Dear friends, my heart has been hurting for some friends and family the last few months. Marriage is a hard thing on its own, but when that marriage feels like it’s being shattered it’s even worse. I feel so burdened to see family and friends going through these hard times. These may be the hardest days they face in their marriage. They may be the hardest days they face in their life.
So first, I’d like to give a little bit of advice to the “onlookers” who are the family and friends who may be around a couple who is struggling. THE WORST thing you can do is ignore them, and have the mentality of “not my business” “let them sort it out”. I hear you, and I know that it ISN’T your business. But guess what? These are two beautiful people who are STRUGGLING. And they need support. They don’t need judgement, that’s God’s job. They don’t need someone who acts like they have been drug through the mud who hasn’t. If you have been married five to ten years longer than the person struggling I am sure that you have something to offer. But most of the time couples need someone who can be an unbiased third-party to help them through this trying time. Refer them, guide them, and hold their hand towards the right direction if you are not the person they need to counsel them.
THE BEST thing you can do is to be AVAILABLE. Let them come to you, but know they may be embarrassed, hurt and afraid to ask for help or prayers. They need prayers. They need a meal. They need a hug, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear. But at the very least: grace and prayers. Please friends–pray for them and show them grace in any way you can.
If you are someone who is hurting in your marriage what should you do?
First, know that you are not ALONE. Forgive yourself for anything that you feel like you have done wrong. ANYTHING that is weighing on you from the past, forgive yourself and ask God for forgiveness. Then accept that you are forgiven and move forward. During any season of marriage the SINGLE most important thing for you to remember is that your relationship with God has to come before your spouse. You are first and foremost a son or daughter or God and he desires that relationship with you to be primary and your relationship with your spouse secondary.
Second, Pray. Pray your guts out. Pray for your spouse, pray for their communication, intimacy, friendship, jobs, children, health, mindset and mostly their hearts. Pray that God will give you strength, guide and direct you, fill you full of positive thoughts, bridge gaps, give you the words–but most of all pray that you will do ANYTHING God asks you to do during this time.
Third, Seek. Seek direction from God every day through prayer, scripture and Christian friends and family. I know you feel like a leper walking up to Jesus when you are asking someone for help. That is ok. Once you ask, you will feel weight lifted off of you and your people will HAVE YOUR BACK. It is important to find a FEW (not 5, not 10, not 20) people who you can talk through your struggles with. This can be a pastor, a mentor or a friends grandpa. If they share your faith and you trust them, or someone you trust trusts them, you are on the right track. Don’t share your struggles with EVERYONE YOU KNOW, it’s just not for the best. Find your few and use them, talk with them, pray with them and let them guide you out of this attack on your marriage.
These are the main things. Keep focused on these. Then repeat. Most importantly, do not forget that during this time–God is and always will be your biggest advocate. There is NOTHING that he cannot fix in your marriage.
Here are a few additional things that I think you might find helpful that may ease some pain:
Let me say that during times like this in your marriage–there are so many ifs/buts that are HARD. They are the HARDEST. I feel you. Know this, I promise that God has a plan for you. On the other side of this hard season there are going to be bountiful blessings waiting for you if you are obedient to God during this season. Trust God with your life, listen to the nudges he gives you and he will lead you, and pray for guidance and an unwavering belief. TRUST. PRAY. ABIDE. BELIEVE.
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2
It will NOT happen over night. It will NOT be easy. You will be hurt again and again, you will have to forgive over and over. You will have to give grace to your spouse at every turn, and you will have to LET THINGS GO. For example…there was a time dear ones when I would fly off the handle if there was a wet towel on my counter (bless my crazy heart) but—I had to let that go and not make the little things A BIG DEAL. Keep the main thing the main thing! If you want your spouse to feel like your best friend again, you focus on that one thing like it is the Promise Land and focus on little else. Be laser beam focused on that one goal and do not let other little things like wet towels distract you from re-building a friendship with your spouse. When you meet Jesus, those wet towels will matter 0% friends. Let. It. Go.
Find someone to laugh with, and learn to laugh at yourself. I know this one is silly, and you are probably shaking your head at me if you are hurting. But here is the deal–if you are hurting it may have been weeks since you have had a good belly laugh. If you need to call up Granny or PawPaw and have them tell you stories of all the dumb stuff you used to do—do it. If you need to have coffee with a friend from kindergarten just to talk about how so and so did such and such in elementary school to get a good roaring laugh–do it. If you need to pull up dumb funny videos on YouTube to get a giggle—do it. Make sure that you have laughter at some point in your day—every day.
What if your spouse isn’t a believer and you are? Take heart, it will be ok. Be the light for them, be strong, do what God is asking you to do. Pray for their salvation EVER DAY. Ask others to pray for their heart. God is there waiting for them with open arms…with LOVE AND GRACE. Make sure they know this. It will take time. Be patient. If it takes them months or years, keep going. Stay strong. Stay faithful.
Lastly, DO NOT GIVE UP. Friends…you feel like you are in the desert and there is no water, no shade, and no Promise land in sight.
The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Joshua 5:6
If you have been struggling in your marriage for forty years–do not give up. My guess is that most of you have been struggling for much less time than that, if so…be willing to stick through it for forty years. But if it has been forty, keep going. Trust God, be faithful, you WILL be rewarded. It is never too late for anyone.
Friends, lets pray for all marriages today. These are not easy things to go through. Lets lift up our friends and family members who are married, they need us and God needs to know that we are thinking of them and fighting for them.