Most think that contemplating the D-word—divorce—especially as a woman of faith, must have been the result of this big fall in the marriage where one or the other cheated or ran off and did something that shocks everyone.
Reality is, the thought of divorce can creep up and haunt you quietly for years for reasons that may seem to be minuscule. The continuous fights or disagreements on parenting, the missed opportunities to get away alone, the lack of dates, romancing, and conversations that don’t revolve around adulting, the forgotten anniversaries, the lack of excitement and pursuing of one another, the strains of work, parenting and every other responsibility, the bitterness and lack of forgiveness that builds up from a simple reply that was said with a tone that seemed to stab your heart… These small things over time can all lead to the thought of divorce.
The Issues in Our Marriage Compounded Over the Years
This was me just over a year ago. No infidelity, yet I was broken and felt hopeless. You see, my husband and I have been together for years, unlike most 31-year-olds who are just getting started in marriage and beginning to think about or have kids. Felix and I had over 15 years of history, some good but mostly bad. We also had three kids with our oldest being 13.
Felix and I became parents at the age of 18, and wow, did that bring some challenges very early on. We had to instantly become adults and parents all at the same time. We were two broken kids that were hurting while trying to figure things out, and we just couldn’t. Yup, we had break-ups and make-ups, we fought, screamed, and did so much that ended up hurting one another.
Fast forward, here I was as an adult, three kids later, and filled with so much pain from what I perceived as a failed marriage. I believed that there was no way God wanted us together because the fight for us was just so hard, we just never seemed to be on the same page or to get along. All I saw around me were happy couples, smiling, laughing, and holding hands—something we almost never did. I mostly spent my days nagging him, and he spent his tuning me out. The pain of everything, mainly what he didn’t do, was so deep in my soul. I was bitter and angry. Little did I know that while my heart was growing cold from the pain, so was his.
I Realized I Was Looking at Everything One-Sided
As women, we tend to see things one-sided, usually me-centered. I’ll explain. For years, my prayers were always about how my husband made me feel, what I wanted, what he did wrong, and me telling God how I thought he should be as a husband. Very few times did I take the time to think about his heart or how I had made him feel with my replies and gestures.
Truth is, I wasn’t a good wife. I lacked in kindness and gentleness and constantly thought only about how I felt—never his feelings. Eventually I was even angry at God. I thought he loved Felix more than me, because how could he possibly bless a husband that isn’t praying or doing things like leading his home…after all, I was the one praying with the kids at night, not him. Oh boy, did God have so much to work on with me!
I was deeply hurt, but so was he. Although I prayed and fasted for years, it reached a point where I just couldn’t believe that we could recover from the pain and hurt. I lost my faith, our marriage felt dead, and it was now sucking the life out of us. I prayed for God to give me the green light to call it quits, to walk away and rebuild our individual lives, hopefully happily without each other.
But one day, right there in the middle of my desperate pleas, when I had no more to give, when I could no longer fight, I surrendered it all to God. I can still remember that day, sitting at church realizing I could no longer hold this weight on my shoulders. What was God’s response? One that only he can accomplish. Not immediately, (heck, it felt like forever at the time) but God came in and did what only he can do when all is dead. He came and began to restore hope and love, bring forgiveness, and give life to a marriage we considered over.
It took some time, but over the next few weeks and months the Lord began to work in me and on my faith. He showed me that my faith had taken a hard hit, it was deeply wounded, and though I loved him and trusted him, I was only trusting him with areas I had decided to…the ones I believed still had hope. He began to reveal to my heart that I couldn’t truly say I trusted him if I wasn’t giving him all areas of my life, including my marriage. I love God, so to hear him say such a thing, “that I wasn’t truly trusting him,” hurt me a lot.
I knew there was no way I could please God without faith, and the truth was I had faith, I just didn’t have or want to have faith for my marriage; it hurt too much! And that’s where he began, with me handing over my marriage and building the courage to believe that he could do a good thing! Soon I believed not only can he do a good thing, but he can do a new thing, something neither my husband or I ever knew before. I worked on my faith, my attitude, and my prayer life alone. Until one late night, while hosting some friends over who are also married, my husband began to open up on how scary things had gotten. That day was the beginning of his journey.
God began to reveal to my heart that I couldn’t truly say I trusted him if I wasn’t giving him all areas of my life, including my marriage.
We Were Both Fighting For Our Marriage Now
God began to show him issues and emotions he had deep within his heart that he ignored for years. He began to express how much my words and actions over the years had harmed him as a man. Most importantly, he was also able to see that his relationship with Christ was wounded and not where it needed to be. We knew we were at rock bottom, it was all out in the open before our friends; now the difference was that I knew this was exactly where God wanted us, this was where he was going to begin something new. I now had hope, and I could almost feel it in my skin that the Lord was up to something.
Felix wasn’t convinced yet. Heck, after that initial meeting he felt anger, pain, frustration, and doubt more than ever; he just couldn’t hide it anymore. God placed amazing friends in our lives that season who vowed to pray, fast, and fight for our marriage. No seriously, they didn’t even ask; they made it their own personal mission to fight along with us and do whatever it took to see things change.
That’s exactly what they did, week after week they came over, prayed, fasted, worshipped, barely keeping their eyes open on some late nights until we finished crying, yelling, and sharing our hearts. It was the biggest blessing at the time. That was the real beginning of the rest of our lives. We fought, we cried, but we believed God was removing the old and bringing in the new. New ways, new habits, new structures, and new truth to our story.
God Can Restore Your Broken Marriage, Too
Yes, there are a lot more details to the story, but my point is not to share with you the magical keys of restoring your marriage or how to deliver your marriage from failure. There is no one formula; restoration won’t ever look the same for you as it did for me.
What I do want you to know and be sure of as you read this is that there was an imperfect couple that made mistakes for years, that thought there was nothing good left in their marriage, and they almost let selfishness win, but God came in and did a new thing.
That same God can do it for you!
I want you to know if you are facing a challenging time, your marriage is not too far gone. That no matter how much hell has succeeded in hurting your marriage, God is always on top! That no matter how impossible it may seem, how lost it may be, how much pain has been felt, God can breathe life into what was dead! God wants to save your marriage as much as he did mine, but he wants to be the center of it, too. Don’t lose faith!
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Marriage Matters: Here’s How to Invest in Yours – 062!