Today’s post is from A Surrendered Marriage contributing writer, Nikki from Christian Mommy Blogger.
If there is one thing I have learned in my seven years of marriage it is this: marriage is tough.
If you are married, you understand this to be very true. If you aren’t married, I hope to enlighten you – not burst your bubble.
My marriage has had many ups and downs. Peaks and valleys, much like my relationship with God. What I do notice is my time with the Lord increases when my marriage needs help, and decreases when I feel I don’t need anything. I have recently changed this to focus on leaning on the Lord regardless of my happiness or sadness. I do realize, however, that it will be an ongoing challenge.
Isn’t it so hard to lean on the Lord when you appear to be standing just fine all on your own? This, my friend, is life as a Christian.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
You see, I thought I had it all figured out…marriage, that is. It wasn’t perfect, but it should be pretty easy to get it on track again – that is what I told myself.
I knew what my husband needed to change. I even made a list. I told him about it – usually when I was angry. I also knew what I needed to change. I didn’t make a list about that…who wants to see that in writing?
There, I had it all under control. We are struggling in our marriage and I have a list. Let’s go through this list and make the necessary changes. Then, and only then, will our marriage be back on track.
Then I got mad. I was hurt. I was wronged and trust me, I wronged him.
You see, we are all sinners. We all fall short of what the Lord has planned for us because we, on our own, cannot meet our own expectations, much less the Lord’s. We cannot fix our own marriage.
After a few years of the above scenario (try, fail, almost give up…try, fail, almost give up….repeat) I knew something had to change. My husband and I were both at our wits end and knew we couldn’t do it on our own. Okay, let’s be honest here – I knew we couldn’t do it on our own. My husband still felt he could. That made me feel discouraged. It is as though I knew the solution. I found the treasure map, but I couldn’t get to the treasure because the captain didn’t want to get out of the harbor. God was ready to be the navigator, I was ready to follow – I just needed my husband to lead.
And he didn’t.
Friends, this lasted for a while. I can’t tell you, that if you are in the same situation, it will be fixed overnight. It most likely won’t. What I can tell you is how I got to where we are now…and it is good. But trust me, we still aren’t “there” yet…is anyone?
Here are my 5 steps to getting my marriage on track:
1. Stop waiting for your husband (or wife) to initiate the change. This is actually about you more than you’d think. You need to start working towards a change in your marriage. So stop waiting and start on #2.
2. Pray. Yes, pray. Aggressively. Everyday. All of the time. I am sure you gathered this would be on my list, given the challenge! You see, I started reading 31 Days to a Better Spouse and that got me praying for my marriage. I then joined Leigh Ann’s Facebook group and spent another 30 days praying. And then (are you sitting down?) my marriage got….worse. Not better…worse. More on this in a moment.
3. Give your marriage over to God. You can’t save your marriage. No matter how hard you try. Yes, your marriage may stay in tact for the rest of your life, but it won’t be what God has planned if you don’t give it over to Him. What He has planned is so much more than you can imagine. Don’t you want to see what that is?
4. Seek counsel from others. Please be careful though. You may want to first seek counsel from friends (Biblical, married friends). Be very, very careful about seeking counsel with family. It can be very easy to slander your spouse without even realizing it. Next Thanksgiving, when your marriage is spot on, your older sister is going to still be hurt and angry at what your husband said to you last year. You have prayed and moved past it, but there is a chance she has not. Now your husband, who deserves respect, is not respected by your sister – and who else did she tell?
There are, of course, exceptions to this. If you are struggling with your marriage and you have lifted it up in prayer, and given it over to the Lord and you feel as though you need to talk to someone about it (perhaps your spouse is not on-board with the changes you need to make) then you may find there is a family member you can talk to. But please, keep your husbands appearance in mind. This is more important to men then we, as women, will ever know. You may feel as though “he doesn’t deserve any special treatment!” but please listen to me: if you feel angry or wronged – do NOT speak to others about it until you have cooled off. You can do more damage than you understand if you slander your spouse!
5. Go with professional help – Biblical Counseling. Even with prayer, giving your relationship to God, and wisdom from others, you may find you simply don’t have the tools to “fix” your marriage. God does! The Bible has so much instruction! If you aren’t yet married, I would highly recommend doing premarital counseling. Learn these tools before your marriage begins!
For those of us already married, this is invaluable! And what’s more…you don’t have to pay for it! Talk to your Pastor and schedule an appointment! He can give you Biblically sound advice that will help you repair what appears to be broken. He can help mediate when you and your spouse don’t appear to be on the same page.
My friend, if you feel lost, broken and unable to do anything else for your marriage – even on the brink of divorce, you should pray about this option. Think of it as solace in the middle of a divorce-approving world. Your pastor should be on your side – teaching you how to use Christ to strengthen your marriage. How to rely on Him to right what has been wronged and strengthen what has been weakened by years of hurt and anger. Do not consider divorce an option!
Your marriage is not just something you can toss aside: “That’s it. It is too hard. I just can’t do it anymore.” That is just not an option! You have to fight for your marriage! You have to give it all you got!
Oh, I said I would come back to something: my marriage was getting worse as I prayed. Yes, when something like that happens you can rest assured you are usually on the right track. You see, the enemy wants to make sure you throw in the towel. He wants to make sure to take you out at the knees with each one of the above mentioned steps. Might I add: I didn’t give up. I continued to pray through these challenges. My husband is now part of this challenge. We are seeking the Lord together and putting our marriage second (second only to the Lord!). Our marriage is on fire! It is so amazing. And it isn’t perfect…it is just amazing knowing where we are headed – and the Lord’s leading!
You will be tempted to give up. You will be encouraged by some that it is okay to give up. You will most likely see that your marriage gets harder before it gets better. But think of this analogy:
Christ went through death on the cross on Friday. He suffered more than we can imagine – taking on the sin of the world. His pain was so significant that it killed Him. The suffering was so much, He could not go on.
And then came Sunday. He rose again. He fulfilled all that was promised. He was in pain no more. We were delivered.
Friday may be miserable and feel like the end of the world…but Sunday is coming.
Nikki is a Jesus loving, stay at home, mommy-blogger. She loves cooking (and growing and brewing) traditional whole foods for her family of four. She is a Navy wife to a loving husband in the beautiful rolling hills of southern Indiana. She loves cloth diapers, Keurig coffee, line dried laundry, breastfeeding, cast iron pans, bible studies and sharing about all of these things!! Find her blogging at Christian Mommy Blogger. You can also see updates, quick tips, and other inside scoops by liking her on Facebook, or by following her on Twitter (@ChristMomBlog).
Which of these steps would help your grow your marriage?