What couple doesn’t encounter marriage problems as we try to fit our lives together to “cleave” as God tells us to do? Cleaving isn’t just referring to sexual intimacy. It also refers to being partners heading together down the same path of life. We are to cleave together despite our marriage problems. It doesn’t always mean we will always think alike; but we can work to THINK TOGETHER.
But what do we do when we hit a snag in the road? What do we do when our differences bring us to the point of clashing with each other? How do we get past that type of situation? How can we work to improve our marriages so that our problems don’t overtake us?
Marriage Problems That Divide
“Certainly God wouldn’t want us to stay in a marriage where our problems are consuming our relationship with each other!” … “He wouldn’t want us to stay in a marriage where we’re unhappy with each other!”
We’ve heard that said over and over again. And we understand the pain behind those statements. But the question we’d like to pose to you is, “Are your marriage problems bigger than your God? Is your God so small that He can’t help you to get beyond them?”
Certainly it takes two people who are cooperating with each other, to make a marriage one that is loving, strong, and healthy. But is there more we can gain from marriage? Please prayerfully consider something Gary Thomas said in his book, Sacred Marriage. Gary wrote:
“There’s a deeper question that needs to be addressed beyond how we can ‘improve’ our marriage: what if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
Avoiding Marriage Problems
Most of us back away from “problems.” We see them as something to avoid. But what if we saw them as opportunities to know our God better? What if we asked God to help us to LEARN something positive about ourselves, each other, and His Kingdom work? Here’s something else to prayerfully consider that Gary Thomas wrote:
“Ask yourself, what if marriage is supposed to be difficult on occasion so that we are forced to learn to rely on God’s Holy Spirit and become a different kind of person? What if God is more concerned about our ‘practical atheism’—saying we believe in Him but rarely relying on Him—than He is about how easy our marriage might be at any given moment? What if half of our frustration in marriage results from the fact that we want it to be easier but God wants us to become more mature?
“Consider what your marriage may be calling you to today that you don’t feel capable of doing on your own. Instead of saying, ‘This is just too hard,’ or ‘This just isn’t my gifting or calling,’ or ‘That’s not why I got married,’ invite God to transform you into a different kind of person. Be bold; hold God to His word: ‘Lord, You promise to give the weary strength. I am bone weary. You promise to give power to one who lacks it. I feel powerless. You promise to give the ignorant wisdom. I am clueless about what to do.’ Instead of running from the difficulties of marriage, let’s allow them to teach us the glory of spiritual dependence on God.” (From the article, “What We Need Most From Marriage”)
Author Leslie Vernick talked about this issue in her book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong. She wrote:
“Often in difficult times we pray for relief instead of asking God to help us practice the very qualities He seeks to develop in us. God told the prophet Ezekiel: ‘My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words. But they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion. But their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well. For they hear your words but do not put them into practice.‘ (Ezekiel 33:31-32)
“We must ask ourselves, are we looking for a God who just sings love songs to our heart? When he asks us to put his harder truths into practice, do we conveniently ignore him?
Living Out Our Faith
“Jesus, too, taught the importance of practicing what he teaches us. He said: ‘Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.
‘When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words, and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.‘ (Luke 6:46-49)
“Jesus both warned and encouraged us that if we make it our practice to faithfully apply ourselves to the things he teaches us, then we will have a foundation when difficulties come. If not, we will be swept away.”
We hope that your marriage does not get “swept away” because you fail to apply God’s Word. It’s important to apply His teachings to your life in how you live within your marital relationship.
Now, we realize that some of you are in abusive situations. We want you to know that our hearts cry for you. They truly do! And we can only imagine how much this grieves God’s heart. God did not create us to be abused. That’s also not why God created marriage.
If you are in that situation, PLEASE find ways to protect yourself from abuse. We have articles posted on our web site that might help with that. You can read many of them in the Abuse in Marriage topic. God can be a “very present help in a time of need.” Don’t stop reaching out to Him. Be open to receive the help He can give and show you. But also recognize that it can come to you in ways that are not at first apparent. Keep praying and looking.
However, beyond that type of situation, and even in spite of that situation, God can redeem every hurt and problem we encounter. As Leslie Vernick also said:
“God knows our real needs, not just our felt needs. When our spouse acts wrong, God will use the resulting injury, whether big or small, to teach us. He can use it to train us, to mold us, and to break us in order that we might become a more perfect representative of him to the world and to our spouse.”
Looking for the Good Despite Marriage Problems
We encourage you to look beyond your immediate problems. Ask God, “What good can come out of this? What can I learn from this that will help in Your Kingdom work? What can I do, that will BEST help my spouse and my marriage so this ‘problem’ doesn’t sweep us away? Help me to look at this through YOUR eyes. Teach us, train us, and mold us. And yes, even break us, if that is what it takes, for us to become all You created us to be.”
We encourage you to pray as the Psalmist.
“Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me“ (Psalm 51:10). “Search me O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.“ (Psalm 139:23-23)
We pray that God will help you to make your marriage the best it can be. May it be a reflection of God’s heart! And may it be a witness to everyone in your life that the God is working in your life in miraculous ways. We pray that as God sees how you interact with your spouse, they will be drawn toward our God. And as a result, they will want to know Him better as a result.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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