Hope For Your Marriage

Duane Vander Klok

More and more studies are showing how important healthy relationships are to our well-being. This is especially true in marriage. Statistics show that happily married people are better adjusted, more successful, healthier and even wealthier than their unhappily married counterparts.

Despite these statistics, the majority of couples still struggle – and even divorce – due to unresolved conflicts involving money, sex, friends, in-laws, child rearing or other issues. None of these things have the right to rob you of the blessing God intended your marriage to be!

Since God is the originator of marriage, His Word is the best source of help for dealing with marital issues. While the Bible doesn’t promise you a problem-free marriage, it does give you guidance and counsel to help you through every challenge you face.

For Keeps
God designed marriage to be “for keeps.”  He said, “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, KJV). It wasn’t by accident that He used the word “cleave.” It means “to stick together like glue.”

His plan is for one man and one woman to be together – to be adhered together as if by super glue (not Velcro) – for a lifetime. This requires that the man and the woman commit themselves to each other for their entire lives. It sounds perfect, don’t you think? But your marriage, like all others, is made up of two imperfect people, and imperfect people do not make perfect marriages.

Hope in the Lord
Most couples try to resolve problems as they arise, but after time and many repeated disappointments, hopelessness can set in. When that day comes, it’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back. The frustrated spouse thinks, “If nothing is going to change, why should I keep trying?”
Don’t give up hope if you are at that point!

All things are possible with God. In Ephesians 1:18-20, as Paul prayed for the believers, he prayed that they would know “…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”

The same God who was able to resurrect His Son from the dead loves you, and He makes that same resurrection power available to you – and your marriage!

Whether your marriage needs “a little tweaking” or seems beyond repair, put your trust in God. Let Him be the source of your hope. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Hope can be to your marriage what a transfusion is to someone who has lost a great deal of blood!

Conflicts Are Inevitable
Psychologists tell us that every couple – even when both spouses are Christians – has about 10 issues they will never resolve. You might think, “If only I were married to someone else everything would be fine.” But the truth is, if you were to divorce and remarry, you would still have conflict.

According to the Bible, conflict is rooted in selfishness. James 4:1 (NIV) says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Indeed, when two people each desire to put their own interests first, conflicts are inevitable.

Things can get out of hand quickly when both spouses refuse to change because they are upset with the other. However, if you look at your situation honestly and objectively (as if it were someone else’s), it is much easier to see your part of the problem. But, all too often, we only see the other person’s fault, and we refuse to change because we’re mad at them.

A Better Way
One of the foundations of Christianity is this: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). As believers, we should follow His example. We should give up our own selfish desires even when our spouse is not acting the way we feel they should.

In Philippians 2:2-4, the Apostle Paul urges us to be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. He says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” 

Don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll change when my spouse does.” Selfishness is sin. If you are wrong in an area, it is best to admit it and quit it. Even when your wrong is smaller than your spouse’s, ask God to show you how you can improve the relationship. Is there something you should be doing? If so, do it.

Remember, the goal is not to be the one who is right. The goal is to have a happy marriage. So as disagreements and disputes arise, ask God to show you how you can be part of the solution.

Beginnings of Peace
Whenever you pray about something, you welcome God into the situation, and He promises to bring His peace with Him. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  

If you and your spouse are both Christians, it is ideal to pray together about issues as they come up. It is not always easy to do and your flesh probably won’t like it, but it is always effective. As difficult as it may seem at the time, humble yourself and suggest prayer before things become clouded by emotions. You’ll find that it’s nearly impossible to stay mad when you pray together.

Even if your spouse is unsaved, you can still pray. Romans 4:17 refers to our God as the “one who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”  When God speaks, miracles come! He raised His physically dead Son from the grave, and He can certainly raise a spiritually dead spouse to a place of new life in Christ!

Words Are Important
God’s Words are not the only words with power. As Proverbs 18:21 tells us: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” In any relationship, we need to choose our words wisely because they have the ability to tear down or build up. Words like, “I wish I had never married you,” are like weeds that threaten to choke and hurt your spouse. They destroy the security and commitment of your relationship.

If you want to “harvest” a better marriage, you will need to plant better seeds. Begin to deliberately speak words that line up with God’s Word and that emphasize your commitment to your spouse. Saying something as simple as, “I love you. I’m committed to our marriage and I believe that God will help us with our problems” can make a huge difference!

Only God can change a person. But as you pray for your spouse and deal with your own issues, you’ll experience more of God’s peace. Remember that your fulfillment comes from your relationship with the Lord. Your hope in Him will sustain you as He works to change your spouse.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. If God has spoken to your heart through this brief teaching, I urge you to put it into practice. As you do something differently, there is great hope of achieving a different result. There is hope for your marriage!

Note: No one should tolerate abuse whether inside or outside of marriage. If your safety – or that of your children – is being threatened, contact the authorities in your area, and flee from the situation. Do not return until the abuser has genuinely repented. Genuine repentance as defined by Matthew 3:8 is when their actions prove their change of heart. 

(Scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.)