The third myth in our Desperate Marriages series is – I have only two options, resigning myself to a life of misery or getting out of the marriage.
This myth hangs on the coattails of last week’s post, Desperate Marriage Myth #2, People Cannot Change. Since you’ve determined that you and/or your spouse cannot change, it follows that you might believe that your life will be miserable if you stay in the marriage. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking doesn’t take into account the reality that with surrendered hearts, hard work and godly counsel, a desperate marriage can make a 180.
In fact, I’m here to testify that God did just that in my marriage. Sure, we’re still two messy people who sometimes have messy moments in our marriage, but God has taught us so much through the very trials that threatened to pull us apart. It wasn’t something we could fix on our own. But with good counsel, godly accountability, lots of prayer and tons of forgiveness, God helped us rebuild our marriage—and now it’s better and stronger than it’s ever been!
So, yes! God can change you, your spouse and your marriage, so that you’re not doomed to a life of misery.
Now to the second option – “getting out of the marriage.”
I’ve counseled many couples and often this is the conclusion one or both come to when they’ve grown impatient with the rate of improvement. They are tired of the hard work that’s involved and they believe getting out of the marriage will relieve them of the hard work and pain.
In my experience as a counselor of, not only married people, but often newly divorced people, they almost always experience a huge wake-up call once divorced. Suddenly the little bit of influence they had on their spouse in the areas of finances, parenting, even just friendly interactions is gone. Now their ex-spouse is not just unmotivated to work together civilly but also sometimes angry and prepared to make their ex-spouse pay for divorcing them! Add to that the financial difficulties that come with having extra expenses because you must set up two separate homes, and you’ve got the makings of a hot mess!
In other words, believing that this second option will solve your problems is idealistic at best and naïve at worse.
It’s also important to realize there are more than two options.
Obviously, you can commit yourself to going to couple’s counseling like my husband and I did and work through the issues in your marriage. If your spouse is unwilling to do this, you can find support, wisdom and perspective by going to a counselor on your own or seek the help of a pastor or godly friend. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you can seek the help and counsel of a battered women’s shelter in your area. And finally, you can work on finding peace and fulfillment through your relationship with God—which is a choice that can be done in tandem with all the other positive choices mentioned.
I recognize that sometimes the choice is made for you, sometimes you have a biblical basis for divorce, and sometimes you’re in an abusive situation and must leave to protect yourself and your children. My emphasis today in on widening the field of options that are available.
I’d love to hear from those of you who’ve worked through a marriage crisis or desperate situation. How did you and your spouse find your way out of trouble?
Whether you’ve had a desperate marriage or not, what marriage resources have you found to be invaluable in helping your or others’ marriages?
photo by Lindsey Beard