For the Sake of Marriage
Although my husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, I don't speak much about marriage. It's mainly because I feel like we are still learning ourselves. Unlike most people these days, we took the plunge at 19! Needless to say, we were completely green at that age about what to expect or do. We both lacked the training we needed to be good spouses for one another- a consequence that completely drove a wedge between us and ultimately almost ended our marriage. This is not unique to how old we were, however, as people young and old divorce for the same reason everyday.
When I think about the struggles we had as a newly married couple, I realize they were mainly due to merging two completely different individuals together. Couples forget the whole leave and cleave scenario and often let outside influences (mainly family) take precedence over each other. Granted, family has its place, but they should never have the ultimate say in any marriage. If you divorce over family issues, when you stand before God he will certainly say that family should not have been a factor. The old adage "blood is thicker than water" goes out the window whenever you say, "I do." This was extremely difficult for us to master initially; and boy did it make marriage hard.
First of all, it is imperative to note that communication is necessary to maintain any relationship. In marriage, it is beyond necessary- it is vital. I'm not referring to the run of the mill , "How was your day?" talk, either. I mean the ugly and gritty communication that you believe you can only talk to yourself about. So many marriages have been destroyed because one party has dealt with issues internally that they should have communicated to their spouse. Please hear me when I say that there is no worse thing we can do in our relationships than to hold on to secret sin, resentment, and unresolved issues. We must share these things with our spouse.
There is a point in every marriage where you have to reassess and revive the deep romance and friendship you enjoyed in the early days or years. It may take a little work, but it can be done. There have been times where I have felt alone, angry, and even resented my husband for a plethora of reasons, but I thank God for having a commitment to my vows that only comes from my relationship with Him-which brings me to my main point. For the sake of any marriage, it is important to eliminate the task of placing our spouses on the altar before laying ourselves down first. When people give up on their marriage, they often complain that it's because the other person didn't change. I love the scriptures in Matthew 7:3-5 that reads "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Trust me, there will be times where you need to address issues with your spouse, but do not do so without first examining yourself and any fault you may have in the situation. Doing so will allow you to come to your spouse in the right spirit, thus eliminating the blame game. The enemy seeks to divide and conquer, and there is no quicker way to do this than the blame game.
Lastly, we must eliminate selfish desires and make sure that any and all changes, decisions, and progress made is for the sake of "we" and not "me". I assure you that 100% of divorces are due to some form of selfishness from at least one party and sometimes both. The bible says that marriage is the place where man and woman become one flesh. This cannot be accomplished when selfishness is in play. We certainly all have our moments, but in the end it is a lose- lose situation.
Unfortunately, there are circumstances where divorce is an unavoidable end that many are facing today. Maybe you wanted it and maybe you didn't, but I encourage you to set aside blame and lay yourself on the altar. I believe that true love can be found again once this happens and true healing and forgiveness is allowed to reign.
For those that are struggling with the decision to leave or to stay in your marriage, please know that God is always for restoration first, no matter how dire the situation is! I do not have enough time to get into all that, but trust me, we shall revisit it soon. I pray that you find the strength to fight and truly allow God to do the work in you and then your spouse. I encourage you to pray for your spouse instead of blaming him or her. There is no sense in praying for change that you are unable to receive because you are still jacked up on the inside. Been there, done that, bought several T-shirts, and returned them all! That mentality is not conducive to building a stronger or even better marriage.
If your marriage is going well, then praise God for being in the desired minority, as I believe this is his plan for every marriage. Pray for the majority of marriages that are either in trouble or falling apart according to recent statistics. For those who are struggling, I ask that you release pride, fear of failure, and shame. You are not alone, and there is hope. Regardless of your marriage situation, know that God is faithful, and He is able to bring your marriage through the wilderness and through the fire. Just remember that for the sake of marriage it is first about taking care of the "me", and then allowing God to deal with the "we".