How to Divorce Proof Your Marriage
Editor’s Note: This is Part 2D Putting Off Selfishness in the Biblical Peacemaking Series.
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 he wasn’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?
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.