Yesterday I had a long talk with a couple whose marriage almost ended. After some serious bad behavior they separated for nine months. The pain and heartbreak almost took both of them out. Was their marriage worth the struggle? Did they even want to fight for it?
That was several years ago. And not only did their marriage survive, but now they are ministering to other struggling men, women, and couples. You could see the real and resilient love between them as Jon said, “Everything I thought about marriage was wrong. It required so much more than I anticipated. But the end result after going through hard times has become so much deeper and far better than I could have ever imagined. We still have our challenging moments, but there’s nothing I treasure more than our relationship.”
Are you wondering if your marriage is worth the struggle? Perhaps like Jon and Ellen you feel ready to walk away. I do believe there are times because of toxic behavior that God releases someone from a marriage. But no marriage escapes the struggle. Knowing about other couples who made it can help. Praying about your troubled marriage always helps.
And it also helps to consider what you are fighting for. When you’re in the middle of a mess you need something to look forward to, something big enough and good enough to remind you that your marriage is worth the struggle.
Getting Past Marriage Struggles
Conflicts happen in every marriage. You and your spouse are both sinners, and you will wound each other–sometimes deeply. Differences in expectations, styles of relating, maturity level, and natural tendencies complicate living together. When facing conflict you have the choice to fight and scream, to pull away, or to stay engaged and work on things until you get to the other side.
Some “smaller” conflicts require simply letting it go. Not everything is a big deal. Other matters require sitting on the same side of the table and working together to find a solution that you both can live with. And some deeper issues demand setting boundaries, rebuilding trust, a long period of healing, and sometimes professional help.
This is not an article about how to deal with conflict; that’s for another time. Today is a spotlight on why doing the hard work of relationship building is worth it, why you should even put in the energy to keep going.
Here are three benefits you can only experience by persisting through the hard times and building a relationship that lasts.
Being Seen and Known
We all want to be seen and known, to have someone “get” us. We may be terrified of being seen and known, but God created each of us with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy and that need is perhaps even greater when we get hurt. Hurting people often do things to keep others from seeing and knowing them, but the desire to deeply connect is still there.
You can’t become seen and known by only showing your shiny mask to the other, or by taking the clothes off only your body. Use your marriage struggles to look under the surface, deal with the issues in your own heart, risk letting your spouse see you, and become a safe place where your spouse can let you see them. Healing comes for both of you in that process, even if it sometimes takes a very long time.
And even contemporary research demonstrates that couples who persist through the hard stuff can develop a level of intimacy and bonding that’s significantly stronger than before. That’s what Jon and Ellen experienced.
A Testimony to Grace
God specializes in hard things. He does His best miracles in impossible circumstances. Sometimes that means your marriage itself is transformed. I don’t think there’s anything more meaningful than to be able to say, “That’s where we were. And we’d still be there–but for God. Look what He did!” The hope you may have gained through seeing other couples who made it you can then pass on to others.
And if your spouse refuses to go on this journey with you and your marriage circumstances don’t get better, you yourself can become a testimony to God’s grace. You can experience hope, healing, and transformation. And you can speak into the lives of others who are experiencing similar troubles and help them see the light Christ offers.
Don’t embark on a marriage for the purpose of changing your spouse. And don’t destroy your relationship with bad behavior or enable bad behavior so that you’ll have a testimony. (See Romans 6:1-2) But if you’re in the middle of a mess right now, keep going!
Demonstrating God’s Kind of Covenant Love
Some Christians have given the impression that a happy marriage is the goal of the Christian life, or that God has promised you a happy marriage if you do things “right.” Not true. God created marriage to be a demonstration, an object lesson, of the intimacy He has within Himself and that He desires to have with each one of us.
God doesn’t walk away when we mess up. He does have boundaries; “These are the parameters within which I will have a relationship with you.” But He does not walk away. He persists in His unselfish covenant love toward us regardless of how long it takes us to respond. He continually invites us to experience His transforming grace in every dimension of our lives, from the inside out (Hebrews 8:10).
Loving your spouse well does not mean codependency. It does mean you entered into a covenant, and you persist even when it’s hard. That in itself is a demonstration of the kind of love with which God loves us.
Marriage is worth the struggle. You can do marriage wisely or less wisely, but the goal is worth it.
Your Turn: Do you find it hard to believe marriage is worth the struggle? What keeps you going? What are you working toward? Leave a message below.
Tweeetables: why not share this post?
- When facing challenges it can seem hard to believe that marriage is worth the struggle. Here are three good things you can only experience by persisting. Tweet that.
Is Your Communication Broken?
Better communication is the Number 1 issue couples want improved in their relationship. Understanding your Communication Style will be an important step in making your communication more effective.
This brief FREE Communication Personality Assessment will provide you personalized results indicating your communication strengths, communication challenges, and some tips on improving your communication at any stage of your relationship.
Take the Communication Personality Assessment now!