How to Divorce Proof Your Marriage

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2D Putting Off Selfishness in the Biblical Peacemaking Series. 

*Photo Credit: anat_tikker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Housewife Blues

During my first six months of marriage, I felt like a failure because my friends were going onto graduate school, getting great jobs, starting new relationships, traveling all over the world, growing in their relationship with the Lord, etc. I argued with my husband constantly. Some weeks we’d get into it every day about how unhappy I was, about how hwasn’t doing enough, how he wasn’t spending enough time with me, how he wasn’t making enough money… and the list goes on. This is NOT a good way to start marriage!!

I had the housewife blues! I was living in extremes.  When Adam wasn’t home, I would throw myself into chores or neglect house work completely. I would eat way too much junk and sit in front of the TV and watch movie after movie. I would spend hours on Facebook and the Internet – living vicariously through other people. When Adam was home, he wasn’t my top priority. I dragged my feet sometimes to spend time with him, causing us to argue because I had forgotten him, or I would spend so much time with him that we’d drive each other nuts and argue anyway. I wasn’t just out of control on the train tracks of marriage; I was spiraling on roller coaster tracks of distraction, deception, dissatisfaction, and discontentment. Dear reader, I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to give up, throw the towel in, and run away from my marriage. I’m not sure if I was truly thinking of completely divorcing him, but I wanted escape. And I escaped into anything and everything I could to avoid the reality that I was heaping destruction on my own marriage.

It breaks my heart to admit this. It is by God’s grace and my husband’s unconditional love for me that our marriage has survived and has become stronger. Adam is such a beautiful picture of the loving arms of Christ, welcoming me back when I hurt him, forgiving me readily, and being the world’s most patient husband (seriously!). I can’t tell you what a joy it is to serve him and what a privilege it is to love him!

God Never Gives Us Something Without Giving Us the Grace to Do It

Adam isn’t perfect. There will be times when he will drive me absolutely nuts and vice versa, times when I may feel like giving up. The difference between then and now is that Jesus has gotten total control of my heart and while I am far from perfect also, He continually gives me the grace to love my husband unconditionally.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power has been made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I am a weak and sinful woman. Can you relate? The only reason I’m here right now writing this, still married, and completely in love with my husband is because of Christ’s amazing power, and the daily dosage of grace God gives me.

I recently stumbled across this website called No Ordinary Blog Hop. People can post links to their blog in an appropriate category and visit other people’s blogs and then at the end of the month, we all vote on a star blogger. It sounded like a fun challenge so I’m diving in head first. For the month of May, the monthly theme category is: What’s Your Favorite Tip? I’m going to fudge it a bit and share my favorite marriage tip below.

#5 Selfishness Breeds Dissension

Divorces happen because people are selfish. Divorces happen because people don’t want to work through their conflicts. And it’s a terrible tragedy and shame!

When I was so wrapped up in my self, I wasn’t being gracious, merciful, or forgiving toward my husband. I was so focused on MY needs,  MY unhappiness, and what I thought I was missing out on. I blamed it time and time again on Adam, when in reality, Satan was blinding me to my own fault. I couldn’t take responsibility for my problems because I couldn’t see it. I was blinded by selfish ambition and I was jealous of my friends and my husband because their lives seemed so much more together than mine.

James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

I had evil in my heart because I refused to think beyond my self. That’s a scary realization! I was putting myself before God; I was worshiping the idol of self indulgence, wallowing in self pity, and blaming my husband for my problems.

I was trying so desperately to make my husband happy, but I was neglecting what truly made me happy, and filling my life with false peace! And anytime Adam did something wrong, this ugliness inside of me came out like a serpent’s poison and I retreated and withdrew my love. It was conditional, not unconditional.

Tara Barthel in in the Women’s Study: Living the Gospel in Relationships  shares, “In general we give grace to others to the extent we are daily experiencing grace ourselves.” During this time when I was struggling badly in my marriage, I was retreating farther and farther away from God. I was turning to other things to satiate my desires, unable to see how I was divorcing myself from true love, joy, and peace. I wasn’t allowing myself to experience His grace, and it was slowly killing my heart.

