The following are quotes from various resources targeted to help you in your troubled to do what is possible to save your marriage. We pray they will help in some way in this very difficult mission.
• Each of us will suffer at different points in our lives, and when we are married, we are committed to sharing in the pain of another person. For that reason, we need to look to our commitment and to our marriage vows for strength, stability, and endurance —especially when feelings of love aren’t as strong as they once were. (H. Norman Wright, One Marriage Under God)
• I DON’T LOVE YOU -or- I LOVE YOU BUT I’M NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU -or- I’VE NEVER LOVED YOU. One woman’s husband told her that in all the 35 years they had been married, he had never once loved her, not even when he asked her to marry her. Really? If this were true one could only conclude he was a total idiot. Why would you choose to marry someone, and choose to stay married to him or her for 35 years when you never once loved him or her? After all, it was not as if she’d taken a gun to his head, right down the aisle to the altar and said: Say “I do” or I’ll shoot. He CHOSE to marry her and he is responsible for his decision.
I hear this line from most unfaithful spouses we work with: “I never loved my spouse.” It simply isn’t true. Unfaithful spouses convince themselves of this to give them permission to have affair/s, because otherwise, they would think of themselves as a “bad” person. “If I love my spouse and I have an affair anyway, then I must be a bad person,” they reason. In addition, their thinking gets distorted. They rewrite their marital history in their minds. Bad memories become bigger, and the good memories, the loving feelings, they once had are forgotten. (Anne Bercht, from the Byeyondaffairs.com article, “Contributing to Marital Problems vs. Causing an Affair”)
• At some point in marriage, the grass will look greener in other pastures. Whether in the afterglow of an argument or in the fatigue of family and career pressures, you may question your decision to stand by your spouse “for better or for worse.” When the “worse” seems to overshadow the “better,” you need to cling to this truth: feelings come and go; commitment does not [or should not]. In Hebrew, Greek and Latin, origins of the word “commit” all mean to cling, cleave, connect or stick. Unfortunately in our society, many couples reason they are stuck in marriage instead of determining to stick to marriage. Our culture feeds the consumer mind set of obsolescence in which people continually toss or trade in products —even relationships —that no longer satisfy their expectations.
God never intended marriage to be a test-drive relationship, but a binding pledge of permanence. When the Creator established the blueprints for marriage He stated, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God designed marriage as a lasting “one flesh” union between a man and a woman. God knew from the beginning that marriage would not be about convenience, but commitment. Commitments of life-changing proportions are never struggle-free. (Beth J. Lueders, from article: “Never Surrender”)
• Every competent counselor knows that no matter what the marriage problem, the system that sustains it is found in both people. Like a mobile hanging from the ceiling, a change to one piece impacts the equilibrium of the entire structure. In the same way, every marriage maintains balance as two people shift their positions, their attitudes, and their behaviors to counter one another. Thus in the long-term relationship, complete responsibility for problems rarely rests entirely on the shoulders of one person. Before a single step is taken, before a move is made, spouses will need to realize that it’s not who’s wrong, but what’s wrong that counts. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I Love You More, pg.118)
• Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. (Selwyn Hughes)
• The single best day in every marriage is when two partners take responsibility for their part of the pie. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I Love You More, pg. 119)
• If your marriage has grown stale, look in the mirror and ask God how He can use it to transform the person looking back at you. If you have let bitterness seize your heart, stop praying for your spouse to change and ask God to change you. Most marriages can survive temporarily “falling out of love.” But you’re headed for disaster if you ever let yourself fall out of repentance. (Gary Thomas, from the article, The Transforming Miracle of Marriage, as posted on www.ncfliving.org)
• One thing we have noticed about couples whose marriages are in crisis —and it is true for us as well —is that they have often lost a sense of themselves as individuals. Marriage troubles and everyday demands can replace the simple enjoyments in life. We guard against this by making sure we “self-nurture” and by reducing the demands we place on one another to meet the full gamut of each other’s needs. We both have a self-nurture” list that consists of 15-20 activities that we can do alone. These are not immoral, illegal, or expensive and we do our best to incorporate at least five activities a week into our private schedules. At the top of both of our lists is our quiet time with God each day. (Joe and Michelle Williams, from the book, “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• If you’re in a difficult season in your marriage and you start to think, “How can I take another 10 or 20 or, God forbid, 30 years of this?” you’re headed for trouble. You’re asking God to give you the grace for something that hasn’t happened. Instead, break it down to a single unit — a single day: “Just focus on this: Can I love my husband [or wife] for this day?” Don’t think about ten years down the road, or even ten months! Can you love your spouse for this one day?
