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What to Do When Your Marriage is Falling Apart

What to do When Your Marriage is Falling Apart

A year ago, we moved into a quaint and modest three-bedroom brick house. Built in the 1920s, it’s a beautiful home for its age, but it also has its bumps and bruises. Like anything, time takes its toll. But it has, and still, endures.

If you have ever bought anything new, you know it doesn’t take long to develop cracks, rust, dents, dings, and a long list of other imperfections. Whatever is new eventually starts to fall apart.

Marriage is no exception.

I am a pastor’s wife. Being in ministry, we have had the joy of seeing many couples enter into marriage excited and hopeful for their new life together. We love to see God using couples to glorify Him in their marriage and in their family. But like anything else, many marriages that begin well, don’t always continue (or end) well.

There are all sorts of reasons for breakdown in marriage: Everything from something as serious as infidelity, to something as simple as poor communication. You might be reading this today and your marriage may be struggling. Perhaps you feel like the brokenness is too much and you feel like you can’t go on. Maybe you feel like there is just no hope.

Don’t give up! God is a builder and He loves to restore what feels like it’s crumbling down. While there is much that could be said, let me offer four simple ways you can help build hope back into your marriage.

1. Pray– I am reminded of Nehemiah’s response when he heard the news that the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed. Not only were the walls falling apart, so were God’s people. His response? He began to pray (Nehemiah 1:3-4)! Pray for a new and soft heart (whether for you or your spouse). Confess where there is sin. In all things, take your neediness to the God who can do all things.  Be patient and persistent in prayer. It is God’s power, and not our own, that restores.

2. Open Your Bible and Read – God’s Word is life, nourishment, and a light for our path (Psalm 119). Without it, we not only spiritually starve we also stumble through the darkness. During difficult seasons, it is tempting to follow your feelings. Like a blind guide, they can often lead you into more trouble. More than how we feel, we need to keep coming back to the truth of what God says. Dig into His Word, seek His wisdom, and cling to His promises.

3. Seek Help from Your Pastor or a Counselor – While we believe this is a great site with helpful and biblical advice, it is not meant to replace belonging to a local church. We have seen many marriages that could have been helped had a couple humbled themselves to ask. By God’s grace, we have seen so many relationships restored through the guidance of an outside voice (a pastor or Christian counselor). While it’s not always easy to admit there is a problem, your marriage is worth it!

4. Protect Your Intimacy – If you are struggling in your marriage, you will likely be tempted to emotionally or relationally confide in someone who is not your spouse. Your heart will be drawn to someone who you perceive to be caring and compassionate. Don’t do it! In Mark 10:9, Jesus warns us not to let anyone separate what God has joined together. So build a protective wall around your marriage. Confide in a Godly person of the same gender who will offer you the friendship and wisdom you really need.

Blessings to you,

Ruth Schwenk

Find Ruth at:
TheBetterMom.com
FortheFamily.org 

23 Comments

  • Janine

    These are great tips when struggles come. I especially love the biblical references. Thanks, Ruth!
    I do want to mention that there is a real drought of information for divorce-shy Christians of what to do when people have done these things for years and years to no avail. There have been many times I’ve read great articles like these on Christian sites and left even more disheartened because I had already tried the suggestions. My heart and prayers go out to women in that situation. I’ve been there and know the pain.

  • Elissa P

    Thanks Ruth for these words of encouragement. Praying for your marriage daily is a wonderful way to keep God in the forefront of your marriage. Praying for and with each other. Seeking help is also good, seeking help before, during and in marriage. Surrounding ourselves with like minded people, people who are God-centered and working on and praying for their marriages daily also.

    Peace to all.

  • Sharon Mavis

    Your encouragement is so true. There are many resources both in person (pastors and counselors, my husband is a pastor, too), in books (we used to own a Christian bookstore), and online. It is easy to believe things that might prevent a person from seeking help, things like “my marriage is hopeless” or “my spouse will never change,” but that is not true. Marriage is truly worth fighting for.

  • Tara

    This is a great article. Some days i feel my marriage is falling apart, Im in a season where I feel i am the only one giving and each day becomes harder and harder to keep giving. I know God has a plan and it will come and my husband is a christian man, I just wish in my human ways that God would work it sooner. It is so hard to struggle with feeling unloved, unrespected and then to be giving so much and trying my best to live the proverbs 31 lifestyle and feel nothing in return for it.

