Say What Now???
I’m sure you were not expecting the woman who wrote “Motivated to Love” to write a blog of this nature. You may ask, “Isn’t this hypocritical?” “Aren’t you talking out of both sides of your mouth?” It may seem that way, but before you stone me, hear me out…you may be shocked at the content of this post.
I have had literally hundreds of hurting spouses ask me the question that seems the most difficult to answer, “Should I stand for my marriage?” Well I decided to answer that question thoroughly once and for all. Now understand, I am all for standing for your marriage. Standing was what initiated restoration in my own marriage. However, there are certain mindsets, behaviors and situations that will make standing for your marriage more harmful than good.
What You Already Know
To start off, let me briefly talk about the reasons that you already know about. I do this so it is clear I fully support someone choosing to step away in these situations, but stick around for the reasons that dig a little bit deeper…they may surprise you. So let’s start with the basics. The first couple of reasons are widely known and accepted by most. They are also biblically supported.
Reason #1: Abuse
Abuse is NEVER ok. If you are experiencing any type of physical, verbal or emotional abuse, it is important that you step away. I have had people ask, “How do you decipher what verbal or emotional abuse looks like? If you fear for your life in any way, shape or form that is abuse. If you are being called out of your name repeatedly, being threaten or held against your will that is abuse. If you are being told you will be abandoned and/or stripped of financial support or necessities vital for you to live and/or support you and your children, that is abuse. If you want to stand for your spouse spiritually and pray for their healing, do so from afar. In these cases, your safety and well-being is most important…seek out help.
Reason #2: Infidelity
If your spouse is involved in an on-going affair and refuses to end it or they have walked out for an extended amount of time and refuse to return, you have a biblical right to go:
“On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go. You don’t have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:15-16 The Message (MSG)
Infidelity in and of itself is grounds for you to leave, however, if they are blatantly cheating and they openly taunt you with it, having no plans of stopping, it may be wise to step away. Even if it is just living apart for a season, this may be something to consider.
Married but Separated: Standing in Wisdom
Now, I work with many spouses who are standing FROM AFAR for their spouses who are currently involved with someone else, but the key words are “FROM AFAR”. If you feel a pulling in your spirit to stand follow your heart, but with wisdom. I discuss this type of stand here: Married but Separated: How To Handle an Unfaithful Spouse & Still Stand For Your Marriage in 5 Steps.
Let’s Go Deep
Ok, now that we have gotten the basics out of the way, let’s go a little deeper. You ready? Ok…let’s go. Here are other reasons why standing for your marriage will NOT work.
Reason #3: You are Double Minded.
You cannot stand for your marriage if you are still wrestling with the decision. Standing for your marriage is a faith stand and faith requires us to stand firm in it. Will you have weak moments in your faith yes! But if you are constantly going back and forth saying one day you want your marriage and then change your mind if you have a disagreement, you will experience nothing but confusion. If you choose to stand you must stay focused on it and seek God to lead you through it.
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8
Reason #4: You are Broken and Confused.
Standing for your marriage is a spiritual battle more than anything else. Think about it like this, when an army goes to battle do they go out unarmed and leaving themselves exposed for the enemy to have easy access to attack them? Absolutely not. They are fully equipped with the appropriate armor to face their enemy with strength and mighty force. We must do the same thing spiritually if we want to stand for our marriages.
“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17
Healed and Whole
If you do not seek God to heal you, make you whole and equip you FIRST you will not be able to stand for your marriage. If you are still broken and confused and have not received what God has available to you to stand with strength and power, you cannot stand in faith and love for your spouse. If you are at a point where you cannot eat, sleep or think straight let alone pray, you cannot stand from that position.
It is also important to remember brokenness cannot combat brokenness. If you and your spouse are in the same place, spiritually, emotionally and mentally you cannot be a light to their darkness.
Reason #5: Unwilling to Trust.
This is more for those who are in the beginning stages of reconciliation, but are still in a rocky place. I remember when my husband and I decided to reconcile our marriage. Things were still very awkward and there was still a lot of work to be done. But one thing I was struggling with was trusting him again. I didn’t share that with him because it wasn’t anything he could do about it. Instead I took it to God in prayer and trusted God to open me up again.
Every time I wanted to check his phone, computer or car I stopped myself and said, “God I trust you for the complete work you have done in my husband.” I had to make the decision to trust God for my husband’s change and through that act of faith, learn to trust my husband again taking it a day at a time.
Get Your Mind Right
If I would have looked at my husband with the “side-eye” every time he blinked funny, I would have lost my mind. I trusted God’s Word that said, “He will keep me in perfect peace, if my mind is stayed on Him.” God was faithful to His Word in my life because I made the decision to trust what He said. If my husband would have slipped up again, we would have had to address it, but love is about believing the best…if you are unwilling to believe and grow in trust until otherwise proven, standing will not work for you.
“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Reason #6: You Cannot Forgive.
Often times you hear people say, “I will never forgive them for that.” I understand where you are. I wasn’t sure how to forgive my husband for the emotional affair or for the hurtful words, but I trusted God to heal my heart and teach me how. Being in a place of unforgiveness is a dangerous place because God requires something different of us:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13
If we refuse to forgive God won’t forgive us or even hear our prayers. If God is not hearing your prayers, He will not work in your marriage because He won’t have anything to work with. This may be harsh, but it is real talk. There is no way your marriage will be able to grow past the pain of the past if you are still waiting for your spouse to fail again or you continue to brood over how they hurt you. If you want to stand for your marriage, you must forgive.