Some friends who knew I was running the Seattle Marathon asked me, “How did you do that for twenty-six miles?” My answer? “One mile at a time.” How do you stay married for twenty-six years? One day at a time. Break it down. Focus on the here and now. Put the future in God’s hands. Some miles will seem easy, and some will feel hard, but you need to focus only on the ones you’re currently running. Let the others remain in his care. Can you love your spouse for this one day? (Gary Thomas, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage, pg. 121-122)
• This is a culture of impatience. “We’re a one-click culture,” Pamela Paul, (an editor at American Demographics) says, “an impatient generation in an impatient society” that wants to download life quickly. When the young hit a pothole, they abandon the road. “It feels easy to move on, especially if they feel they are nipping something bad in the bud.” Immaturity is a problem.” (From: Smartmarriages – Subject: Starter marriage: A new term for early divorce -1/29/02)
• Looking at our reflection through the mirror of our marriage can be hard to take. We feel horrified by how we’ve acted — astonished by our own selfishness to tempt us to run. In the truth, we don’t want to run just from our spouses; we also want to run from ourselves, the persons we were in our marriages. We want to be with someone new who hasn’t seen our bad side. Some may even try to deceive themselves into thinking their spouses were at fault for bringing out the flaws in them. We think we can just start over, and the bad side won’t follow. This, of course, is the great myth. We have enough energy either to run from who we are, or to cooperate with God’s Holy Spirit in changing who we are, but we never have enough to do both. It will always be one or the other. (Gary Thomas, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage, pg. 89)
• Poor decisions in the past do not prevent future good decisions. Remember this: it’s never too late to start doing what is right. You may have made a mess of this marriage, another marriage, or even several marriages. Don’t allow that to keep you from making your current situation a tribute to God’s grace. It’s never too late to start anew! The same is true in any society; we can rise above the failures of the past by choosing God’s way over our own. (Charles Swindoll, Marriage…From Surviving to Thriving, pg. 29)
• Jesus taught we should do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. If we’d take this principle and put it into practice, then we’d experience more joy in marriage. Most of us get up everyday hoping somebody else will make us happy, rather than looking for ways we can make someone else happy. Jesus teaches our joy is found in giving our life away. When we try on our own, to make our life good, we thwart God’s power. I believe firmly that what you make happen for someone else God will make happen for you —even if you’re married to a first-class jerk. If you live your life trying to be a blessing to others, God will bring you joy—if not from your spouse, from other relationships. Or he’ll impart it to you himself.
A lot of people say, “I’m in this marriage and I believe God wants me to stick it out. But I’m miserable.” Yet I believe that if God asks us to do something, he gives us the grace to do it. So if God is asking a person to stay in a difficult marriage, he’s not asking them to stay and be miserable. He’ll give that person what they need to make it. (Joyce Meyer, from the Marriage Partnership Magazine article titled, “The Secret of Contentment”)
• The majority of couples who have come through our ministry over the years agree that if their marriages had not been in crisis, they would not have had as strong a relationship with God. One night in my men’s group, one of the guys shared that he had bought each of his three sons a Bible that day. I asked him, “When was the last time you bought your boys Bibles?” He shook his head and looked down when he answered, “I’m ashamed to say never. My sons are in their late teens and if my wife hadn’t left me, I wouldn’t have come to this group and learned about the Lord. If there is one good thing that has come out of my marriage crisis, it’s that I’m working on being the godly man I should have been all these years.”
