By all accounts, we had a strong marriage. We served in the church and had a deep commitment to our faith. Our children pursued academic and extra-curricular activities with our full support. So many things were going well for our family.
We were in our 14th year of marriage on the day that everything fell apart. Suddenly, many things about my marriage were called into question. I felt utterly terrified by what played out before my eyes. Surely it must be a mistake though they assured me it was not.
Over the next few months, my marriage went from bad to worse. The troubles that knocked at our door that morning seemed to only get worse as time went on. Not only did my marriage fall apart, but we lost friends, our church, and much more.
Why did God allow this to happen to me? I was doing everything right.
While this is a part of my story, it is not all of my story. Four years later I can look back to see how God has been at work in my marriage.
3 Ways to Hold On To Hope in a Struggling Marriage
1. Remember That God Is About Redemption
Many wondered why I stayed in my marriage when things fell apart. To be very honest, it took many months before my husband and I decided to try to move forward together. During that time, God did a work in my heart to remind me of His power of redemption.
When Jesus came to Earth, He spent time with sinners. He went to those who needed Him.
In my marriage, this was my husband’s one chance to straighten out his life. No, I was not trying to save him. I simply tried to stand by and love him through the mess he made. I believed that he could change, that God could redeem the years of sin and darkness that marked his life.
Because God is about redemption, we can have hope in the midst of a struggling marriage.
2. Spend Time With The Lord
In order to see hope in a desperate situation, we have to fill our hearts with hope. That starts with spending time in God’s Word.
When my marriage started to fall apart, I realized that the only way I could get through the struggle was to focus on God. I revisited some of my favorite passages. I looked for new verses in various categories as I needed them. Some of those categories included hope, rest, peace and faithfulness. I held on to those verses, knowing that God’s Word still holds true for me today.
My prayer time became more focused on listening to God. I prayed specific prayers for my marriage including the one prayer that changed me. Then, I listened and let God speak to my heart. Sometimes I jotted notes in my journal; other times I sat looking outside and listening to nature while I pondered what I read in my Bible. Those were times when God placed seeds of hope in my heart.
3. Focus On Gratitude
When marriage gets rocky, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the negativity. We can overcome that with gratitude.
After my marriage hit rock bottom, it was months before I knew whether or not my husband was staying with us. Focusing on gratitude gave me hope. When I could be thankful for one thing, then I had hope that I could find one more thing to be thankful for. I found that as I filled my heart with gratitude, there was not as much room for fear or worry.
I love this reminder from Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
This verse tells us to thank God because He is good. It does not direct us to thank God if He is good, or when He is good. It simply encourages us to give thanks to the Lord because He is (already!) good.
It became my goal each day to find things to be thankful for. Some days I was thankful for a specific gift of mercy or grace. Other days I was simply thankful for a new day in my own home with my whole family.
I worked to genuinely express gratitude to my husband. I wanted him to know that I believed in him. Although he made decisions that nearly tore our marriage apart, I saw him making changes for the better and I wanted to acknowledge those.
These are just 3 ways that I hold on to hope in a struggling marriage. If you have experienced times of struggle in your marriage, what other ways have you found to hold on to hope?