Wifey Wednesday: Hope For those in Hurting Marriages

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I write a post, and then you all can either comment or link up your own marriage post below!

Everyday I receive so many heart breaking emails from women in dire straits in their relationships (I’m sorry if I haven’t gotten back to  you yet. I try to answer my emails, but I’m really inundated right now).

I firmly believe that it is lonelier to be an unhappy marriage than it is to be alone. There is a unique kind of loneliness when you feel that the person who is supposed to love you and care for you doesn’t. It hurts. Badly.

Help for Those in Hurting Marriages

Yet I also believe that one reason it hurts so much is because of the “Myth of Marriage” that our culture has, and that Christians, perhaps, have propagated. And that myth goes something like this:

In this life, the best happiness you will ever experience will be feeling like one with your soulmate. Nothing is as fulfilling as to love and be loved in return. When we feel completely intimate, we reach a high that nothing else can compare to. And all of us can experience that, with the right person. Indeed, that is God’s will for us: that our marriage will mirror what He feels for us, and that we will feel completely and utterly completed in our marriage.

I have to admit that I talk like this sometimes, especially because I do have a good marriage. And I do believe that relationships are supposed to reflect Christ.

But here’s where the danger comes in: we start to believe that the GOAL of this life is to achieve that kind of oneness, that kind of happiness. And when we don’t have it, we figure that we’re missing out on something so dear that our lives will never be complete. Maybe it would be better to start again! Or, if we do stick with the marriage, we know that we are sacrificing God’s real will for our lives; we know that we will never have the kind of life that we deserve.

I think that’s a misunderstanding of both the role of marriage and the purpose of our lives.

We are on this earth to learn to hear God’s voice, to obey that voice, and to lead other people to that voice. That is all. We are on this earth to decide to follow Christ, and to start living that out. That is what we will be doing in eternity.

As such, even if you don’t have a great marriage, you can still completely fulfill your purpose. Look at all the people around the world who live in horrific circumstances! Christians are imprisoned for their faith. People spend decades in prison camps. People live without food. Orphans grow up on the streets. We have it so easy here that if our biggest problem is that we have a bad marriage, we’re actually doing pretty well. Life is full of hardship.

But that’s only to be expected, because God never promised that our reward would be in this life. In fact, Jesus said that those who had easy lives had received their rewards in this life; other people’s rewards were still to come.

And that’s what we often miss: this is not your real life. This is not all there is. Heaven is our home, and it is heaven that we should be looking forward to. Sometimes the wait between now and heaven is really difficult, but in the light of eternity it is only a blink of an eye. And as Paul wrote in Romans 8:18:

For I know that the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.

Our hope is in heaven, not in this life. So if life isn’t perfect, that’s okay. It just gives you a longing for heaven that God wants you to have.

I believe that we have made marriage into an idol. This is partly a reaction to families falling apart all around us; the church responded by trying to boost marriage, and by saying how wonderful and fulfilling it can be, all of which is true. But let’s never forget that our hope is not in our husbands; our hope is in Jesus.

Yes, it is possible to have a great marriage. And it is possible to turn a difficult marriage around. But marriage is not the main thing we should be living for, and marriage is not the source of our hope. God is.

So if  you’re in a difficult place right now, let me reassure you that what you are experiencing is not all there is. This life is eighty plus years, if you’re lucky. The life that is coming is forever. This life is full of hardships; the life that is coming is full of joy. This life is rooted in the here and now; in the life that is coming, you will talk to saints from all generations. You will know a heap of new friends. You will experience true intimacy that you have never dreamed of.

Yes, life is hard, but God never promised that it wouldn’t be. What He did promise was that no matter how hard it was, He would carry us, from this life to the next. And perhaps if we kept our eyes on things that were eternal, rather than on things that were temporary, we’d have a better perspective on marriage, life, and everything!

There is hope, ladies. But that hope is not in your marriage; that hope is in God. And He is faithful. Looking forward to heaven is not a crutch; it is simply basing your hope on a reality. So don’t feel like you have failed, or that God has failed you, if your life is not perfect or if you are lonely here. This is not all there is, and Jesus is already preparing a place for  you.



Now, what advice do you have for us today? Or has God ever really comforted you with the hope of heaven? Leave a comment, or link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below!

Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.



Comments

  1. I am also in a good marriage, but we did have several really hard years first. Things can get better.

    In a Beth Moore study I did last year, she said, “My husband is a fine husband, but he has made a very poor god.” That resonated with me so much – I do tend to fall into patterns of idolizing my husband and expecting him to be more than he can possibly be. He will never be able to meet all of my needs – and that isn’t his job!

