Life-Changing Marriage Advice

Marriage Couple

Ask anyone who’s been married for over 25 years and they’ll tell you that marriage is rewarding, but it’s not always easy. Over the years we deal with a number of issues that take their toll on us. Difficult in-laws, financial stress, sick children, renovations, and unemployment are just a few of the things that can drag us down, and often they do.

Two of the biggest problems that young couples face are these:

1) Our expectations are off

2) We’re expecting our spouse to make us happy

Our financial expectations were sky high when Michael and I got married. He was earning $7.00/hour and I was earning less. We bought a handy man’s special assuming that we could fix up the old character home, but once I lost my job, we were barely getting by on his wage alone.

“Don’t Pay a Cent” events were appealing to us. I could have a house full of furniture and not pay a cent until 1991? Wow! We were sold on that until we realized that time flies when you have debts to pay.

This is only one example of how our expectations were off, but over the years we discovered yet more in both our surroundings and our personal flaws.

Through all of it–the good, the bad, and the ugly–there was one important lesson we learned. It’s vital and life changing to those who finally get it:

Happiness doesn’t come from your spouse–it comes from a Christ-centered life.

Looking to the scriptures, we see verse after verse reminding us that our strength comes from God. Those that wait on Him are refreshed. Our surroundings can never give us that feeling of joy, peace, and contentment that a life in Jesus Christ can.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

On his death bed, my father was barely 80 pounds. He was riddled with tumors in his brain and his lungs. Too weak to speak, he pulled Mom in close and gave her a smile that reminded us all how she was the wife of his youth. Over the years, he had learned the important lesson that joy comes from a life that is abandoned to Christ. As a result, he spent his last days on earth with arms raised to heaven. Not a word of complaint.

So how do you get it? How do you move from a life of discontentment and sorrow to one that is spilling over with joy?

Like the song says (and believe me I know because my dad sang it to us 24/7) you turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of this world will grow dim.

Day by day, teach yourself to refocus. In EVERYTHING give thanks because in doing so we learn to trust God and see His hand at work in our lives.

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht

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Written by Darlene Schacht

I'm an Evangelical Christian whose number one priority is to serve Jesus Christ in every area of my life. My husband Michael and I live in Manitoba Canada. Married 25 years, we have four children (three still at home), a bird and two pugs who are everyone's babies, especially mine! Our lives are basically surrounded with three things: our faith, music and everything books. I’m an award winning and New York Times best-selling author who is nothing without the grace of God. Facebook: timewarpwife Twitter: timewarpwife Pinterest: timewarpwife

28 Comments

  1.  avatar

    Amen, Darlene!

    Absolutely the BEST advice we ever received and followed was: “Stop looking to your spouse to meet your needs. He/She will NEVER be enough for you.”

    I blogged about this on my bride’s blog (Amy Joe Jim Bob): Loving the Unlovable.

    This is a truth we had to learn after we were married; we’re devoted to sharing this truth with our children before they marry, so they can avoid some of the mistakes we made.

    Thanks for posting.

  2.  avatar
    Judy says:

    Great article!! Good advice!! Your statement, “Happiness doesn’t come from your spouse–it comes from a Christ-centered life”, is so true. With the divorce rate so high, even among Christians, it sure tells us what is not happening. We need to get our priorities in order and all else will work its self out. So work on your relationship with the Lord, make it a priority!

  3.  avatar
    Suzanne says:

    Shouldn’t I have an expectation of faithfulness of my husband of more than 40 years? If I can’t rely on him for happiness, I certainly have found the depths of despair.
    We have been in counceling and have found Retrouvaille, which is helping, but I have never suffered like I have during the past 9 months. I always thought I had a strong Faith, and I have been trying to find healing through Christ.

    • Suzanne, I’m so sorry to hear about your suffering. I just paused to pray for you. A husband should definitely be a source of happiness, and it’s unfortunate in those situations when one or the other is not. But the point in all of this is that when the source of our joy comes from Christ we have the assurance that He will never fail us. We can lean on Him with all certainty that His love won’t fail. Life will always throw an unexpected curve ball our way. In some cases it’s as devastating as mental illness in which case a spouse isn’t capable of loving as he or she once did. When we are truly grounded in faith we have a Savior to lean on and a source from which to draw strength.

