Hope for a Troubled Marriage

Hope for a Troubled Marriage

I had a neighbor once who worked with a mutual friend of ours. For the sake of her privacy, I’ll call our friend “Hannah.”

“I’m heartbroken,” she said, “Hannah is so pretty, but her husband doesn’t pay enough attention to her. She could get any guy that she wants. I told her that she deserves more than all this. She needs to get out and make herself happy.”

I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised to hear that. This mindset is rampant in our society. We live in a culture where people upgrade their smart phones, their computers, their homes, and in many cases—their spouse. Gone are the days when people held to the promise they made to endure till the end.

Shortly after that, Hannah stepped out of her marriage on a quest to make herself happy.

About two years, and two hundred bad choices later, Hannah was left feeling empty. A trail of broken relationships failed to quench the thirst that was burning inside her.

I know what some of you are thinking. Things would be better if she had stayed with her husband. She wouldn’t be feeling so empty if she stayed in that relationship. Her husband is the only one she should be chasing…

But here’s the thing–unless we’re chasing God we’ll always be thirsting for more. If we’re feeling empty we need to draw closer to Christ.

There’s a popular mindset both inside and outside of the church:

“God just wants us to be happy.” It needs to be replaced with “God just wants us to be holy.”

This watered-down, feel-good message does nothing but offer a temporal high. If you want to offer someone a long-lasting sense of peace, encourage them to seek the Lord. If you truly love your friend, introduce them to Christ. You don’t have to pound them over the head with your message, just love them enough to share your faith when you can. Love them enough to live your faith at all times.

“We need to love people,” they say.

We’re not loving people if we’re sending them farther from Christ. If we love people we’ll draw them toward Christ, even if the truth stings more than we want it to.

Marriage is tough. There’s stress and there’s strain, and some days there’s more heartache than we imagined there would be.

Before I go on, I just want to clarify that I’m not talking about physical and mental abuse here. If you are in an abusive relationship, please speak to someone who has the power to give you wise counsel and direction. I’m talking about the hardships that bring us down to our knees in prayer.

Trials are tough, they can tear a marriage apart, or we can grow by them and learn from them.

Here are just a few of many scriptures that encourage us to endure trials with patience and joy.

But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope. – Romans 5:3-4

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. – James 1:2-4

I’ll tell you what happened to Hannah. God didn’t leave her behind. She was challenged to dig into the Bible. At first she did little by little, but after a while she was soaking in all that she could. She had a new outlook on life with a heart that was abandoned to God.

She returned to her husband, they worked on building a Christ-centered relationship, and they’ve had a happy marriage with wonderful children for over twenty years now.

What’s really exciting about all this is that her faith spilled over into her marriage and into the lives of her children.

Faith is contagious. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a life abandoned to Christ.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33


You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

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  • ttoro

    Wonderful truth here. Have faith not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Oh what He can do with willing hearts, what encouragement!

  • Evelyn

    My daughter got married 3 years ago to a narcissist, he was constantly wearing her down, until my once straight A student, was saying I will get Ryan to do it he is smarter. Mr. smarty pants is now being charged for possessing child pornography, and he has her in trouble as well, she lost her job, had to drop out of college, it has even gone so far that he has twisted her moral compass, and in August I should have been a grandmother, but I am not, he gave her the ultimatum. She is convinced she has to stay with him because she took her vows. What is a mother to say or do? I do keep praying.

    • Darlene Schacht

      Evelyn, that’s a very heartbreaking situation. I pray that he will come to repentance and turn away from all of this horrific sin. I don’t know where his heart is at right now–perhaps he has. I hope that they both have faith, and that they will turn to Christ as a central focus in their relationship. As a mom, I would be fervently praying for a heart change.

      • WillRemainAnonymous

        I appreciate your tender heart in this matter… it comes through your writing.

