Hope For Marriages

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I visited my eight-year widowed grandmother this weekend. It still shocks me to see her without my grandfather by her side. They were a matched pair, a perfect set, now waiting for the beautiful day they will be reunited. And she limps along with a smile, but with the gait of one who is missing half of herself.

I came home to wave at my one-week widowed neighbor. The grief is still too new, too raw to process. For how do you even decide alone what to eat for breakfast when you’ve been making decisions together for sixty-four years?

And then yesterday I heard the tale I’ve listened to so many times, told with tears running down the face and exhaustion in the eyes. The details change a little depending on the teller, but the stories are all pretty much the same. How the marriage started well, but has slowly died and is heading to the place beyond hope of resurrection. How wounds have been inflicted and trust has been broken. How love was taken for granted and priorities were shifted. How they wish it could change, but just don’t see how.

And I can’t help seeing those two women while I listen. Two women who would give anything to be held once more by the man whose socks once littered their bedroom floor. The same two women who will tonight go to bed alone instead of beside the snore that kept them awake for countless hours. The two women who now have only themselves to cook dinner for.

What would those women say in this moment?

I think they would say it’s worth it. Your marriage is worth it. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth hurting for. It’s worth sacrificing for. It’s worth healing.

I think they would say that the best marriage you’ll ever have is the one you have right now. I think they would tell you to seek God and not be afraid to change where He tells you to change. I think they would whisper in your ear that a lifetime spent with an imperfect person you have chosen to love is too sweet to throw away and that with Him, all things are possible.

And I think they would tell you not to waste time with unforgiveness, for time is precious, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

I think then they would hold you close, bow their heads, and pray for you to have resurrected hope. And they would pray until you could say, “Amen…so be it.”

***

We recognize that this kind of prayer is best applied in the context of a loving marriage. Where abuse or other broken elements are present, very different choices would likely be necessary.

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  1. 1
    Anonymous says:

    Well, I believe this with all my heart but one person cannot do it alone. They just can’t. Sometimes the spouse just wants to push and push till you go. What then?

    • 2

      I feel you’re pain and frustration and am asking the same question. My husband cheated on me for over three years before I caught him. I sought God, and decided to be true to Him and my vows and forgive my husband and work toward reconcilliation. I recently found out my husband is still cheating on me with the same woman, even after crying , begging for my forgiveness, and promising to be a better husband after the first go around. I keep asking myself and God: how much must I endure? When is enough enough? Must I really continue to forgive and work on my marriage when it seems my husband doesn’t respect me, our vows, or God?

      • 3
        Susanne says:

        Sam, I am so sorry for your pain. When weighing your tolerance and endurance, it seems cruel to put into works but it appears clear that your your husband has a lack of respect for God, vows and you. Now might be the perfect opportunity to ask yourself the most important question, do you respect yourself? Perhaps the answer you seek lies in the answer to this incredibly important question. I pray you find happiness and peace in your life.

      • 4
        Madeleine says:

        I am praying for healing for you. It seems like a (temporary) separation may be good for both of you. If you let him go and he comes back to you, then you can begin to work on counseling. If you let him go and he doesn’t, honey, you are better off to begin that healing with the help of God and your good girlfriends. What a heavy cross you have been asked to carry. Be assured of my prayers!!!

  2. 5

    Thank you for this reminder this morning. I’m in that broken place right now, so I needed to be reminded that it is worth it. This is the guy God chose for me–I believed that the day I agreed to marry him, and I believe it now. There have been struggles and there still will be, but God will see us through.

    Amen…so be it.

    • 6
      Anonymous says:

      I would love to continue to hope. After 37 yrs of a marriage which went dead many years ago I don’t see the point. Still staying married. No good memories. Just emptiness & living alone in the same house with a “good Christan man” who is cut off from his own emotions so cannot connect on any level beyond the most surface courtesies. As another said, you can’t change another person’s heart. And I just have to live alone inside this marriage. When he’s gone I won’t notice the difference. I already sleep alone every night in a separate room & go alone to most activities & eat meals alone.

