I sat with Mandy as she piled her things into a suitcase. I did everything I could to convince her to give her marriage another chance. Her husband was difficult, this was true, but he wasn’t hopeless. He was willing to admit his problems, get counseling, and work things out.
But Mandy’s mind was made up. She looked at me, and then gazed off as if looking into the past. “I knew I shouldn’t have married him,” she said shaking her head. “All of my friends and family warned me. They told me not to do it. But I married him anyway. I knew even on my wedding day I was making a mistake.”
I’ve talked to a lot of women like Mandy. They are unhappy and haunted by the voices echoing in their minds—trusted voices that told them not to go through with the marriage. The seeds of doubt have been planted, and now they see the differences in personality, culture, or even bad habits. But now they are husband and wife.
They’ve made a covenant—an everlasting promise before God. And unless there is a form of abuse, adultery, or abandonment (defined by a church leader), then these women are held accountable by God to keep those vows.
So what happened? Did God make the marriage covenant rules without realizing mistakes can happen? Didn’t He know that sometimes people will choose a spouse and need a loophole to get out of the marriage?
He’s Perfect for You
All of us are imperfect people. Romans 3:10 tells us, “There is none righteous. Not even one.” Just think about all of the Ten Commandments that you’ve broken. I know I’ve broken my fair share—lying, dishonoring my parents, lusting, forgetting the Sabbath … I’ve broken them all! According to James 2:10, even if we break just one of the commandments, we are guilty of breaking them all.
So it doesn’t surprise me that you married an imperfect person who often disappoints you. God isn’t surprised, either. He knows all things—past, present, and future (1 John 3:20), and He knew that you would marry your husband or wife. This was a part of the plan so God could use your struggles to mold you into the person He called you to be. Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Notice, however, that this verse says He causes all things to work together for your good, not happiness. Just because your spouse doesn’t always make you happy doesn’t mean your marriage was a mistake. Just like medicine, God’s purposes don’t always taste good, but they always bring healing. Here are some of the ways God can use your marriage for good.
First, God can use your mate to shape you into the person He created you to be. Think of yourselves as two rough stones. One way to make rough stones smooth is to rub them together—the more friction you experience, the smoother your edges become.
Again, this is not an issue of abuse. Any physical or verbal abuse should be confronted by a pastor or church leader. But issues like finances, time-consuming hobbies, and destructive family members can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy marriage.
For example, let’s say your husband is laid back, and you’re a go-getter. God can use your husband’s personality to teach you how to be more patient, while at the same time using you to encourage your husband to grow. Or maybe you’re a saver and he’s a spender. God can use you to teach your spouse to be more frugal, while your spouse can teach you to be more of a giver.
Although your strengths and weaknesses may be opposites, they can work together to make you the person God desires you both to become.
Second, working through troubles exemplifies to your children the meaning of honor and commitment. God designed the family to pass down His principles from one generation to the next. Your children are watching, from the way you fight to the way you show love. By your example, they are learning how to handle their own marriages in the future.
So when you show a level of honor and commitment to your relationship, you are passing on a legacy of godliness to the next generation. The more committed you are to your spouse, the more committed your children will be to their spouses. If you want children to work hard to maintain healthy relationships, then make sure to work on your own.
Even something as destructive as an affair can be forgiven if your spouse is truly repentant. With some marriage counseling from the church, a devastating event like this can actually make you stronger in the long run, and it can save your children a lifetime of despair.
Third, God may use your current struggles to help others in the future. Instead of looking for an excuse to get out of the relationship, embrace all the benefits of the struggles. Look for ways to grow in resolving conflict or communication. Ask God to show you the ways He is using your mate to bring you closer to Christ.
There is Hope
My husband and I often tell people, “We’re not perfect, but we’re perfect for each other.” That’s the miracle of marriage—two imperfect people coming together to make one. Oftentimes a change in attitude and a new perspective is all you need to have the kind of marriage you hope for. Here are three practical steps to turn your hope into action.
First, stop fantasizing. Dwelling on what might have happened if you didn’t marry your spouse only makes you more embittered and insecure. Fantasizing does no good because the past cannot be changed.
Even if you divorced and married someone else, this part of your past would not disappear. It would affect the rest of your life. Divorce might solve some problems, but it will bring a whole new set of new struggles.
All you can do now is embrace the circumstances and move forward. Accept God’s sovereign plan and take advantage of His lessons. If you stop rehashing “what ifs,” you’ll be able to move forward and find confidence in your marriage.
Second, receive your mate as a gift. As I said earlier, God was not surprised by your marriage. He knew the path of your life before you were born, and He has planned to use all the trouble you endure to mold you and make you more like Himself.
Even though there are differences between you and your mate, that doesn’t mean God isn’t please with your marriage. Consider you were created especially for one another just as Adam and Eve were custom designed to complete each other. If you knew this person was specifically chosen by God to be your spouse, could you trust His selection? It’s up to you to receive or reject.
Third, give your marriage time. When you’re going through a trial, it can seem like it lasts forever, but if you will be patient and let God work, your marriage can survive and come out better than before. Statistics show that most marriages on the brink of divorce are able to work out their issues within an average of two years. Hurts won’t heal overnight, but it’s true that sometimes all you need is some time.
The Perfect Lover
There are periods in most marriages when a spouse wonders if he or she married the right person. You might be going through a season right now in which the two of you just aren’t connecting, and it makes you wonder if you would have had a better marriage with someone else.
Perhaps you’ve never really gotten along with your spouse, and it seems you will always be distant. You wonder, Isn’t there something more?
You might be surprised to know there is something more—but you can’t find it by replacing your spouse. There’s a deeper relationship than any husband or wife can offer—that’s a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the only one that will satisfy the desires of your heart.
If you are a believer already, let me encourage you to deepen your walk with Christ. Begin reading the Bible and praying for your spouse every single day. Make it a priority to read 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Proverbs, and 1 Peter—these four books contain a lot of wisdom particularly in the area of marriage and family living. I guarantee if you do these things, your feelings for your spouse will drastically change.
Don’t give up before God has worked His miracles in you, your spouse, and your marriage. You can trust Him to fulfill His covenant to you as you remain true to the covenant with your spouse.
Copyright © 2020 by Sabrina McDonald.