‘How to save your marriage’ is a bold title. I hesitated to use it until I looked at the actual definition of ‘save’. One of the definitions was to keep safe or rescue from danger.
Is your marriage in danger?
The other definition (the one I really liked) was to preserve or guard from injury, destruction or loss. This definition shows a path starting with injury that leads to destruction. That’s what happens in marriage if we don’t preserve or guard this relationship. The One who created you, also created marriage. His Word gives us guidelines to preserve and guard this very special relationship.
Often in marriage counseling, the relationship has broken down because we did not heed the guidelines God set for marriage. In the short run, doing marriage our own way generally gets us by for awhile. But in the long run, doing marriage outside of God’s design leads to a breakdown in our relationships. Let me explain what I mean…
We are made to live out God’s purpose for our lives. That purpose is to bring Him glory. We bring Him glory by living our purpose according to His Word.
In short, living out your purpose means doing marriage God’s way for His glory. As a result we experience joy and peace because we’re living God’s purpose for our life.
The alternative is living life our own way, for our own glory. As a result we will experience frustration and unhappiness living outside of our God-given purpose.
See the fork in the road in the picture? That’s where we make a choice to live our purpose or God’s purpose in our marriage. You can save your marriage before destructive patterns break this relationship down by choosing God’s way regardless of your spouse or current circumstances.
Are you reading this because your marriage needs to be saved? Have you come to the point of unhappiness and frustration in your marriage?
You’re in the right place! We’re going to get your spouse acting right! Just kidding – you’re here, reading this article, – not your spouse. Which means you want something to change. We might as well start with something you have control over – you.
Sometimes in marriage counseling, I see only one person in the marriage. Our time is not best spent complaining about the one that didn’t come. Instead we take a hard look within.
Don’t bounce out yet. There was a time in my marriage that I would have rolled my eyes and clicked out of this article totally disgusted.
My own marriage was a huge source of frustration and unhappiness (my spouse felt the same way). You know the saying, hindsight is 20/20?
We got all caught up in blaming each other. The blame was rooted in bitterness. Bitterness from years of unhealthy patterns. We were doing marriage our own way, for our own purposes rather than living for God.
One more thing before we take a look within… I want to encourage you. God can restore your marriage no matter how much injury or destruction has taken place. He has the power to restore lost years (Joel 2:25a) and do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19) in your marriage.
Are you ready to save your marriage by taking a look within?
How to Save Your Marriage: 4 Mind Shifts
What are your expectations of marriage? Really take a moment and even jot down what you would like your marriage to be. What do you want to see change? Identify what you think is missing from your marriage. Now put down your notes.
Keep in mind that marriage is two broken people, living in a broken world doing the best they can with the tools they’ve got. We are all equipped with different strengths and weaknesses. All of us fall short (Romans 3:23). Every. Single. Day.
With a fresh sheet of paper jot down how you fail your marriage or your spouse. Be specific and list at least 10 things that you need to improve. If you’re having a hard time thinking of something – pray! Pray that God would show you areas that need refinement (Psalm 139:23-24).
Now let’s get back to the first assignment of noting what your ideal marriage is. Pull up some passages from the Bible about marriage. How do your desires for marriage line up with God’s desires for your marriage? As you line up your notes – keep God’s purpose for your life in mind. His purpose is for you to bring Him glory. Are your desires leading to God’s glory? Or yours?
A desire is a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Our desires are the direct result of what we treasure in our heart. Everything we do flows from our heart Proverbs (4:23).
Our desires aren’t necessarily a problem until we are holding our desires so tightly it tempts us to sin. In other words, we want a specific outcome in our marriage and we sin in order to get what we want.
Now let’s jump back to the heart. What do you treasure in your heart? As soon as you treasure anything or anyone more than you treasure Christ – you have an idol. Idols lead to slavery. Is your marriage or spouse and idol? Have your desires led you to act outside of God’s purpose for your life?
It’s tempting to respond to our spouse with anger and unkindness especially when marriage isn’t what we expected or hoped for. It’s also challenging to live God’s purpose for marriage when our feelings have been hurt by our spouse’s poor choices.
Don’t let disappointment or another’s actions tempt you to act outside of God’s best for you. Identify several specific ways you tend to respond to disappointment or hurt.
As you begin to shift your approach to marriage you might get discouraged by the lack of change in your spouse. But remember…you’re working on you. Changing your spouse should not be the motive. Instead make your purpose the motive…You are called to do everything for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and as if for God (Colossians 3:16). What is your motivation for change?
Our perspective is a particular attitude or way of regarding something. Perspective is powerful in saving your marriage. When in a challenging season of marriage, it’s easy to allow our perspective to shift from our greater purpose to our negative experiences in our marriage. Our perspective or attitude about marriage can distract us from our bigger purpose.
Has your perspective about marriage shifted to focusing on the negative? Has it shifted to hopelessness?
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~Colossians 3:2
- Shift your perspective to the good. Research shows we are 25% happier when we cultivate gratitude in our lives. Make a list of the things you appreciate about your spouse. Then let your spouse know what you appreciate about them. Make a habit of noting their strengths and tell them.
- Shift your perspective to hope. Christ is our hope. Marriage can be challenging. But even in the face of a difficult marriage we have a choice to live His purpose for our lives. Hope in Christ is the source of your strength to endure (Isaiah 40:31) in the face of adversity. Remember your purpose – bring God glory in everything you do (1 Corinthians 10:31) including your marriage. This is where you will find your true source of peace and joy.
How to Save Your Marriage Wrap Up
All four challenges depend on you. Changing expectations, desires, motives and perspective are all within your circle of control. None of these mind shifts require anything of your spouse. All are achievable regardless of your circumstances.
I wasted many years with unrealistic expectations and selfish desires – don’t make that mistake. It leads to chaos both internally and within your marriage (James 3:16). I also know firsthand how our perspective can mislead us to believing that living God’s best is impossible in a difficult marriage. A purpose driven marriage is possible no matter what your situation.
Remember… God can restore any marriage. He is capable of restoring lost years (Joel 2:25a) and doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19) in your marriage.