A friend of mine tried everything to save her marriage.
She is what any mature Christian woman would call a “submissive wife” – know there’s a difference between that and being a doormat. More here if it’s confusing. And no, I’m not talking about writing up a contract to allow some guy to whip you.
She did everything she knew to do – and even learned a TON more things to try in an effort to save her marriage.
And none of it worked.
“I don’t know what there is left,” she said, tearfully to me. “I don’t know what I could possibly not know. I have read all the books. I’ve taken the classes – even done your stuff – The Respect Dare AND Daughters of Sarah® and I’m still alone, he’s still unkind, sarcastic, rude, and isn’t even interested in me as a person. And when I ask for love, for affection, for kindness, he launches into a tirade about how he does all these things for me and the kids, works a stressful job, takes night classes to climb up the ladder, and we don’t appreciate any of it. Do you know when the last time he asked me a question was? He’s only interested in himself and getting things done.”
I didn’t know.
She didn’t either, it had been so long.
“I did the ‘treat people the way you want to be treated’ thing – I joyfully served, even when he just took advantage of me. I joyfully gave to him, and he just took from me, seldom appreciative, often critical. And I did it for years without complaint. I finally tried a totally different approach, and just came right out and asked him to treat me differently, was specific about it, and gentle when I said it. You tell women to ‘ask for what we want’ … well, I did that. You know how he responded?” she continued… “He told me that just wasn’t who he is, and I just needed to stop trying to change him. I feel like I’m dying. He says we have a good marriage, and if you are him, we do. If you are me, it’s just not…”
They’d been married three decades plus.
“What do I do?” she asked me. “I’m thinking of leaving.”
My heart hurt for her. Eyes wet, I told her what was true. I said this:
Sister, sweet friend, beloved, I just don’t know. I have no idea under the sun why everything you have tried hasn’t “worked,” like it does for some other women, other than it just isn’t God’s timing, which I know doesn’t make you feel better. I know you hurt. I hear your loneliness, your broken heart… and I’m so sorry that you are feeling this way, so sorry you’ve worked so very hard for all these years and are still so alone. It’s horrible. It’s wrong. It’s not what God designed marriages to be…but…can I offer a few things up that you may not have considered?
I told her these things:
You may be in training for ministry. And you need to remember that our Lord hears your heart. He tells us in Revelation 2:2-5 (emphasis mine):
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.
And He catches all of your tears in a bottle. They are precious to Him. I know you feel forsaken, abandoned… alone. There is also much that you probably don’t see that is going on in the heavenlies. We may never know what those things are, but we can still trust God. And you, my friend, are the poster child for Daughters of Sarah®. She’s a woman who walks in strength and dignity, living with a man who isn’t walking with the Lord (following and obeying-style), maybe doesn’t even know Him at all, but still she puts her hope in God, instead of in her husband. Her marriage is not her idol. She perseveres regardless. And I have no idea if you are to leave him. I’ve seen it all – women change and there seems to be a few end results:
- He is inspired by all the changes in his wife and begins to love her better
- He is oblivious about what “following” God looks like, or even that it matters, and so he still doesn’t love her well – because he doesn’t know Christ personally
- She is taken advantage of by him because he likes being treated well without having to reciprocate
- She hangs on, persevering in a marriage where she is not cherished and treated like a second-class citizen
- She separates for a while from him, trying to escape the pain of not feeling loved by her husband – this may or may not get his attention
- She tries to get him to go to counseling – which unless it is a Gottman trained counselor, fails 80% of the time
- She loses her ability to rally, and ends up with a hard heart toward him – sometimes she’s still obeying God, still serving and persevering and loving well, but she no longer cares about him
- She is devoured by bitterness, hardens her heart, and sins repeatedly towards him
- Both of them lose intimate relationship with God because of their sin toward each other (“quenching the Holy Spirit”)
- One of them files for divorce
- If she stays strong, they eventually have a new marriage after separation or divorce, sometimes as long as a decade later
- If she gives up, they don’t get back together
We cried and prayed together that day, my friend and I.
She left him for several weeks. He begged her to come back.
I think there’s hope. Looking at the Now they’re in, you may not see it, but I have tons of hope.
We’ll see what happens. I’ll let you know when/if things start happening. Please pray for her and the many (too many) women like her, the ones who have done their best, and decades later, still feel alone in their marriages, and have lost their friendship with their husband.
The foundation of friendship is the rock that good marriages are built on.
The foundation of Christ is what the friendship should be built on – as in both obeying and following Jesus daily-style. It’s tough though, isn’t it? You know what I mean – you have friends who know Him, and friends who don’t – but who are really your intimate friends? The ones with whom you share Christ, where you both speak the Word to each other, pray for each other, lovingly admonish each other… It’s really difficult if not impossible to be intimate with people who don’t know Him when you do…
But don’t ever let that be a source of judgment for you towards those other friends of yours.
We tend to think of this Now we’re in as a big deal. If we could just look back over our lives and remember the things that consumed us, stressed us, hurt us, excited us, etc., they have all passed. The only point of this life is to love God – to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and spirit – and as a result of His great love for us flowing out of us, we then can love others well – and they see Him in us, and want to know Him, too.
That’s the entire point of this life.
But because we are designed to worship, we will worship a ton of other things instead of Him because the world’s voice is loud, and His is still, and soft. And some of us are worshiping the idol of the ideal marriage. It’s not just the secular culture’s voice that assaults us, but also the Christian culture’s voice – instead of His.
Do you know what I mean? Let me know if you do!
So choose this day whom you shall serve.
Our culture? With it’s warped sense of values, and messed up ideas of who women are and how we should be treated? As in, 50 Shades of Grey style? Don’t even get me started. I hope you didn’t and don’t waste your time. If my 19 year old son can see what’s true here and put this on his band’s Facebook page, we should be at least as wise.
People have been asking me about blogging about 50 Shades of Grey. I don’t think I can say it any better than this summary review post from Unveiled Wife. I admire Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slatterly for taking on this controversial topic. Pray for them- they are in a war zone, I’m sure. If you don’t know what you think about the topic, please check out the review post.
Or Him. The One True God.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Interested in hearing your thoughts about these things today. 🙂
Are you in training for ministry? Is your marriage an idol? Other thoughts?
Love to you,
Oh, and if you got this as an email forward from a friend who cares about you and your marriage, please know we’d love it if YOU choose to join us on this journey. The road is long and hard, and often paved with tears, but worth traveling – and you’re not alone.
You can get marriage TIPS! articles and a free copy of my eBook, 101 Ways to Respect Your Husband, and other marriage info here. We promise not to share your email with anyone, ever. You’ll get just one TIPS! article a week, plus a blog post or two here and there.