  2. Oh Sheila, this post just sings with hope and encouragement – thank you!

    Julie G
    Julie recently posted…Grasshopper DaysMy Profile

  3. I love this post because it is true for all marriages and situations. If your hope is in Christ you have more of a responsibility to yourself to make your own happiness or develop your own hope and personal relationship in your Savior.

    It reminds me of when I was first married and I was so happy to not be alone anymore and I wanted to depend on my husband for everything and be able to just have the comfort of being taken care of and loved. But my sweet husband said I needed to be just as independent as I was when I was single, and take care of myself. I thought, you’ve got to be kidding me, I’ve waited my whole life to be taken of by you! I felt like my husband paying the bills was an extension of this protection and love for me.

    I also knew I should love God more than myself or my spouse, but I didn’t understand how I could love anyone or anything more than Mr. Forever.

    When difficult things come into your life, whether big or small, you need the Lord and that’s when it made more sense to me as time went on. We had a really horrible difficult struggle after a couple years of marriage, and I didn’t know what to do. I was so hurt and angry and full of self-pity. I needed the Lord to get me through that time and heal my heart. What is amazing to me is that he did and through sincere prayer I was able to feel whole again. Looking back, it is a sweet time to me that I was able to grow in my relationship with God and feel loved by him.

    I need the Lord to help me love my husband and to see him the way God sees him. I need God to help me feel hope and not get weighed down by daily struggles. I need the Lord to help me raise my kids and to have confidence in my abilities. My husband needs God too. I can’t lean on my husband for everything, for my happiness, for my peace, for constant guidance. Over time I developed in my relationship with God and he started to emerge as a person who loves and understands both of us and has a plan for our family.

    During good times our individual and marital relationships with God strengthen each other and during difficult times our individual relationships with God buoy us up. We are blessed with a beautiful marriage and I am so grateful everyday for my wonderful husband. Just because he does dishes and loves me and the kids doesn’t mean I no longer need to rely on God for everything. I finally understand putting the Lord first. My relationship with God says more to me about my happiness than my relationship with my husband. Without God I could lose site of the significance of my family and what really matters in life even if I had the perfect husband. It is our Savior who helps us to receive that level of clarity.

  4. anonamous says:

    Thankyou. This is a great post for me today. I am SO looking forward to being in Heaven for eternity with God and all His children. My husband of 18 years left me and our 4 children last week with no explanation. I am sad, lonely, upset, scared, panicky, and my emotions roll over and over and I am overwhelmed. I have to remember this life is so short!!! I love the Lord. I am having a difficult time feeling Him close to me right now, but I know He loves me and He is here. There ARE so much worse things than my problems in the world…

    • Oh, I’m so sorry that your husband left you! That is so, so lonely. I pray that you will feel Jesus’ arms around you, and that He will carry you through this really difficult period of your life.

    • Just wanted to send hugs your way…..I’ve been in a similar situation before, and I felt as if the world was closing in on me. Thank God the pain was only temporary, and now I’m happier than ever and in an amazing marriage! You will get past this as well. Build your intimacy with God and your children, and before you know it, the situation will be worked out for your good!

    • Kellie –

      I am praying for you to feel God’s presence at ALL times! I too have been married 18 years, and on July 4th my husband also left – with the explanation of another woman. Completely shocked me and our 3 children. We have been through the Sacred Marriage study years ago, and both believe that marriage is to make us more Holy, and not happy. He is back home and we are ‘working’ on it, but we are a LONG way from the happiness we once shared. This post was fitting on many levels to me today. I want you to know that you are NOT alone and that I look forward to meeting you one day as we are completely ENJOYING our Heavenly Father side by side!

  5. I have mentioned this before, but I love the “Sacred Marriage” idea (by Gary Thomas) – that marriage was designed more to make us holy, than happy. Yes, a happy marriage is a blessing! But even when your marriage isn’t happy, or perhaps especially when your marriage isn’t happy, God can shape you into a better person. You learn what unconditional love really is, you learn patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. All those fruits of the Spirit. :)
    Jenny recently posted…Communication in the bedroom: How to effectively deal with sexual problemsMy Profile

    • Yes, I absolutely love that concept–holiness, not happiness. It’s not that happiness isn’t possible; it’s that it’s a by-product of something else–learning to be more like Jesus.

