it, you'll wish you had discovered it much sooner!
A resource which helped me immensely as I learned how to pray for my husband and love him when he was unloveable was The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. No matter where your marriage is, I HIGHLY recommend this read! (link in image)
For the month of February we will be studying the book of 1 John and asking, "How can we abide? How can we live a life where God abides with us?"... all of which points to God's abiding LOVE. It is a great study for learning more about how to love like God and draw closer to Him... Please help yourself to the FREE copy of this 20-lesson study on the resource page of our site, or by clicking below...
Before you leave, check this out as well....
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