  4.  avatar
    Chris says:

    So close but so far away. Don’t get me wrong. I was raised and still honor the Catholic practice and respect of the Holy Trinity. But, I’m sorry to say, you miss a fundamental point. It is the 21st century. While God is fundamental, He too understands His limitations. You speak of “don’t pay a cent programs” and “unemployment.” Neither existed in 6 BC. We can’t blame nor rely on our Lord in that regard. Strength in each other. Find that, and we are talking together, not down at each other.

    • While I see what you’re saying, I couldn’t disagree more. God doesn’t have limitations. He holds the universe in His hands. Whether it’s the 21st century or 6 BC, were’ told in scripture that He’s the same God yesterday today and forever. As far as don’t pay a cent programs, I think you miss the point. Having God pay a financial debt for you wouldn’t solve a long-term problem, but having a God that equips you with wisdom will. The same principle can be applied through the ages. Lean on God for wisdom and strength. It’s in Him that we find joy. And yes, we can rely on the Lord in that regard. But if you’re looking at this simply with a financial focus, you’ve missed the point.

  5.  avatar
    Brian says:

    Having a wife who has an uncontrolled temper who flies off the handle at virtually nothing, and having a wife who puts a stop to intimacy by putting her hand on top of mine and pressing down to keep it from wandering, and pulling away from me during attempts at intimacy was a major source of unhappiness. My marriage died at the 20 year mark. It takes more than God being at the center of one’s life.

    • Your comment should only reinforce the point. If we rely on others for our happiness or if we rely on our situations we will face disappointment at some point.

      God’s love never fails, and His grace is sufficient.

      But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

    •  avatar
      Sabeth says:

      Brian, you’re absolutely right about a marriage needing two engaged people to be a happy one. You can still be personally victorious in your walk if you choose to be a faithful spouse, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will be happy or that your marriage will thrive. And it also doesn’t mean that you should be forced to remain in a godless marriage, since Scripture does give room for legitimate divorce. It’s a shame that so many Christians think that one spouse should just continue to endure abuse, adultery, addiction, etc., all in the name of “unconditional love.” :( Sometimes God’s deliverance of a victim from an abuser is the best thing to ever happen to them, and part of His good plans for their future.

  6.  avatar
    Tamara says:

    This is great advice, yet hard to practice and believe! My husband is a “Christian,” yet he has created illusions, accusations and foolish assumptions about me and continues to reject and push me away without just cause. No adultery has been committed in anyway; yet he has created this thought in his mind that I have had “wandering eyes.” As a result, he wants a separation. Hard to love and respect this man and even hope for reconciliation. I hold onto hope for reconciliation because my soul is at stake and I know that this man is wrong in his assumptions and false accusations!

  7.  avatar
    Liabby says:

    In 2006 my husband committed adultery, leaving our two kids and me. I went through a horrible depression and an unwanted divorce, but the Lord was always with us….even when it didn’t feel like it. God does not waste pain. ALL things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. My relationship with Him is so much more real and strong now, and I continue to learn and grow. My ex-husband is still rebelling against the Lord and making himself miserable, but the Lord actually uses the painful circumstances to help my kids and me grow emotionally and spiritually…even as we hurt for him. One of the things that helped me get over the pain of divorce was Divorce Care (see divorcecare.org). It’s a 13-week Bible based program. If I ever DO remarry, I plan to work at my marriage and seek advice from godly people. Meanwhile, I want to be a godly encouragement to those around me. We have so much we can learn from scripture and from each other. I am grateful for your blog and for other sources of information that encourage us to walk with the Lord and not lose heart. Blessings!!!!

  8.  avatar
    Eric says:

    Great article. I’ve read some of your others and they were great as well. Marriage is tough and it’s great to have guidance and it to be scripture based. Thanks for writing and helping Gods children.

