I shared this post on my personal Facebook page last year. When it showed up in my Facebook memories, I knew it was time to share here on my blog. It’s no secret that for many years my marriage was broken. During this period, I felt utterly hopeless. It took years for my marriage to heal, but by the grace of God we persevered and made it to the other side of restoration and redemption. We tried just about everything in our search for healing, some were helpful, while others were not. Most of the time our flesh got in the way. In fact, in the beginning, I made a lot of mistakes that were harmful. I hope that through sharing my mistakes, it somehow helps others avoid some of the pitfalls that are so easy to fall into when you are hurting and desperate for change.
For many in broken marriages, I know that Valentine’s Day is hard. God has been laying something on my heart, that I feel like I should share even though it exposes my weaknesses and shortcomings. You see, for years I thought if my husband just changed our marriage would heal. The recording in my head that I rehearsed over and over sounded something like this. Why won’t he change? If he would just do the things, he has committed to do to save our marriage we could begin to heal. If he would just love me like Christ loved the church, then I would feel loved. If he would just lead our family like he is supposed to lead us, then our marriage would be restored. If he would just go to counseling as he promised, then the counselor would get through to him. I can assure you that this list went on and on.
Ultimately, I didn’t think I had any responsibility in our healing besides giving him another chance because of the choices he had made. How wrong I was! What I am about to share with you, you won’t want to hear. You’ll want even less to do. Trust me; I’ve been there. However, God began to move on my behalf when I took responsibility for what I could control, which was me. I couldn’t change him or his response to me, but I could change how I handled our problems. When I took the initiative to change, that is when my marriage changed. You see as long as my focus was on my husband and what he wasn’t doing, or what he was doing and wasn’t supposed to do my marriage only got worse because my husband’s focus was on me being a nag. My voice was so loud that he became defensive and wasn’t able to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit convicting and leading his heart. Not to mention the fact that my proud heart didn’t think it needed changing.
I’m so glad that God was patient with me and that he used heartbreak and crisis in my marriage to show me is faithfulness and that He could be trusted.
Here’s a short list of some of the most valuable yet difficult lessons I learned:
1. I shouldn’t try to control my husband or manipulate him into acting the way I think he should. Even if the things I want him to do would be helpful, he has to want to do these things on his own. For example, I gave him the book in the picture above. I assure you that he was not impressed, and it went over like a turd in a punch bowl. Don’t tell him to listen to songs like, ‘Lead Me’ by Sanctus Real in hopes that he will have a sudden heart change. It won’t work when you are at that place of crisis.
2. I learned to shut my mouth. Sometimes it felt like I would bite a hole through my lip, but I had to be quiet and trust that God saw everything and that He loved us both.
3. I had to honor God and my vows by respecting my husband even when it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My vows I made to him are not contingent on his actions or response. He needs respect to love me, and someone had to break the endless cycle.
4. I finally gave him and our situation fully and entirely to God understanding that the outcome may not be what I would choose. I was so afraid to surrender my heart and marriage fully to God because what if it didn’t work out? I had to trust that no matter the outcome that we were in the palm of God’s hand and He would provide and care for us. Jeremiah 29:11
What I learned after years of going round and round fighting is that God wanted to do a work in me as well as change my husband. Besides prayer and fasting my greatest weapon in the fight FOR our marriage was shutting my mouth and respecting my husband. When I did these things (even though I felt like I might die first), I began to see a change in him that had not happened any other way. I saw real brokenness in him and a desire to lead us the way God had called him to lead. I know this isn’t easy to hear if you are in the middle of the fire. However, it changed everything for us. I truly have a different husband today, and he has a different wife. Our marriage has been restored beyond what I could have asked or imagined. My heart is so burdened for others whose marriages are broken. If your heart is breaking today, I am praying for you!!!
Oh, and please don’t hate me. I know it probably wasn’t what you wanted to hear.
Exodus 4:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
In case you missed it, here are several other posts in this series where I share about our struggles and God’s redemption.
- A Story I Never Thought I’d Tell
- Shopping for Father’s Day is Hard when Your Marriage is Broken
- New Beginnings: When Life is Hard
- If You Saw Us Then
- The Unexpected Gifts of Brokenness
Here are some of my favorite resources that were helpful to me. As I shared above, I would not suggest any of these to my husband to read in hopes that he would change. Instead, I would read them in my quiet time, pray for direction, and implement as God leads without ever saying a word as to what you are doing.
- Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
- Boundaries in Marriage
- Breaking Free Bible Study
- Praying God’s Word