On July 16 last year, I wrote a post entitled An Open Letter to Unhappy Christian Wives. It was actually a copy of a letter I wrote to a woman planning a divorce. She and her husband had gone to counseling with poor results--in her opinion, he wasn't changing any of the things on her laundry list.
Yes, she gave him a list of things he was supposed to change, and he failed.
Shortly before her divorce this woman's husband came to know the Lord but the laundry list of things she didn't like about him sent her packing; the divorce is now final. Never once did she admit to any fault in the troubled marriage, but she spoke daily--in everyone's hearing--about her husband's faults.
She is only an acquaintance of mine, but we know her son, a former homeschooler, and she works at my husband's workplace.
In my letter I told her boldly "No one increases their personal peace through non-biblical divorce." (Just so you know, he was not abusing her or cheating.)
Immediately after she left the home with their 13-year-old son, trouble followed her everywhere...trouble with their son, an addiction, her purity, her finances, her daily schedule. She came to work crying on many occasions, and still does a year later. In short, she's a mess and her son despises her. If something doesn't change she may be without a job soon.
I was brave enough to write this letter to her because of concern for her son, and because three months prior, I wrote one to another couple on the brink of divorce and God used it. They reconciled, stopped the divorce proceedings, and the wife moved back in. Later in the year they split again, divorced, but kept in contact. The husband came to know the Lord and tried very hard to change the woman's mind, and she did date him for a few months and they saw pastors for counseling, but then later she met someone else. End of story and her ex-husband is in a lot of pain right now, wondering where God is.
Between the two letters I probably spent eight hours of my time, and then more time praying. I can't tell you how sad the outcomes have left me, but I know better than to waste time wondering if I could have chosen my words better, or if I could have prayed more, or if maybe I should have minded my own business.
Free will is a gift from God, but Satan uses it to destory us and that's what happened here. There was too much Satan and not enough God in the equation. God was big enough, but the women weren't willing to wait on the Lord. Satan spoke a better sales pitch, deceptive though it was.
When there's trouble in human relationships, God works miracles through prayer and willing hearts, but the time table is rarely to our liking. We may start out following God, but when the path seems too long with no end in sight, we look for shortcuts. I don't want to wait any longer for happiness. I want to chase after it myself, for I know just what the answer is and I see it within my reach. (So Satan tells us.)
My Open Letter has yielded 255 hits on this small-scale blog, usually through searches such as: unhappy in Christian marriage, or unhappy Christian wife. I always wonder, when I see the titled searched, if someone, somewhere, is helped. I pray sometimes for the anonymous person who reads it, wondering if my prayer will make a difference in whether they feel disgust at my words, or conviction.
What was I asking of this woman, in my letter? Sacrificial love such as our Savior gave to us. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. We are sinful women married to sinful men and that part never changes. Giving a spouse a laundry list of things to change--essentially saying, "Please be less sinful," doesn't solve anything or yield positive results.
Marriage doesn't make us happy, and neither does it complete us. Our joy is in the Lord and in our relationship with Him. We are not defined by our marriage relationship but by our commitment to following Christ. Do we take up our cross and follow Him, or do we take up our grievances and let them destory us?
The answer to any relationship problem is this: "Be still and know that I am God." And while you're being still, read your Bible and pray. Realize that your joy is in that, not in your husband's personality qualities.
How many times in the last week have you prayed for your spouse and for your relationship, versus how many times you've lamented about your unhappiness? If the grieving outweighs the prayer, you only pile on more grievances.
We don't like to admit it, but we have plenty wrong with us. Our prayers, responded to by the Holy Spirit, gently lead us to a purer heart. It's never supposed to be..."Dear God, there is just so much wrong with my husband." Rather, we should begin, "Dear God, there is just so much wrong with my heart. Please purify it and my husband's too. We want our marriage to bring you glory."
Does God need us to tell him what's wrong with our husband? Does He not know? Of course He does; we are the ignorant ones. We don't know what's wrong with our own hearts. Our prayers reveal it, and then the Holy Spirit works with our free will to create beauty from ashes.
Without the prayer we remain lost, thinking it's our husband's fault all the while.
Here's the Fix:
1. Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46: 10)
2. Give up your own way and follow Him. Matthew 6:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
2. Pray much. Ask for heart purification.
3. Read your Bible. Every time you think a negative thought about your husband or your marriage, take up your Bible and read.
4. Keep a blessing list; practice gratitude.
5. Be still and know that I am God.
Prayer Time: Dear Heavenly Father, you are everything to our being. Thank you for your abundant gifts and your sacrificial love. Thank you that your love never ends and never makes mistakes. We don't realize it sometimes, but our hearts ache for you, not for perfection in our relationships. Help us to fill up on you, and to love others with the overflow of our hearts. Love is an outpouring, not a feeling. Purify our hearts so we can see the answers in your Word and want to obey them.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Dear Reader, I wish you joy. I'm sorry about your pain. Please, do steps one through five above and know a joy, and a Savior, who will rock your world with goodness.