    My wife and I were separated about a year ago and 5 months later we were working on our marriage again. I was so happy! Things got better and then started going back to where they were. I love my wife very much but I have anger/verbal abuse issues. Altough we always said divorce wasn’t in our vocabulary and didn’t believe in in, we are now in the midst of a divorce. However it isn’t final yet. I have been going to counseling and I’m hopeful we will get back together in the future. It’s tough because she says she loves me but this isn’t a healthy relationship. Which I agree with. I never made God my first love and my center. I never put all my trust in him. I believe he has striped many things away in my life lately to help me to see this. I pray that my wife can see me in a new light, our marriage is reconciled and her hope for us and me is restored.

  9.  avatar
    Cass says:

    This article is great for marriages BUT even more so for LIFE in general! It is only a Christ centered life that we can find any hope in this life and I praise God daily for the joy that is only found in Christ! Thanks for this great reminder!

  10.  avatar
    Joy says:

    My husband and I have been married for 9yrs this past wensday… He told me the day after our anniversary that we are not working and hes moving out after the holidays he did this last feb as well. He said neither if us are happy and are constantly arguing… We have 3sons and sometimes over whelming financial burdens that sometimes bring me down but i can look to the posotive while the cars broken down we are still alive and healthy, still have a roof over our heads, food and amenities, were still together and still in love… This is what i tell him when hes down and is easy to anger.. He has been turning away from me yes ive noticed but i was not unhappy i chose to be happy no matter what life throws at us or me as an individual.. He does not believe in god in anyway and it breaks my heart seeing him suffer in this way.. Hes told me he dsnt have feelings at all just pressing through. Hes so depressed and over worked and now wants to leave me says he sees me give in when it comes to arguing i dnt fight back. He said there is nothing wrong with me that he just dsnt deserve me. I dont know what to do… Ive prayed and prayed for his heart,body and mind… I only fear he will sink even farther into self loathing and hate if he does choose to leave. Seeking advice

    •  avatar
      Rachael says:

      Hi Joy, I feel for what you are going through and I am going through something similar. I believe that it could be the financial burden and work that is keeping your husband depressed. You can try reading this to understand why a depressed man would want to leave in the link below. When a man is stressed and feels that he is unable to make his wife happy, he would feel that he doesn’t deserve her.

      My husband told me the same thing as well, is depressed and wants to leave me and my 3 yr old. The only thing we can do is to continue to pray for them. I am holding on to Proverbs 3:5-6 ”
      Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
      and do not lean on your own understanding.
      In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      and He will make straight your paths.” Hope this helps you Joy.

      http://www.storiedmind.com/men-depression/the-longing-to-leave-2/

  11.  avatar
    Brenda Rios says:

    Darlene,
    I served the Lord before I married and when I met my husband, I put God in a box and told him that I will be right back. I decided to live the life my husband was living, a non-Christian. I bumped into Jesus every second of my disobedience. My biggest flaw was my big mouth. I repented and confessed and my husband hated my transformation back. He lied, cheated, verbally, physically retaliated against me. BUT GOD, the holy spirit and Jesus took over after I surrendered. My price for my disobedience was, I lost my job, house, car, friends and paid no one while unemployment. My debt disappeared, sand I didn’t even know that it was God.I lived in a house for 4 yrs alone while my husband decided he will be a husband when he felt like it. But I read my bible and read and read. My husband thought he was getting a upper hand in me for I was so looking for happiness in him, BUT GOD showed me that my joy comes from Him within. I stomped and fought the holy spirit but gave in at the end. One hour ago my husband tried to put me in place and I felt nothing but the love of Jesus standing by me saying” let him go, he will be back. So I danced, prayed and cried. Cause I really don’t feel defeated at all by my husband right now. And NOW, I see ur article and I started laughing. For those who don’t truely believe that u can dance in a storm with Jesus, has not let go the unforgiveness. God extends forgiveness to us freely through Jesus. So we need to take it and use it b4 U lose it. I forgiven my husband of all a LONG time ago and he always comes home crying. Jesus is making such an impact in his life that, I would need a new dress for every victory dance. I will be dancing with him and Jesus a lot more than 25 yrs because of my happiness in Jesus. Be blessed Darlene. The truth is the Truth anyway u put it.

