I recently had a cold that dragged on for a solid two weeks. When I was nearing the finish line, I remarked to my husband that I was amazed (and a bit ashamed) how few days it took of countless tissues and coughing that I began to wonder, “Will I ever feel better again?” Or half-sardonically thought, “I don’t even remember what feeling healthy is like.”
When you’re in the throes of something miserable, it’s hard to imagine the misery dissipating. Or to grasp onto hope for health/wholeness/happiness being restored.
In the case of my cold, I eventually got better (although that’s not to say sniffles aren’t already recirculating in my home … #tistheseason). But it amazes me how quickly pain and discomfort can make hope feel elusive—even for small things like colds. How much more in the biggest of things, like a hurting marriage, will holding on to hope take fighting for truth?
Remembering truth when your marriage is on the rocks
Like the body you live in, marriage is all-encompassing to life. The Bible describes married people as being “one flesh” (see Genesis 2:24)—so if your marriage is on the rocks, you are probably not okay.
That makes sense, but don’t lose heart. Here are four truths to remember . . .
1. No marriage is static.
Marriage isn’t like a beautiful glass sculpture, crafted on your wedding day, that can’t be repaired once cracked or shattered. It’s more like a fire that needs tending and stoking. Yes, sometimes the smoke stings your eyes or the embers peter out if neglected. You may even get a burn that leaves a scar.
Your marriage may be on the rocks right now. It may have been for a while. Marriage changes year by year, sometimes hour by hour. It’s a system of two dynamic people, who grow and stumble. Maybe the pain has all but erased the memory of what health and wholeness felt like or drained any hope for improvement to the dregs. Wherever your marriage is today, it’s not a permanent state.
2. Things can change.
Your marriage may not be okay right now, but like my seemingly unending cold, with some intentional TLC (and by God’s grace), it can be okay again. Things can change.
A few years ago, there were some unhealthy relational patterns happening in my household. I was so discouraged by the way my weaknesses were exacerbating family members’ weaknesses and certain interactions became unbearable messes. A counselor helped me recognize some of the triggers and dynamics going on that were contributing to these recurring explosions. And I began to take steps to change what I could: myself.
I began to rehearse calming techniques outside of tense moments and memorize simple scripts to buy myself time to respond in love instead of fear and anger. I continued talking with my counselor about certain baggage that made these interactions difficult for me (that had little to do with the other person). I focused my attention during conflicts toward maintaining self-control rather than controlling the other person or merely reacting to whatever they did.
Things began to change, BUT . . .
3. It takes time.
Change takes time. Personal change takes time and changing a marriage on the rocks takes even longer.
I remember lamenting to my counselor when I was finally able to change my piece of the cycle, but I still received the same response in return. I’d been working so hard, I was hoping the whole problem would be solved. But I had to leave time for everyone else to catch up and to feel safe enough to explore healthier ways of relating.
As you begin to change your part, the dynamic of your relationship can’t help but change. But it might not be at the pace you’d like. Celebrate even the smallest successes and keep focusing on the pieces you can control (namely, yourself).
4. God is able.
Most importantly, the truth to remember when your marriage is on the rocks is that God is able. If marriage were an irreplaceable glass sculpture that shattered upon impact, God could resculpt it with one word. More often than not, He chooses to work slow and steady in the hearts of men and women to build and rebuild a glowing fire between them.
Marriage is hard. Two far-from-perfect people journeying through a broken, but beautiful, world together—it seems crazy to some.
But God. God is able to sustain, kindle, revive, renew, and recreate when needed.
NOTHING is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). No person and no marriage are too hard for God to change. And He will be with you every step of the way.
Copyright © 2021 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Laura Way serves with FamilyLife as a writer and lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband, Aubrey, and their two vibrant young daughters. She and Aubrey lived in East Asia for seven years until relocating unexpectedly a couple years ago. She enjoys writing about becoming more fully human while sojourning through different places, seasons of life, and terrains of mental and spiritual health at hopeforthesojourn.com.