Hope for a Dying Marriage

Hope for a Dying Marriage

Drawn from my archives

Are you past hope in restoring your marriage? I know that some of you think you are, but are you sure about that?

What about a marriage that’s dead? What if there’s nothing left for either partner? Is all hope gone?

What if you’re struggling to the point where you feel like giving up? What if you both are?

Consider this piece of scripture. It’s pretty cool, so read closely.

John chapter 11 gives us an account of Lazarus, brother to Mary and Martha. When their brother fell sick they sent word to Jesus to come and see him. Verse 11 tells us that when Jesus heard his friend was sick, He waited two days before leaving. Two days.

Why? We’ll get to that soon.

So He waited two days to go see him. And what we read in verse 14 is rather curious. We discover that Jesus knew very well by this time that Lazarus was dead.

When Jesus finally got to Bethany (only about two miles away), Lazarus had been dead for four days.

Martha rushed out to meet him. She believed that Jesus could have healed him. They all believed that, so why didn’t He?

This was the question that seemed to be on everyone’s lips, “Why?”

Approaching the tomb, Jesus asked that they roll away the stone, but they had some hesitation. After being dead four days, the stench would be horrific. But nevertheless they obeyed His command.

Once the stone was rolled away, Jesus prayed to the Father and then we’re told, “He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” – John 11:43-44

Now let’s address that question, why? Why did Jesus wait so long before going to see His beloved friend?

Jesus could have saved everyone the trouble and the heartache they went through, by healing Lazarus before he passed away. But He clearly chose a different path.

Here’s the way I see it… He had compassion on his friends, but at the same time He wanted to teach them. He wanted them to grow in understanding. He wanted them to bear witness to something greater than anything this world has to offer – His resurrecting power.

When Lazarus walked out of that tomb, there was no mistaking God’s glory. This couldn’t be chalked up to coincidence, or luck. Jesus holds the power of life and resurrection. We are never past hope until God says He’s done.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: – John 11:25

A broken marriage is an opportunity for God to display His resurrecting power. Don’t refuse to roll back that stone. I don’t care what kind of stench lies behind it–God’s power is greater than any mistakes you have made.

It doesn’t matter if a marriage has been dead for ten days or ten years. Jesus holds the power of life and death.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

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  • Amber Paulsen

    This is a phenomenal article, Darlene! So neat that you used the story of Lazarus to relate to our marriages. We had some times in the past (my husband and I) when things were hard. So it helps to have this perspective. To know that God is glorified through the hard stuff. We can share our story for God’s glory and to help others. I love your insight and the verses you shared. Praying for you, your family and ministry. God’s blessings, peace, protection, strength, guidance. Be blessed!

    • JessicaMm1

      I meant a friend who directed me to spell caster called Papa online who help people to solve their relationship and marriage problems. I was really skeptical before i wrote to him and he told me not to worry about anything, that i should give him a day for him to cast a spell for me and after 2 days i was really surprised my ex called me and started begging for me to take her back . That is how my ex came back to me and she no longer think of other people, but me and me alone and am happy my money was not wasted. Write Papa on orkstarspell @ gmail. com……..

  • carrieb

    Lazarus was dead … mine is very much alive in a new role as a transgender person. Not that God couldn’t change this, but after 3 years (of our 19) living with it, I’m glad to be out and experiencing freedom to be growing into the person God made me to be.

    • Tanny

      Really. God created you and you sought to change (by becoming god) as a transgender. God made you perfect, not for you to change according to your desires.

    • SarBear

      CarrieB, I’m on the same sort of journey, and God DOES provide freedom for people married to unrepentant spouses — may He be praised! This devotional is still a good word for many dead marriages but I think that Darlene recognizes there are some that God actually ALLOWS to die for the sake of protecting one member. Walking in glorious freedom just as you are thankful that God not only allowed it but willed it in my life — even thought it’s very hard for many in the church to understand that God sometimes uses divorce to *bless* us with freedom from abuse and continual sin.

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I’m so glad you pulled this one from the archives, Darlene, because this is a truth that needs to be shared. I love how you used the story of Lazarus to illustrate such an important truth in our marriages. I posted recently about having a “Resurrection Faith” because we so often forget the power that our God has to bring life from that which appears to be dead.

    May He continue to fill your cup to overflowing!

