I (Josette Hall) will soon celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary. We have a good marriage. But, like most marriages we have weathered hard seasons. Early on we both agreed that no matter what, divorce was Never an option.
When you’re in the midst of a difficult season, it can be hard to see that you’ll ever get to the other side of it.
For us, the hardest season in our marriage was when our children were young. We were exhausted and had so little time for each other. At some point we didn’t feel like much of a team anymore.
- Caring for our young children took every minute of my time, energy and patience.
- There always seemed to be more to do than there was time.
- My husband and I seemed to disagree on almost everything.
- We had very little time together without our kids.
We each saw things from the perspective of what we weren’t getting. Now, many years later I can see ways that we were both right.
I don’t remember what THE argument was about.
It was just one of many in that season of our marriage that seemed almost all the same. I clearly remember standing in our bedroom looking at my husband and thinking, “Who IS this guy? And, what have I done?”
That argument was one in a seemingly never-ending time of thinking the worst of each other.
Before we ever married, we had long and dreamy conversations about the future and had both agreed that no matter what, divorce just wasn’t an option.
Do you remember that time of newfound love and naiveté? Serious marital difficulties don’t seem likely.
Anybody that’s been married more than a little bit knows that marriage is hard and requires work and compromise,
That particular day, I remember wanting out.
- I wanted to be done with the arguing and compromising.
- It felt like he didn’t care about what I needed.
- And I was aware that he probably felt much the same.
We both had the good sense at least not to say out loud what we were thinking.
In that season I prayed a lot for our marriage.
I prayed for both of us. But I didn’t see what seemed to be any big answer to prayer. Have you ever been there?
We both were trying to make things better, but it all just seemed so hard. Things didn’t get markedly better in our marriage for what seemed like a really long time.
A few years ago I read that in the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.
Even as Christians, we view the purpose of marriage in our life as a means to help us be happier, more fulfilled.
Certainly we are to be a joyful people, but I think as a whole the way we evaluate our “happiness” is skewed.
Everything in our life is intended to push us toward greater closeness with God. Toward greater holiness.
The Bible tells us we should be thankful and joyful, and that God cares for our needs. But I don’t see a lot of concentration in the Bible on our personal happiness. I’ve pondered that quite a bit.
Our 30 year marriage have brought both good times and bad.
- The births of each of our children
- All the years of growing our kids up together
- Cancer (his)
- A child with a disability
- I’m recalling ways that God used our child with a disability to grow us individually and as a family.
- Huddling together and praying while our child had open heart surgery.
I’m so very glad that Julian (my husband) is the one I’ve gone through those things with. I’m thankful now, that when those hard times did come, we had decided in advance that we would never, ever give up or Divorce.
Here are 4 things that can help you find hope to Never Divorce when you are in a hard season of marriage.
1. A hard season is just that, a season.
It helps to think of life and marriage in seasons. Only then can we see that whatever stressors are happening in our marriage at that moment are particular to that season.
That doesn’t mean we do nothing! The perspective shift is this:
If we’re doing all we know to do and it’s still hard, keeping in mind that it is a season can get you through.
2. Take the “D” word out of your Vocabulary.
Please know I’m referring to your usual variety of marital problems in that statement. I am not talking about in cases of abuse, unfaithfulness and husband’s with addictions that threaten your safety.
Never allow yourself to consider divorce as an option. In marriage, sometimes it can seem that it would be easier to just throw in the towel.
Most of the time, after a divorce, people remarry and have marital problems with their new spouse.
Why? We are all selfish, sinful people. Marriage is hard. There is no perfect person, no perfect marriage. When you’re in a hard season, even if it lasts a long time, refuse to give up.
Once you’ve determined you will Never give up, sometimes it can be easier to do the hard work you need to do.
Nobody wants to live in a place of misery.
Since you can’t bail, and you don’t want to be miserable you will be motivated to do all that you can to make things better.
Pray for God to give you the ability to see things from your husband’s point of view.
To be completely honest, sometimes even when I have the ability to see it from my husband’s point of view I still struggle to do the right thing.
3. Beware Unrealistic Expectations
Don’t look to your husband to be for you what only God can. The pressure of fulfilling us, “completing” us, is an unrealistic expectation of our husband.
We are made whole by the love of Christ. Because of this, we can choose to release others in our life of that burden.
This is a tricky balance.
- Unrealistic expectations of my husband lead to disappointment and anger.
- Sometimes when I’m hurt I move too far the other direction.
- I want to insure that I won’t be hurt and disappointed so I distance myself in an unhealthy way.
- We can all have a tendency to unhealthy defense mechanisms, Especially when we have had a dysfunctional home life growing up.
- We have to pray and ask that God give us wisdom to respond rightly.
4. Train your thought life
We could each make a list of things the other does that annoy us. It’s so easy to focus on the negative. BUT, we can purposefully remind ourselves of the ways our husbands love and serve our families well.
I think about the fact that although he had hoped I would one day return to work, my husband makes sacrifices without complaint (and has for years) so that I can continue to stay at home.
I remind myself how he has always made sure that the kids and I have the safer of our vehicles to drive. And I remember how he has for months at a time in our blazing hot south Alabama temps, driven a car without air conditioning or an old beat up box of a car so that I could continue to be home with the kids.
These soften my heart, make me thankful for the ways that he serves our family and keep me from being on the news 😉
Can I say again that marriage is hard?
All relationships in our life require work. But living so intimately with another exposes our flaws and sin like no other. Marriage is sanctifying and it seems that is part of the point.
That day in my memory was probably 15-20 years ago now. Now we are in an easier season of marriage. Our nest is almost empty.
We have only one child at home full-time, our daughter who is 16 and has Down syndrome. She’s old enough to be fairly independent. Although we don’t have a ton of time truly alone, we do have more time together and a less frantic pace of life.
We are enjoying this season of more time together. But what if back then, when everything seemed so hard, we had given up?
Would we have known that better times would come? Do you feel like better times will Never come?
We would have missed out on this time together. Missed the sanctifying work that God has done in each of us to bring us to this point.
Never give up. Take the word Divorce out of your vocabulary. Many times good comes after bad. We need to tie a knot in the rope of Christian Marriage and hold on. That is Biblical Wifehood!
Sometimes the way God works is painful and slow. It doesn’t mean he isn’t working. His mercies are new every morning.
What an amazing Testimony Josette! Your story always inspires me!
You can find Josette at HomeSweetHalls where she writes with such a personal flair! She shares about living the good life with Down Syndrome.
We are in a 30 day Series called Reclaiming Hope & Joy in Your Marriage
Here are a few of the Articles so Far:
Finding Joy in Being a HelpMeet to Your Husband
Perspective in Marriage: from Surviving to Thriving (Part 2)
Can You Reclaim Hope & Joy After Betrayal in Marriage?
The Unexpected Path to Happiness in Marriage
3 Ways to Stand Firm in the Battle for Your Marriage
7 Practical Ways to Reclaim Hope and Joy in Your Marriage
How to Restore Honor Back in Your Marriage
Reclaim True Hope for the Hurting Wife
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