God uses marriage to heal you. It’s one of the most important and effective tools He uses to bring you the healing and transformation you need.
If you’re in a miserable or dysfunctional marriage that may seem completely contradictory. How can I experience healing when my spouse is emotionally unavailable, won’t communicate, continues to cause me pain, refuses to understand me, and withholds intimacy? I need healing FROM my marriage!
You’re right; you married a sinner. You married someone who doesn’t meet your needs and keeps wounding you over and over again.
But your spouse married a sinner too – YOU. You don’t meet their needs and you keep wounding your spouse over and over again too.
Didn’t God know marriage would cause so much pain? Couldn’t He have created us without these needs and desires?
Yes, He could have. But without marriage we would be deprived of one of God’s most effective tools through which we experience our need of Him as well as His healing and transformation. Some of His best miracles only happen in the impossible environment of marriage.
(Note: Trauma, abuse, and violence is always wrong. If you are in an abusive marriage, get help right away.)
Here are some of the most important ways in which God uses marriage to heal:
God designed marriage to be a place where two broken people would have all their sins and wounds and needs exposed. As frightening and risky as that exposure may be, it’s the only way healing and transformation come. Both you and your spouse become exposed. And from that vulnerable position you each have the choice to continue toward healing – or not.
The powerlessness you feel in marriage misery is not all bad; God needs you to come to the end of yourself. He needs you to fully embrace that you cannot do this, that it’s too much for you. Since you can’t, you have serious incentive to learn to rely on the only One who can.
Are you still trying to change your spouse? Learning that you cannot change another person can be painful. The only way marriage works is that you accept the other person the way they are, just as God accepts you – yes, miserable and sinful you. At its best marriage also allows you to experience another person accepting you, even if imperfectly. Feeling known and then accepted is a powerful ingredient of healing.
You and your spouse will continue to wound each other in small and sometimes larger ways. Forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting bad behavior or saying everything is OK! But forgiveness does mean you keep short accounts. You learn to let the small stuff go, and let God have responsibility for dealing with your spouse’s need for change.
In marriage you either change or remain miserable. Yes, both you and your spouse will need to change. Both of you bring old baggage into the marriage that needs to be released. For healing to occur you learn to keep your grubby hands to yourself and let God deal with your spouse. You also learn to take responsibility for your own behavior and change where you need to for your spouse’s benefit.
It soon becomes painfully obvious in marriage that it’s not all about you. Your needs won’t all get met. You can’t be and do what you want without it affecting another person. You are “forced” to learn to “regard one another as more important than himself.” (Philippians 2:3) Even how you take care of yourself becomes important primarily because of how it impacts your ability to give to your spouse.
Marriage is the place where we learn to be as Christ to each other. Once we accept another human being as they are, in all their brokenness, without reservation, we learn what it means to refuse to let them stay that way. You care enough to confront. You learn to be patient, to see the best in someone else, to believe in them, to celebrate them. You learn to support them in the work God is doing in their life, and rejoice in that.
Many people get married not because they love someone else, but because they love how they feel when they are with that person. That’s not true love. Marriage is the laboratory where you learn what love is all about. Real love is about them, not about you. Love is about becoming who God needs you to be to your spouse for today, and about persisting when you feel like giving up.
You have a choice about whether you allow marriage to be God’s vehicle of healing in your life or not. And your spouse has the same choice. If both of you make that commitment you are guaranteed to have a successful marriage! Notice I didn’t say a happy or easy one. But with both of you relying on the One who is unbreakable, your marriage is assured of success.
How do you experience this healing in marriage? Briefly, that means:
- Deciding to allow God to use your marriage to change you
- Committing to continued learning and growth
- Focusing on learning to love well
May God use your marriage to bring both you and your spouse a level of healing and transformation beyond anything you now imagine.
P.S. This is not a guarantee of marriage success; your spouse also has a vote. I’ve written about When Your Marriage Fails Anyway
Your Turn: Haw has God been using your marriage to heal you? Are there aspects of His healing you need to cooperate with better? Leave a comment below.
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