When you got married, you may have promised something like “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Even if you did not say those words, you know them, and you know what is expected of us when we marry. But what do those words really mean?
Does worse cover becoming a drunk and beating your wife? Does it cover cheating on your husband with a different man every month? A few thoughts:
- External problems: These are no fault of either of you. The accidental death, or murder, of a child is an extreme example. Events like this tend to destroy the marriage, or make it exceptionally strong. The difference is in how the couple acts – do they turn toward each other, or away from each other. Do they find comfort in their spouse, or does their spouse bring up painful memories. Can they move through the stages of grief, or the stages of dealing with a big problem, at more or less similar speeds, or does one get stuck. A couple can usually choose to get past this kind of problem, although a bit of outside help may be needed for extreme events.
- Unintended internal problems: He invests a lot of money in something that goes bad. Maybe it was clearly risky, or would have been to many, but he did not intentionally gamble on long odds. She is driving, gets distracted, and has an accident that hits them hard financially. Some blame could be placed, but there was no intent to do harm. If the “innocent” spouse focuses on the blame part, the marriage is in trouble. Even if the “wrong” spouse apologies and tries to make it right, if the “wronged” one cannot (will not) get past it, the marriage will suffer. Some people use things like this for advantage, as a way of getting control, of getting concessions. This is deeply unhealthy, and harmful to a marriage. If the one who did not cause the problem handles it well, the marriage will be fine. If not, the marriage is in the hands of the “innocent” spouse.
- Repentant internal problems: One spouse sinned, but repented (maybe after being caught) and is doing everything possible to make it right. Again, the marriage is in the hands of the other spouse, the “innocent” one. If s/he is unwilling to forgive, or work past it, the marriage is doomed. If this is the case, it is not the sin that kills the marriage, but the hard heart of the “innocent” spouse. I have heard men and women say things such as “If he ever cheated I’d leave him” or “I could not forgive her if she _______.” (These folks might want to read Matthew 6:15.) Others take something like this and do what I mentioned above, using it for advantage to get what they want. Again, this is unhealthy and destructive.
- Unrepentant internal problems: This is the same as above, except the one who sinned refuses to admit it, apologise, or change. Alternatively, they do all “the right things”, or seem to, but keep committing the sin. This kind of thing kills a spouse’s trust, then their love. The marriage may continue on paper, but it will die in all meaningful ways.
- Malicious internal problems: I have seen men and women who intentionally do things to hurt their spouse. I am not talking about mistakes or giving in to temptation, but doing things primarily or only to hurt or upset their spouse. The people who do this kind of thing are usually masters of manipulation who manage to keep their spouse at their mercy for years, or even decades. I have nothing kind to say about these people, and I do not know of any way for a person married to such a spouse to change the situation. If you are in this, I would suggest a lot of prayer, getting help for yourself, and learning about boundaries.
As you read through these, did you see sometimes when a marriage ends it is not the one who made a mistake, or sinned, that ultimately caused the marriage to end? The “victim” has choices, and if they make a poor choice, they become the problem. When this happens, it can be very difficult to resolve the issue because the “victim” keeps pointing to their spouse for creating the problem, while refusing to deal with what they have done to make things worse. A skilled counsellor will see what is happening and attempt to deal with it; if you find yourself in this kind of situation finding good outside help is critical.
Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:
A Grown Up Marriage
Honorinig God With Our Bodies ◄ What we don’[t do is only half of it.
Daytime Date Nights ◄ Looking for a bit more adventure? Here you go!
Love Overlooked ◄ Great list to get you thinking.
3 Things to Remember When Marriage Seems Hard ◄ This is a brilliant attitude adjuster.
Black and Married with Kids
What If Your Spouse Never Changes? ◄ Some things you can live with.
The Generous Wife
Hot, Holy and Humorous
Masturbation: Hands On or Hands Off? ◄ J does a great job with a tricky topic here.
How to Try New Sexual Positions ◄ With nothing but stick figure drawing, this is a safe way to discuss the issue with your bride.
Journey to Surrender
Change Your Course ◄ There are two paths; choose wisely!
It’s That Time of Year Again! ◄ Don’t make your bride a sports widow; meet her half way.
Marriage Missions International
Treating Marriage Illnesses ◄ Is your marriage suffering from any of these?
“You can’t tell me what to do!” – How pride effects our marriages ◄ Yeah, I’ve been guilty of this one.
Supporting the Young ◄ I am so all about this!
One Flesh Marriage
The Pure Bed’s Blog
Marital Infidelity: Learning To Trust Again ◄ Good read, check it out if you at this place.
Breaking the Cycle ◄ Break it before it breaks your marriage!
Romantic Act of the Day
The Romantic Vineyard
Safe at home
The Role Of Prayer in A Troubled Marriage ◄ Nothing to lose, and everything to gain!
My Troubled Ex is Causing Problems with my Upcoming Marriage ◄ Another great podcast.
…to Love Honor and Vacuum
Emotional Affairs–The Dangers are Real ◄ While this is aimed at women, it’s valid for men as well.