As a marriage counselor, I get the joy of seeing complete reconciliation of the relationship and a better marriage than in the beginning. But, at the same time, I must first walk through the valleys with people who do not see a path forward nor can imagine the outcome they hope and pray for.
The way forward isn’t always straight; sometimes, we must go backwards to God’s planned path. When we face the unfathomable, our marriage to the person we pledged to love into eternity and who promised to love us is facing a premature end. It is more than a death. Because we know that there is still CPR that can be done.
I can’t imagine performing CPR on someone I love. I would be in such a panic that I wouldn’t be able to function.
That is how some people are when their marriage is on the brink of collapse. Instead of performing the needed CPR, we figuratively freeze. We freeze at the lowest point of our relationship, fearing there is no way back.
The Unproductive Paths We Take When Fearing For Our Marriage
There are several unproductive paths that we take in the face of this fear:
- Clinging in desperation to the other person hoping they still love us enough to see our pain and hurt and stay.
- When spouses work on things, one or both tend to self-sabotage and return to the same old patterns that never worked.
- One or both spouses moving the target regarding what they want and/or need in the relationship. Another form of sabotage.
- A spouse uses anger or guilt to get the other spouse to stay in the same place that isn’t working and ends up keeping both in pain and disappointment.
- And sometimes we just give up; regardless of those vows of “until death do we part.”
Even down these paths of destruction, that feel hopeless to all, God can change the direction and the outcome. Yet, in my experience, many do not believe that God is enough.
Yes, they are Christians. Yes, they know in their mind that God is in control. But the heart falls short of belief. The chaos of the present circumstance is so great that many are numb to even crying out to the One who created us.
When I suggest that when we are in a situation where we don’t know what to do, we need to focus on our relationship with Christ, I get a few nods, a few looks, and several mutters, “that isn’t the relationship that is in trouble.”
No One Solution But Only One Guide
The solution to every troubled marriage varies; there is no one specific path, but there is one certain guide, counselor, and healer. He is Christ.
He is the one who shows us to love sacrificially rather than focus on our own selfish needs.
He is the one whose Holy Spirit provides us with the fruits of the spirit. What situation, more than a troubled relationship, could give us a substantial harvest of Joy, Peace, Patience, Love, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Kindness, and Self-Control.
He also convicts us when we are not thinking straight, speaking, and acting in ways counter to happily ever after.
Healing from hurt, betrayal, distance, or the other myriad of attacks on our hearts is difficult for the healthiest of us. Repairing a relationship that likely took years to strain, stretch, and nearly break takes more than a day. It takes more than a conversation, a promise, or a good deed.
Repairing Our Marriage
To repair a marriage requires:
- Understanding what happened to pull you apart.
- A willingness to listen and accept your part of the responsibility.
- A consistent act of putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own, even if you are the one who has been betrayed.
- Knowing yourself well enough to get back to who you really are…the healthiest version of yourself, the person your spouse probably fell in love with.
- And it takes time.
When our relationship has been denigrated, trust is usually weakened. Trust isn’t built back quickly. Trust is built over time.
All of the things necessary to rebuild your marriage must happen over and over and over again. If not, the other person fully believes that the old patterns will return as soon as they move back towards you. And although it took time for your spouse to see the negative and to lose trust and faith, it reverts immediately when the old patterns resurface.
This is the main factor of why we need God to help us. We need to not just change our actions and habits; we need to change inside. We need to be the person who listens, accepts responsibility, puts our spouse’s needs ahead of our own, and is self-aware enough to know that we need God to work on us inside. We need to walk the walk and talk-the-talk, because it is who we are, not just a temporary change in behavior to save our marriage….for the time being.
God Is More Than Enough
God is enough to help us through any hard time. He is the fuel that moves us forward, in the right direction, at the right speed. He protects our hearts enough to keep us functioning. His love allows us to heal and return to the person we once were when we attracted our spouse.
Without God, I fear nothing else is enough.