  12.  avatar
    Jane says:

    My husband of over 30 years tells me that he does not know if he loves me. He is cold, angry, and mean to me on a daily basis. He claims to be a believer. Behind closed doors he is a different person. I feel beat down from the mental and emotional abuse…I understand that my happiness doesn’t come from him but my relationship with Jesus…the Lord is my strength but yet I feel really drained.

    •  avatar
      Lynn says:

      Jane, your husband maybe going through MidLife Crisis or andropause. There’s an author Jed Diamond which explains what men and wives go through at this stage of life. He has a book called Mr. Mean helps understand mens mood swings, anger,blaming their wives for things etc. Helps wives alot to understand.Hope this helps.

  13.  avatar
    Michelle says:

    I feel you guys…I cannot shake the emotional damage I am suffering from after learning of my husband’s emotional infidelity to NUMEROUS women. Emails, phone records; he even wrote in one email that he imagined “her” as his wife! That all he did was eat, sleep, and think about her! How I wish I never saw those words! They talked for one call over 256 mins! Who does that?! And I am supposed to get over this and act like I love him? He says I was intimately detached from him and that he was just going through a “dark period” in his life. He said these women meant nothing. That it was all just him spitting “game” at them. I am devastated and feel foolish every time I have a relapse of thought over this. I hate the fact I can’t get over it and make him feel like the MAN he desires to feel like! I wish we didn’t have children…I would be SO gone! I’ve kept myself up, after 4 children. I’ve maintained the home. Yeah, God through me a doosie with this one. Worst pain EVER!

  14.  avatar
    Bfaithful says:

    After being married for 13 years, and unfortunately suffering for many of them, I have just come to the following conclusion. I can no longer trust my husband with my heart. He can have my body, I will care for him, show him love (in my actions), submit in all things, and all that good stuff, but I can no longer hope for a good marriage (or expect him to love and cherish me). While I know how insane that sounds, I can find no better solution (1Cor 7:29-31). My question for you is, does that raise any red flags for you or is this maybe a wise choice? My dissapointment has become a distraction to me, and since I have dedicated my life to His service, I have no more time to waste. Of course I could also leave him, but I’m one of the few who believe marriage is a covenant that only death dissolves… God help us

  15.  avatar
    Grace says:

    I seam to have a similar but different to Tamara. My husband is not a ” Christian ” but, I am. My faith and trust in the Lord is absolute. He admits we both have changed. I know that he doesn’t like the Christian in me but, I refuse to change for him. I would lay my life down for Christ just like He has done for us. Christ come first in my life. Husband is second. Last summer we had a terrible argument. I said some things I didn’t mean. One particular thing I said was ” I am not IN LOVE with you anymore”. He took that as I do not love him anymore which of coarse is untrue. I told him the difference of being in love with some one and loving some one. I have tried to explain, take back, apologize and do everything I can possibly do. I told him that he has to forgive and forget to move on but, he still holds that against me. Also we do nothing together and that’s the way its been for the past few years. We grew apart, simple as that. Now he doesn’t even want to try at the marriage and don’t care about it anymore. A few days ago he mentioned about going our own ways and even divorce. I am disabled and cannot afford to live without him. Being disabled has put a huge damper on activities that we used to do. However has not stopped him. He goes out and does those thing whit friends and leaves me home alone. That’s the way my live has been these last several years!

  16.  avatar
    Amy says:

    Hi! I have been married for 11 years now. We both are ‘Christians’. However, the last 9 years my husband has been abusive to me. As a result, I get upset easily and make rash decisions. I had him arrested 3 weeks ago and now he cant have any contact with me or our 3 children. We both have filed for custody of the kids. I do not want a divorce but I am afraid for my life and now see the damage it has done to our kids. A friend says God can work a miracle in our family, which I agree with. But, I think a separation is a good thing right now. Is this Godly? I feel every decision I make will be the wrong one. Especially when it is true, my husband holds my heart before Jesus holds my heart. Please pray for us!!

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