God wants us to reconcile —but He wants us to reconcile His way. His ways are not our ways. For instance, how often have you heard the “ball and chain” example of marriage? I heard it all the time as a young man, and even now there are jokes and advertisements that suggest that marriage is not meant to be fun. But that’s man’s thinking —not God’s. (Joe Williams from the book,”Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• Once a husband and wife, together take responsibility for the good as well as the bad in their relationship a small seedling of hope is planted. Its tiny roots are found in a rich soil, free from negative thinking about what somebody should have done or what somebody didn’t do. It is a seedling that, in time, will sprout optimism. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I Love You More, pg. 120)
• Hope keeps love alive. Stop hoping and marriage dies. As long as we imagine a better marriage and keep believing we will one day enjoy it, the battle against bad things can still be won. Hope lets us see that our world just might be set straight on its hinges once more. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I Love You More, pg. 120)
• You may find it difficult to put your hope into a situation that looks hopeless. But can you put your hope into a God who is able to resurrect the dead? Don’t underestimate all that God can accomplish in your marriage and in your life with one heart that is fully yielded to Him. (Cindy Wright )
• Trust God to work out your marriage situation His way, and consider fasting and praying one day a week for your spouse. Rather than clinging to your spouse and trying to talk him or her out of leaving, let God be your number one focus. We know this isn’t easy, but it is the best thing you can do and your actions will honor the Lord. (Joe and Michelle Williams, from the book, “Yes, Your Marriage Can be Saved”)
• To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:1-5)
• Couples in crisis, Michelle Weiner Davis advises, should bring a beginner’s mind to the process of trying to save their relationship. “I want people to start with a clean slate because they have a lot of misconceptions about marriage and how people change and whether people can change,” she said. “There’s this myth that you need two people actively working on a marriage, when at least 50 to 60 percent of my practice involves working with one person. The reality is that if one person changes how he or she approaches his or her spouse, the relationship changes. You can change a relationship, but you have to start by changing your own behavior.” (From article, Divorce is No Democracy” by Mark Wolf, News Staff Writer)
• Somebody has to break out of the negative cycle of eye-for-an-eye, poor treatment for poor treatment. You need to step out of the insult-for-insult cycle and respond differently. You cannot control your spouse’s behavior, but you can control your own. Regardless of how your spouse responds, you must choose to treat them with love. This is not easy to do when your partner is not reciprocating, but it is what you vowed to do when you promised to love each other “for better or for worse.” Nothing breaks down emotional barriers like unconditional love. (From the FamilyLife.com article: Emotional Abandonment: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out by Dr. Dave Currie with Glen Hoos.
• We don’t know of another quality that can do more for a marriage than empathy —that capacity to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and see the world from his or her perspective; to imagine what life must be like to be lived in his or her skin. It’s what poet Walt Whitman was getting at back in 1855 when he wrote his masterwork, Leaves of Grass: “I do not ask how the wounded one feels; I, myself, become the wounded one.”
Research has shown that 90 percent of our struggles in marriage would be resolved if we did nothing more than see that problem from our partner’s perspective. Empathy is the heart of love. Yet loving couples neglect it to their peril. Why? Because it’s tough to do. Empathy calls for loving our partner with both our head and heart, concurrently. Most of us do one or the other pretty well; we either feel our partner’s pain with our heart, or we try to solve their problem with our head. To do both can be tricky. But that is the charge and the gift of empathy. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I Love You More, pg. 122-123)
• Trauma puts you at the wall of conflict (Gary Smalley). Be especially “on the alert” during times of trauma in your life. The enemy of your faith will try in every way to try to pit you against one another in your marriage.
• Keep in mind that you can win the battle and lose the war!