  3. 7

    I am going through a broken marriage right now and have not stopped fighting, but fighting doesn’t always look like I thought. I fought with fervent prayer over my verbally abusive spouse and clinging to Jesus oh so tightly. I asked God what He wanted from me and in Jeremiah He says He is for me and my husband both as individuals and now that we became “one”. So, I prayed fervently, as deep in my heart I was pulling for us, and joined God on His path of being for our marriage even if I was served with divorce papers. I was not allowing his behavior and we were separated, but God does and can save a WILLING heart. We all have free will to choose or not choose Christ and fighting with prayer acknowledges God is our Bridegroom and that He won’t let us fall even if spouses do.

    My husband is home now and I am seeing a new creation bud from within. Not all marriages have this same outcome and I know this is a miracle! I am grateful. But even if my husband never changed and I continued the life as a single mom, I know God is for me and has plans to prosper me and not to harm me with a hope and future. (I marched on that path with God while seprated throughout the past 6 months.) Marriage is a beautiful design, but I’m so glad that God isn’t JUST for the “marriage”, He’s for the individual’s that make up that marriage. That was something that changed the fight for me as I was so tightly grasping the responsibility to not get a divorce rather than feeling the love of Jesus fight for me personally. The love of God changes things especially when I take on His identity and worth; then loving others through difficulty is possible. Otherwise I’m a clanging gong and that’s just not going to fight a thing.

    Blessings!

    God is good all the time and I know that so intimately now.

  4. 8

    The story your words drew here were perfect and a reminder that we are all at different stages. I was reminded of my Great Grandmother in your line of walking with a limp due to missing half. That was her. And as I fight for my marraige I never thought of her view (now been gone 9 yrs) and how she would have said it is worth the fight. Thank you.

  5. 9

    @ Shandra- THANK YOU!… WOW! Just read your comment “marriage is a beautiful design, but I’m so glad that God isn’t JUST for the “marriage”, He’s for the individual’s that make up that marriage. That was something that changed the fight for me as I was so tightly grasping the responsibility to not get a divorce rather than feeling the love of Jesus fight for me personally”. Oh my…that rang a bell in my spirit!! Presently going through the painful and lonely process of seperation right now at the same time having to wrestle at times with the fact that I was the one made the decision to physically leave. Yes, I left, but it was confirmed in my heart already that my husband left years ago. Feeling the guilt.. that maybe, just maybe I should stay no matter what. What I am sure of is one day my Father spoke gently to me and let me know I could leave this now, it was enough. My God, who knew my thoughts and concerns would even take the time to reassure me not to worry about (my husband).. “He” had him. Only then was I able to leave but honestly still struggling in my heart with the thought of divorce, the thought of going against what God’s word said. Thank you for voicing what I’ve been feeling but wasn’t sure if I was right to think that way. God isn’t just concerned about the “marriage” He’s concerned about the individuals in the marriage. He loves me enough to release me from a painful situation to bring me into peace within myself and with Him. The wrestle and the fight in my mind/emotions is over. The battle is not mine, it’s the Lord’s. Amen…so be it.

  6. 10

    This is a lovely post. Marriage takes constant work, attention and nurturing. I wrote a post a few years ago about my marriage. You can read it here if you want. http://hamershappenings.blogspot.com/2010/02/lesson-learned.html

    Also, lately, I have felt things going stale again. I saw this awesome journal at Dayspring…The Mr/Mrs. Journal? But I just bought a cute notebook instead, because of cost and shipping, etc. I write love notes to my husband and things I appreciate about him. By my looking for these things daily, I love him more, and he is starting to treat me better, too.

  7. 11

    Here is a post about a good friend that won her husband back without a word while he was having an affair ~

    http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2012/03/hardness-of-your-hearts.html

    It sure isn’t easy…but it is good and worth fighting for.

  8. 12

    You are so right that the choices are different (with broken elements) but when we see parents/the elderly live and work through those angers, unhealed griefs and difficulties they show the unbelievable and constant grace of a forgiving God. Some men (and women) have lived through wars or lives we could not understand and in their personal healing and grief (war vets for example) have shown the most compassion, affection and grace in spite of how they need to come to terms with it.
    It is amazing to me that wives and children can love the broken husband so deeply and give grace his whole life, even when some would have walked away, but that is recognizing the beauty, grief and humanity in someone with a good heart who was broken. How unfair! How do we feel when someone we love has to struggle past shame and a failure to difficult to bear? Pain that God should have allowed that and then not given grace enough, or had it accepted by the one we love, to heal from it so we could all have joy and laughter together, the fruits of our labours and love…
    I am speaking of my father who was amazing and wonderful and broken, generous and kind and compassionate. He got down on his knees every night in his pajamas to pray, he loved us, he was generous. But he did things he never forgave himself for. I can only hope and pray that God remembers only that his heart was good and that he loved deeply, and that he has a place in peace from what he received on earth.

