This year has been so hard for many marriages. Whether it be a ‘celebrity’ Christian or a friend. This year has been HARD. At the end of last year, Courtney Joseph announced the end of her marriage, causing her to take a break from writing this past spring. My heart broke for her precious heart. And then, more recently, Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 ministries, announced her divorce due to her husband’s infidelity, substance abuse, and his refusal to repent and turn away from his sin. Both of these beautiful women wrote on Godly marriage. How can this happen to them?? We want to know because it scares us. If it can happen to them, it can happen to us. We wonder, “Can I Divorce-Proof My Marriage?”
I don’t think there is a magical formula for divorce-proofing. I’m sure if there was, these ladies would have used it! We can do everything in our power to prevent affairs and divorce, but in the end, if there is unrepentance, the marriage will disintegrate.
So, How Does This Happen To Them??
The answer is simple…they have the very same enemy that we have and he is no respecter of persons. In truth, the very fact that these women boldly stood for Biblical marriage made their marriage prime targets for the enemy’s vicious attacks.
And then we have our precious friends who are either living in a hellish marriage or their marriage has ended. It seems marriages are in trouble everywhere we look.
I am confident that these women did everything they could to save their marriage – and I imagine they have a sense of failure for not saving it. Maybe they should have had more faith. Or prayed more. Or longer. Maybe they should have dieted and exercised more. Cut their hair differently. Been more submissive…the list goes on. And I bet if they did all these things…and more…it wouldn’t have done any good.
Because we don’t do the saving. And when a heart is unrepentant, no degree of ‘change’ or ‘more’ will transform their hardened hearts. My prayer for these women right now is that they will have the courage to let go of the guilt and shame, confident that they did everything in their power to maintain a strong marriage – or just hold the fraying edges together.
Only Jesus can do the saving. He alone can save a broken marriage.
Divide and Conquer
When a heart is unrepentant, no degree of ‘change’ or ‘more’ will transform their hardened hearts. My prayer for these women right now is that they will have the courage to let go of the guilt and shame, confident that they did everything in their power to maintain a solid, biblical marriage, and continue on the path that the Lord leads them in walking.
Our enemy works diligently to divide and conquer. This can be seen in any relationship, not just in marriage. When we allow selfishness and pride to rule, we are making his job super easy. He is then able to ambush – creating division. When we are divided, when we are at each other’s throats, he sneaks in to conquer. We are so focused on fighting each other, we miss seeing the stealth of our adversary.
Isn’t There Something I Can Do?
While I do believe that we cannot save our husbands if they are hell-bent on entertaining sin, I don’t think that we are completely helpless here. I do believe that there are some things we can do to keep our marriages healthy and above reproach. Of, course these things take work and purposefulness, but it is worth it. So very worth it.
Have A Repentant Heart
This goes for both people in a marriage. Hearts that are ready to confess and repent of sin – and turn away – is absolutely essential for a strong and healthy marriage. I know, easier said than done, right? Especially when you feel like the only one doing the confessing and repenting.
We cannot control or dictate how our husbands live – we do not have the ability to dominate or manipulate the condition of their hearts – yes, we can have great influence in this area, but we cannot control what goes on deep within. Only they can do that. And hopefully, it is being one under the mighty influence of the Holy Spirit.
While we can’t dictate the hearts of our men, we certainly have full control over our own. I find it good practice to keep a regular check on the condition of my heart. Is there anything that I need to confess and repent of? If I don’t do this repeatedly, then it will be easier for the darkness of sin to consume and harden my heart.
Pray Without Ceasing
Prayer is another essential part of a healthy marriage. So much change has happened in my marriage because of prayer. Prayer leads to forgiveness, conviction, humility, and strength. It renews my love and devotion for my husband.
There have been times when I’ve been so angry and frustrated with Marcus that I didn’t ‘feel’ like praying for him. Oh, friends, if we allow all of our actions, behaviors, and thoughts to be ruled by our feelings, then we are going to be in serious trouble! I have committed to still pray for my husband even when I don’t ‘feel’ like it. When I am so annoyed with him I could scream and throw things. While my husband’s heart may not change – at least not right away – mine sure does. My heart grows softer toward my husband. My love for him begins to overshadow my annoyances and frustration. And I am left open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in how to deal with the problem.
I also pray that Jesus will show Marcus what it looks like to love me as Jesus loves the church. This is such a powerful prayer. It has to be because it is the command given to husbands in Ephesians.
One prayer I’ve prayed for myself for almost 20 years is that my greatest expectation must be from God, not Marcus. It reminds me that only God can fulfill my deepest needs and it helps me take that pressure off of my husband to give me my identity. There is only One who has the power to do that.
Lots of Laughter
Laughter might seem out of place here. But both my husband and I agree that a good amount of laughter is essential for a healthy marriage.
Think about it. Have you ever met someone and you could tell right away that they probably rarely laughed? They seem to be miserable, don’t they?
A person who laughs easily, on the other hand, seems to be full of joy, don’t they? And when they look like the are joy-filled, they probably are. A healthy marriage and joy go hand-in-hand. When we are filled with the joy of the Lord, it is easier for us to be grateful for what we have. And gratitude just flows into all other aspects of our lives.
Marcus and I have not stopped flirting with each other. Yes, we even flirt unashamedly with each other in front of our children. Flirting helps to keep those fires burning. You might be interested in these other posts for further reading:
To assist you in flirting with your guy, you might like my Love Notes for Your Husband printable as shared in my post, 1 Amazing Way To Love On Your Husband. You can get your love notes & 100 Reasons Why I Love You printable book here.
Be The Best
One of the best things my husband does for our marriage is encouraging me to follow hard after Jesus. He is a champion for my healing and for my freedom in Christ.
When we are selfless with each other – when we put our spouse’s well-being (or anyone else’s) before our own – we stop our enemy from fulfilling his plan to divide and conquer.
Imagine what would happen in our marriages, in our churches, if we just encouraged each other to follow hard after Christ, if we supported each other in living the Christian life as best we can.
What if we all started doing just that?
This, of course, is not the ‘be all and end all’ list for a healthy marriage. And I am very sure that our Christian friends who are experiencing the end of their marriages had done these things – with their whole heart – and still, it wasn’t enough to hold it together. The bottom line is this: We have an enemy who prowls around, waiting in ambush, to destroy our marriages and it takes both spouses remaining humble and nurturing a softened heart that is ready to confess, repent, and turn away from any and all sin…before it gets to the ‘bigger’ sin of actually having an affair.
May I encourage you today, friend, to continue fighting for your marriage. Keep working at it. It’s hard. I know. But don’t give up. Don’t let the enemy win.
**Please note: this post is written for the wife who is in a generally healthy marriage. NOT for the wife who is in an abusive marriage. Please, if you are in an unsafe environment, get yourself to safety.
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