I have a friend (more than one, actually) whose marriage feels as though it's about to implode. Trust has been broken too many times, words that cut delivered with every disagreement, and the heartache seems unending.
I've been there. Spent a good five years in that place, in fact. All I have to do is close my eyes and I am instantly transported back to the days of dull, aching, pain in my head, gut, chest, and throat - symptoms of a heart that is breaking over and over again. It's hard for me to recall what we argued over or why we had such a hard time loving, but the feelings that accompanied the trials are never far.
I thank God every day for my husband and our marriage...because for a number of years I never really believed we'd make it. But God knew. And He took each tiny ounce of willingness we offered and grew it exponentially. Today, after eleven and a half years of marriage, I am very much in love and know that I am loved and treasured.
So I do not say this lightly...
My sweet friend, you and you alone have the power to save your marriage from the depths of destruction. The world will tell you that "it takes two," and that "you deserve better," and "sometimes it's better to let go." Your own heart will tell you those same things. But there is something you need to know... The world is lying to you. You heart will deceive you. That feeling of wanting to give up - it's a big, fat lie from the very pit of hell.
It takes only one willing heart to save a doomed marriage. One willing heart that is bowed down in submission and obedience to the One True God.
Here are three things you can do to begin the restorative work in your marriage.
1. Don't believe your feelings. Your feelings will deceive you almost every time. Instead, when you feel hurt, abandoned, betrayed, justified, or angry, stop. Right then and there - step away and stop. Ask God, "What is Your Truth in this situation?" Listen for His answer in your heart and search out His Word for confirmation. Then write down the Truth. When you are tempted to let your emotions take over (we're women, when are we not?), grab that piece of paper and remind yourself of the Truth.
2. Stop trying to make things better. Us women, we want to talk thing through until they're resolved. Men, on the other hand, need to think things through. Alone. We think we need to follow them around, pushing and prying until they will "talk it out." We're wrong. To a man, our path to resolution looks and feels like we are starting a fight. Instead, talk it through with God. Work out those feelings in a letter (one that is destroyed after you're done writing, reading, and re-reading it). Pour it out to a trusted girlfriend - someone who loves you so much that you know she will never hate your husband or encourage you to give up.
3. Communicate your love to him in a way he understands. Not in the way you understand. Read and re-read The Five Love Languages and Love and Respect. Figure out what actions and words communicate to his heart, then use them. And when you feel like you've got nothing left to give, keep doing it. Not for him, not even for yourself, but for Him. Offer all your love to Jesus, and when your husband crosses your path, let it bump into him too. (And not that I need to mention it, but there is one way that almost all men hear "I love you." *wink*)
I can't promise you it will come easily. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that this will be the hardest thing you've ever done in your life. But I can promise you this - God has a good plan for you and your life (Jeremiah 29:11), He loves you and your husband (Jeremiah 31:3), and He is for your marriage (Malachi 2:16). While you may be tempted to give up...on your marriage, on your man, on yourself...God will never give up. So give it to Him, let Him fight the battle for you, and all you need to do is walk in obedience. One day at a time.
With just one wiling heart, bent in obedience, God can not only save your marriage, He can restore it completely! (Joel 2:25)
P.S. Lest you think too highly of me, those three things were learned the hard way in my life. Shoot, I have to keep on re-learning them on a daily basis! Especially the part about not following him around trying to make him talk about stuff...