When your marriage sucks
Preface: I believe that one of the most dangerous lies we believe is that our problem is so ________ (fill in the blank) that no one else can possibly understand it or help us with it.
Armed with that lie, we isolate ourselves. When we isolate ourselves, we begin to believe the other lies that stream through our mind - the lies that tell us that we are truly alone, that other people do not care about us, and that it is up to us to walk through our issue alone.
I don't want you to be in that place. So I'm going to be super transparent. Today, I want to talk to those of you who are dealing with a marriage that sucks. You know what I'm talking about. It's the marriage that sucks the life out of you as you try to figure out how to fix it.
It's the marriage that sucks the joy out of your life as you struggle to pretend that things are at the very least okay.
I'm talking about the marriage that sucks your faith out of you, while you are crying out to God for relief.
You know the marriage I mean, it's the marriage, maybe YOUR marriage, that is sucking the health out of you - and the doctor is worried about what it's doing to your emotional health, your physical health.
I'm talking to you, the one whose marriage SUCKS.
(Generally, I try to write a bit more genteel-like. But there are two things that, in my opinion, must be met with just this word. In my opinion, broken marriages (relationships) and death, suck. Neither were part of God's original plan. We're not designed to manage them well.)
When we separated, Tom and I had been married for a bit more than 6 years. And 5 1/2 of those years sucked. For both of us. Oh, there were some good times, but mostly, the underlying sense that we both felt was the sucking away of ourselves as we attempted to maneuver the slime pit of our relationship.
We separated last autumn.
I don't recommend separation. But sometimes, it's the only tool left in the toolbelt. So I stepped out of the way, and God wielded it. Wow. That was HARD.
But you know what? It didn't suck. During the 8 months we were separated, God used that time to fill us both up again. Tom healed and worked on what God wanted him to work on. I healed and worked on what God wanted me to work on.
Tom moved home in April. Phew. God is good. Really good. Sometimes we just look at each other can't believe how much our marriage does NOT suck.
I have three things I did, when my marriage sucked, that I want to share with you. They helped me. And if your marriage sucks, maybe they'll help you too.
1. Give every major decision or conversation 24 hours (at LEAST) before acting on or discussing. 2 Kings 7:1 talks about "...this time tomorrow..." - let the topic rest for at least 24 hours.
During that time, pray. A lot. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you clarity, pray that you will be given a clean heart and settled spirit. For me, I had to leave, go back to the last place where I had felt truly at peace in order to connect with my clean heart and my settled (right) spirit. During that time of being away, in a place where I felt peaceful and safe, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I was filled with peace and surety and confidence. While actually separating was agonizingly difficult, I knew, deep in my soul, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. (As an aside, the process of 'this time tomorrow', for me, took about a year. I wasn't away all that time, but it took a LONG time. And that's a good thing.)
Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me... Psalm 51:10
2. Claim the promise that God is FOR your marriage.
Even in the midst of the turmoil of separation, I chose to believe that God's best for me was Tom. I prayed for my marriage to be healed, even demanding it of God. "God," I prayed, "You do not want us apart. You put us together. I'll do whatever it takes, Lord. Just FIX us!"
Granted, it didn't happen as fast as I wanted it to. Or in the way I'd expected. But God works in his own time and I chose to trust him, even when I didn't understand it. Will reconciliation happen for everyone? No. Both people have to be willing to work on a sucky marriage. But you can work on it, regardless of what your spouse does. And you can be SURE that you are right on target, praying for your marriage to be restored.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
A brief note on #2. I read an amazing book when I was separated. Actually, I read it about ten times. Broken Heart on Hold is hands-down the best book out there for separated spouses. The most encouraging message I received from this book was to wait. Really wait. She makes the point that studies show that many times it can take years for both people to work through hurt and pain, and heal enough to be able to focus on the marriage again. Sadly, most of time, spouses have moved on and remarried and never get the chance to experience true reconciliation. Don't give up hope! Hang in there. Which brings me to #3...
3. Surround yourself with people who are FOR your marriage.
Yes, initially it's validating and comforting to hear people trash your spouse and tell you that you deserve to be happy. It feels good to think about moving on (away) from the pain and hurt of your sucky marriage.
