How bad is bad enough? How long do you need to “put up with” seriously destructive behavior from your spouse? Is your marriage beyond repair?
God hates divorce not because of some heavenly hierarchy of sins, but because it hurts His children. The contemporary philosophy of marriage as a means to make one happy is a mighty flimsy foundation for marriage. God’s purpose for marriage is not for your personal happiness, but to provide you a means for learning to love well. And God’s restoring power can work miracles even in the most desperate circumstances.
That said, not every marriage survives. That’s not God’s fault! But in human affairs God has given us free will. And He can only accomplish His restoration where the people involved give Him the opportunity to do so.
As I read Scripture, ending a marriage for reasons such as needs not being met, lack of sex or communication, incompatibility, or general unhappiness is not honoring God’s plan. But in the messed up sinful world we live in, there are times when a marriage ends and God releases someone from a destructive situation.
If your marriage is unhappy and you’re wondering if leaving the marriage is something God would want you to do, here are some questions to consider. Remember, it’s not my opinion that counts. These questions will help you ascertain what God may be saying in your situation.
Do you know God’s perspective?
Is your spouse basically a person of good will who has some hurtful behaviors? Is your spouse persistently acting out of an evil heart? What is the possibility your marriage might improve going forward? Are you looking at your marriage to give you things that only God can supply? These can be challenging questions.
Spend some time intentionally seeking God’s perspective on your marriage. This is not about making you happy; it’s about determining who God needs you to be in your marriage for this season. Is He asking you to focus on changing yourself? Is He asking you to extend forgiveness to your spouse? Is He asking you to learn to set some difficult boundaries? Or is He releasing you from a marriage that is persistently destructive? You will need to know His perspective on your own heart, your spouse, and your marriage in order to answer these questions.
Have you done everything in your power to save your marriage?
Every marriage is the union of two sinners. That means you have been less than the perfect husband or wife that God and your spouse need you to be. This is not about blame; please get off the condemnation merry-go-round. Remember that condemnation always comes from the enemy. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit.
But whether your marriage ends or is restored, there are things in you that the Holy Spirit wants to change. That does not mean you must accept seriously destructive behavior from your spouse until you’re perfect!! It only means that you must look as honestly at your own heart, attitude, words, behavior, etc. as you do your spouse’s. If your marriage ends, you will want to know that you have done all that was within your power to do in cooperating with God for the restoration of your marriage.
In looking at this question, consider things such as courage, unselfishness, forgiveness, listening, seeking to understand, commitment, willingness to change, etc.
Is your spouse giving God an opportunity to restore your marriage?
Part of the reason marriage can be so vulnerable and painful is that both you and your spouse get a vote. And you cannot vote for your spouse. There is nothing and no one where God cannot miraculously work His restoration if those involved give Him the opportunity. But if your spouse persistently refuses to engage in the opportunity for restoration that God provides, even God will not force them.
In considering this question look at their behavior, not their words. Your spouse will never meet all your needs, be the perfect husband or wife, etc. But if your spouse is persistently engaging in seriously destructive behavior such as substance abuse, violence, infidelity, abandonment, etc. it’s possible that God is releasing you from this marriage.
It’s important to get other mature believer’s perspective on this question. But remember that it’s God’s opinion that counts, not that of other humans. Regardless of what happens there will be people, perhaps Christians, who say bad things about you. Once you know God’s perspective and act accordingly, don’t expend energy worrying about what others think.
Is your marriage beyond repair?
I don’t know, but God does! And whatever happens in your marriage, God can work His miraculous restoration in YOU.
If God is releasing you from a persistently destructive marriage, the road forward will not be easy. I pray His peace and presence for you in the journey ahead.
And if God is not releasing you from this marriage, I pray His miraculous restoring power to transform your relationship into something that will bring Him glory.
Your Turn: What do you see as God’s perspective on your marriage? Who do you believe He is calling you to be in your marriage for this season? Is He releasing you from a destructive marriage? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
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- To know if God is releasing you from a destructive marriage, you need to seek His perspective, look honestly at your own heart, and prayerfully understand whether your spouse is giving God an opportunity to work. Tweet that.
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