How can people of faith keep their marriages together when they don’t feel like it?

talking-meeting-brainstorming

There are a couple simple answers that I could throw at you, but they won’t motivate you to do them for any length of time.  In fact I am betting they will make you feel like you aren’t following the rules and we all know that Christians shouldn’t feel like we aren’t following the rules.

Your husband sleeps with another woman.

You catch him masturbating.

You drive down the highway and see his car at the local bar and he is supposed to be home watching the kids.

He never compliments you.

He never says he loves you.

He doesn’t help around the house, he sits on the couch and watches you work every night, he spends all his time outside in the garage, he spends money without telling you, he works too much, he works too little, he doesn’t spend enough time with the kids, he doesn’t like your family, he doesn’t groom like he used to, he doesn’t dress nice, he isn’t interested in anything you are interested in, he doesn’t attend church with you, he doesn’t want to go with you anywhere, and on and on and on.

Perhaps there are no major problems in your marriage.  Perhaps we are good at hiding things and playing the part.  Perhaps it all looks nice.  Nice kids, good jobs, beautiful home, new cars, and we both go to church together when the doors are open.  It’s all superficial.  No one talks about their unsatisfying sex life, their dreams, desires, frustrations with a hum drum relationship, and life.  Perhaps there are big problems, but they are hidden behind looking right.

I don’t feel like it.

What do we really feel like doing, if we are truthful? 

I was so in love with my husband that I made drastic life changes to be with him.  I wanted him and would do whatever I had to, to be with him.  I would say the first few years of our marriage were great.  In fact I thought everything was going fine until I was pregnant with our fourth child.  When my husband announced he couldn’t take it anymore and was leaving I was in shock.  I didn’t realize we had problems.  Really.  I was knee deep in taking care of three kids and simply didn’t see what was wrong.  He stayed until our fourth child was born, but left when he was six months old.  He came back for good when he was one.  After that we struggled and barely stayed together for the next seven years.  During that time I didn’t feel like doing anything, but crying.

It’s a choice.

I made a promise before God when I got married to stay with my husband.  So during the bad times I stayed by making a choice to stay.  I honored the commitment that I made.  I am glad I did.  We celebrate 28 years of marriage this year.  We still struggle.  We don’t have the fairy tale ending yet.  He isn’t attending church with me and we aren’t serving in ministry together.  We don’t pray together or read the Bible together.  We do choose to stay together during all the times when we don’t feel like it.

The Christian life is not a feeling based life.  We have feelings, but those are not the basis for our faith.  How often do we really feel like obeying God?  Picking up my Bible on a regular basis takes forethought and discipline.  I don’t always feel like praying, praising, thanking, or loving others.

I choose to love my husband.  I choose to act in a way that demonstrates my concern for him.  I choose to stay when he offends me, ignores me, neglects me, and just when he throws his clothes on the floor.  Yet, my resolve to stay with him and love him is often put to the test.  I have had moments where I was ready to leave and where I told him I no longer needed him.  What then?

ABSOLUTE need for Christ.

I alone do not have what it takes to stay faithful to my husband for 28 years.  I used to beg God to let me out of the marriage.  To let me leave him though I felt I had not clear reason for doing so.  I used to get up in the morning in such spiritual anguish and emotional pain that all I could do was crawl to my living room, lay flat, and pray.  Lord, help me.  Lord, help me.  Show me what to do.

It was ONLY Christ who gave me the power to stay when I felt like running.  It was ONLY the Holy Spirit enabling me to love when I wanted to hate.  Without Him I would have left a long time ago.  Without Him I would have been happy to seek solace elsewhere.

In a very real way Jesus Christ can make the difference whether you are dealing with your spouses adultery, masturbation, pornography addiction, or you are just sick of him after all these years.  Maybe you simply don’t want to fix him another meal, fold his clothes, or make the bed for him.  Maybe the thought of sleeping with him turns your stomach.  It’s ONLY Christ.

How?

