“God just wants me to be happy” is the justification I hear from many women who are sitting in my office, trying to find a way out of an unhappy marriage. For most, they have tried everything under the sun to get their husbands to change and to see the suffering he is causing. Now they just want to be free.
But unfortunately nowhere in the Bible does it say that the pursuit of our own happiness should be our top priority.
In fact, Matthew 6:33 says that we are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and he’ll take care of everything else. That means we are to do things God’s way. And His way is not to give up when the going gets tough.
While God does not rejoice in bringing suffering to his daughters, He does use our sufferings to mold us into His image. Self-sacrifice is a necessary part of the Christian life and marriage. He also uses our sufferings to deepen our faith and bring us to a place of repentance.
It takes a mature individual to ask, “How much of my own suffering has been caused by my own sin?”
In challenging marriages, it is rare to see someone who is doing a lot of soul-searching and repenting. Yes, it may be done from time to time in an effort to be the better person, but the genuine repentance is rarely there. Rather, it becomes a battle of wills. One or both parties are grounded in their position, and they fight for that position instead of the betterment of the marriage.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If there has been no unrepentant adultery or abuse, then it is God’s Will to save your marriage. If you trust Him, He can restore your marriage into something more beautiful than before. But you have to play your part.
There are three ways that you can do your part in repairing your marriage:
- Give up the right to win. The ultimate negotiation results in a win-win. I used to be married to a man who had to win at all cost. He lost many relationships, including ours, as a result. While it’s tempting to feel like you need to drive your point across and get him to understand, it can be the very thing that separates you. Don’t win the battle only to lose the war.
- Recognize that the real battle is happening in the spirit realm. Satan would love nothing more than to destroy your family. Don’t give him the satisfaction of being a puppet for him. Instead of fighting against your husband, take all of your frustrations to prayer. The Bible says the fervent prayers of a righteous (wo)man gets a lot done (James 5:16)!
- Stifle your pride. There is a difference between the pride you carry for a job well done and the pride that keeps you trapped into thinking that you’re entitled. God is not moved by your entitlement. In fact, it repulses Him. Did you know that the same pride that can keep people from accepting Jesus can destroy your marriage? We often don’t recognize our own pride. It comes in the form of fighting for your own rights and refusing to budge from your position. When you begin to stifle your pride, you are open to new and rewarding ways of rebuilding your marriage. If you started a new relationship would you have the same attitude with the new guy as you do with your husband?
- Defer to the needs of your spouse. When you just met your spouse, I bet you sought to do all you could to please him and understand him better. Why stop now? Are you the same person you were 20 years ago? Or even two years ago? Hopefully you are transforming into new and better versions of yourself. The same is true for your husband. I doubt he is the same man. Take the time to get to know him. And this does not mean that you make demands that he talk when you feel like talking, or share what you feel you want to hear. Rather, truly show an interest in who he is and how he receives. I assure you, if you spend more time adjusting yourself to understand your husband, you’ll spend less time in resentment and self-righteousness.
Don’t just say you’ve done all you can. Actually DO all you can to save your marriage. And trust that God can do exceedingly, abundantly above what you could ask, hope or think (Eph 3:20).
Let Him be the one to restore your marriage or release you.
By: Kris Reece, Counselor, Coach, Speaker