Reason #7: Unwilling to Change Your Perspective.
The Word of God tells us that we are to be a light in dark places. If I meet someone on the street who doesn’t know God who is rude, mean and unresponsive, it isn’t my job to tell them about themselves or take it personal, but to be an example of the love of Christ through my actions and the way I treat them. I must keep it in perspective that beneath their hard exterior, there is someone worthy of love and in need of healing. We must also keep in perspective that God is not a God of confusion, so if a person is displaying those characteristics, God may want to use us to shine His light into their darkness.
Can’t Give What you Don’t Have
Remember we cannot give what we don’t have. If a person is confused and unable to effectively communicate their feelings, that is what they will give off. If someone is broken and still needing healing from their past, that is what they will give off. If someone is empty they have nothing to give. To stand for a marriage in a healthy way, this must be our perspective, otherwise, the process will beat us down and suck us dry from feelings of rejection.
Is this something we are to be perfect at…no. Emotions will rise up and you may want to snap off, but it is the nature of God within us that helps us grow in love and patience for others. If we try to do it on our own, feelings and negative thoughts will rule us instead. This battle is more spiritual than anything else…if you are not willing to see the situation from that vantage point, you will not be able to stand.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
Reason #8: You Do Not Believe in Unconditional Love.
On a recent post on our Mend Our Marriage Facebook page, a young lady lamented, “Only God can love unconditionally! We are only human!” I actually don’t agree with that statement. When you have a relationship with God, you know the Bible tells us that the spirit of God lives within us:
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I Corinthians 3:16
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” I Corinthians 6:19
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20
No Greater Love
So although she was right, we are humans, we are believers that have the spirit of God within us and the power to love unconditionally. We have the power to choose to love in spite of and it is that type of love that can stand for a marriage. The Bible outlines for us the model of agape’ “Godlike” love:
“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” I Corinthians 13:4-7
Not Humanly Possible
What “human” could do all of this alone? There isn’t one. This type of commitment to love can only be led and grown through a relationship with God. If this type of love is not something you are willing to grow in with the help of God or something you feel you just cannot fathom giving to your spouse, standing will be impossible for you.
Reason #9: You Have Given ALL You have to Give.
You must make a decision. Yes, God hates divorce, but if you keep finding yourself getting to a place where you are becoming someone you do not recognize and your ability to hold on to faith for your marriage has dwindled down to nothing you may need to re-evaluate things. If you have honestly sought God faithfully, consulted with and listened to wise counsel, have a solid support system and still find yourself cold and unable to get past your hurt, anger and unforgiveness, you may need to step away. If you have just gotten to the place where no one not even God can give you peace about staying in your marriage, you may need to move on.
Standing Isn’t for Everyone
What we receive from God is vital to this stand and we cannot stand without His Word, His strength and His authority in us. Standing isn’t going to be something everyone can commit to do. Can God still heal and restore your marriage…definitely. However, God isn’t going to force anything upon anyone. We must be honest and transparent with ourselves. God also wants us to be honest and transparent with Him. I won’t tell you to leave your marriage because that isn’t my place to do, but understand if you are in this place, trying to stand for your marriage will be impossible to do.
Reason #10: You Do Not Have an Intimate Relationship with God.
All steps lead straight to this one. If your own will and emotions speak louder than the voice of God, He cannot truly but the leading force in your life. There is absolutely no hope to stand in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances without a very close relationship with God. If the spirit of God does not live inside of you, there is no way the concept of standing for your marriage will even make sense to you.
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” I Corinthians 2:14
I Didn’t Really Know HIM
It took the almost destruction of my marriage for me to realize I loved God, but really didn’t know Him or trust Him with my life. God’s Word did not speak louder in my life than the opinions of others. I always said God was good, but panicked and let fear take over when things didn’t go “my” way.
I was Desperate
Many thought I stood for my marriage from a place of desperation and they were right…I stood from a place desperate for God to show me HIS way. I was desperate for God to fill me and build me up for ME first, so I had something to stand on for my marriage. He spoke to my heart to stand for my marriage and I constantly filled myself up with His promises and His Word as I trusted His work in our lives.
Standing for your marriage is a FAITH WALK. Your faith and relationship with God must be strong, ever growing and something you nurture without abandonment. We cannot walk in faith, forgive, trust, pray, love or endure anything if God is not the true foundation of our lives.
Get to Know HIM
It is only when we learn who God is, how and why He loves us, who He created us to be and what He promises us that we can be a complete and whole person. Only when a person has peace and joy within themselves can they commit to standing for a marriage. So you may not be able to stand for your marriage in your own strength, but with God in your life and guiding your steps anything is possible.
You may ask, “How does one do ALL that?” Take it from a person who was there before. “All that” takes time, discipline and consistency. If you read this article and you desire to stand for your marriage, but have no clue how to get started on this journey, my book Motivated to Love will give you the tools and resources that will encourage and support you as you seek healing, wholeness and fulfillment in God as you grow to a place where you can stand strongly for your marriage.
I encourage you to learn more about this resource that has changed thousands of marriages here: Motivated To Love
Also, I invite you to join our Mastering Marriage 7 Day Email Prayer Challenge by subscribing below. By doing so, you will have access to our email list where you will receive 7 specific prayers for you to pray over your marriage over the next 7 days plus tons of free resources and tools just like this article that can help enhance your marriage.