When I am a student of God’s Word, when I read it slowly and seriously, then I am equipped to handle the storm.  I am empowered with what I need to love and to stay when I don’t feel like it.  If we are just going through the  Christian motions they will eventually not work.

Read regularly.

Pray through Scripture.

Think about it.

Memorize it.

When I pray.  Reading a prayer on Face book isn’t the kind of prayer I am talking about.  You know how you tell people you will pray for them and then don’t.  Well I am not talking about that either.

A quiet place.

Uninterrupted time with God.

Speaking to God and sharing your concerns.

Listening.

Focusing on who God is.

Praising, thanking, and interceding.

Lord, help me love this man!

Church, stick with me on this.  We are not to forsake the assembly.  We need to hear God’s Word and we need to be around other Christians.  I realize there are a hundred issues we can bring up with going to church, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we need to be there. It really is key to the whole love your husband thing.

What it comes down to is that we can’t just act Christian.  We can’t just attend a service here and there and think good things about God.  If we neglect the ways in which we are supposed to maintain our relationship with God our relationships here in this world will falter.  They will either falter in serious ways that others can see, or they will falter in heart ways that only God can see.

I am not a martyr for staying with my husband.  It was because of the work that Jesus Christ did that I have stayed with him and loved him when I wanted to run.  Those times when my walk with God was strongest was when I loved my husband the best.  When my walk with God is weak, when I don’t read His word for like a long time, when I just shoot up little prayers to ease my conscience, and when I sporadically go to church is usually the time when I struggle the most to love him as I should.

Make a choice, dig in deep with God, and REALLY live upon His Word and prayer.

For His glory and because of His grace,

Marcy Pedersen

5 Comments

  1. I respect your decision to stay with your husband. I also believe that marriage is sacred – I was raised Catholic. Although you do not specifically state what your husband has done, would God want you to stay with someone who has broken his vows to you and who continues to dishonor you and your marriage? Do you want to look back on your life as an old woman and realize you gave up years of the only life you have to be with a man who does not love, honor, and cherish you? Do you want your children to learn that marriage is nothing but unhappiness and emotional abuse? Is living an unhappy life with a man, who does not have the same religious conviction as you, truly living God’s word?

    I have no doubt that there is a man out there who would cherish you and your children after divorce, who you would experience a true, happy, loving marriage with….in addition to having God at the center of your relationship.

    My ex husband and I were married in the Catholic church. I suspected for years that my husband was gay – He officially came out after our divorce. He was also emotionally abusive. He would have stayed in our marriage had I not filed for divorce because he was using me to be a stay at home dad. We had a beautiful home and nice cars, we were able to take regular family vacations….all because I was working hard. He used the idea of a “perfect family” to be lazy and hide his sexual orientation.

    If you were in my place, would you have stayed in the marriage? I can tell you that my faith in God is stronger, because I believe He led me out of a terrible nightmare. I would not have survived had I not put my faith in Him.

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    1. My husband and I did struggle for seven years. He was not with another woman once he came back. Other probably thought that I should have left him, but I felt God wanted me to endure. I do not think that everyone should follow that example. I was hoping by sharing my story to emphasize the importance of making a choice in everyday marriage to stay together and how much we need Jesus to do that. He was neglectful to us and that was painful. I understand the points you are making about staying in the marriage and seeing those things. I am sorry to hear about how things turned out for you. I can’t even imagine how difficult that might have been for you. I can’t say that I would have stayed in the marriage that you had. It sounds like it was a very unhealthy situation, perhaps not much different then mine. When my husband came back he said was there to make it work though that work was often slow. Because he said he would try to make it work I stayed. Praise God your faith is stronger. I believe the principles I talked about are important, but ultimately there are situations like yours where divorce is still the result. Since your ex-husband was actually gay then I imagine there were a lot of underlying things going on that you sensed. May God be with us all as we navigate the Christian life and seek to do what we believe God would have us to do. I hope this helps some. Please feel free to email me if you would like to talk further.

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