I knew he was my husband on our first date. We were polar opposites: he a logical, mathematical genius and I a free spirited dreamer. At first glance we were an unlikely pair, but I soon discovered what people said about opposites was true: they attract.
He proposed after 6 months. God, in his sovereignty, crafted a much-needed intervention prior to our long awaited nuptials. Finally, after almost two intense years of counseling we crossed the threshold of singleness into what I thought would be a perpetual in-love-euphoria. But I was wrong.
I had not factored in the reality that neither one of us grew up in a two parent home. We had not witnessed what love looked like in the midst of work, stress, misunderstandings, trauma, kids, job loss, irritating quirks and crisis. We were like tourists in a foreign country trying to speak a language we did not know.
Overtime, life seemed to chip away at the infrastructure of our marriage like water on drywall. Eventually, we were left with an eroded semblance of the love we started out with. I found myself hurt, broken, angry, and disillusioned with my idealized wedded bliss.
I think this is the place many women find themselves right before they trade their “I do” for an “I don’t.” I don’t apologize. I refuse to wink at the underwear on the floor or put the toilet seat down. I’m tired of covering a multitude of sins. I’m done with this thing called marriage.
Though this world has evolved into an “I quit” culture, the Bible admonishes us to fight for our marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV) it says, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.” Period.
Excluding adultery and abandonment (and a need to seek professional assistance if you are being physically or emotionally abused), there is little wiggle room for the woman who is tempted to mentally and emotionally abandon her husband. In the absence of escape clauses, women are left with lingering questions as to how they are to stay married to someone they have fallen out of love with.
I have learned a few nuggets of wisdom in 13 years that have transformed my perspective on more than one occasion. These lessons are a combination of my own personal failure and the truth that can only be found in the Word of God.
I used to believe that love was a feeling. Now I know it is a daily, moment by moment choice. Great marriages happen because two people decide to make it work. Sometimes this is done in the face of extreme obstacles.
Women may have husbands who are unemployed, depressed, alienated from the church, or just down right difficult to live with. When we find ourselves in this place, we must purpose to put on our proverbial big girl panties and choose to love the man we may deem unlovable. The motivation and strength needed to commit to and maintain this stance can only come from God.
Why else would we choose forgiveness, sacrifice, and selflessness? The only compelling reason I can think of is the audacious love of Christ demonstrated on a cross. Thus, a choice to love our husbands becomes a reflection of the love God shows us.
When we were mired in sin, distant in our communication, and reluctant to acknowledge our relationship with God, He had already made His decision about us. Without ever having second thoughts, He chose to love the unlovable. It is out of our gratitude to Him that we love others: including the husbands.
I realize offering prayer as a solution may be perceived as the typical thing Christians recommend. For some, prayer has been shoved to the furthest end of the totem pole, taking a back seat to “3 Steps to a Better Marriage” blog posts, “21 Days to Bliss” devotionals, and “How to Get the Love You Desire” webinars. Our society is obsessed with microwavable cures for everything, including our marriages; but lasting change takes time.
When it comes to our heart and that of our spouse we must begin on our knees, which is not always a quick fix. Here we have the opportunity to communicate specifically and directly to the creator of the universe who controls all things; even our husbands.
There is no problem off limits; nothing is taboo. Whether the issues be communication, finances, sex, or our bad attitude, we can boldly plead our case before Him. If we have fallen out of love with our spouse, falling in love again can begin with prayer.
“. . .The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." >James 5:16 (NIV)
#3 Refuse to Compare
Comparison has almost become the acceptable sin. After all, we live in an age where everyone else’s fabulous life is just a swipe away. But maybe our marriages were healthier before we had the Jones family in such close proximity: before we saw our neighbor’s 2 dozen roses plastered across Facebook.
Sometimes, we may need a degree of separation from social media, television and books that magnify who are husband is not rather than who he is. For some of us, our husband’s best efforts may look like dinner and a movie. For others taking out the trash may be his biggest, “I love you.”
Making the choice to magnify and compliment our husband’s efforts will free him up to love us more. Constantly complaining will only cause him to withdraw and shut down. We must ask God to give us a heart of gratitude as we learn to delight ourselves in Him and trust that He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4 KJV).
You may be a newbie on your marital journey, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. Maybe you’re a veteran who has watched your husband morph into a stranger. If these or other scenarios are the case for you, be encouraged; there is hope. No circumstance is beyond God’s reach.
I say this with much confidence amidst the backdrop of several recent high profile divorces in the Christian community. This is not to mention the stories of friends, neighbors, and church members whose marriages ended in heart wrenching divorce. But the reality of divorce does not diminish the power of God and His ability to heal and restore broken marriages.
The word of God is true. He is “. . .able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. . ." Ephesians 3:20 (KJV). Although we pray for specific outcomes our prayers may not be answered in the way we would like them to be. For this reason, our hope must not rest in ideal outcomes but in the God who is the outcome giver. He alone controls our circumstance, hearts and is able to cause us to fall in love with our husbands again.
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Kia Stephens is a wife and homeschooling mama of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each week through practical and biblically sound teaching she encourages women to exchange father wounds for the love of God the Father. You can connect with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.