  • MyRedSandals

    One day, after 3 children and more than 35 years of marriage, my husband left… moved out… poof, gone! Seems he was having an extramarital relationship with a co-worker… sadly, this was not his 1st affair… or his 4th…or his 8th…or even his 12th… though they were typically with coworkers and/or friends we socialized with (with friends like these, who needs enemies?), one woman was someone we brought into our home for protection after her husband physically abused her, and yes, one was even our kids’ babysitter. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I followed your steps outlined above (I am still am), he couldn’t shake his horrible addiction… then to make matters worse, he added pornography to the list of his issues… I’ve spent what seems like forever forgiving him for his latest betrayal, praying for our marriage, begging God for reconciliation, reading my Bible, seeking help from qualified Christian counselors, etc…. it’s been 19 months now and we’ve celebrated 2 more wedding anniversaries living apart (the 40th anniversary of our first date is just a few months away)… all of our communication (rare as it may be) is via text message or email; I have seen him exactly 1x since our son’s Christmas wedding… though he says he “still cares for my well-being”, he’s made it quite clear he’s gone for good, he has hired an attorney and divorce proceedings are under way. I had to get a lawyer to protect my rights but the whole bloody mess is completely abhorrent to me. And having to pick up the wreckage that’s strewn about and start over at age 60 is, well, just plain sad.

    • Darlene Schacht

      MyRedSandals, Thank you for sharing your story with us. I know that there are a lot of couples who aren’t living with the average every day trials of marriage. Sometimes they are very difficult situations like yours where one partner has clearly walked away. Without repentance it’s very difficult to repair a broken marriage. My prayer is that your husband turns his life to God and repents of his sin. I hope you have a support system where you live. That would definitely be my other prayer.

  • Tina

    What do you do when your husband betrayed the marriage not only once but plenty of times. I forgave the first time but the next time I built a wall and right now I don’t believe anything he tells me because our whole relationship was nothing to him. How does a wife move forward? We aren’t intimate because of his affairs. I am afraid of catching a disease. We have no communication, he is never home, he finds time to do for others rather than staying home and working on cleaning up outside around our house, it’s like he finds a excuse to leave our house so he doesn’t have to be around us. He won’t go to counseling. I just don’t know where to turn anymore. I feel like we are room mates.

    • Darlene Schacht

      Tina, you need to speak to someone who is equipped to give you wise counsel. Boundaries have to be set in place. He has broken your vows. A lot of couples have moved forward from infidelity, but there has to be repentance if you hope to move on. If you can’t afford Christian marriage counselling, please speak to a pastor. You’ll be surprised at how wise they can be and how experienced they are with these situations.

    • kara

      Tina,
      I feel your pain and I know your pain, because I’m going through the same thing. Not to talk bad about or disrespect my husband; he had an affair with another married woman two years ago while our son and I were visiting family out of state and has been talking with other women about having sex together. Keep praying for God to work in his life and to keep your heart pure and for guidance. I know it sounds like a broken record (It still does to me), but it does help. I wish you the best.

  • Shannon

    Divorce busters on Facebook Has Many Resources & Even Offers Phone Counseling For Those Facing An unwanted Divorce. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  • Mom1teach2

    My marriage of almost(in 2weeks) 10 years is in a season of turmoil. I Read and reread articles, blogs, books, quotes and such…I even made the effort to seek council. However, my struggle is this…this change in our marriage is a result of my husband not knowing what’s making him unhappy and wanting space and I have no answers to why. He is unwilling to go to marriage counseling and rarely wants to talk about what’s going on, he’s not much of a talker, he keeps a lot in when it comes to his feelings. I want to fight for my marriage but I don’t know how to do it without involving him….I love him dearly and do not want this for our family…

    • Darlene Schacht

      Mom1teach2

      Just a few weeks ago I wrote an article addressing this. I think it’s important because a lot of individuals are praying and hoping and living their best, but aren’t seeing a change in their spouse. Sometimes the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence because it is. And that’s a sad thing.

      Here’s an excerpt. I think it speaks to your situation…

      Do you know when Christ was at His strongest? It wasn’t when He was healing the sick, casting out demons or feeding 5,000 hungry people on a mountainside. Those were definitely miraculous signs of His power. But during that moment on the cross when He laid down His own life, He illustrated the greatest power of all.

      Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. – John 10:17-18

      Here’s an interesting thought from John Piper about how this relates to us, “Christ died to save us from hell but not to save us from the cross. He died so that we could be glorified, but not to keep us from being crucified. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily.” For the Christian the cross of Christ is not merely a past place of substitution. It is also a present place of daily execution.” (The Present Power of Christ Crucified).

      A crucified life isn’t an easy life, but it’s a powerful one that brings glory to God.

      Make no mistake about it. Everyone has a cross to bear, whether their grass is greener or not. Sometimes the struggle is evident, and other times it’s hidden behind a smile or two.

      The reason that faith is often likened to a mustard seed is that great things are at work beneath the soil of a crucified life. One drop of a seed could be the start of a boundless crop. We might never see that crop come to fruition, but it doesn’t mean that our labour was ever in vain.

      The power of the cross was foolishness to man and it still is today. Why would anyone stay in a loveless marriage? That doesn’t make sense on the surface.

