An Unhappy Marriage Isn’t Hopeless

Marriage Michelle Lindsey July 27, 2015

I’d like you give you an update on my marriage.

After all, I can’t sit here at my keyboard and tell you what to do in your lives and marriages, as if I know your circumstances. I can only speak on two things. Our own experience, and the truth of God’s Word.

In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller told us 85% of unhappy marriages would report that they were happy five years later.

We weren’t very happy five years ago!

People judged us. Counselors worked hard with us. Friends dropped us. Pastors prayed for us. But God . . . He was with us. He answered our prayers and held us together. If we had bailed, we would have missed out on a beautiful story of redemption. And that is what we all need more than anything, right? Redemption?

I think it’s important you hear this from me.

We too had almost lost hope. Seventeen years of issues that had been ignored came piling in on top of us, and we felt unable to climb out above it all. I’ll tell you one thing: Self-Help doesn’t help. We needed an outside source of grace and peace and love. We had distorted what a promise even looked like.

Thankfully, Jesus is the perfect Keeper of promises, and we simply waited and held on. But we didn’t give up. Some of the best things come to us when we just wait. (Ask Moses, Job, David, Noah, Abigail, Mary, Paul . . . the list goes on.)

Standing firm no matter what

It’s tough being in this culture and having to wait, because we are used to instant gratification. But something so important as our legacy, and our relationship between each other and to God deserves patience. So after each argument, each puddle of tears, each mumbled swear word, each angry insult . . . we held on.

We waited. We didn’t write goodbye notes, or call lawyers, or drive away. Why? Because we knew marriage was a reflection of God’s unending love for us, and since He didn’t leave us, we would not leave each other. Ever.

Don’t feel judged by me, dear friend, if you have left. I am not here to point fingers because I know how hard it is. I am only telling our story, in hopes of encouraging others who might be ready to pack that suitcase. It CAN and DOES get better. Many times over I have heard stories of reconciliation in the face of what looked like impossible circumstances.

Chasing the dream come true

I know it’s hard to not daydream of that second marriage, the one that looks like a Pinterest board. The one where you cry with happiness because you finally feel loved. You are finally happy like you have always deserved. That elusive Mr. Right is looking into your eyes with rapture. He is listening to you, and thinks you are awesome. But I have a crazy thought:

What if the struggle is actually the fairy tale?

What if loving through pain is what brings real joy? Not just in heaven one day, but here, on earth? 

What if true love isn’t about feelings but about seeing the worst and staying anyway?

My point is this: We WANTED to give up. But we DIDN’T, and we are THANKFUL we stayed.

I love my husband.

If you knew me five years ago, you are now standing and clapping. You know who you are. Scott is so precious to me because I know far we have come, and we loved each other at the worst moments. When you love despite hurt and pain, you come out on the other side stronger. You have a deep abiding kind of love that anchors you to the deep truth that true love involves sacrifice and even pain.

Five years after our saddest point we are more in love than ever

I am talking goosebumps, butterflies, walking on air love. Do we still fight and argue? Does he push my buttons just for fun? Do I exasperate him beyond belief? Yes, but it’s different. It’s like we have this security now that we never had.

When you make it through a war, the battles aren’t as scary.

The wounds are still fresh in our minds, so we are less likely to lash out. We tread lighter with each other. I don’t want to hurt him because I know what hurt feels like. I want to forgive him because I have been forgiven. It’s the Gospel at work, healing, sanctifying, and carrying us forward.

If you would like to chat with me more about this, send me a private message. I don’t want you feeling alone in this huge endeavor called marriage. Of course, as always, if you are in an unsafe situation, I am not suggesting you stay. But separation and divorce are two very different things. Sometimes separating can be a tool for reconciliation. Sometimes your spouse has no desire to change, so all you can do is wait, and hope for the best. And sometimes that is from a distance, but with the goal of healing the relationship.

In the meantime, God will be enough.

That sounds trite, but it’s actually so important you know this. It’s what carried me many times. Because your spouse cannot be your savior, or your source of life. It’s easy to make marriage an idol, and without it we feel worthless. But God is first and foremost what you need. And He won’t ever hurt you, or leave you. When that is securely in your mind and heart, it’s easier to navigate through marriage problems.

Your marriages mean a lot to us

That is why we spend so much time trying to connect with you. This is not a business venture for us. We pay more than we receive. I only say this so that you know you matter to us. When we share our hearts, it’s because we want you to know you aren’t alone. We face the same struggles, the same longings, the same doubts and fears.

We are all in this together.