These 5 Powerful Truths Can Absolutely Save Your Marriage
- Cindi McMenamin Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2015 2 Mar
In 20 years of ministering to women, I've received hundreds of letters and emails telling me about a woman's marital struggles.
And guess what? Most of a woman's marital struggles are not unique.
They're the same struggles every wife deals with, at one time or another (with the exception of the wife who is abused). And they're the same struggles I've seen God come through for in one way or another.
For a perspective change (if you're wishing you were married), or a refresher course (if you've been married awhile) or just a way to make you more appreciative of the marriage you have, here are five truths that I've seen save marriages through the years.
1. Your spouse can't possibly meet all your emotional needs. Only God can (Psalm 145:16). And to expect your husband to be your all-in-all is a recipe for disaster. Do your spouse a favor and look to God to be your "spiritual husband" (Isaiah 54:5). It will take a tremendous load of expectation off of him and it will help you be a confident, capable woman who can get through whatever life and marriage brings your way.
2. Marriage is not intended to make you happy. Admit it, you married because you believed your spouse would make you happier than if you remained single. I believe we all go into marriage with this basic assumption. But God's intention for marriage is more about making us holy, than happy. God knows that marriage is a situation in which we can daily practice dying to self. It is an arena in which we can learn and live Christ-likeness. It is a field in which we can practice love, even when we don't feel like it. Happiness is not a result of how someone else treats you. Your level of contentment is a choice that must be made by you or a heart condition that must be altered by God. See your marriage as the training ground for becoming more like Christ (Galatians 2:20). No one can teach you better how to love another unconditionally than the person you are living with in very close quarters.
3. Disappointment is inevitable because we're all broken. I wish this weren't true, but it is. And when I apply this truth to my marriage I have a more realistic perspective. Because we are all broken, God is the only one who can fix us. Not a new life. Not a new wife. Not a new perspective. Not a new you. Because with all the new, there's still the same old broken you. Just as your spouse has disappointed you, you, too, have disappointed your spouse. It goes both ways. That's why grace is the glue that holds the two of you together. Once you realize you are just as much of a sinner as your spouse, you will extend grace toward him or her more easily.
4. The grass is NOT greener on the other side. We tend to look at other situations that are less familiar to us and imagine the best....just like you looked at your fiancé years ago and imagined the best possible scenario with him. Then reality happened. Your spouse has flaws. So does the nice-looking man across the street or the recently divorced woman in your office or the very capable single mom or dad you met in the school parking lot. Doesn't it make sense to continue to invest in the person you've invested years in than to start all over with someone else's issues, baggage, past, and problems?
5. Integrity always pays off. Are you a person of your word? Did you say "forever"? Did you promise commitment even in sickness and in health? Alzheimer’s and dementia are a sickness. So is addiction. So, even if your spouse doesn't remember you or isn't behaving the "same" as when you married, or is truly trying to stop a destructive behavior but can't, you still made a promise. Even if the two of you have grown apart, you still made a commitment. Even if your heart doesn't feel the same you still made a vow before God and witnesses to be in this "'til death do us part." (And that doesn't mean "death" of your feelings.) I'm so glad God doesn't drop us when we begin acting differently than when we first committed to him. Grace is undeserved favor. And God expects us to show it to others in the same degree it has been measured out to us.
Yes, there are certain behaviors that are absolutely unacceptable in marriage, such as abuse and sexual unfaithfulness. And yes, under the Old Testament Law, God allowed divorce in the case of adultery, and due to the "hardness" of the Israelites' hearts. But under the New Covenant, grace rules and forgiveness triumphs. Some of the most powerful marital testimonies I've seen and heard have been those who started to walk away because of "irreconcilable differences" but then saw the God of reconciliation bring them back together....once they extended grace and love of another kind (and in many cases when counseling and a repentant heart helped reverse some destructive behavior).
Inasmuch as it depends on you, are you willing to forgive, extend grace, and do what is necessary for the marriage to work? God always honors the man or woman "who keeps his word whatever the cost" (Psalm 15:4) or - as another translation says - "who keeps an oath even when it hurts" (NIV). And I know, my friend. Sometimes it hurts.
Marriage disappoints at times, just like any relationship. But God never disappoints. Put your hope in him - and his promises - and see what he can pull you through.
And if your marriage is one that couldn't be saved - or you are dealing with behaviors that are destructive to the marriage, or your spouse was not committed to making it work as you had hoped - God can still redeem the pieces of your life and turn your story into something beautiful.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books including When a Woman Inspires Her Husband and When Couples Walk Together, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh. Cindi and her husband have been married 26 years, have more than 20 years experience in ministry together, and live in San Diego with their grown daughter, Dana. For resources or encouragement to strengthen your soul, marriage, or relationships, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: March 2, 2015
Read more about what the Bible says about marriage in our Marriage Guide that walks through many hot topics surrounding marriage today in light of God's Word.