      Why would anyone lay down their life of their own free will to be mocked, spit on, scourged, and crucified? Because He knew that His death was the sacrificial step that brought life to mankind.

      A sacrificial life isn’t a wasted life. It’s the most loving thing that a person can do for both God for and their spouse.

      You are loved by an almighty God. Don’t lose faith.

  • Maria

    Myredsandals, your story is my story, 15+ infidelities and years of porn addiction from my husband. This June will be our 20th anniversary and it all started at six months of marriage and the latest happened two months ago. Years of Christian and secular counseling, pastoral counseling, peer counseling, has had no lasting affect on his ways. Oh he is profusely sorry every time something comes to light, but he cannot kick this addiction, and I and my children suffer each time. Sometimes he wants to divorce me because he is in love with someone else and sometimes he wants to save our marriage. These last four, he has wanted to save our marriage. It is a cycle of restlessness for him every 1 1/2-2yrs. He is currently in a program for adult survivors of sexual abuse as children. He was severely abused sexually as a child, and these destructive behaviors are rooted in that, something that was never focused on before because he did not share it with counselors. We sleep in separate rooms, and share our homes common areas. It is difficult because as our two daughters have gotten older (19 & 16 now) they know about his infidelity and have even witnessed it themselves having seen messages he has sent to other women when he thought he was being discreet. It is not only my heart, but their hearts have been broken time and time again. For the first time in our marriage, I made him leave the home, for almost two months, but our youngest was in tears every day and so sick to her stomach I had him move back home, in separate rooms however. She is better, no more tears or sickness. She matters the most, not me. I too, have prayed, pleaded and begged God to please take this from me, and still I am here. I know he has a plan, but I am so tired and worn, surely this is not what He had intended for me. I lose hope sometimes, it is natural, but I get back up and know He is in control and in my heart. One day at a time, it is all I can do. I often times feel like my husband is my ministry, and I would really love to just give up that ministry at times. But the vows I made 20 years mean something. I made them to my husband, but I made them them to God too. To love this man in sickness and health. Well, he has been sick for most of our marriage, and is only now addressing the deep rooted demons of his childhood. I have been to his classes and they are profound. It is Christ centered also. For my daughter’s sake I hope he has the victory over this, and as for me, I just want peace. I pray for that the most. I am looking for a support group of some kind, but most don’t apply to my circumstances. People tend to look at you like your crazy when they hear the number, because 1 infidelity is way more acceptable then 15+, and those very same women who’s husband has cheated on them, then suddenly judge you because well, theirs was only 1. It feels lonely knowing not a lot of people understand my struggle, myredsandal, I’m sorry to say but I was relieved to see your post, because you get it, you know, when no one else has even had a clue about what I go through, you do. I’m praying for you and your family. I pray we both find peace and hope.

  • shell

    Mom1teach2 I get where u are coming from. Thank u Darlene for this last response. It was definitely applicable to my own marriage. My husband is a good man but very quiet hardly talks and not a happy person. He needs the Lord but has tried to fill the void with other things. I think he loves me…but a woman has to question when she is never told that she is loved and rarely gets any show of loving affection. I love him dearly and I have begun pray regularly all day thru the day when I cook when I drive….Thank u for showing me that this is not a waste and loving him and praying and sacrificing is a good thing and God honoring…I just never saw it this way by. The human part of me wanted to think about all that I had wanted and expected from marriage.

  • Carrie

    I love my husband and we have been married for 14 years. During this time I have forgave infidelity, drugs, pornography and lies. But after doing it soooooo many times and trying to put our marriage back together I no longer have any fight left. He does nothing for our marriage and our family, except bring home a paycheck, which I am thankful for. But at what point do I say he knows I am not going to do anything so he keeps on doing what ever he wants. I found more drugs this past week and finally told him we just could not be together anymore. He just says I’m sorry, this time I will stop. I have nightmares and can’t sleep because I worry constantly of what he is going to do next and how long it will be before I figure out the next thing he is doing. We have not been intimate in over a year and half. Do I just keep praying? The bible clearly says not to break the marriage up but I am being taken advantage of and walked all over. I want nothing more than to keep our family together and for him to be at the head of our family leading us to do and be what God wants for us. How do I fight for a marriage that he seems to have no interest in?

  • Vicky

    My story echoes so many others here. Years of infidelity, porn and lies. And it started just a few months after we got married (and he wasn’t faithful while we were dating/engaged). He gave up on counseling, saying it wasn’t for him and even told the counselor I wasn’t the one for him (that hurt so very much to hear him say it in front of me). He didn’t do the homework from our intensive counseling, saying he knew it all already. He is unrepentant. He wants to control me and control his life and have NO consequences for his selfishness. I pray for him but have seen no change.
    The book “A Cry for Justice” by Jeff Crippen has been a real eye-opener.