  9. 13

    This is a very touching and encouraging article. I was glad to read that sometimes where abuse or other broken elements are that the choices are different.
    I was saddened by some of the ladies comments who are being abused whether it be verbal, mental, or physical abuse, infidelity, etc….that their choices will have to be different. I don’t believe a woman should stay in a relationship with a man who is at the very least not getting help for these matters. Bottomline, God calls us to Peace.

  10. 14

    Simply brilliant. so true.I see my aunt spending her time at her husband’s grave almost every day for a man who was sick in bed for the last 5 years.She had a beautiful marriage of 46 years and her husband went out of his way every day to make her day beautiful.She sure wishes she left this world with him.

    Regards,
    Priya

  11. 15

    To Debbie, and other women who may be in a situation where ” the choice might have to be different”:
    First, let me say that there certaintly are situations where the choice has to be different.

    But, I would like to reach out to those teetering on the edge trying to figure out where their situation falls, as it often never is so cut and dry. My marriage was shattered two years ago due to my husbands physical and emotional infidelity. Three kids under 5 in tow, I dragged myself through life for many months trying to figure out what to do. My human mind told me to leave, to kick him out, how could there be healing after this? But, something deep inside me, I like to think the Holy Spirit, said “be patient…endure…give this time…give this hope through prayer.”. With tears of mixed emotion running down my cheeks even as I write this, I know in my unique situation, God is calling my to hold strong and steadfast, the storm is breaking. I still have SO much healing to do, so much trust to rebuild. But through the time prayer has helped me endure, I have seen remarkable changes in my husband. I believe their manifestation truly has the markings of something greater than what my husband would ever have been capable of directing himself. But, the changes are good: for me, for him, for the kids, for our role on this earth. They give out marriage hope and a shot at being better than before, as cliche as that may sound.

    Like I said before, I am still in the weeds so to speak with my healing, but I have finally spotted a clearing I can strive towards.

    My point in writing this response is to give anyone out there in a similar situation a little bit of hope. It can work. It can get better. It takes time, SO much time. And, it takes work…on both our parts. And, lots and lots of prayer and guidance from above. There were no exclusion clauses in my vows and i certainly never thought this would be part of the worse, but it is. And, it can get better. So, for those of you early on in this process of grief for the marriage that could have been, as long as you are not in danger, persevere, pray, be patient, and hope for that which I know personally feels like the impossible.

    With love,
    Megan

    • 16

      Bless you, Megan. Beautiful response and may God guide you and your husband and your children on the roads ahead.

    • 17

      To Megan,
      I appreciate your response and the struggle that you are attending to in your marriage. I pray along with you that healing in your relationship with your husband continues. I know God hates divorce. In the case of infidelity especially we have the right to leave according to scripture. I realize this choice is different for everybody dependent upon many different circumstances. I have known people who decided to stay in the relationship and work it out only to find out that the abuse of infidelity was continuing, and others who decided to stay and work it out and now the marriage is flourishing. In whatever their personal decision is their is no condemnation. So when is enough, enough? as one person commented above. That is a hard question to answer. Only God in their personal relationship with them can answer that. I would just encourage us all to continue to seek the Lord in matters like this. The answer will be different from mine or yours. Their is always hope in Christ.

    • 18

      Thank you for this reassuring comment. I am in year four of healing and I still have bad days. It’s hard to forget and the memories make it hard to trust. Then jealousy takes hold. I just try to remember that if we don’t make it, the Devil wins. I will never let him win and I love my husband, so I push on.

  12. 19

    SO (in)couraging! :)

    I work with the elderly and I see too many widows and widowers each day.

    For Valentine’s Day I put together a slide-show of their wedding pictures (some dating back to the 1920s!) and it was a joyous, but heartbreaking process.

    My heart celebrates all these marriages, both long and short in God’s perfect timing.

    To love another is truly to risk the atrocious thought of losing them.