• You’ve probably heard of the old military expression, “Surrender is not an option.” when a ship’s captain headed into battle —where surrender definitely wasn’t an option —he would give the order to nail his country’s colors to the mast. After the flags were nailed up high, during the battle there was just no way to lower them and run up the flag of surrender. When the crew realized there was no option but to fight, they became more determined to win the battle. This is the same mind set we’re to have in marriage. Our one option in marriage is to stand our ground, fight off the things that would separate us from one another, and find a way to make it work. (Dr Norm Wright, One Marriage Under God)
• TAKE THE WORD DIVORCE out of your vocabulary: Consider the following illustration of what marriage commitment should be. If you were on the 10th floor of an apartment building and you smelled smoke you would naturally look for a fire escape. But if there were no fire escape, the only sensible thing to do would be to put out the fire. When a couple makes a commitment that divorce is never an option, they give themselves no fire escape. The foundations of trust are strengthened. If threat of divorce is used as a tool of manipulation, the relationship is in serious trouble.
During the first few years of marriage, there were a few times in the heat of arguments when either Roxana or I would threaten a divorce. We were smelling smoke and were ready, if necessary, to head down the fire escape. I don’t believe either of us really considered divorce an option. We both hold strong beliefs against it. Yet even the threat of divorce was eroding our trust in each other. Each of us began to be afraid that the other was serious.
We talked about this one day and agreed never to use the threat again, regardless of how hurt or angry we were. Our trust is very strong now because we know that we’re committed to putting out the fires. We have no fire escape. We can therefore depend on the fact that we’ll have each other regardless of what happens. (Conrad Smith, from the book, Why Just be Married When You Can Be Best Friends)
• If you had an emergency, you broke a bone, you wouldn’t hesitate to go and have it fixed. And we need to realize we have many families in crisis. We have marriages in danger of disintegrating which is much worse than a broken bone. We need to take emergency measures to combat that, which can kill the marital relationship. (Unknown)
• When marriage has reached a crisis point, and one spouse has either moved out or is living in a separate room but the other wants desperately to save the marriage, Michele Weiner Davis’ advice is to “stop the chase. The most typical thing is to chase the other spouse, beg and plead and cry, try to convince him or her that things are good,” she said. “They’ll send flowers, make 150 calls to say ‘hello.” The irony is that when someone is ambivalent about the marriage, it pushes him or her in the opposite direction. No one likes to be forced or coerced, and if they had any doubts about leaving, that doubt is eliminated.
“What I ask them to do is stop pursuing, pull back, do a 180 and begin to focus on themselves and rebuild their lives. It’s not to give up on the marriage, but sometimes when you stop the chase, it gives the person who’s been walking out the door enough time to reflect on what it might be like to not have the marriage, not have this spouse. It doesn’t save every marriage, but it has saved enough marriages so that anybody in this eleventh-hour situation is really doing themselves a disservice if they don’t try it.” (From the article, “Divorce is No Democracy” by Mark Wolf, News Staff Writer)
• It’s never too late to do what is right. (Chuck Swindoll)
• Marriage calls us to an entirely new and selfless life, and any situation that calls me to confront my selfishness has enormous spiritual value. Perhaps God designed marriage to make us holy even more than to make us happy. I’m not suggesting that God has anything against happiness, or that happiness and holiness are mutually exclusive, but looking at marriage through the lens of holiness began to put marriage in a new perspective for me. In fact, it has led me to believe that couples don’t really fall “out of love.” I think it’s more precise to say they fall out of repentance.
What usually happens is that we let little vices —like impatience, disrespect, selfishness, pride, and anger —pollute a once-precious relationship. Instead of letting marriage draw us into holiness, we let it draw us into bitterness and accusation. Here’s the kicker: a lot of people want out of a relationship not only because they no longer “love” their spouse. The truth is, they despise what they themselves have become and want a new start with someone who hasn’t seen them at their worst. But changing partners isn’t the answer —changing ourselves is. (Gary Thomas, from the article, The Transforming Miracle of Marriage, as posted on www.ncfliving.org)
• Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-3 THE MESSAGE)
• Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.