  • Rebekah

    This really encouraged me and I know I need to keep reading the word and praying for my marriage. My husband and i are seperated at the moment he hasn’t given me any hope for us ever getting help or getting back together. But I know my hope is in God and he has the power to do anything. Please keep us in prayer that God will open his eyes and bring him to repentance the way God did for me. God bless.

  • John

    So what do you do when none of that is working? I’m praying in reading, I’m talking to a counselor and to my pastor. I’m doing the 40 day love dare, but nothing works. I found out a couple months ago that my wife of 5 years. The mother of my 2 children was having an affair with a coworker. She has continued to lie about. .. Most everything since I found out, and I keep catching her, because she can’t keep the lies straight, and because she’s just not very good at it. I dunt know What to do or where to go from here. I’ve lost hope, lost sleep, lost weight and I’m losing my faith too. I’m supposed to trust God, and I’m trying, but nothing is getting any better.

  • Nancy

    If anybody is still reading here, 2 things.

    !. Vicky mentioned the book A Cry For Justice, by Jeff Crippen. I recommend the entire blog, especially for those with unrepentant adulterous spouses.

    2. Find a copy of Boundaries In Marriage by Cloud and Townsend, authors of the original Boundaries, and read it.

  • Thabang

    Please help I have lost the strength to fight for my marriage. Let me start by explaining that I got married with my husband not because I loved him or was attracted to him in anyway it was more of I appreciated the fact that he was and still is a good man who would never cheat on me. The problem is He doesn’t pray much and relies on me for everything. I’m carrying him financially, spiritually and physically. What also affects our marriage is the witchcraft attacks from his family it’s one attack after another. If we as much as speak to them on the phone our children will be tormented in their sleep. I feel tired of living a life where I am the target. I can’t even share the number of times they tried and are still trying to kill me. Things were so bad that we even disconnected ourselves from his family and at times I feel like because he is the type of person who never expresses his feelings I don’t really know how he feels. I am a Christian and know that God hates divorce and that makes me feel trapped and miserable. I have 3 little children that I’m also thinking of but he only has a real fatherly bond with one. My mother spent all her life in a miserable marriage for our sake and my biggest fear is to not end up like her. The other problem is my husband cannot satisfy me sexually, I have prayed and even fasted but the problem is still there. How do I spend the rest of my life in this marriage?

    • SueB

      Thabang,

      I am so sorry that you feel trapped and miserable. Would your husband be willing to go to marriage counseling with you? If not, could you go speak to a counselor or pastor yourself? I personally have prayed and prayed over some things in my life, including for my ex-husband to start being faithful and love me. I’ve learned after I divorced that there is great wisdom in many counselors. Unfortunately, I was too scared to reach out for counsel or help when I was suffering from the infidelity.

      It’s possible that your husband is struggling in the marriage as well. I imagine it’s got to be tough for him dealing with his family and struggling to communicate with you. Perhaps, he learned to not make waves and not speak up and communicate while living with that family for his own good. Unfortunately, since he isn’t talking about his feelings, he is holding any pain he feels inside.

      I don’t think you two have to go on living like this for the rest of your lives. I hope both of you can work together to make each other happier in this marriage. If there’s one thing I learned it’s that just staying together without talking things out can lead to both of you being miserable when you don’t have to be.

      Also, there is too much pressure on men to be responsible for sexually satisfying a woman and, not being able to live up to that, can make a man feel low. This led to me feeling extremely pressured, because I felt like I would be hurting my ex’s ego if I didn’t end up satisfied and being in my head like that made it even harder to be satisfied. Also, some women have trouble being satisfied without the use of a vibrator and sometimes it works well if she uses her own hand on her clit while being intimate with her husband. I used to worry if those things were okay with God, but after studying the Bible, I don’t believe it’s wrong to need those things to be satisfied as long as one is not lusting after someone other than their own spouse.

      Please don’t hesitate to get law enforcement involved if you husband’s family is trying to physically harm you. You are worth protecting.

      I hope something I wrote helps Thabang or anyone else who may be reading this.

  • Marie

    I celebrated my fourth year Marriage anniversary yesterday, i can remember it was Dr. Todd that help me. We broke up when we were dating few years back and i tried all ways to get him back to me but nothing work and after trying all means i had to sick for the help of Dr. Todd because i heard and saw so many testimonies about him on a blog site, i had to consult him for help too and he brought him back to me in just few days after the counsel, prayers and spell was done in his temple he was back to me and we got married after 3 months. Yesterday we celebrated our 4th year marriage anniversary , we have been living together as husband and wife after Dr. Todd brought him back to me, we are still living together peaceful till date and we have a son. Here is his email(manifest spell cast @ gmail. com) if you want to contacted him concerning your relationship problem or if you want your relationship to be lovely like mine. I’m so very happy and i just want you all to know that he is very powerful and can change your situation.