Is this you? You had high hopes for your marriage, but those dreams seem to have crashed and burned. Yet, you still want to make your marriage work. Can you save your marriage alone? Should you even try?
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It is not useless for one spouse to try and save a marriage. Even alone, you can change the relationship enough to save it. Yes, it would be more efficient if you and your spouse are working on it together, but if your spouse sees changes in you, it may be easier for you to pull them on board later.
If you are trying to decide if you should try to save your marriage, there are two hard facts about your relationship you need to remember.
- God will never change your spouse for you. They have to want to change. If they do it just for you, it will most likely be just a surface change, not something deep and lasting. Let God deal with them and let them decide to make the changes.
- God won’t send you someone as a possible replacement for your spouse. He wants you to try and fix your marriage whenever possible. He’s not going to send you someone for you to commit adultery with. This is also true of emotional affairs. Avoid connecting that closely with someone else of the opposite sex. It won’t end well.
Signs you should keep fighting for your marriage
If you are not sure if you should go to battle for your marriage, you should do it. A divorce is only an option in severe cases. If you’re not sure if you should leave, then it probably doesn’t reach that standard, and you have a strong chance of making things work.
If you have kids, you should fight as hard as you can to make it work. As long as your kids are safe, they should have both parents in the home. You also should consider if raising your kids is causing the problems in your marriage.
If you look at your spouse and there is still a glimmer of that spark you once had, there is probably still something there worth saving. Try to focus your thoughts about your spouse to these positive feelings.
Was your marriage good at one time? If it was, it is possible to get back to the way things once were. Reminisce with your spouse about the fun you had when you first started dating, and try to recreate those feelings.
Unfortunately, our marriages are not safe from all of the problems that the world throws at us. If most of the issues in your relationship are coming from outside influences like family, friends, or other sources, try to work things out.
When fighting for your marriage alone may not work
Adultery is the only biblical reason where God accepts divorce. If your spouse breaks the marriage covenant by sleeping with someone else, God will release you from your commitment.
Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. Hebrews 13:4 NLT
However, divorce is never required! Even in situations where one spouse has been unfaithful, the marriage can be saved with a considerable amount of work from both of you. If your spouse is unwilling to do that hard work, then divorce could be inevitable.
If your spouse is not a Christian, and they abandon you, you, as a believer, are free to divorce and remarry. You can NOT initiate the separation! Nor should you try to make them miserable enough that they leave on their own. Your goal should be to work things out, not break things up.
However, if the one who is not a believer wishes to leave the Christian partner, let it be so. In such cases the Christian partner, whether husband or wife, is free to act. God has called you to live in peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15 GNT
God wants the best for His people. I cannot imagine that God wants anyone who is genuinely being abused to stay in the situation.
The marriage covenant creates one flesh from two individuals. Dr. Beth Felker Jones, Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton College, says, “If committing violence against the one who is supposed to be ‘one flesh’ with you isn’t a violation of God’s intentions for marriage as a faithful, one-flesh union, I don’t know what is.”
BUT… Be careful what you consider to be abuse. Physical abuse is easy to identify. If your spouse is putting hands on you in anger, it’s abuse. Emotional abuse can be a little harder to discern. Some people may believe it’s not happening when it is. And some people call it abuse when they get into arguments or don’t laugh at the other person’s jokes! Some of these are no reason to opt-out of your marriage covenant.
So, should I try to save my marriage?
The topic of divorce doesn’t have any generic, all-encompassing answers that fit every situation. God’s Word guides us, though.
If you wonder if you should try to save your marriage alone, pray about it. Find someone to talk to about the situation. Preferably someone neutral. Your best friend is going to blame your spouse all the way. You want someone who can see the circumstances clearly and without bias.
If you don’t have anyone you know who fits that description, we’d love to help you out by being that impartial party. You can have a free marriage coaching session with us with no obligation to do anything further.
Remember, you control your actions when you try to save your marriage, but you cannot control the results.
You can do everything right and still have your marriage end because of your spouse. Farmers can plant and water and take all the correct steps and yet have a poor harvest because of bad weather, like the derecho that hit Iowa and surrounding states this summer, or a drought.
If you want to try and save your marriage, and your spouse seems to be destined to head out the door, you may find the book It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse—and How You Can, Too by Winifred M. Reilly. With chapters like “Don’t Be Afraid to Change First” and “Keep Your Anxiety From Running the Show,” this book shows you how you can be the pace-setter for the change you want to be in your marriage.