• We’re a throw away society. It appears to us to cost less to replace something that’s broken than fix it. But what we see on the surface isn’t always the total cost. (Cindy Wright)
• Everyone who thinks they’re “winning” an argument, needs to consider how it’s affecting their partner. Think about it —how can it be a winning situation if in order for you to win, your spouse has to lose? (Dr. Phil on Oprah – September 3, 2002 – Money Problems and Relationships)
• I’ve got a news flash for the two of you: you’re not the only ones living in your home —you’ve got children who are watching you and listening to how you scream at each other. What do you think the impact is when you yell and scream? (Dr. Phil’s show on September 17, 2002)
• If you care about your child, you’ll start caring enough about him to grow up and make a life decision to control yourself (in how you relate to your spouse). Think to yourselves: “We’re going to calm down, grow up and put our son’s interest over our destructive behavior.” (Dr. Phil’s show on September 17, 2002)
• It’s said that, “A self-centered life will have a tendency to confuse its selfish desire with God’s will.” Think about those words for a moment, in how it applies to marriage. So often we’ll see what we want to see. And unless we’re on the alert, as we’re told to be in the Bible (1 Peter 5:8), we can easily slide into a self-centered way of thinking. We’ll justify and rearrange our thoughts and actions to fit the best conception of our actions that we can (much like using a kaleidoscope to see the prettiest design we can while using one). (Cindy Wright)
• What is it that makes you serve the rage monster within, and look at it as more important than peacefully settling things? (Dr. Phil’s show on September 17, 2002)
• Unfortunately, “We’re in an age of consumer marriage —this comes out not in people’s stated values, but when their marriage is troubled,” says Dr. William Doherty. “Then they start asking, ‘Is this meeting my needs? Am I getting what I deserve?'” In his book Take Back Your Marriage, the therapist details how to identify and resist consumer values in family relationships. “Permanent commitment is really the linchpin of marriage,” Doherty insists, along with perseverance through hard times. In a study of people whose marriages had been troubled but were saved, he says a main point was that “they put one foot ahead of the other and persevered, often outlasting the problem.” (From article: SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE – By Jane Lampman)
• “Loss of romance” is not synonymous with being “loveless.” There is more to love than romance. “Soul mates” are made and not a happenstance. My own marriage of more than 10 years had reached a point where romance had faded. We had tried everything including counseling but the marriage had become an unsatisfying hassle and we both felt empty, unloved, and defeated. I long debated getting out or sticking out our commitment in resignation. A third choice occurred to me, which is what so many miss. That’s to give one more shot but focusing on the positives and desires and acceptance rather than the faults and frustrations.
I didn’t have much hope but the change began to make a difference and after a while even romance and passion returned and grew. Now another 20 years and a few more challenges later, we honestly agree that our relationship is better and stronger than ever. We couldn’t have gotten here though without first going through there. Most, if not all, relationships have some good points and are probably not totally loveless. Love is a choice and can grow through choosing to love through the “loveless” times. You can’t know it until you’ve tried it —but it’s worth it. (Richard Sroczynski)
• In Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth,” a character named Ms. Antobus says, “I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them —it was that promise.” That’s a great example of what a commitment to marriage looks like. It’s a promise made and kept by two imperfect people —with flaws, faults, and character weaknesses. (H. Norman Wright, One Marriage Under God)
• Commitment means relinquishing the childish dream of having a spouse who gratifies all of your needs and desires and who makes up for all your childhood disappointments. It means expecting and accepting the fact that your spouse will disappoint you and at times not live up to your expectations. And it means sticking with your spouse when difficulties come your way in the marriage, which they eventually will. A friend of mine once told me how it was the commitment to his marriage that made it last: “Norm, we each had a commitment to each other and to the marriage. When our commitment to each other was low, it was the commitment to the marriage that kept us together. (H. Norman Wright, One Marriage Under God)
• Marriage Therapist, Dr. William Doherty believes the two key ingredients for a successful marriage are commitment and intentionality. Commitment may sound obvious and clear-cut. But in his years of therapy, Doherty has come to recognize two distinct kinds of commitment couples make. One is what he calls “commitment-as-long-as.” It means staying together, “not as long as we both shall live, but as long as things are working out for me.”
