Friday, June 17, 2011

Wrestling with God for my Broken Marriage

When folks ask about my marriage, I usually tell them, “I’ve been married nearly twelve years, the last five or so happily.”  

Lest you think it’s all rainbows and puppy dogs around here – happily does not mean blissfully. We’ve still got our issues. But those first five years…the only word that truly captures their essence is miserable. (Now, you’re thinking that five plus five only equals ten; those two years in-between are what I fondly refer to as the wrestling years.)

Here’s a little background for you: 

I accepted Christ as a little girl, and renewed my commitment to Him each summer at Bible camp, but I lived through the school year no different than my unbelieving classmates and friends. 

Living my life as I did, it’s not really a surprise that I found myself pregnant at nineteen. Unlike many teen moms, I was lucky to be dating a guy that planned to stick by my side. As most of you parents probably know, there’s nothing like having a child to bring someone back to their faith. 

Enter five years of misery… 

My husband tried to be supportive of my faith. He didn’t complain about me taking our son to church. In fact, I think he appreciated the silent morning of sleeping in each week. We had a church wedding. He agreed to it because it was important to me. My faith was okay, as long as it didn’t affect him. 

Honestly, I think that he tried to be a good husband to me. I know he wanted to please me and make me happy. But I couldn’t be pleased. Instead, I picked and prodded, begged and cajoled, fighting for him to join us at church on Sunday mornings. And as I grew in my walk with the Lord and was convicted of my sin, I decided to act as the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life, convicting him of all his sinful ways.

They say that women go into marriage thinking of all the ways they can change their men, and men go into marriage hoping that their wives never change at all. 

The change in me was probably a frightening sight to observe. I shifted from liberal thinking to deeply black-and-white conservative. I jumped from wild and free living to rigid, rule-driven, legalistic, and judgemental. And all this with a husband who was raised to believe that Christians are all brainwashed, and their goal in life is to brainwash others. 

The turning point for me was the day my husband packed his bags. He had overheard me praying on the phone with a friend. The praying was, let’s say, a little bit charismatic. He was freaked out! Who can blame him? 

I had an epiphany in that moment. I knew, without a doubt, that there was no way I could change my husband. There was no way I could make him happy. There was no way he could bring me satisfaction. I could not change him or fix him or save him. I could not save my marriage. 

All of those things were under God’s area of responsibility. The only tasks placed under my care were: love my husband and obey God. 

In an instant, I was released from my misery. My husband was released from my tyranny. I stopped wrestling within my marriage and began wrestling with God. 

I would grab on tight and cry out, Lord, save my marriage!
            He assured me, Trust me, your marriage is in My hands.

I dug in hard and prayed, God, reveal Yourself to my husband!
            He soothed me, I will, I am, through you and your obedience. 

When I felt pinned, I would ask God, Why don’t you change him?
            He replied, Why don’t you let Me change you? 

When I felt like I was being attacked by a tag-team I would wail, But God, it’s not fair! I deserve to be treated better. I deserve to be happy!
            He answered, Find your happiness in Me. 

I would be mad and storm around the house, thinking to myself how I was NOT going to do his laundry. And God would tell me to serve my husband. 

I would be hurt and determined that I had to speak my mind. And God would tell me to shut my mouth. (I cannot count the number of times God had to tell me to shut up!)

I would be lonely and depressed, entertaining fantasies of divorce or death, and then doing things the right way with a Christian husband. And God would tell me that the right way was to honor the husband I was given. 

I wrestled and struggled, crying out, I will not let go until You bless me! 

My husband began to attend church with us occasionally. Then more regularly. He agreed to attend a church-led marriage retreat. He agreed to join a home group through the church.

He was baptized on February 29th, 2004. He went on short-term missions trips to Haiti in the falls of 2009 and 2010. He has served in our church with the youth, the children, and the men.  

My husband is the Christian husband I prayed for. He is a man of prayer. He is man of integrity. He is a man of faith. He is the spiritual leader in our home. 

In a little over two weeks, I will be celebrating my twelfth anniversary. Twelve years married, the last five or so happily. Every single moment held in the hands of a loving Father.

* This post was originally published as a guest post for Angela Mackey's Wrestling with God series on Rethinking My Thinking.

This post has been linked up to Sheila Wray Gregoire's Wifey Wednesday series on To Love, Honor, and Vacuum.


  1. Love, Love, Love this post. So true in so many ways. I am so glad that you wrestled through. Happy Anniversary to you and your husband!

  2. WoW! Great post. I am encouraged. And all the things you said are SO true. It's wonderful to see the wisdom you've gained. Thanks for sharing. And thank you for your sensitivity to the Lord. I've been married for 6 years and love my husband...but it's amazing the struggles you can encounter. Love is definitely NOT all you need the Lord in the dead center of it all...


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