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Dealing with a Difficult Marriage

     If all marriages were happy, it would be great! But the reality is that not all marriages are pleasant; in fact, many are sources of great difficulty and trial,  but that doesn’t mean that we need to walk away or quit. It just means we need to take our pain and challenges to the Lord and allow Him to help us.

     Recently, I had a close friend ask what to do about her relationship with her husband. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I gave her my perspective based on the Scripture. Her situation is very difficult but God is still the same. In a world that changes under our feet, it is helpful for us to remind ourselves of the fundamental principles that are true and don’t change. I have listed a few helpful thoughts below.

The Bible says that His Word does not return void and that it will accomplish the work for which it is intended. We need to speak the Word over our situations and our lives. This includes our husbands and ourselves. For instance, speak the Word that says: “No weapon formed against you (me/him/us) shall prosper” Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV). “His (the Lord’s) loving kindness is better than life” Psalm 63:3 (NKJV).  “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world” 1 John 4:4 (KJV). Exercising the promises in the Bible will give our souls the solace they need during difficult times.

2) God will reveal the Truth. If we ask, He will reveal secrets to us (Daniel 2:28 NIV). He will make us aware of the enemy’s schemes so that we can pray against them. He will equip us and prepare us.  The Bible says the Truth sets us free.

3) Our children can benefit from seeing examples of right and wrong. They also have a Heavenly Father who loves them more than we could ever love them. He also will provide a covering for them.

4) We all need to model faith in God's redemption and faith in others. We must not only believe this and say it, but live it. The gospel of God’s merciful grace holds redemption as a plan for all humanity. We all need to model forgiveness and grace. We can never be tempted to give up on people, because God never gives up on us.

5) Our strength comes from the Lord, not our spouse. We all need to find our strength for living and peace for our souls and joy for our day from our walk with the Holy Spirit, not on what someone is or is not, does or does not do. If ever we try to get this from someone or something else, we have our eyes on the wrong thing.  The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV), so make sure you find your joy in the Lord and you will have the strength you need to carry on.

6) For our sake, our husband’s sake and the children's sake, we need to demonstrate how to be healthy ourselves in every way (mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually)... as well as develop other characteristics that are right and wholesome, like financial stewardship, generosity, compassion, diligence, and responsibility, among others.

7) I think it is necessary for us to realize and admit weaknesses and character flaws in our spouse and realize that we are not their Savior. They have a savior (in Jesus) and we cannot save them. However, neither can we deny real problems they have or expect them to be free of flaws. We just have to learn to deal with the flaw. If our spouse were confined to a wheelchair, we would have to learn to accept those challenges and not expect things from him that we could expect from our walking neighbor. They would just not be capable of the same things. We may not like the deficiency, but we must accept and adjust to it.

It can be beneficial for children also to respectfully recognize the negative or ungodly characteristics of their parents, grandparents and others around them. For instance, if there is someone they know who lies or doesn't keep his or her  word, we can teach our children that lying is wrong.  Yet, we should forgive the person who lied, all the while explaining that we won't be able to trust that individual to tell us the truth in the future.  We can show them that the Bible says we should keep our word and that God’s promises are trustworthy.  We can put our trust and hope in what God has promised, but not in what that person says. In other words, the poor character qualities belong to that person and don't have to affect us. It also teaches them that those things hurt and disappoint others, so we don't want to repeat that.

9) Children will learn sooner or later that the people in the world are not perfect or well or whole--that there are diseases and distortions of all kinds.  What we can teach them and equip them with is HOW to handle that fact and deal with those people. For us to wait for a perfect world with perfectly behaved people and teach our children to hope for that sets them and us up for major disillusionment.  Nor does it equip them with sound judgment and discernment. You've heard the phrase, "What do you do when life throws you a lemon?--make lemonade." In a way, that's what we can teach ourselves and our children. It would be more accurate to say to them "WHEN someone acts wrong... here's what you do," as opposed to saying, "IF someone acts wrong..."

10) Finally, the Bible says, "Love never fails!" (I Corinthians 13:8 NIV) That is true! So keep loving!

     It is important that we realize that God does have a plan. He works all things together for good. (Romans 8:28). It's the sugar and the salt that are needed in recipes. It’s the rain and the sun needed to bring forth the harvest... so just know that God uses the good and the bad for His ultimate purpose and overall good. May He equip you to handle your difficult marriage relationship with a new perspective!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Debbie Reynolds Harper

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