Our first and second year of marriage were challenging. We were not doing well in our communication and that spilled to other areas. But by God’s grace, we kept growing and learning.
Looking back, I see we were like most newlyweds. We loved each other to bits and believed in our marriage (most of the time!) but we were new at matrimony, completely in over our heads!
But at that time, a stranger looking at our marriage from the outside might have judged our marriage completely unhealthy.
Not because we were overly unsound, but because we were at a messy season and they were looking from the outside.
And I’ve seen this quick labeling stamped on perfectly normal but growing marriages.
Where couples are working through normal seasons of marriage, only to stumble on some advice telling them they are abnormal or should take certain course of action…which leaves them worse off than before.
A wife will be impressed to take the grace-filled road (which takes more guts and courage) and someone will come along and rebuke her for being doormat.
Speaking as a mentor/writer, I think we are guilty of giving quick blanket answers to marriage issues which have no easy answers. I know how badly people want a simple clear cut answer. I was there, begging God to speak clearly and quickly and loudly so that I can get on with it and not have to wrestle and suffer and crucify the flesh and grow.
I understand why a “5 unhealthy marriage dynamics you should not entertain” article would appeal to us.
And I also recognize that many wives are enablers, instead of helpers (or helpmeets) and they need encouragement to take some type of action, not merely pray and wish everything away. For some of these wives, it’s not that they never tried. Rather they tried and tried and at some point gave up trying and decided to settle.
There are no easy fixes to complex marriage problems
That said, I believe God speaks specifically to people. He uses His word and other ways to give specific counsel to specific situations. He doesn’t give a blanket answer for everybody. Therefore our sole ambition should be to seek His will.
But often we are eager for easy fixes, too quick to label and classify relationships as unworthy of effort.
Yet, there’s no situation God can’t turn around. He can heal alcoholism, change an adulterer, heal victims and perpetrators and transform relationships. God can restore.
I am not saying people should stay in harmful places. But we need to recognize that God is supreme and He can change the impossible to possible. *
Great marriages are a result of great grace-giving. (Click to Tweet) Sometimes you’ll go through hard times in marriage and there are no easy answers or solutions other than to press in and wrestle and love like crazy and hold on to the hand of Jesus like never before.
There’s nothing wrong with being willing to “err” on the side of grace. Nothing wrong with being a grace giver and being someone who encourages women to listen to God and His, sometimes unconventional, counsel. *
God might be telling you one thing and your favorite Author or random article is saying something else. Or your friends or parents made a different choice when faced with with the same situation you face today.
At some point, you have to learn how to make choices that have nothing to do with the past or what is popular and widely accepted. And everything to do with God’s personal revelation to you.
As a wife, the ball is in your court, to analyze and hold up everything against God’s instruction to you. (which means you must be hearing from God)
Counsel is great, I love godly counsel and I have mentors. I am dedicated to encouraging, equipping and empowering you to have a strong God-centered marriage
But I recognize that I am on this other side of the computer. I really don’t know what’s going in your relationship in it’s entirety. Your favorite author or the blogger who wrote that article has no idea what’s going on in your home. They may have faced similar issues, but that was their experience and their journey, not yours.
You can’t stand from the outside and completely understand what’s going on inside someone else’s home. That’s why I encourage women who write to me to also find real-life mentors, someone they can talk to face to face, preferably someone who knows both of them. I do my part and counsel the best I can, but I can’t help in that deep way they might need.
But guess who knows their entire story?
And He speaks to you.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10: 1-4 (emphasis added)
Before you label your marriage unhealthy and unworthy of more effort, before you listen to people who encourage you to act in the flesh, before you give up and quit because you feel alone, make time to talk to God.
I guarantee you God speaks! He will tell you what needs to be done and not just that, He will help you do it!
Is your marriage in a messy season?
So what if your marriage is in a messy season, what to do?
The dictionary defines messy as;
(of a situation) confused and difficult to deal with.
a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature
You can do these 7 things
1. Get with God first
2.Work on you first
Focus on you, not just the marriage and your husband. Read these posts
3. Keep hope alive
When we have challenges in marriage, the tendency is to park at the problem. But make a choice to notice other areas of your marriage that are working. Don’t camp, walk around and enjoy the rest of the scenery. God might be speaking to you but if your mind is closed, stuck on how bad the situation looks, you won’t even hear Him. So help your relationship and begin to open up to the possibility that there’s the hope.
4. Involve trusted help.
I believe in mentoring. My husband and I would not be where we are today without godly mentors. But over the years I’ve seen the damage that wrong mentoring can do. So look for and listen to the right people. People who have flourishing marriages themselves (don’t go asking advice from your opinionated single friend!), who love God deeply and share your values and aren’t afraid to call you out.
5. Keep praying.
God does not always operate on our time schedules. But He’s always faithful. Your answers might not be packaged exactly the way you expect, but He will answer.
6. Keep talking about it with your man.
Give it space and time, don’t bash him over the head with issues all the time, don’t obsess about it. But don’t give up up either, keep bringing it up with wisdom.
7. Don’t give up hope in God
Don’t give up hope. Sometimes you’ll want to quit on you, your man, your marriage. But fight not to give up hope in God. Everything else may fail, it might be a huge a struggle, the answers might not come packaged as hoped, but God is constant. In all difficulties and victories, He doesn’t change and you can trust Him to do good.
Out of all this (I may have rambled quite a bit) I hope you can take away one thing; call your marriage what God calls it, not what it seems. If you must assign labels, use the Word of God, not your feelings and thoughts and opinions. He created marriage, allow Him lead you. Give your attention to people who encourage you in the ways of the Lord, not the ways of the world and the flesh.
*I reiterate – I am not saying women should stay in harmful situations or enable sin. But I am saying if you are going to offer counsel to someone, don’t be eager to suggest solutions based on mere human thinking and popular culture. Recognize there’s a God who heals and changes people (and who hates divorce). If you need advice on something, don’t go looking for it in the wrong places. Quit expecting others to hear God on your behalf and start seeking God for yourself.
If your need more insight or to learn how Tommy and I overcome a shaky start and how you can too, pick up my book, available as paperback and ebook. (below)
Are you an early-wed or older wife? Going through unlovely marriage blues? Instead of the much anticipated wedded bliss? There’s hope! Take a journey through marital topics like sex, communication, expectations, finances and many more and learn how to build a foundation for a marriage that will last!
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