By Brittany Rust, Crosswalk.com
Growing up, I remember watching romance movies and thinking, why are they making love so difficult? Just go to that person, apologize, and makeup. Live happily ever after you’re obviously meant to live. Boy, was I naive. I’m nearly five years into marriage and let’s be honest — marriage is the absolute hardest thing to do in this world. What starts as fun and romantic can turn to bickering and stonewalling.
No one escapes the difficulties of marriage; they all have ups and downs. Even seasons when you’re not quite sure if you’re going to make it. For many, even though divorce is a bad word, the thought of it crosses our minds at the darkest of moments.
I used to imagine I’d be a patient, gracious, and loving wife. That I’d be the kind of spouse that made marriage easy. Yet again, I was so naive. Because what I didn’t see in those movies were real life and my own sinful nature. If I’m being really honest, I haven't been the wife I imagined. I’ve been selfish, proud, and reacted poorly more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve stonewalled and retreated, snapped out of anger, and been unkind.
If we aren’t diligent, those mistakes can snowball into a barren marriage. Two people living in a home, like ships passing in the night—near but not seen.
8 Bible Truths for an Unhappy Marriage
If you’re reading this, you've likely been there, are there, or prepare for days ahead. Days when you don’t like your spouse. Days when you don’t feel like talking, let alone forgiving. Moments when you're so hurt or angry that checking out seems like an option. Days when you’re not sure your marriage is going to make it.
For those days, I have eight thoughts I want you to remember. Eight truths I want you to carry with you in those dark days.
1. God Can Heal, No Matter How Impossible Reconciliation Seems
It may seem that the hurt and distance is too far to come back from, but neither is impossible for God to restore. In fact, that’s what He does best: redeem. When you surrender to His working and pray for His healing, God can go to work in even the direst situation. If He can conquer death, which He did, then He can bring that same victory to your marriage.
Go to Him daily in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, and invite Him into the relationship. Even if all seems lost—there’s still hope in His hands.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes’.” Mark 9:23
2. Pray for Your Spouse and Marriage
Prayer is often lost in the busyness but it’s one of the most important things you can do. When you pray, things happen.
It’s hard to see victory without prayer so bring your marriage to the Lord daily. Pray for healing and reconciliation; invite Him to help you be more patient and kind; ask God to work in your spouse’s heart.
A devotional I highly recommend is The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Husband, both by Stormie Omartian.
"In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears." Psalm 18:6
3. Love Is an Action, Not a Feeling
There will be days you don’t feel love for your spouse or even like them. But love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action. It’s something you are called to have for everyone, and that is particularly true for your spouse.
The honest truth is, every marriage will have days that are harder than others. And most will see days when love seems distant. But every marriage that has stood the test of trial and time is a marriage that fought for love even when there was no emotion for it. Action kicked in and love endured.
Even when you don’t feel like showing your spouse love, do it anyway. It can be the very thing that helps turn the tide.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4. Adopt Forgiveness
Forgiveness is key in any relationship. We all say careless words in passing or make selfish decisions that hurt those we love most. And your spouse has or will likely do this to you. When this happens, adopt forgiveness.
In those hard seasons, we want to withhold forgiveness until our spouse has made right on the hurt we feel. And over time, our own lack of forgiveness builds a hard wall around both hearts. One of the best ways to soften a heart is to forgive. No matter how often you must.
Jesus said in Matthew 18 that there is essentially no cap on forgiveness. Peter asked if forgiving seven times was enough, but Jesus responded to forgive seventy-seven times. When your spouse has hurt you, remember to forgive quickly. Even is they don’t ask for it, forgive. And do it often.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14
5. Show Empathy
Empathy goes a long way in a relationship. If I’m one hundred percent honest with you, this can be hard for me. I’m an Enneagram eight and if you know anything about an eight, vulnerability is hard and we want to fix the problem. So letting my guard down and empathizing is work for me. I’m not great at it but I strive to grow in this area because I see how valuable it is not just in marriage but in all relationships.
Jesus always showed great empathy. When He saw the people as sheep without a shepherd, He went to them (Matthew 9). When He saw the sick and hurting, He healed them all (Matthew 8). When Jesus saw the Samaritan woman—a person Jews would avoid—He went to her because He knew she was worthy of being seen (John 4).
Remember in the hard times that your spouse is hurting too—not just you. Pain causes us to draw in but you’re most like Jesus when you press in with love. When you love the unlovable.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8
6. Remember Your Vows
This is basic but it’s powerful.
Over time, with the hardships and pains that come with life, what you shared in the beginning fades. You forget how fun you use to have together. The wonderful memories you made. You even forget the vows you once made to one another.
Pull out the vows you wrote to your spouse, or watch your wedding ceremony video. And remember the commitment you made to one another. Remember how you started out with fierce loyalty to each other—in the good and the bad—and renew your commitment to the marriage.
Perhaps even consider reading your vows to one another again.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:7-9
7. Be Willing to Work Hard
No lasting marriage has ever been easy. In fact, if you were to ask most people who are still married into their golden years, they’d probably say there were days they didn’t know if their marriage would make it.
You will never make it to the end unless you’re willing to do the hard work. To fight your emotions and do the right thing. To forgive and endure and show empathy. You’ll have to fight spiritual battles over your marriage with prayer and God’s Word.
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36
8. Seasons Don’t Last Forever
There is a season for everything—that’s what Solomon shared at the end of his life. After his abandonment of the Lord and, it appears, his first marriage, he reflected on the emptiness of chasing after his own desires.
In those darkest days in a marriage, you may imagine a life apart from your spouse. But what Solomon essentially said is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Find the purpose in the season and know that this time won’t last forever.
There are so many various seasons in life and marriage. There will be dark days but there will also be beautiful days. If you will commit to the hard work marriage requires, you’ll come out of the hard season. And on the other side of that hard season is a love stronger than the love you had before.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
More Scriptures about Marriage
Proverbs 19:14 ESV - House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
1 Peter 3:7 ESV - Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Proverbs 18:22 ESV - He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.
Genesis 2:24 ESV - Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV - Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, ...
1 Peter 4:8 ESV - Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 31:10 ESV - An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
Psalm 85:10 ESV - Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/People Images
Brittany Rust has a passion to see people impacted by the power of God’s Word and His abundant grace through writing and speaking. She is the founder of Truth and Grace Ministries, Truth x Grace Women, and is the author of five books. Brittany lives with her husband, Ryan, and son, Roman, in Castle Rock, Colorado. Learn more at www.brittanyrust.com.