What Do We Do When Marriage Is Hard?

Lynette Kittle

iBelieve Contributors
Updated Feb 05, 2024
What Do We Do When Marriage Is Hard?

Wives, although a hard pill to swallow, we want to ask ourselves and God if our unwillingness to submit to our own husbands reveals rebellion in our hearts towards God.

Some couples speak of blissful-filled marriages, where spending time together is wonderful and the constant conversations never end. It’s wonderful, too, to hear of these ideal, trouble-free unions. Who wouldn’t want to reside in such a carefree, easy sort of relationship where husband and wife are each other’s best friends?

For other couples though, it’s a very different story. Staying married is filled with challenges, and for many, just trying to get along, communicate, and co-reside in a home is an ongoing battle.

There’s also lots of chatter in our culture concerning marriage, relationships, and red flags, including opinions and advice from a secular, unbiblical viewpoint that doesn’t align with God’s truth. It’s important when going through marital challenges that we don’t turn to worldly views because they’re tickling our ears with what we want to hear, feel, and do rather than the truth of God’s Word.

Likewise, we often look around and see couples we think have it all together, but even in marriages that appear to be solid with the perfect couple, it can be hard. Evangelist Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, is credited with saying, when asked if she ever considered divorce, “No, but murder, yes.”

Why Fight for a Marriage That’s Hard?

Tragically, marriage is under severe attack. Society is working to have people devalue, avoid, mock, and redesign it. However, God designed marriage to be a sacred union, respected, revered, and held holy before Him.

Our culture has been whittling marriage down to a legal contract for whoever wants to marry. But marriage is a sacred covenant designed by God. Men’s and women’s laws do not have the power to reinvent it.

Marriage is so vital to God and His plan for His followers because it represents the relationship between His Church and Jesus Christ. It’s why the devil is out in full force, attacking and ripping marriages apart, set on destroying and stopping God’s will on earth.

Revelation 19:7 describes Christ and His Church to come: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.”

More than most Christians realize, marriage is more than worth the fight, just like the Church of Jesus Christ is worth fighting the battle. Believers unwilling to fight for their marriages may find it too hard to stand up and fight for the Church.

Why Bother to Save a Difficult Marriage?

It is vital for believers in Jesus Christ to take their earthly marriage vows with reverence and commitment, understanding that it is a covenant with God and with each other, not a contract. Ephesians 5:25-33 explains how, through the mystery of earthly marriage designed to form an unbreakable bond between husband, wife, and God, He reveals the mystery of His Bride, the Church.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through word and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27

God designed marriage as the model for what the Church is to be—the Body of Christ on Earth. Ephesians 5:28-30 goes on to explain, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the Church—for we are members of His body.”

As Ephesians 5:31 explains, God created marriage as a profound mystery that reveals His eternal plan for Christ and His Church: “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the Church.”

Where Do Couples Turn for Help?

For those who struggle in their marriages but want to do whatever they can to stay married, what can they do to keep going?

What does a wife do if her spouse is distant, unresponsive, uninterested, or uninvolved? Does she sit him down and cross-examine him in hopes of finding out what’s going on? Perhaps for some couples, this course of action works, but especially for most men, they seem to clam up when being put on the spot and questioned. But what does God’s Word lead a wife to do? 

At times when our marriage is in distress, we can turn to Scripture and trust what it tells us to do in difficult situations, especially when it comes to marriage. God gives us His Word to encourage, strengthen, and comfort us when marriage is hard. 

Where Do a Husband and Wife Begin?

The following are five ways we can practice scriptural truths in our marriages in a way that helps us stay married:

1. Pray. First and most importantly, wives can pray for their husbands. 1 Timothy 2:1 encourages, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.”

If at all possible, pray with them. By doing so, we’re letting God work through the words the Holy Spirit is leading us to say to soften his heart. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 urges us to “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 

2. Follow God’s Word. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

So what do we say to ourselves when our hearts are leading us to leave our marriages and go with our fun-loving neighbor down the street? Or our co-worker in the office who gets us or the outgoing man at the coffee shop who notices us, pays extra attention, listens to our stories, and makes us feel attractive and wanted?

The world’s advice to “follow our heart” can lead us straight off a steep cliff. We can’t trust our hearts to take us in the right direction. Mark 7:21-22 explains, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.”

When temptation comes, we can turn to God to help us, and He will. In our weakness, we can turn to Him, follow His Word, and He will lead us to safety. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

3. Choose Love. Unlike what songs, films, and poems often profess, love is not a feeling. It’s a decision. Although we may not like to admit it, feelings are often tied to how our spouse makes us feel, so when feelings diminish or change, which they usually do, we often believe we no longer love them. 

But what some call love, the feeling that comes and goes with a whim and changes with the breeze, is not a love that comes from God because His love lasts; it never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

True love is not a fleeting kind of love but rather a choice to love when it’s hard, with the love of God that is strong enough to cover sin. To endure a hard marriage is to let the love of God flow through us to our spouse. 1 Peter 4:8 urges us to “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

4. Forgive Each Other. Colossians 3:13 encourages us to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Although many see this as forgiving everyone but their spouse, marriage is probably where this godly principle is needed the most and is given the greatest opportunity to be practiced. Ruth Bell Graham stated, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

5. Submit to One Another. Although some consider it demeaning in practice, even now in some Christian circles, submission is a beautiful act of sacrifice and worship to God. True submission is not about the other person but has everything to do with our reverence and obedience to Christ. Ephesians 5:21 urges, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

We’re called to submit to each other, including our husbands, which stirs up strong reactions from many women, who find it easier to do with almost anyone else rather than to their husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-2 urges, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

Wives, although a hard pill to swallow, we want to ask ourselves and God if our unwillingness to submit to our own husbands reveals rebellion in our hearts towards God. The enemy of our souls doesn’t want us to submit to God and convinces us it is a weakness to do so, which is a lie because it’s quite the opposite. 

Submission causes the devil to flee from us. James 4:7 explains, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Marriage to Be Honored by All

Hebrews 13:4 calls for marriage to be honored by all, and this is why the devil and his cohorts are ruthlessly at work to destroy and deconstruct God’s sacred design.

So how are couples able to withstand the vicious assaults against holy matrimony? God’s Word gives us the answer: by praying, following God’s Word, choosing to love one another, forgiving each other, and submitting one to another in obedience to Christ. 

These are key to transforming a hard marriage into one that reflects Christ and His Church on Earth.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.