    I remember one comedian once pointed out “What’s with marriage?? I mean, BEST CASE SCENARIO, you give someone your heart and soul for 60+ years and then, they die!”

    But, in that journey, as you so shrewdly elaborated, comes the most wonderful gifts that this world has to offer. For, it is a family that you and God create. :)

  13. 20
    Brigitte McCormack says:

    Your message today really spoke to my heart. I just got married on December 16th, 2011 and it seems like one thing after another has gone wrong with us. I almost gave up in despair last night. We love each other but are still learning to communicate effectively. Today’s message encouraged me to stick it out, grow old with this dear man and love him unconditionally. What I percieved as intentional hurts were only misunderstandings. Thank you for sharing this today.

  14. 21
    Susanne says:

    Women in particular are taught to respect others before themselves. It’s in our genetic makeup, passed along generations. There is a point where we have to ask and weigh just how much we are willing to endure and tolerate, remembering that there is something called, self respect. I am all in favor of making every attempt to save a union. It has nothing to do with socks on the floor or cooking for one. How does each individual feel at the end of the day and at the start of the next? Only each and every one of us can answer that question for ourselves. May we be allowed to find inner peace.

  15. 22

    Having just celebrated 58 years with a wonderful not always perfect man but one who has loved and cared for me, a not always perfect woman, I say AMEN to your beautiful words today! Thank you for sharing them.

  16. 23

    I have been married for over 31 1/2 years; but last October we got evicted from our house because we couldn’t pay our rent. I had lost my job the month before. For all of these years of marriage my husband has only worked 15-20 years of it. The last 3+ years he has gooten involved with scams. Every day he told me we were about to get extremly rich. This was so stressful– to get my hopes built up and then dashed over and over. Now he wants me to come back to him again. he said someone has sent him money for rent for one month and the damamge deposit. The thing is it is one of the people I call a scam agan. Here I have part time work and help with social assistance as well. There I would not have a job unless I can find one before I move online. I have asked him to get a job before I move back. He said I am too busy– with his scams. I need prayers and direction from the Lord and others who have any ideas. He doesn’t see any of this as scams but providential and as a business. This all hurts so much as I still love him no matter how much he has hurt me.

  17. 24

    “And I think they would tell you not to waste time with unforgiveness, for time is precious, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.”

    This. I really needed this reminder. Thank you.

  18. 25

    This is a beautiful call to see our marriages as something to fight for, Mindy! Trying to mesh two imperfect souls into one is like mixing water and oil–seemingly impossible. But with God, impossibilities don’t exist. Marriage is extremely difficult but incredibly rewarding (as evident by the grief seen deep in widow’s and widower’s eyes) because it is ordained by God. Fight for your marriages, my dear sisters in Christ! Draw near to the Lord, seeking His strength and guidance.

  19. 26
    Beth Williams says:

    My father would say that marriage is worth fighting for. He stayed married for almost 58 years to my wonderful mother–before she died 3 years ago. It has been a struggle to learn to live alone, but he has managed.

    I’m praying for all the broken women out there dealing with marriage issues, infidelity, lack of interest what ever. May God heal your broken hearts and marriages or find you relief from the pain!

  20. 27

    As a pastoral counselor and marriage partner for 36 years, one thing I know for sure is that NO ONE has a crystal ball! Spouses {and everyone else for that matter} can’t see into each others hearts, can’t quickly discern thoughts, feelings, and motivations. We think they SHOULD. And that’s just not fair … to either one of us. All it leads to is a huge, frustrating guessing game that quickly can get out of control.

    “No Crystal Ball” shares some resources about what women really want … and what men really want.
    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2010/12/no-crystal-ball.html#!/2010/12/no-crystal-ball.html

    A few surprises await!

  21. 28

    After reading this post, I was hesitant to write a comment until I read all the other comments which confirmed my thoughts on this subject.

    Sometimes it’s not as simple as committing to “work it out” because marriage is “worth it”. I wish it was. I believed it was for a long time. The result? . . . Nothing even close to resembling God’s plan for marriage.

  22. 29

    I agree with the many comments here that sometimes fighting for your marriage may mean tough boundaries must be drawn for the protection of yourself or your children. I have walked alongside women who experienced separation from a spouse as one of those boundaries. And when I was a child, I watched my mother have to make this most difficult decision, so I know firsthand that it’s never easy and is always painful.

