Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
You may be in a season in your marriage where you wonder if there is hope for survival. You may look at your spouse and not recognize the person you married. I want to be very honest with you today, and then I will fill you with hope.
You are going to face struggles in your marriage.
Even the best marriage will have seasons of hardship. The Bible even tells us that in 1 Corinthians 7:28, where it says, “those who marry will face many trials in this life.” Do not despair! I want you to realize that marriage will take work and then be committed to doing the work to have a loving and God-honoring marriage. It is possible.
Yesterday, my parents (and the founders of this ministry) would have celebrated the 34th anniversary of their remarriage. My dad passed away several years ago. Like many, they faced hardship in their marriage. But instead of coming together and resolving to figure out their differences, my dad left. He left home 18 times in just 19 years of marriage. Things got tough, and he packed a bag instead of working on the problems.
My mom had finally decided enough was enough, and she divorced him with the encouragement of our Pastor, her friends, and a counselor. They all agreed that there was no hope for the marriage. The only problem was she never asked God what He thought of their marriage.
Several months after the divorce, my mom heard a couple share their testimony of marriage restoration, and she knew that she had made a mistake. You can listen to their full testimony on our Fight for Your Marriage Podcast, but let me share the good news. More than two years after the divorce, on July 7, 1987, they stood in the same Pastor’s office and remarried each other.
I don’t want you to go through similar heartache. I want you to understand now that there is hope for your marriage because of Jesus Christ!
I also want to explain that there is a vast difference between tension in marriage and sin. My parents didn’t deal with tension or conflicts early on, and that developed into sin. There was abuse and infidelity. By the time it reached that point, they needed more than three tips to get resolution and healing. I want to share some ways to handle tension to hopefully avoid any issues that will lead to sin.
While we can all agree that marriage takes work, it shouldn’t be filled with anger and rage. Yes, marriage will have conflict, but fighting is not normal. Don’t normalize that feeling in your marriage. I can count on one hand how many fights I have had with my husband in the 26 years we have been together. Tension? Yes. That could happen every week, but we are quick to forgive and follow some of the tips below, so it doesn’t escalate. When you face struggles, you need to be willing to do some hard work to get to a healthy place.
Get to the root of the problem –
If you are snapping at your spouse because the garbage didn’t get taken out or a bill didn’t get paid, it is usually not about the surface issue at all. There is an underlying issue that has been stuffed down. When you are working on your marriage, be willing to be honest about the frustration you are facing. Until you get to the root of the problem, nothing will be resolved.
Be honest –
Getting to that root means you need to be honest and accept honesty from your spouse. Don’t expect your spouse to be a mind-reader and instinctively know what is bothering you.
Find a loving way to communicate your frustrations. Find a good time. You may even need to schedule a time to talk about the issue.
My husband and I were recently in the pool without any kids, which is unusual. It was a great time to check in on our marriage and discuss anything unresolved we needed to deal with. One area my husband mentioned was a total shock to me. I had no idea he got frustrated when I did this one thing. Instead of him keeping this annoyance to himself, he shared it with me. Now I am aware that this innocent habit bothers him.
Being honest also means when your spouse is honest with you, there should be a consideration about their feelings. It must go both ways.
Fight fair –
It is possible to have a marriage that doesn’t revolve around fighting. Tension in marriage is inevitable, but fighting doesn’t have to happen. There doesn’t have to be raised voices and anger. Make a plan so you both know how to handle tension. If you or your spouse have a short fuse, talk about ways you can approach tension so it doesn’t escalate.
If the fighting is an issue in your marriage, agree to have a cooling-off time before discussing the root problem. Make those plans ahead of time, so when the issue arises, you both know how you will handle things.
You can avoid the heartache my parents went through by finding ways to strengthen your marriage little by little. God can be glorified through your marriage.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
If your marriage is at a place where there is deep-rooted anger or sinful actions such as abuse or infidelity, I want to encourage you to get outside help. Biblical counseling is a great place to start. It is helpful to have a person who can guide you to a place of safety and healing in your family. It is possible to heal. The testimony of our family is proof of that!
There is hope because of Jesus Christ!
If you need to find a Biblical counselor in your area, you can search the American Association of Christian Counselors.