The best gift you can give your marriage are friends who are for your marriage. Friends who encourage you to stick it out, hold fast, and do the work. I had two such friends in my life, and in their own way, they both held my feet to that fire of commitment, each encouraging me to stay the course and be true. Was it hard? Yes. Did it suck? No. It was life-giving, even as it was infuriating at times.
Become wise by walking with the wise;
By choosing to listen to those who pushed me to work for my marriage, I began to heal, believing that if they could get through their own marital struggles, that I could too.
I'm not sure who needs to hear this, but I felt strongly that I needed to write it. If you are struggling with a sucky marriage, please feel free to contact me personally (email Rosalyn), I'd love to encourage you in your journey.
And if you're a been-there-done-that, please, chime in with an 'Amen' or words of encouragement.
8/7/2013 01:13:22 am
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am really struggling today in this gave me such hope and inspiration. I have been married 8 years and the most of that time my marriage to have sucked. this last year has been the hardest year of my life, an affair and separation are destroying my family. I get scared that if I pray to God to restore my marriage I will be sadly disappointed when it doesn't work out. but I also trust that God has a bigger plan for me and my family, I just need to slow down and let God do all the work. in the last 2 months we have been separated I pray daily for God to restore my marriage, the last week I have lost hope and I have stop asking for God to restore us. So thank you again for posting this I will continue to pray for restoration. God is truly amazing.
8/9/2013 12:27:08 am
8/7/2013 05:12:25 am
Thank you for once again repeating encouraging words. I too have read "Broken Heart on Hold" and felt very encouraged that God would intervene on my 2 year separation and my marriage could be restored. My husband is not a believer so doubt keeps creeping in! I am scared that maybe God will say "no" and 30 years with this man be over.I tell myself I must Let Go and Let God but, at times I still feel so much sadness. I try to remember that God has a "good" plan for me. I wait...
8/9/2013 12:29:25 am
8/7/2013 09:12:30 am
I liked your advice. While I can't say my marriage sucks, I can understand how hard it can be to stay when everything seems to be working against you and your partner. I especially liked # 3. Being around people who are for you marriage is essential. I have railed against people who were against mine. It is the best advice to remove yourself from those influences. I did and the resulting impact on my relationship with my spouse has been amazing. We're closer than ever. I'm glad things are working for your relationship as well.
8/9/2013 12:31:24 am
8/7/2013 01:21:03 pm
I have been praying for and standing for my marriage for almost 3 years, It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Right now I am very weary and am closer to giving up than ever before. My husband and I have been separated for 35 months but still legally married (Praise God!!!) We are both saved, please pray for us...that God will restore us and that I will, "be still and know that God is God and can do the impossible!
8/9/2013 12:24:13 am
8/10/2013 11:24:53 pm
Judy, I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone; and I am praying for you as well as all the women who have found themselves in this position.(It amazes me to find out just how many there are)! I also have been separated from my husband for 24 months and are still legally married. Sometimes the loneliness gets so hard ! ......Remember Gods promises; he has a plan for our lives and it will be a good one!!
8/16/2013 02:36:12 pm
Thank you Rosalyn for you article. I have been married for 26 years and had a very good marriage until the past 1 1/2 - 2 years when we began to grow apart (both to blame). My spouse is in the throes of a major midlife crisis, infidelity and all. We have been separated for 2 1/2 months and it seems like an eternity. It is a very lonely thing. But Linda's book has been a god send. I am on my third read. It is very comforting and has helped me reconnect with God. I truly believe he has a plan for my husband and me and it has a happy ending, but I know I have a lot of work to do on myself. And in the meantime God is working to heal my spouse also.For anyone out there going through similar turmoil take this time to reconnect to your spiritual side and work on yourself. The Hero's spouse is also a great site to help you cope.
8/19/2013 02:08:28 am
Thank you for taking the time to write Belinda! It's amazing, isn't it, how many of us struggle in our marriages? You are not alone - I am so glad you found Linda's great book. We are praying for you and your husband,
8/28/2013 11:11:30 pm
Thank you for your post. I need to know that others have gone through the pain of separation successfully. I have just started reading Broken Heart on Hold and it is already a comfort to me. My husband and I have been separated just three weeks and it already feels like forever. But I am using this time to reconnect with God which I needed anyway. I worry about how my husband is using this time and pray that God will work in his life as well even though he has never been a believer.
Rosalyn Price English
8/29/2013 05:02:08 am
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