Marriage is both beautiful and hard. Sometimes it seems impossible. In today’s world we constantly see marriages ending. It can leave you feeling as though that will be how your marriage ends. When things are difficult it’s so helpful to hear some success stories from other impossible marriages that survived.

As I’ve talked with and watched many couples I’ve noticed some common and critical factors that make the difference between those marriages that end and those that make it. It’s not the depths of the problems that determines the outcome; some marriages end over what at least outwardly look to be difficult but fixable challenges. And other marriages survive even after going through horrendous brokenness, betrayal, and pain.

Here’s what I’ve noticed repeatedly; It’s what the partners do about it that determines the outcome.

Here are five key things that show up in marriages that survive what seems to be impossible.

  1. Find Healing For Yourself

Jimmy was angry, haughty, and hateful, treating his wife more like a slave than the love of his life. Karen was broken-hearted and filled with self-condemnation, alternating between trying to please and erupting in fury. (These are Karen’s own words.)

Today you may know Jimmy and Karen Evans as the founders of XOMarriage. What has stood out to me as I’ve heard them repeatedly share their story is how God had to radically heal each of them individually before their marriage could become healed. Your “stuff” affects your marriage. Seek healing for your own heart, and your marriage can’t help but be changed.

Karen shares their story in From Pain to Paradise.

  1. BECOME the Spouse God Calls YOU to be

John was desperate. His wife seemed like a closed door; “No more quickies. I don’t feel safe with you.” It had been a really long time since there had been any intimacy between them. John had a “pressure email” all typed and ready to send; it was the only way they were communicating about this volatile issue.

But before clicking SEND John went looking for help, and found some of our material on being a safe place for your spouse. He decided to try letting the frustration go and focusing on being a safe person. Only days later his wife initiated sex and reported she was feeling much safer with him. They’re both happy!

You can learn safety and intimacy too. Check out our overview of Building Intimacy in Marriage, and specifically the Safety Step.

  1. Fight FOR Your Marriage

Rosie had been there before. She knew what having a marriage destroyed because of her husband’s porn use felt like. And she wasn’t about to let this marriage end that way too. So she determined to fight.

Today Rosie and Mark’s marriage is strong – and porn-free. Mark is now a certified sex addiction therapist, and Rosie leads Fight For Love Ministries empowering women with the facts and the faith to fight against porn use. Together they shepherd a thriving recovery community and passionately encourage others to Fight for Love.

Check out Rosie’s book Fight for Love. And watch our conversation together.

  1. Don’t Consider ANYTHING Impossible

Laurie was sexually attracted to women. Matt was hooked on porn. God brought them together, and called them to marriage. Impossible? Yes!

But according to Matt and Laurie Krieg, their marriage is no more impossible than any other marriage between two sinners. Building the kind of intimacy God intended us to experience in marriage always takes radical commitment, and His radically transforming work in each spouse’s heart.

You can see more of Matt and Laurie’s message in their book Impossible Marriage and their Hole in My Heart podcast. And check out my conversation with Laurie about Matters of the Heart.

  1. Invest the Time

Matthew and Joanna’s marriage was broken by betrayal and hurt. Trust and intimacy were gone. But they both determined to press forward. It took lots of time, and lots of help.

To those who expect a broken marriage to be “fixed” in a few weeks or even a few months, Matthew and Joanna Raabsmith offer a different perspective; it may take even a few years to rebuild real intimacy. But that path is not impossible. And it’s worth it! The markers they now provide to other couples seeking to rebuild their relationship are a true beacon of hope.

Matthew and Joanna now help others to Renovate Love. And watch my conversation with them here.

You can Find Hope Too

I hope these examples of impossible marriages that made it will encourage you. If these principles worked for them, they can work for you too! And research documents that spouses who persist and make it to the other side of marriage problems can develop a stronger bond and deeper satisfaction in their relationship than they had before.

Only God knows the future for both you and your marriage. He can restore anyone and anything where He is given opportunity. (God won’t override your spouse’s vote. There are times God does release someone from a toxic marriage.)

Don’t try walking this journey alone. Knowing how to pray about your troubled marriage will help. And ask God to show you who you can get support from in your journey to the kind of marriage He desires for you. (Troubled marriage is one of the topics most often requested by people who come to me for coaching.)

Your Turn: How do you feel when you see an example of an impossible marriage that made it? Does that encourage you in your own journey? Leave a comment below.

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  • Some seemingly impossible marriages survive. What makes the difference? It’s not the depth of the problems; it’s what the partners choose to do about it. Tweet that.

How’s the Communication in Your Marriage?

Communication is the Number 1 issue couples struggle with. Understanding your Communication Style will be an important step in making your communication more effective. Better communication always leads to improved intimacy.

This brief FREE Communication Personality Assessment will provide you personalized results indicating your communication strengths, communication challenges, and some tips on taking your communication to the next level. You really can experience deeper intimacy and a more loving relationship.

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