We live in a divorce culture. So often, when spouses encounter a difficulty in their marriage or even stop finding fulfillment and joy in their relationship, they cut their losses and break their vows. But you—whether in a difficult marriage or supporting a struggling couple—can help to break through the divorce mindset.
Leila Miller, author of Impossible Marriages Redeemed, joined Trending with Timmerie for the show’s weekly Marriage Hour. Miller gave advice and shared stories of marriages that were saved against all odds.
She spoke of a married couple—Catholic, but not practicing their faith—that spiraled towards a marriage that seemed unsalvageable. “The wife, in her own background, heard her mother threaten divorce whenever her parents would fight. So in her experience, that’s just what you did … so she brought up the D-word all the time.”
The husband, constantly emasculated and hearing threats that his wife would leave him, became an alcoholic and lost jobs because of the drinking. It became a cycle of more fighting, more drinking, more mistrust. But the wife came to a realization that sent their marriage on an entirely different path.
“She came to the decision at one point to stop using that word … so she told him one day, they were having a fight and she said, ‘I just want you to know, I am furious with you, I am mad and you are doing all these bad things, but I will never divorce you. I will never divorce you. I’m going to stick it out.’”
“Everything about him changed at that moment … and it was a turning point,” explained Miller. “I don’t think people really, fully understand that when there’s confidence that no one’s going anywhere, then there’s the space and the safety to be a sinner and yet know that you’ll still be loved and that you have a lifetime to become who God wants you to be—both individually and as a couple.”
Strengthening Your Marriage
If you want to take the option of divorce out of the equation for your marriage, don’t bring it up! Convince your spouse that you are in it for the long haul—for better or for worse. That’s not an invitation for them to do things that will test your resolve, but rather an assurance that they can trust you to love them even when they fail.
Marriage isn’t about a feeling—it’s choosing to love your spouse every day and work for his or her good, despite their shortcomings. It’s important to encourage your spouse and show them gratitude rather than constantly correcting and nitpicking their behavior. This is especially important for women, as we tend to overlook the damage we are doing to our husband’s confidence with frequent criticism.
Breaking the Cycle
What can you do when a couple you love is struggling? Here’s what not to do: take sides, encourage division and gossip, tell them that they deserve better than this person can offer and suggest they throw in the towel. Instead, you can encourage them to persevere, seek help, and listen, learn, and grow.
“You never want to be the person who puts a wedge between a husband and wife—that is not the place that God wants you. So you can be the one voice, perhaps the only voice … to stand up for this marriage. You don’t have to solve the problems of this couple but you can remind them what marriage is and that it’s permanent, it’s for our good. And that God will give you the grace to get through it if you don’t end the story in the middle,” said Miller.
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If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, first remove yourself from harm and then seek help.
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Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6-7pm CT only on Relevant Radio®. Marriage Hour is featured every Thursday.