In the last few weeks I have heard of numerous married couples on the verge or having just followed through with divorce. The sad thing is that all of these couples say they are Christians. The Lord moved upon my heart to write this and I woke up with unction from Him to get it done and out quickly. Please, disregard grammatical errors, but read this slowly and carefully. I list 12 myths that end a marriage and provide commentary to “bust” each myth.
Also, I forewarn you that this is not an easy read. This will not make you feel “good” whether you’re the victim or the villain in your relationship. But please, read it. And in as much as God has breathed on this, please open your heart to the Holy Spirit and be challenged to fight for your marriage. The enemy has gained such a foothold in this area of life and our society continues to decline as a result. But this was not written to save our society or for my own cathartic purposes. This was written for your marriage. I do not know your personal situation to the depth you are experiencing it, but I do know that difficult times were promised to us by Jesus who suffered more than any of us could begin to imagine. I also know that these difficult times make us stronger if we will walk through them. This is not a time to try and avoid the issues, or go over and around your problems to deal with them later. The time now is to fight for your marriage with more energy and passion than you’ve ever done before.
MYTH #1: I AM NOT HAPPY ANYMORE.
Unfortunately we have elevated happiness to an unhealthy level in America where we view it almost as a right instead of for what it really is. The word comes from the root Happ. Here is one origin of the word: (1150–1200; Middle English < Old Norse happ luck, chance)
We also get the word happenstance from the same root. So you see, happiness is based on circumstances and is meant to be a fluctuating emotion, not a constant frame of mind. We have to get over this feeling of entitlement to happiness. There are whole days when you may not be happy and that is okay…It’s not fun…but it’s okay. Your spouse’s responsibility is not to make you happy. You must get over this belief that if you are not happy in your marriage, then you have the right to divorce. It is a myth that if your marriage is not making you happy then that means the marriage is over.
MYTH #2: WE HAVE DONE ALL WE CAN AND IT’S JUST NOT WORKING.
Almost every couple I know that is on the verge of divorce or already divorced has made this statement to some degree. IT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. If your conclusion is divorce, you have not done all you can. “All we can” is remembering your vows that said “for WORSE” as well as “for better”. “All we can” is realizing that the day you said “I DO” meant it is no longer about you. Your wedding day was a miraculous moment of unity between you, your spouse and God. You became one in such a way that you do not separate without serious repercussions. Would you cut off your arm because you have tried and tried to curl 200 pounds, but no matter how much exercise and eating right, you are still not able to lift such a weight? Of course not! You should view the “impossible” circumstance with your spouse in the same way. This is not “someone else”…they are just as much a part of you as you are.
MYTH #3: THEY ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON I MARRIED.
This statement is true and you are not the same either. People change…sometimes for the better…sometimes for the worse. But change is a part of life for anyone and any situation. This is another poor product of our society. We have bought into the lie that if you do not like the change in your spouse, change spouses until you do. This is fine if you’re talking about food, or clothes, or a painting, or a song…but not marriage. We have lost important traits of commitment and loyalty that allow us to disregard the “change” in favor of the commitment made. Realize that if they have changed in an undesirable way, you are as responsible in making that change as they are. You are one, regardless of how they think, you feel, or you both act. Their change…is your change.
MYTH #4: THEY CAN NOT LET GO OF PAST MISTAKES.
If you are truly regretful of your past mistakes and your spouse will not let it go, I’m sure that can be frustrating. You are trying to move on, and you feel like every chance your spouse gets they are reminding you of your failure. They may do so verbally or by their actions. Suspicion, fear, and insecurity are very hurtful things both for the one feeling them and the one receiving the response to those feelings. Trust is easily lost, but extremely difficult to regain.
To the one who made the mistake…. deal with it. Yes, the other person should forgive you and it would be great if they could even get to the point of trusting you again, but remember… you’re the one who blew it. You can never make light of the action, as long as your spouse is suffering from it. Whether it takes 6 months or 60 years, you MUST walk through this with your spouse. You cannot leave them to deal with the issue on their own because you have dealt with it between you and God. Marriage does not work like that. You cannot pick and choose areas you are one in and areas you are on your own. YOU ARE ONE. If your spouse has not forgiven you, meet it head on and do not relent until it is resolved.
To the one who has suffered from the mistakes of your spouse…. deal with it. Yes, the other person broke one of the most important promises in their life, and broke your heart severely. Yes! They should not have done whatever it was they did. But continually reminding your spouse of that mistake by your words or actions does not just make it hard on them…it does not make it easier for you…it does not serve them right…it destroys! It destroys families beyond your own. It destroys relationships beyond your own. If children are involved, it impacts them in ways you will never imagine…and that is as much your fault as theirs. To clarify, this applies to the spouse who is generally grieved of their mistake and is genuinely trying to repent of what they have done. You have to let them walk through this with you to the point of forgiveness…It will be hard, but do not give up. In your weakness Christs’ strength can and will sustain you. There is NO other option.
MYTH #5: WE CANNOT TALK WITHOUT ARGUING.
Then do not talk…communicate. There are other forms of communication than audibly speaking words bathed in heightened emotion.
Write a letter. The heart has a direct line to the mouth (Matt. 15:18), but it must pass through the brain to get to the hand. Sometimes writing it out helps you process what you really want to say and what you really should say. As well, when you read what the other person is saying, it is a lot harder to misunderstand what they are trying to say. When speaking, we tend to hear things that are not said or at least misunderstand the way they are said, and that compounds an issue to the negative really quick.
Use nouns (Persons, Places, or Things). Sometimes another person that you mutually respect is a good way to start the communication process. It helps you weigh your words and collect your thoughts a little more carefully. This also brings in some outside advice that may help bring clarity to misunderstandings. Yes, this can be awkward, but a little awkwardness is worth re-opening lines of communication and will save a lot more difficulties later on.
Another idea is going to a place that you both love (i.e. where you first met, where you used to always go when you were first married, where you proposed). The memories these places bring back also can serve to help soften words and cause you to remember that the person you are currently at odds with is not your enemy.
Also, things can help change the atmosphere and cause you to have conversation instead of conflict. Things such as a board game you both enjoy, flowers, a favorite dessert, or having your “mixed tape” or worship music playing softly in the background can help change the atmosphere and help redirect some of the emotion and energy to a healthier place.
The bottom line is you are both adults, so act like it. There was a time you talked without yelling or using hurtful words, so do whatever it takes to get back to that place again.
MYTH #6: WE JUST NEED TIME APART TO WORK OUT OUR OWN ISSUES.
NO! You don’t! You don’t have personal issues anymore…. your personal issues became your spouse’s issues and vice versa the day you said “I DO”. The old war term (which is based on the scripture Matt 12:25) is “Divide and Conquer.” Separation allows you to feed the selfishness that has caused this problem to begin with. If anything, you need to draw closer together. I cannot overstate the fact that you became ONE at your wedding, and that means you are not whole on your own any longer. You are not healthy on your own any longer. To physically separate yourself from your spouse only further weakens your defense and allows the enemy to exploit those weaknesses. You are not the exception to this rule.
Check back next week for the 2nd part of this article: Myths 7 through 12.