        I do feel, however, as the body of Christ, we are shy to take a matter like this before the male leadership of the church and let them hold this man’s feet to the fire and serve as a shield for this young woman. I can also say most leaders I have met will not call this the abuse that it is and intervene appropriately or give the woman permission to separate to address the abuse at hand. Furthermore, I suspect most evangelical Christian women would feel they were failing to be submissive should they stand up for themselves because even in the church they have been mistaught.

        Gal. 3:28-29 was a life changing verse for me. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” This means that I am on equal footing at the foot of the cross. Women, we must teach this to our daughters. As a daughter of the King, no one, not even our spouses have the right to tread on us or interfere with our relationship with the King.

        One of best things I ever did in my marriage was draw a boundary to protect my heart and relationship with Christ. It took me 16 years into my now 23 year marriage to have the courage to do so, but it was life changing. Now I am certain there are those that will cry a foul and that this is an act of marital defiance, but boundaries demonstrate love otherwise all of that subservience is just enabling the other to continue in sin. I can tell you that this got my spouse’s attention… and that really unsettled him. It was uncomfortable for a while, as I was used to cowering under his tirades and verbal abuse. But as he saw me more and more secure in my identity in Christ, he has become more and more aware of his selfish control over our relationship. I wish I could say he has repented but that would be untrue. But this has been life-giving for me and my relationship with Jesus.

        Having a spouse like that destroys your spirit, your witness, and Christ’s desire to grow you in holiness. You and I will stand ALONE before Christ and give an answer for our relationship with Him. Anyone or anything that separates us, including our spouse, is treading on very precarious territory, as our God is a jealous God who will victoriously fight for us in this (Zeph 3). Too often women are told this cannot be when you are married (under the banner of ‘you are one’) and thus the abusive husband continues to abuse the situation with the wife feeling like she is “obedient” by putting up with the abuse.. and neither grows or develops any fruit for Christ. Call it for what it is and separate from the situation. Cling to Jesus, pray for your spouse and reconciliation, and by God’s grace he will repent and receive back the beautiful gift of his bride… because that is what she is… a gift… not a right or slave or verbal/physical punching bag. This is having a right identity as a woman in Christ. Otherwise no gift…

        My heart hurts for Evelyn and her daughter. Pray and act. Give her permission to act. He must feel the consequence of his sin. Without the burn, there is often no turn…

  • Thiệu-Tiết Parsons

    This very solid point is a timeless reminder for all areas of my life, not just marriage, drawing close to Christ. And the warning of happy instead of holly is needed too.

    One small thing: verses 9 & 10 are in ch. 12 of second Corinthians.

  • Charmaine

    I can appreciate this word today. I pray that one day in the near future I can receive it. I realized at this very moment that I am still very hurt and heartbroken over my husbands affairs( well I consider them more relationships as they were two relationships that lasted several years each) over the course of our 19 year marriage. I don’t have the energy to put the work in that is needed to save this marriage but I don’t feel that it is Gods plan for us divorce. I am just reaching out right now for some prayer to help me understand what God wants for me at this point.

    • Darlene Schacht

      Charmaine, I pray that you will have strong support in your life. I pray for clarity and guidance. I pray for wisdom. I ask God to work in this marriage, bringing restoration. May sin cease to make it’s way into your marriage and may repentance abound. In Jesus name I pray.

  • Andrra

    My husband has moved out and we are looking into divorce. I want to work on our marriage, but he says he is done. I don’t want to beg, but I don’t want to give up either . He won’t seek help with me and has shut me out completely. I pray and pray…

  • Michael Milburn

    After 13 years with my wife, she confessed last January that she had had an affair. She gave me the next 9 months to forgive her and I struggled with this. Finally she had had enough of the lack of love I showed her because of the affair and past drug abuse. She has separated from me and is now having a second affair with someone from the church. We have two small children and she wants a divorce. Please pray for my family.

  • Melissa

    I do have a question. You say that abuse, physical and mental, are not included in the marriage troubles to work through without help. My question is what I’d considered mental abuse? What types of behaviors and words are mental abuse?

    • Darlene Schacht

      I would suggest that if you think you might be suffering from mental abuse, you should speak to someone about it. Someone who can counsel you. Hopefully you have a pastor, and if so, that’s a great place to start.