  • Rechelle

    I am so glad you posted this article – I pray it will be a blessing to others who are ready to quit working on their marriage. I will tell you as well to never stop praying – NEVER give up. My marriage was in the “tomb” and dead for 6 years out of the 10 we were married due to alcohol and later pornography. I spent that 6 year period in anguish, yes, but also on my knees pleading with God for help at at times literally wailing before Him. I had to learn to let go of controlling the situation and realize that only God could change my husband. Who can save us – man? No, only Christ Himself, so I had to stop trying to do the saving and let Christ deal with my husband. Despite the pain, I pressed on and prayed for my husband and marriage daily. During this time of being purified with fire, I learned to lean on Christ as He was my only refuge and because of that I grew closer to Him and stronger. I am here to tell you that I am glad that I never gave up, because my husband chose Christ this past Easter Sunday. We still have a long road ahead of us, but I can see the evidence of the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life now. He treats me differently, speaks differently, and when he does stumble, he has the Holy Spirit to guide him back on to the right path. For all of those who are reading this post and article I am here to tell you to never give up and lean on Christ with all you’ve got.

    • Stephanie

      Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful testimony! My marriage feels very dead right now, but I’m trusting God for a miracle. Your testimony really encouraged me tonight. Thank you

  • Angelica

    Thank you for this! It is a timely message. Please pray for my husband and our marriage….God is good…and I know He can restore everything that was lost double the portion….Our marriage appears dead (he left in Feb) but our God is able to revive all things…He is waiting and doing a good work in both of us…My husband keeps saying he will disobey God, he does not care, he is choosing himself…but I know God…and I know God will deal with him…and deliver him from captivity!

    • Darlene Schacht

      Angelica, I’m so sorry to read this. If you would like to leave a prayer request on our board, you can find a link up top. This way, others will see your request too.

  • Dee

    i am saddened to say that after 30 years we are starting divorce proceedings because my husband has been in affair for 3 years. He doesn’t want to divorce, he wants me to win him back. I have tried by being nice, encouraging, forgiving and as loving as I could under such horrifically painful circumstances. He has spent at least $20,000 on this relationship, my daughter and I see them together and my heart has been torn into pieces over and over. He sabatoges reconciliation discussions by picking fights. He now blames me for the divorce because I finally filed. When do you say “Lazurus, stay asleep until the Lord comes!”

    • Darlene Schacht

      There is always hope, but that doesn’t mean it’s always wise to continue in a relationship. Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He lets the storm rage while He calms us.

  • GL

    So…every dead marriage will be brought back to life? What if its not? What if the other person continues with their ways? Do you stay forever and ever?

    • Ruth

      After 32 years of pornography and habitual lying I’m making the wise decision to end it, based on much counsel with our pastor who is the one who told me it’s time to cut off the dead limb from your body. There is only constant lying about everything and no remorse. There can be no relationship when there can be no trust. If he ever gets his act together and experiences God, repents and changes his ways, then the Lord can restore. He has had every opportunity and chance and doesn’t want it. I can’t make him want to change, and I can’t make him want me. Its heartbreaking, but God in His infinite wisdom gave us the clause in divorce for “pornea’ for a reason. Sexual sin changes their brains and they no longer live in reality, but in a distorted version of their own making. My husband has said to me, sex by myself with a fantasy ” perfect” woman is better than any sex a woman can provide. So he prefers fast food stale French fries rather than the steak dinner the Lord gave him. He is a cautionary tale of what happens, and a 45 year addiction that he came dragging into our marriage, that he lied about even while we were dating. I wish God had seen fit to restore our marriage, but He also gave my husband free will to turn his back on God.

  • Gary Wilcox

    My wife of 18yrs says she no longer loves me and will never love me again. I have not been the Godly husband and father I should have been. I’ve also had addictions and have made allot of mistakes but I do love her and want to be the man of God she deserves. I want our marriage to be healed and bring glory to God but I feel so lost and unsure of even what to do. We are currently separated and she refuses to goto counseling or to have anyone try and change her mind. I pray for the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to heal and restore.

  • Richie

    My marriage is dead according to my wife. She is done and has no desire for restoration. Her and her Godly mother say “it’s not the end of the world.” Where that might be true I would think God wants to heal us and our marriage but I really don’t understand where God is and if He wants our marriage restored. I believe He can heal it but just don’t know if He will. I wonder if I am going against His plan selfishly. This is a great post and I really appreciate it I just don’t know if it’s for my marriage. God are you there?