The other kind is what Doherty calls “commitment-no-matter-what.” He describes it as “the long view of marriage in which you don’t balance the ledgers every month to see if you are getting an adequate return on your investment… You’re here to stay.” This long-term kind of commitment is essential, according to Doherty, but can lead to stale marriages if not accompanied by intentionality. (Intentional Marriage – By Marcia Segelstein)
• By intentionality, William Doherty means making one’s marriage a high priority. During courtship, a couple’s relationship is front and center, as he puts it. After marriage, other things often take priority: careers and children, to name the most common. Having an intentional marriage means being conscious about maintaining a connection through, among other things, “a reservoir of marital rituals of connection and intimacy.” (Intentional Marriage – By Marcia Segelstein)
• If marital counseling is needed, Doherty advises that this is a time when being a good consumer is important. Selecting the right therapist can make all the difference. He suggests talking to people who can make a recommendation based on successful personal experience. He recommends asking questions and making it clear that you want to hold onto your marriage and make it better. (Intentional Marriage – By Marcia Segelstein)
• There are a number of “standing for your marriage” type groups out there. Some of them are great, and some of them tend more towards blame shifting pity parties. Be discerning about those you open yourself up to, and those with whom you share intimate details. If you want to restore your marriage, people who talk your ex down are not helping, no matter how much you like to hear it. This is also true for consolers and pastoral ministry —if the person who is “helping” you is not all about seeing your marriage restored, they are not helping you. (Paul Byerly, from The-generous-husband.com article, “It’s Not Over Even When It’s Over“)
• Most people assume that men are almost always more violent, and men are sometimes seen as the only ones who need help with anger and the sources of anger. In reality, both genders need help. Spousal abuse from the wife to husband is currently an underreported problem in homes of passive men. Domestic-violence research overwhelmingly shows that women are as likely as men to initiate and engage in domestic violence, and that much of female domestic violence is not committed in self-defense. Studies show that women often compensate for smaller size by greater use of weapons and the element of surprise. (Paul and Sandy Coughlin, from the book Married But Not Engaged, pg. 145)
• Nobody is advocating that men and women stay in a physically abusive marriage, or in a marriage unhinged by constant infidelity. But most people who get divorced, as James Wilson (social scientist and author of The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture has Weakened Families) said, aren’t trying to escape such dire situations. “Only about a third of all divorced couples report any prior abuse, frequent arguments or serious quarrel,” he said, “but they got divorced, anyway.”
Couples divorce at lower thresholds of unhappiness now than in the past, researchers have found, and it may be that many of them are bailing out too quickly. In a study conducted over many years, Waite found that nearly three-fifths of married men and women who said in the 1980s that they were unhappy said 10 years later that they were “very happy” or “quite happy.” Unhappily married people “don’t seem to stay locked together in an angry hell,” write Waite and her co-researcher Maggie Gallagher. “We’re losing many marriages that could and should be saved.” (Why Marriage is Good for You —By Andrew Herrmann — Chicago Sun Times — June 8, 2003)
• WARNING: 80% of marriages don’t survive through times of trauma (such as losing a child). You need to strengthen your marriage BEFORE traumatic times hit (build your house upon the rock of Christ) so that you’ll have more of a possibility of surviving them. You need to guard your marriage because the enemy of your faith knows your marriage is especially vulnerable when tragedy happens. (Cindy Wright)
• Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, points to a University of Chicago study involving people who had described their marriage as “unhappy” or “very unhappy.” Of those who divorced, only 19% were happily remarried 5 years later. Of those who stayed in the marriage, more than 70% said they were now “happily” or “very happily” married. (From article: SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE – By Jane Lampman)
• All the behavioral skills in the world won’t pump life back into an ailing marriage if the couple doesn’t trust each other, if they don’t feel safe, unconditionally loved, valued, and understood. Unless couples feel emotionally safe, close, cherished, and respected, all the skill building books and conferences in the world will fail to help them build the kind of marriage God wants for them. And just what is the secret to building this kind of marriage? It’s unconditional love —love without criticism or expectation. It’s the hardest kind of love to give, but the one that brings all the blessings you can hold.
