Staying in an unrelenting and difficult marriage can really take a toll on your sense of identity, making you feel as if you don’t know who you are apart from what you do.
People often try to fix this problem by doing more or different things—like exercising more so that you feel and look better. Though that’s a good thing to do, it should never be what you base your identity on. Those are roles and actions—nothing more.
If you’re a Christ-follower, your identity can only be found and established in and through Christ. I covered the many aspects of who you are in Christ last week (take a look!). But this week I want to liken this loss of identity to the problem of having amnesia.
Back in 2012, the movie “The Vow” came out, retelling the true story of Christ-followers Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. They survived a horrible car accident; later discovering that Krickitt had experienced brain trauma, bringing on amnesia. This wiped out her memory of having met and married her husband.
It would’ve been so easy to walk away from each other at this point and start anew with someone else. But this couple chose to stay true to their “vow”—working very hard at getting to know one another all over again.
If you’ve lost your sense of identity, you’ll need to be just as intentional as Krickitt was about getting to know who you are, as well as relearning how to relate to your mate.
Your first order of business will be to go beyond “knowing” the truth of who you are, to applying and integrating these biblical truths into your life.
As you begin to do this, you’ll also begin to change the way you relate to and think about your mate, whether or not your mate follows suit. This can, in time and with consistent effort, bring huge encouragement to you in your life and rocky marriage.
Let’s take some of the positions and aspects of our identity in Christ (from last week’s post) and apply them to marriage situations for clarity on how to do this.
Applying and Integrating Your Identity When Your Spouse . . .
1. Isn’t interested in spending time with you.
When your spouse acts this way, meditate on the truth that you are the “Bride and Spouse of Christ” (Rev. 19:7-9; Isaiah 54:5).
Meditating might involve . . .
Reading these verses over and over, pausing to emphasize different words each time.
Praying them back to the Lord, telling Him what it means to you to know this.
Memorizing and then recalling them when you’re tempted to ruminate on this problem
2. Starts a fight with you for no real reason.
When your spouse does anything that seems out of place but is very hurtful, this probably means that the evil one is involved. This doesn’t absolve your mate of his/her sin, but it does help to put this in perspective.
So don your spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-18) as a “Soldier of God.” Then apply and integrate this reality by going forward into spiritual battle using all the various forms of protection and weaponry this Ephesians passage details.
This means fastening in place the “belt of truth” by asking Jesus, the “Way, Truth and the Life” (Jn. 14:6) to open your eyes to your own sins, going on to repent of them.
Then turn to the “sword of the Spirit,” which is the word of God, to strengthen your ability to see this situation for what it truly is . . .
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” —Eph. 6:12
3. Doesn’t listen to you or care how you feel.
When your spouse treats you this way you can rely on your identity as a “Royal Priest” (1 Peter 2:9).
To apply and integrate this, stop to realize you don’t “need” to be heard by your mate when you always have God ready and eager to listen to and comfort you. Then lift this burden off your mate’s shoulders by praying your innermost struggles to the Lord so that the weight is lifted off of your heart as well.
This does not mean you never address the issue with your mate! Just trust God to guide you when and if to bring it up to your mate, preparing your heart in the meantime.
4. Acts like you are not attractive to him/her anymore.
You don’t have to let this devastate your self-esteem. Instead, remember you’re an “Image-bearer” of God (Gen. 1:27). Then meditate on what this distinctive honor means for you.
For me, this reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s inspiring words in Eph. 2:10:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Pray this verse as a way to thank God—the Master Painter—for how He painted you, His masterpiece.
5. Blames you for the problems in your marriage.
When your mate does this, remind yourself that you are “Forgiven” by God (1 John 1:9, Rom. 8:1). Knowing your perfect God forgives you enables you to refuse the mantle of condemnation your imperfect mate has tried to wrap around your neck.
Apply and integrate this truth more by imagining God’s arms of love and grace wrapping around your neck like a warm and welcoming hug. When you’re blamed again, recall this verse and image—praying for God’s immediate comfort and healing.
6. Betrays you by having an affair.
This may be the most painful of all of these scenarios. If you’re a Christ-follower, remember that you were “Chosen by God” (1 Peter 2:9) long before you were born!
Even though your mate has been unfaithful to you, your ultimate “Husband” (Is. 54:5) never will!
Apply and integrate this truth by pouring out your grief and pain before your Husband, the Lord. With each tear that falls before Him, know that He is crying with and over you as well—going on to bring healing because you’ve placed your hope in Him.
Bottom Line: Each time you apply these, you integrate more fully who you are in Christ. As you live them out in your painful marriage, you’ll experience the strengthening you need to experience God’s peace and stability in life and marriage.
Click to watch the movie trailer for “The Vow” below . . .
My Favorite Post of the Week:
I love Gretchen Fleming’s blog, but this post on bullying really touched my heart – Living With The Accusations and Condemnation of Others. I hope you’ll check it out here!
Click the link to read my previous post in this Finding Your Identity Series. Hope to see you back here next week!
What are some of the troubles that have made you feel lost in your life and marriage?
Which of the aspects of your identity in Christ are most uplifting?
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Remember Me Monday, Legacy Linkup, Inspire Me Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements Linkup, Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, and Faith on Fire Friday.