    Yet, through many, many years of pastoral counseling, I have also witnessed the rebirth of marriage relationships, some of them in the most difficult of circumstances.

    And that is why I pray over each reader, that no matter where they are in their journey, they will have a fresh revelation of the goodness of God and new hope that with Him, all things are possible.

  23. 30

    I was so pleased to see the comment at the end of Mindy’s message, as it was similar to what I was htinking as I ready her message. I agree with what she said about marriage and have read all the posts – both sad and happy.
    In 10 days I will celebrate marriage for 44 years to a wonderful man – I haven’t always thought he was so wonderful.
    Almost 18 years ago was the worst time of my life when my husband confessed that he had been unfaithful 18 years before and had never told me. He told me in a letter, which was the hardest letter I have ever had to read – he also told me he had left me and our children, as he could not face us. We were the “Perfect Christian Family” – now shattered!!!!
    Fortunately he returned home, and we had a round the table “Family Talk”, where we all openly spoke our mind, so not all that was said was great for my husband to hear. We decided to work it out, and I told him I forgave him. I had no idea what I was saying then, and really learnt the cost of forgiveness and how long that forgiveness would take – a number of years to be completely free!!! We attended counselling sessions together and alone, and I read so many books on marriage and broken vows I was “all read out”. I went into deep depression, was suicidal – tried, but it didn’t work. I also became a “Seminar Junkie”.
    I learnt much during that journey to freedom, including when infidelity enters a marriage the hurt goes deep, as does the guilt for the one who has been unfaithful if they are repentent. God granted us forgiveness by having His Son die on a cross. For us, the cost is less, but it is still a cost – we have to let go of jealousy, pride, lack of trust, guilt, secrecy and not least our hurt.
    We struggled and were blessed to come out of the struggle stronger and more loving people. Our children learnt their Dad wasn’t perfect, but they still love him. When I look back, it would have been so easy to walk away, but the struggle was worth it. We have made a pact that there would never again be any secrets in our marriage.
    I could go on forever about what we both learnt during that time, and how we have been able to help others – amazing the number of couples who struggle with the issue of infidelity, including Christian couples. In most marriages “there is something”, if not dealt with, will fester away like a cancer.
    One thing I did learn was Boundaries and the books by John Townsend and Henry Cloud were a great help to me, as was a book called “Tough Love” by James Dobson. One important thing I learnt that “Forgive and Forget” is not true – when we forgive, we don’t suddenly develop amnesia. Of course some things we will forget, but some things we will remember, and in doing so, we can protect ourselves from contiual hurt.
    My advice to any woman living in any sort of abusive marriage is to really ask yourself if God would want you and if you have any, your children, His children. to live in that situation. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical – there are many forms including spiritual. If you think your marriage is abusive in some way and you are suffering, do some reasearch on abuse, get counselling and pray Heaps!!!! If you feel it is right for you to leave – don’t feel guilty!!!

    Sorry for the scroller, but this is something close to my heart, as I know by experience it is a huge problem and not always dealt with properly by Christians because of incorrect teaching, or just what we perceive to be the “right thing to do”.

  24. 31
    christine says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the “disclaimer” at the very bottom of your beautiful post. I’m one of those women who have had to make very hard decisions when abuse was present in the marriage. We often get ignored or looked down upon by many Christians.

  25. 32

    THANK YOU.
    with tears streaming down my face.
    THANK YOU
    with just a little bit of living hope in me
    THANK YOU
    I CAN’T TELL YOU!
    HOW GREATFUL I AM FOR THIS POST!
    GOD BLESS YOU FOR BEING SO OBEDIENT TO WRITE IT!

  26. 33

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    industry or even if they are run by the same persons or in any other case too.
    These systems centralize all the customer details to a single database and provide a real-time picture of customer interactions.
    So, how important is the customer relationship in supply chain management.

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  1. [...] Hope for Marriages, by Mindy Von Atzigen for (in)Courage. Courageous, bold words: “Your marriage is worth it. [...]

  2. [...] absolute favorite recently was when Mindy shared about Hope for Marriages. Looking at marriage from her widowed grandmother’s perspective, I loved how she reminded me, [...]

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