  • Jill

    My husband and I have been separated for 4 years. I have prayed for restoration of our marriage and most of all for healing for him. He had a affair with a younger woman and I finally kicked him out of the house. It’s like he had no conscience anymore. They have been separated but I have no communication with him. (He won’t even answer the phone or text) He filed for divorce in January. I still know I serve a living God that restored Lazarus from the dead and their is still hope. Our email …laz was his idea when he became a born again Christian. I continue to pray for him.

  • Jeff

    I don’t mean to sound nasty, but is this your theory or have you lived it? Those of us who have lived marital hell sometimes get really tired of those of the happy marriage camp trying to tell us how to fix our marriages by just having a little more faith or just praying a little more. Don’t tell me there’s always hope unless you have been brought back from the point of living a marriage so broken you saw no hope. My wife of 17 years told me we were done 5 years ago, but with 4 children and 1 income we could not afford a divorce. She refused to go to marriage counselling. I fought for my marriage by going to counselling solo for two years, dissecting myself and taking ownership of my shortcomings. No effect. My wife renounced her faith and wants nothing to do with God. 10 months ago, she confessed to a 3.5 year affair with a now ex-close friend of mine. She ended it because he wouldn’t leave his wife for her and confessed it to me with no remorse, but using me as a “pawn” to put fear in him and to force him to man up and confess to his wife, since he wouldn’t give my wife the relationship she truly wanted from him. I offoffered to try to forgive and reconcile. I was insulted and called “pathetic” and “needy” and told I wasn’t worth a second chance and the only thing she was sorry for was marrying me in the first place. We are living seperately in the same house while she pursues a nursing program and I have been promised a divorce upon her graduation. I have no choice but to stay, though at this pointiI truly believe I’d be a better man without her, but my child support payments would destroy me financially. I’d have to move back with my parents in my mid 40’s. Now, I know God can still work miracles, but sometimes free will wins. If you’ve walked a hell like this and God redeemed your marriage, you are qualified to write posts such as this. If you have not lived a similar hell, then it is just Christian rhetoric and it is sometimes demeaning to a fella like me.

  • Luzbin

    I have read the post, and comments it gives me hope because I know God is good. I have been going through my ups and downs that I see that people have been and far more worse situations.all I have to do is just leave it in God’s hands and pray pray and pray that everything will be ok, but if it doesn’t work out at the end. I know the Lord has something better in store for me. I’m glad I saw this post a friend shared and I’m glad I read it writing about Lazarus was an eye opener thank you so much for this. and to all never lose hope never lose face God will do what he needs to do may the Lord bless each and everyone of you thank you so much……

  • Amber Frank

    God did exactly what he did with Lazarus with our marriage! We were divorced 6 months and I continued to believe God would heal it. Here we are 11 years later we serve in ministry together. I know it was all for his glory and for us to see a miracle!

  • carly trahan

    Praying for my marriage to be healed and restored in Jesus’ name! We have been separated for six months with the intent on working on issues and coming back together. In the mean time my husband has filed for divorce and moved in with another woman. He will not contact me and has changed his phone number. He is a Christian but has strayed away from God. He is using drugs also, and has battled over the years with one addiction or another . He is running from the Lord. He wont even contact or receive calls from his parents. I love my husband and pray that GOD raises my marriage from death! Thank you for these encouraging articles.

  • Emily

    I’m late in responding to this post. Currently, my marriage seems dead. Been separated for about a year and a half (although time does not matter). I’m raising four children alone. But the post is inspired by biblical truth, God’s word. And his word will not return void. We have to read our word and live it. His word in Malachi 2:16 says that God hates divorce. Regardless of what it looks like, we must pray and believe in God’s perfect timing to restore our marriages. It’s a lonely, hard, narrow road, but one day, God will get the glory.

    • Darlene Schacht

      I read James chapter five yesterday which is a huge reminder of the patience of Job and Elijah. James says to take an example from the prophets who were patient in tribulation. Makes me want to dig into the old testament tonight.

