why I write
There are tons of books and blogs out there with heaps of advice on how to make your marriage work better. How it should look; how it should be. What is right for her and what is right for him and lots of them are right! What each of you should be doing – then, according to that writer, you will have a happily ever after and growing marriage … life in the sunshine!
But, what about when it doesn’t get better? What about when the sun shines less and less until finally – not at all. What about craving the sunshine so badly and only seeing more rain?
You’ve read the books and the blogs and gone to the women’s conferences. You are trying desperately to do your part but nothing seems to change. Sounds pretty dismal doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately, there are seasons in marriage that fall into the dismal category, that‘s just the truth. Some are short seasons and some are agonizingly long.
I write to help my sisters – wives who find themselves in a hurting marriage; that dark, wet and warring place. The place known as – for worse, in the vow, “for better or for worse.”
It is my deep desire to encourage you in hope and make that step of determination to walk in faith instead of what you see in your marriage. (2 Corinthians 5:7) It is my prayer that you will take heart in allowing God to build your character and muscles of faith through a hurting and dysfunctional marriage. That you can do it! Don’t give up. You can stay in the fray – that place just before happily ever after.
What I share comes from that place. The place that is in between, the utopian beginning of “I DO” at the church altar and that seemingly elusive bliss of happily ever after - there sits, up with marriage – in the middle; unafraid and unashamed of past seasons of confusion from an aching heart. Flooded with pain, hurt and hate – unforgiveness and some of the most unloving thoughts and prayers ever uttered by a wife ‘for‘ a husband — there I sat.
too much confusion
If you’ve read the books, talked to people, a Pastor or two and even marriage counselors and change is minimal at best and is short-lived; you know what I‘m talking about. Then you are back to struggling again. Round and round and round it goes. It isn’t that happily ever after isn’t possible – it is! It’s just that the word after isn’t the same as the word middle and while I was there, living in the middle, I learned that there were three problems:
1) I didn’t really understand that marriage belongs to God and His idea of ‘happily ever after’ was different than mine. As with everything else in life that we think we understand. (Isaiah 55:8-9) I wanted happily ever after before its time: I wanted to pick the fruit before it was ready.
2) Nothing was going to change in me (or the marriage) as long as my view was directed at my husband. As long as I focused on his responsibility in marriage – it was impossible for me focus on my responsibilities – his sin always got in my way. This is why, when I write on up with marriage I always have the wife ‘at fault’ or the one who carries the ‘shortcomings’ and needs to be the one to learn the most in the marriage. In most of my posts you can interchange husband for wife – for spiritual maturity is required of all of us. But it was this focus on Darrell’s faults that was the greatest stumbling block of blindness for me. What I desire for wives reading is to forget about their husbands sins, faults, shortcomings (whatever you want to call them) and to seriously focus on their own growth into spiritual warriors in spite of their husbands‘ behaviour: Only God can change his heart – not me.
3) There was a secret I didn’t understand in application of the Bible to marriage. It’s easy to comprehend, yet took me years to apply: I was in a dual relationship with the same man. Horizontally Darrell is my husband. Vertically Darrell is my brother in Christ. This revelation came through understanding Sarah’s dual relationship with Abraham. They were brother and sister (half siblings in the natural) but also, they are our father and mother in the faith – which makes me a daughter and Darrell a son; we are spiritual siblings. Moreover, God is my Father – I am His daughter. God is Darrell’s Father – he is His son — this makes us sister and brother in the eternal realm. Eternal is permanent therefore rates higher than temporal: Darrell my brother takes priority over Darrell my husband.
In regards to Christians and divorce there are basically two schools of thought:
No – you can’t get a divorce and these are the verses in the Bible that say so (then a raft of quoted verses that support the view of “God hates divorce”.) This knowledge of the law although necessary and great for obedience – lacks heart. Jesus came to fill the law with His heart.
Then there is the other view.
Yes – you can get a divorce (then a raft of quoted verses that support their view of the grace of Christ). The trouble with this view is that it’s open to the emotional interpretation of circumstances; it is subjective – how much pain and hurt am I supposed to endure? Thus, ignoring the intention of the law.
Neither perspective balanced me but instead left me confused, which added more anxiety. Both views made Biblical sense, but neither view brought the peace that I was seeking. The peace that Jesus talked about, His Peace –John 14:27
Initially I stayed (I’m super pig-headed – not my most redeeming quality, but hey, God uses anything and everything!) mostly because I thought I had to: The Law. It was purely obedience to knowledge. What I learned was that obedience to knowledge is all about the head; it is without heart. I came dangerously close to completion as a first-class Pharisee. The law might be a starting point, but it cannot finish the job – And as such, your heart is left, for the most part, unchanged.
This was my correction to God’s reality: Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ’Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour. -Matthew 7:1-5
It was the covenant promise to stay married that God used to morph my heart from The Law to Grace; this taught me love – Christ’s love. Previously I thought it had to be either: Law – you cannot divorce; or Grace – you can divorce. But it’s not one or the other; it’s both – they work in tandem:
Therefore love meets all the requirements
and is the fulfilling of the law.
But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. –Galatians 3:24-25
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A word from Darrell:
To truly own a chain of events or circumstances and advise others with their own struggles in marriage, you must have lived it yourself. In this experience, you usually don’t live it flawlessly; scars, baggage and even damage will ultimately shape you. My wife, Robyn, has been through and continues to wade through, a marriage that has been to say the least, exasperating. I was a hardened anti-Christian and quite honestly, had given up on mankind in general.
Up with marriage is a culmination of Robyn’s experience in the trenches of faith and marriage battles. Fourteen years in this war, gives a person the right to advise others. I have been blessed with the company of this woman, who fought a down and dirty battle for my soul. For this reason, you owe it to yourself and your brother in marriage, to read wisdom – no matter how hard it might be to hear.