  6. Oh…this was so good, Sheila. I do think people make marriage an idol, more important than loving and serving God which is the only thing that truly satisfies.
    Lori recently posted…Free Morning After PillMy Profile

  7. Sheila, this is something that God has really been showing me lately. I think if we can be more spiritually minded, then many of the cares of this world (marriage problems, finances, health issues) will seem so small in comparison. I compare our lifetime on the earth to the short time that is spent in the womb before we are born. Both are very short and affect how we will spend the next and more important phase of our lives. If we keep our hope on heaven, then the troubles of the world can only bring us down so much……Matt 6:20-21 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I’m so thankful that Jesus loves us so much to prepare such wonderful things for us to enjoy forever!

    • Kellie, my girls and I are memorizing those very verses this week! I think the proper godly perspective on life makes everything so much simpler, and brings joy even in difficult circumstances.

  8. Just this morning i vowed that i wouldn’t be reading marriage/Christianity blogs anymore because i believe now that they do more harm than good. There were always great truths that i was reading about and i was genuinely happy for the marriages that had overcome difficulties and now were in a great place. But the problem comes when i am constantly seeing my marriage as not quite “there” yet. My husband would have no idea where my unsettled dissatisfaction came from. We do not have a bad marriage, but a very chaotic household with three boys 6 & under and i’m sure my expectations for our romantic life might be a little unrealistic at times. If we wives would spend more time focusing on what God’s Word calls us to be accountable for ourselves and less on what good intentioned Christian books tell us we can have in marriage, we might be a heck of lot more content and happy with what we’ve got. For me, i’m finally done with looking at what we are not, and now will be rejoicing over what we do have. Thanks be to God for this perfectly timed post. And thank you too Sheila! :-)

    • You’re so welcome, Michele! And yes, there’s a real danger in feeling dissatisfied. We need to remember to keep God our focus!

    • I wish there was a “Like” button as it would go to Michele. I have felt exactly the same way and found reading some posts unhelpful which only end up with me self-sabotaging – it so hard reading about other people’s good marriages when you’re own has painful pieces and is just “Not Working” in parts even though you try to communicate and do the right things. So I agree this is such a timely post – our husbands aren’t gods and we shouldn’t idolise marriage, and the empty desolation and loneliness a woman can feel within even quite a good marriage is maybe something that we can channel into something positive. Thank you Sheila – it has really been very helpful :)

  9. Thank you for this entry on your blog. I have been married for 30+ years and five years ago my marriage took a totally unexpected turn. We moved from our house in the suburbs to an isolated cabin in the woods. The move feeds my introvert tendencies, a negative, but puts me closer to God,a positive. But the move affected my husband too. I am no longer a priority for my husband, at least from my perspective. Everyone and everything else comes first. Through the anger and the hurt,I have prayed asking for help to deal with the changes in my husband. I ask for peace and contentment and understanding, and for awhile i receive it. But then something happens and I am back to where I started. Yesterday was one of those days, where I was once again the bottom of my husbands list, and unfortunately I expressed how I was feelin g. I was met with a look of boredom.I went to bed hurt and prayed for forgiveness and an answer to my problem. For i feel it is my problem. Then early this morning I read your blog and the Lord gave me my answer. No matter how today goes,today will not be my focus. Eternity will be. Thank you for being the vessel by which the Lord answered me. I can make ti through today,because of it. One day at a time, sweet Jesus. God bless.

  10. What a great post! I am living in a restored marriage and if I have learned anything, it is that I cannot fully depend on my husband to be my Rock. Jesus is. My husband still fails. I fail. But there is One who never fails, whose love never fails, and that is probably the biggest thing I learned from my marriage burning to the ground. I HAVE to depend on God for every breath, every emotional desire I have, or I will be left wanting.
    Jamie Bishop recently posted…A new year, a new ringMy Profile

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I have been married for 12 years to a man that is two different people, one happy and loving, one angry, verbally abusive and undependable. We are working through many if our issues and many of his are from childhood and unforgiveness poisoning his heart. The world would have you believe that if the person you are married to has struggles and hurts you, you need to walk away from them. I don’t believe God wants me to do that. Fortunately I am a strong woman and don’t accept the verbal abuse when it comes we are working on these issues, but is a long and lonely struggle sometimes. Remembering that having a happy marriage should not be my goal, but rather one that is a light for the lost in this world (whether we have issues or not) is something I need to reflect on much more than I do. But your perspective is by far the best I have read so far, so thank you.

  12. I wanted to say thank you for this post. I found your blog through Pinterest. This post really speaks to me because it goes on what my stress counselor told me last week. My marriage is not very stable and hasn’t been for almost 2yrs. I am trying to put more of my focus on God, than my husband; which can can be really hard when your spouse wants all of your attention and us dealing with anger management. Thank you for the encouragement!!!

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