  • Tara

    My husband and I will have been married for 5 years on March 5th (together 6 years total). We have been separated twice. The first time was for 1 month and it was about a year after we were married. The second time was a month and a half and it was just this past spring. My husband had such a terrible background and childhood upbringing. I had a wonderful and loving background and childhood upbringing. He has struggled a lot with past baggage. Shortly after we got married i realized that he had lied to me about himself. He was not the person he proclaimed to be and i found out that he did things behind my back that i didn’t approve of…things that i had made very clear (back when we were just dating) that i was not looking for in a spouse. I felt betrayed, and deceived, and disgusted with the lies and the person he had led me to believe that he was. I was looking for someone whom i would be “evenly yoked with.” And when i started to see the truth about my husband i realized that i had not found it in him. I was very angry with myself for being so blind and so naive! I found myself questioning every move he made, every place he went, every phone call. I had lost all trust towards him and i asked myself often if i wanted to go on this way…if our marriage could survive the hurt and deceit. I found myself very bitter towards him and i said things to him that…today i am ashamed of. I made him feel terrible for misleading me every chance i got! For a while, we lived as though we were separated but in the same house. One day, i had a huge break down! I got down on my knees and i prayed to God, “Why? Why do i have to go through this? What did i do to deserve this? I just wanted to be loved! How could I have been so wrong? Lord, show me what to do! We can’t live like this much longer. The children are becoming affected and they know something isn’t right. Give me wisdom, give me a sign to show me what our next step should be.”
    I then went through a stage where i tried to guilt my husband into changing. I didn’t intentionally do it but that’s what it ended up being. Either way, it didn’t work. And it actually resulted in our second separation.
    I’m happy to say that…even though it has been a struggle…we are still moving forward. The more i sought God’s word and wisdom and prayed for peace…the more i got it. And i started to show my husband mercy and forgiveness. And the more i showed him love instead of anger and frustration…the more our relationship started to mend. My husband had several bad habits that we have had to work on. But i have realized that he needs my support and my love and my forgiveness as well as learning to forgive himself. We are getting to a point where we are having more good days than bad. And i’m starting to realize that the man i originally fell in love with is still within him…he just needed love and encouragement to be a better version of himself. And even though he still has some kinks to work out…i’ve realized, so did i. His issues may be more worldly than mine…but i still needed a lot more work spiritually than i originally thought. I have also learned that i cannot change him. Only God can convict him and help him to change. Not me. The only thing i can do is love him and be there to encourage him when he falls and let him know where my faith stands. In our lifetimes, Jesus has shown us mercy, grace and most importantly…forgiveness and love. We need to be more like Jesus. I needed to show my husband that i was not going to be like his family and friends from his past…i was not going to abandon him. It took me awhile to understand…but eventually God gave me clarity. Our relationship is better now than it has been since we were first married. I would also like to point out that i am very lucky that my husband chose to want to change…for God, for our family and for himself. We are slowly making progress…but progress is progress and i thank God for every day that we both choose to move forward.

  • Donna

    Where to start….I believe God can heal and redeem anything and anyone…what I don’t understand is why sometimes He chooses not to, or allows one or the other spouse to stray and completely refuse all hope.
    My marriage is ending after 27 turbulent years, 5 kids and 4 grandkids.
    my husband left me nearly 3 years ago, moved down the road and said he’s through.
    Off and on during these years, I’ve gone through anger, forgiveness and back to anger and disappointment.
    At times he’s been kind, leading me to believe he was near a change of heart and mind, and at others, he’s been cruel and hateful, leaving me no room for hope in reconciliation.
    We got married a year after having our first child and living together through the pregnancy and first year of his life. We had many rough times but stayed the course. We susequently had 4 more children and became Christians and joined church when our oldest was 5. But, by the time our oldest was in his late teens, our marriage had deteriorated to my husband deciding he didn’t want me, nor love me and that by the time our last was 18, the marriage would end.
    That led to bitterness and anger and many yelling matches and arguments, as he refused all intimacy and even slept on the couch for the last 10 years of our marriage.
    I pleaded, I begged for love, begged for him to go to church with me, to pray, to seek counseling. He mostly remained silent, unless I provoked the issue and it never ended up well.
    He now has a girlfriend, which kills me inside, and tells me our marriage never should have happened and we were never meant to be and we’re never friends.
    I’ve prayed for so long to God to change his heart, to change mine…to heal our family but it just hasn’t happened.
    Our kids grew up in a battle zone, the boys watched their father disrespect and abuse me. TTwo of the boys are in and out of jail/prison, with one currently serving 5 yrs. Drugs, abuse and hate and blame of God is where my son’s are.
    I’m now raising 3 of my four grandkids as a single parent, in my 50s starting over, working full time and just heartbroken over what I cannot fix and God has seen fit to allow.
    I love the Lord and know this was all a result of not just my husband’s rebellion and sin but my own. But I find no peace. Even though I know God’s ways are just and perfect, I’m alone, broken hearted, heading to divorce court unwillingly, and I can’t really see how this is ever going to heal.