The Best Marriage Tip I Ever Received

Last summer, we discovered our apartment had a huge mold problem. I am severely allergic to mold. We had to move out temporarily. We actually shuffled between friends homes for almost a month. I remember one night I was sitting on the front porch of one of a friend’s home. I was holding a little white heart-shaped box to my chest, nearly in tears as I waited for Adam to get off work. I had come across the box when we had been moving out filled with marriage advice and encouragement my friends/mentors had written for me during my bridal shower. One of the index cards had this piece of advice written on it:

Be continually gracious with your husband’s sin, and be continually ruthless with your own sin. 

Ladies, what I just told you is the best marriage tip I have ever received. This is the one and only time you can be completely ruthless. How do you divorce proof your marriage? Put off selfishness, shake it off as quickly as you would hot coals in your hands- and then remember that God’s love is great for those who fear Him and He removes your sin as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:11-12).

Let It Fade

When Adam returned to me that night, I took him on a long walk, confessing my sin, and asking him to forgive me for being so ungracious with him. And you know what? He loved me anyway and prayed over me harder than I ever remember him praying for me before. I was transformed. Despite the fact that we were literally homeless that night, God reunited me with my “home,” the love of my life, my husband. For the first time in my life, I truly understood what it meant to be a new creation, as I let the pain, stubbornness, and selfishness of the “old life” melt away. Adam didn’t give up on me; God didn’t give up on me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I cannot imagine my life without Adam, but more importantly, I cannot imagine my life without my God, my Savior and King, my Father, Friend, Healer, and Redeemer.

There is a beautiful song by Jeremy Camp called “Let it Fade.” I want to leave you with the first verse and chorus of this song because it echoes the words and emotions of my heart in that moment God broke me, convicting me of the depth of my own sin and giving me the grace to love my imperfect husband.

Have you been walking on a surface that’s uncertain?
Have you helped yourself to everything that’s empty?
You can’t live this way too long.
There’s more than this, more than this.
Have you been standing on your own feet too long?
Have you been looking for a place where you belong?
You can rest, you will find rest.
You can rest, you will find rest.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace. 
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade. 


I’d love to hear from you

How do you respond to this marriage tip: Be continually gracious with your husband’s sin and be completely ruthless with your own sin?

When has God broken you in your marriage? How has God equipped you to love your husband more?

How are you living as a new creation – how are you letting go of the old life, letting it fade away? 

Related Posts:

1. Jump on the Peace Train An introduction to the Peacemaking in Marriage Series – “Sometimes conflict is a good thing, but it’s never a God thing.” 

2. When You’re Flying Downhill: Running Headfirst into Discord When desires quickly become idols and lead to discord 

3. Don’t Toot Your Own Horn (Putting off Self) Part 2A “Idols are anything we’d toot our own horn for – things we desperately want other people to notice and praise.” 

4. Don’t Toot Your Own Horn (Putting Off Self) Part 2B “I am convinced the farther away from God I am, the more I’ll pursue my own selfish ambition, and in turn, the farther away from my husband I’ll be.” I share some lessons I’ve learned about selfishness vs. selflessness in marriage. 

 5. How Selfishness Nearly Cost Me My Marriage Part 2C “When you are selfishly discontent, you are essentially saying, ‘MY NEEDS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN THIS MARRIAGE AND IF YOU WON’T FULFILL THEM, I WILL GET FULFILLMENT ELSEWHERE.'”

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17 Comments

  1. Hi Hannah, I am delighted with your post. You hit the nail on the head. It’s about being “selfless” … that is how we love our husbands and respect them too. I have had many years to practice this and God has been molding me and molding me … I can not believe He is so patient with me. My husband is not perfect either, but God gave him to me and he gave me to him to help meet his needs. I wrote a little bit about respecting your husband over at WCWTK, you can read it here http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-respect-your-husband-7-helpful-hints/

    Respecting your husband is the greatest way to love him. I appreciate your heart and honesty in this post dear. I pray God continues to use you in this way.

