When making a marriage work you can start by thinking of it as a war for your marriage instead of a fight. What do I mean about that? There are going to be battles, some that you win and some that you lose, but you can't just surrender at the the defeats. When you start a war you have to have a military plan.You need to know what you are fighting for, what damages you expect, and who your allies are. Allies would be pastors, counselors, and other spiritual leaders. You need soldiers to fight with you who understand your goal. They fight with you through all the battles and they give you emotional support when you feel like putting up the white flag. Real soldiers do not sabotage you. Like wars, patience is key. There is no way to know how long it will last.
If you are at this point you may have been facing loneliness, abuse, addictions, infidelity, loss of identity, and hopelessness. All of these things deserve to be addressed.
I wanted to start by discussing loneliness. One of the hardest things I faced was not being lonely in general but was being lonely in a marriage. It can make you feel like a caged bird, one that longs for freedom but is stuck all alone. I wanted to address loneliness first because of the risk of future harm to your marriage. When there is trouble in a marriage it is important to not confide in any males that you are not related to. Even with the best of intentions, a friendship can quickly escalate to an emotional attachment. When you feel lonely and unloved by your husband, it can be easy to allow yourself to listen to a male who is willing to listen to you and support you. Even if the emotional attachment never turns to more, any time you go to another male for that attachment and not your spouse it can cause a further drift in your marriage. This is why it is very important to learn the importance of some good female Christian fellowship.
Three things that most people consider deal breakers are abuse, addiction, and infidelity. If you have had to face any of these issues, I am so sorry. These can tear down your confidence. They can make you lose trust in people. I believe that a couple can move past these hurts and still have a very healthy marriage but it takes a lot of work, love, and forgiveness. I truly believe in God's strength and power when He is put at the center of a marriage. While I believe in working through these issues, I also believe in healthy boundaries. You can love a person and still not allow their actions to affect you. It is important that if you are in danger, you need to separate yourself from the person. You can continue to love them by not enabling their behavior, by taking the time separated to connect with God, and by remaining in prayer for them. I think of this as loving from a distance. Boundaries is a great book that teaches about Godly boundaries.
When struggling in a marriage you can face loss of identity. I remember this vividly. I feel like I went from Faith to just being Alvin's wife and Abbie's mom. I placed all of my confidence and identity in my spouse instead of in the Lord. When I began to see a change in my marriage is when I began to pray that I would find fulfillment in God and not in my spouse. I realized that if I could be fulfilled in God then any love my spouse gave me would just be overflow. The only person we can change is ourselves.
There is no way for us to create hope... hope only comes from God and knowing His promises. We have to know that God would not lead us astray. If you place God at the center of you life and your marriage, He will give you the wisdom and strength you need to make it through.
When speaking to others about the struggles in marriage, one common theme I hear is, "Why should I fight (change... go to counseling) if they aren't willing to fight (change... go to counseling) for me?" This can be a tough question to answer. How often did God fight for me, when I was not willing to fight for Him? How often did He love and forgive me when I was angry and sinful towards Him? I am just so thankful to God that through out the many struggles in my marriage we never both gave up fighting at the same time.... there was always one of us fighting. I know that it was God who carried us through those times. I am amazed to see the couple God is changing us into.
God can heal your marriage, but you have to be willing to let Him. Seek godly wisdom and counsel. Set up godly boundaries for yourself and your spouse. Lose yourself in God because that is where you will find fulfillment. Pray for your spouse. Hope comes from God alone.
Romans 5:10 "For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"