  • Wayne S

    Well written. I just finished Larry Crabb’s book, The Marriage Builder, which follows the same theme, emphasizing the need to focus on ministry to one’s spouse (rather than manipulation), even when times are rough. And that’s only possible when we find our needs met in our savior, the greatest true source of Love.

  • Michelle S.

    I’m going through a very heartbreaking time in my marriage. I’m from South Carolina and my husband is Canadian, we were supposed to live in Canada for less than a year to figure out the best way to move to the south and clear out some debt. It’s been 3 years living in Canada and have been miserable. I constantly miss my family and desire to move to the south as promised, my husband is now refusing to do so as he has no training or schooling to make a living in the south. He’s refusing to go to school or learn a trade to better himself and have more options. I feel trapped in a place I don’t want to be in.
    My husband is not loving or compassionate towards me. He gets mad when I show sadness of missing home.
    In the first year of marriage he started talking to another woman, thankfully she was engaged to another man and was not interested in my husband. He told his friend he was jealous of her fiancé and he wanted her. He said “f*** this marriage I want her not Michelle” and he continued to try to talk to this woman via Facebook and at work as they work together. He got very drunk one night and I was able to check his phone and found all of this. When he woke from his drunkeness I confronted him on it he then said he was sorry and he was just depressed and not right in the head. He went to the doctor and a therapist and was prescribed Antidepressants but he refused to take them. He quit therapy as well after only 4 sessions.
    For the past 3 years it has been a major roller coaster, I have been told by family and friends that I have been mentally abused by him.
    6 months ago I had it my breaking point, I was getting so depressed and ha such major anxiety everyday I just wanted to die. I reached out to him for comfort but he turned me away and said he could not handle me. (I have been diagnosed with chemical depression and have been on medicine since i was 13)
    I came to South Carolina for a visit and as soon as I was with my loving family I was so much better the anxiety and depression was gone. I told my husband I needed his love and needed his support as I’m going through this and he refused he told me that I was a grown woman and should deal be able to deal with my issues alone. I decided to separate from him for a few months to get better and see if he could have a change of heart. Eventually he came through, he agreed to do marriage counselling with me and work on our broken marriage. We did only 5 sessions with my pastor and he decided to call it quits while I’ve been visiting my family in SC for what was supposed to be just 2 weeks. He closed himself off to everyone except his family he would not answer my calls. He told me he wanted to quit his job as a personal support worker where he gets medical benefits and a decent pay and work at a fast food place. I told him I could not support that and said it would be a big mistake. He got angry and didn’t speak to me for days until he finally sent me a text saying he thought a real separation would be appropriate until I can accept living in Canada and until I can start accepting him at the boss in out marriage and support all his choices and what he wants. I told him I loved him but marriage was not a dictatorship and we are supposed to be a team and he should listen to my opinions and guidance as well. He disagreed and said unless I make the same out of money and work as much as he did that was not going to happen. He also said that according to the bible I have no say in our family.
    He then asked if I was coming back and I asked him if he would please continue out counselling and if he would go back to the doctor to get some medicine to level his moods and he refused. He said clearly we are not willing for change so I Should just stay here in South Carolina and see what happens, I told him I still loved him. My heart is broken I fear the worst I don’t have a good reason why but I do still love him so much and want things to be made new in our marriage.
    My pastor says he needs to really get right with God and what he proclaims as a Christian is not measuring up to his actions and behaviour.
    I don’t know how I’ll get through this, my heart is in pieces. I want God in our marriage and I want us to work on things. I know I have made mistakes along the way I’m not perfect, I’ve contributed to this mess. But I’ve tried to be the woman and wife God would want me to be and even the wife my husband wants me to be. I’ve apologized for me wrongs to my husband and God. I just don’t know what else to do at this point. I just pray and cry out to God for his help and guidance and for him to do whatever it takes to open the eyes of my husband and him get the help he needs and be open and willing to get the help our marriage needs.