Would you like one good reason why you should love that blundering, frustrating, badly flawed spouse of yours unconditionally? It’s simple …because he or she needs it. When a baby is born, we love that child because he needs it. When people are starving, we feed them because they are hungry. When a friend is in emotional distress, we comfort her. And that’s the reason Jesus expressed His unconditional love for us on the cross… because we needed it. He didn’t require anything from us first. As He said, even “sinners” love the people who love them. The real test is how well we love someone who does not love us well. That is the true calling of Christ (Luke 6:32-33). A safe marriage is one in which each partner loves the other simply because he or she needs it. (From the Smalley Relationship Center)
• The only way to survive marriage is to stop and realize that your goal is to learn how you can fit together with your mate like pieces of a puzzle that unite to form a beautiful picture. So often we marry people who are opposite to us and try to shape them to become the same piece of the puzzle that we are. In the long run we design a puzzle that will never fit together… It’s as if we are putting our own individual puzzles together and not working on the same one as husband and wife teams. It is not God’s fault or the Bible’s fault that we are having problems —it is our own fault!
When we realize this and open our hearts to seek the help of God given to us in His Word, we can begin to put our lives and marriages back together one piece at a time. God wants to help you. No matter how bad your marriage is or how messed up your life is, God wants to help. He proved this by the ultimate sacrifice of His Son on the cross. Take the missing puzzle piece that God offers! (David Maitland, Lovers for Life, compiled by Kenneth Musko and Janet Dixon)
• What if your love for each other is dead? If you have a covenantal death of your marriage, pray for a covenantal resurrection. All things are possible in Christ. (Dr Tony Evans)
• Is your marriage in need of change? Perhaps it has been so cold for so long that it seems hopelessly frozen. But it’s not! Can you begin to see that, regardless of how you’ve conducted yourself in your marriage before, it’s time to conduct yourself “as unto the Lord”? (From the book, The Politically Incorrect Wife, by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby)
• I have spoken with countless women who have been able to change the atmosphere in their homes and marriages just by adopting an eternal perspective. In many cases, I’ve even witnessed marriages healed and husbands becoming Christians and godly leaders in their homes. Of course, I have also witnessed women whose husbands not only refused to change but opted for divorce and moved out. Even so, the women who stayed focused on God and worked on their own problems have had an amazing peace. (Michelle Williams, from the book, “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• If there is strife, anger, anxiety, sadness, despair, hopelessness, resentment, or bitterness in your marriage relationship, you can take authority over the spirits behind those negative emotions and tell the enemy that your heart and your home are established for God’s glory, and he doesn’t have the right to be there because you have full authority over him. If he torments you with suggestions that your authority has been compromised because you haven’t been to church lately, haven’t read your Bible, or haven’t obeyed all of God’s laws, then declare, “Those are issues between me and my heavenly Father, and my authority comes from what Jesus did, not what I do.” Then invite God’s Spirit of love, joy, peace, forgiveness, and hope to be the guest of honor who is poured out in your heart and your marriage relationship. (Stormy Omartian, from “Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage” page 168)
• Ask yourself: In times of trouble do I open my mouth to complain or keep it shut to express my confidence in God? Do I trust God to sustain me through times of trouble or do I only expect Him to get me out of trouble? Do I proclaim by my life, my thinking, and my faith in God that Jesus Christ is sufficient for every problem life can present and that there is no force too great for Him to cope with and overcome? (Oswald Chambers)
• Do you feel abandoned by your spouse or others or both? You might even feel abandoned by God because many of your prayers seem unanswered. We know how you feel because we were once there too. Don’t lose heart. Every person we know who stayed focused on God, when their marriages and families were in crisis, has come through their crisis feeling closer to God and their spouses. (Joe and Michelle Williams from the book, “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)