    PS, I saw you over on No Ordinary Blog Hop and the honor shown you over there is well deserved. Great job my sister in Christ

    • Pamela, Thank you for visiting the BHE community and for your kind comments. I appreciate your candor and your compliments. I checked out the link. I will totally use it in my next “Good Clicks for Your Weekend” post. Respect truly is key to your relationship with your spouse and I’m so glad so many wives are now realizing that! May God bless your marriage and your walk with Him, and give you a respectful heart toward your husband, even when it feels like he is undeserving. He always deserves your respect. That’s what unconditional love is all about, sister!

  2. I read the title and wondered where it would lead and it led to wonderful truth. Thank you for sharing your story. I wonder if everyone can relate? I know I can & it took me a long time to realize that I alone & not my spouse was responsible for my sin. Every blessing

    • Thanks for sharing, Kelly. I’m glad that my story was able to bless you. I heard Dr. Eggerichs who wrote “Love and Respect” share about taking responsibility for you sin, not focusing the blame on your spouse. Even if your sin only amounted to 10% of the problem, and your spouse 90% to take the first step to forgiveness and reconciliation.

  3. God broke me right around the time I got married–and in the weeks before. All our plans fell through. Despite months of job searching, and having marketable skills, neither of us could find work by the wedding. We spent the first five weeks of marriage house-sitting and living off of wedding money while we job-hunted. It was incredibly stressful for us–and when I’m stressful, I tend to either get mean and try to take over, or else run away and hide. One of the hardest things I had to do was write apology notes for certain people our haste in marriage had inadvertently hurt.Praise God that we had faithful family and friends who stuck with us, even though they had every right to say “I told you so” (and sometimes they hinted at it).

    Then we moved quickly to a new place–and I had no job. And for two months, I couldn’t get a job to save my life. Money was tight, my husband was stressed with teaching a multi-grade classroom with special needs children, and I was fighting depression over having nothing to do and being away from something I loved–learning. Even then, God provided such grace–in the form of a fledgling ESL program that needed volunteers. Even though I had never managed a classroom, taught adults or preschoolers (my two groups), or really taught ESL, God led me to jump in and forget my discomfort. It was really hard and I’m sure I was not a good teacher. But God used me to bless people anyway, and it grew me closer to my husband, because he was an enormous help in the whole teaching business! So I definitely agree that self-lessness is the way to go–and submitting to God and coming to the end of yourself is the only way to do it.

    • Thank you so much, Janeen, for sharing your story. I too was one of those wives that felt like I rushed marriage (getting married right after graduation). I’m so glad that you learned the importance of selflessness. It really is a gem in marriage.

      Apologizing isn’t my strong suit either. I think it’s my stubborn pride that gets in the way, and I refuse to take responsibility and to confess I was wrong. Those three little words “I was wrong” are probably the hardest words I’ve ever had to say. And funny thing, I keep having to say them. Thank the Lord for His grace! I have come to find that the times when we are struggling the most in life, God really uses it to strengthen our marriage, especially this year with Adam being out of work for so long. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Thanks for sharing wisdom for all of us wives, whether newlyweds or long married. Letting go of selfishness is such a key part. My hubbie and I work at being unselfish. I am fortunate that he is so forgiving. Thanks for joining us at NOBH!

  5. Thanks for linking up with us over at NOBH!

    • You’re welcome. I’m excited about NOBH! Thanks for coming over to read this.

  6. Amazing post and so important for newly weds to read. Thanks for sharing you tip on the NOBH.

    • You are most welcome. I am glad that you wandered over to BHE. Thank you for your high compliment.

  7. Awesome insights!!! This was a HUGE key for me, too! When I finally saw my own MOUNTAINS of pride and disrespect and began to focus on that and began thanking God for my husband and looking at his strengths instead of his sins – BIG, GOD-SIZED things began to happen!

    • I’m so glad you were encouraged by this post. It was a difficult one for me to write. I love how you said “BIG GOD-SIZED things began to happen;” that is a great way to put it. Many blessings!

Trackbacks

  1. Zealously Protect Your Marriage, Part 3, Day 23 | Becoming His Eve
  2. A Counter-Cultural Sexual Affair | Becoming His Eve
  3. How You Can Apply My Marital Lessons to Your Marriage | Becoming His Eve
  4. Confessions from a Desperate Housewife | Becoming His Eve

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