  • michelle

    Thank you Tara for that story. I have read some pretty detrimental stories on here.. I am not at that point yet…. If anything I am at the beginning of resentment. I pray every day that God fills him with the holy spirit, and we show our children what its like to have a Godly home with a Godly leader. I was able to see my parents pray together, read the bible together and i yern for that. But its hard when only one person wants this while the other participates in sin. I am pretty depressed regarding my situation. He constantly tells me to shut up and puts me down. His anger gets explosive. Please pray for my family.

  • Elaine

    This is so hard, my marriage has been hard work from the beginning even when we were dating we had difficulties (been together for 23yrs, dated 6 married 17) but at least back then I loved him enough to keep trying, the biggest problem was finding out about his porn use. We have both been Christians since childhood, from Christian families! I became aware of it as a major problem over 10yrs ago now. Each time I discovered and he got caught I’ve worked hard (with Gods help) to be understanding, loving, helpful and forgiving. I have a slight disability which makes intimacy difficult or not too frequent (this happened 2yrs into our marriage) and also had baggage with things of a sexual nature because of childhood issues so blamed myself for his needs not being met. However it cracked open & came out 2yrs ago that he has always used porn since his teens, for him this was a breakthrough for me with all the hurt and scars I’m numb yet I’m still here! My husband has changed and is trying, over the past 2yrs he even came and confessed slips which years ago I would have been so pleased he’d said but all it did was bring everything back. I don’t hate him but I don’t love him either. I’ve believed and practiced what you’re saying but now I’m just dead inside. I’ve tried to not let my feelings (or lack of them) dictate my action, I’ve tried making myself act loving, kind to try & guide my feelings but nothing. There is nothing left to the point of being suicidal. What do you do with nothingness! In all this I have 3 boys to consider but I’m so empty I have nothing to offer them and am even shutting off from them! Do I continue till my dying day in this numb emptiness, where I keep getting cut by his slips? I don’t think I can keep doing this, there may be too much harm done.

  • Desperate

    Since my wife has already filed for divorce because I have sinned in our marriage, even though because of my sin I have been broken and reborn; is it too late?
    I would do anything short of sin to save my marriage but my wife thinks it’s was all a lie and wants nothing to do with me?
    Depressed, Desperate & divorcing…

    • Darlene Schacht

      I’m so sorry to hear this. One thing about sin is that while we receive grace and full forgiveness from God, we don’t always receive the same grace and forgiveness from others.

      I pray that God will build a bridge for reconciliation.

  • Greg

    My marriage had the 22 years shockingly came to an end when my wife left our home and took our two children she sought a long-term restraining order and was issued by the court I have a 3 year dvo and my wife is moving out of state to take refuge with her famil. Before this all transpired I was shown The Story of Lazarus at a Catholic Mass and I really never thought about it until three weeks later when an angel ministered to me and I had a dream about The Story of Lazarus as it relates to my marriage when I woke up I immediately felt a sense of joy and comfort for I knew that the message was my marriage was going to end in restoration. The stream happened on a Tuesday and as the Dream held true my wife filed for divorce that Saturday. I knew then that the dream was warning of a death (the divorce) but by the same token there was promise of restoration. I am hanging on to this promise for dear life. I cannot see or text my wife for a period of three years until 2020. She has taken her inheritance early (prodical), abandoned our marriage with no warning, taking me to court with the unbelievers, cut off all communication with her and her family, decreed a Divorce without separation, and taking my only 13 year old son out of state where I cannot physically make contact with him for three years. This is a severe reproach to my abusive behavior. I have turned to the Lord with my whole heart and am repenring of my sins and asking Jesus to restore me and free me from my past behaviors. If any marriage is ripe with stench because of past failures you can see this one does. From all-natural conceived Notions this marriage doesn’t have a chance in hell to survive such devastation or colossal collapse but God is a god of Miracles and it’s our first marriage I love my wife more than life itself and I believe God will show his glory to us to our families and as i will have a testimony to share for the rest of my life. Stay tuned in 2020 and I’ll have the final results. I am waiting on the Lord as he directs my path and purpose.

  • Falisha

    Hello , i have been sitting here reading some of the comments on this post , and I completely relate to how a lot of you all feel at the moment , my husband and I have been married 5 years (would have been 6 years next month ) we dated for alittle over a year before we got married.. he has left myself and his step son two times and just recently left again for the third time a week ago , we are completely heart broken and devastated about it , I need God to reconcile our marriage and to do a miracle on it and bring him home , so if everyone could please remember us in prayer it would be greatly appreciated.