My answering machine had two messages as I walked in. Five boys were so loud with hungry lunch requests that I could barely hear the messages play back. Through the noise, I heard the voice a woman. I missed her name, but began to catch snippets as I pulled out lunch meat and juice boxes to calm the natives.
Someone had shown her our marriage testimony video done back in 2009. It resonated strongly with her because her marriage was struggling. Her cracking voice said what I had once felt, “I am desperate.”
My heart immediately broke for this woman, for this family, like it does when I hear about any marriage that is in crisis. Those feelings are all too real for me, the girl who once sat 8-month pregnant with my first child in a marriage counselor’s office next to my husband, who had decided our marriage was over.
Desperate to know. Desperate to fix. Desperate to not feel like my heart has been swallowed up into a black hole. It is an awful feeling. Probably the worst I’ve experienced in my life so far.
When I played the message again later in the day so I could listen better, my husband was there in the kitchen with me. “You have to call her,” he said with an urgency to his voice. You see, he too had felt that place of desperation.
I told her what I’ve said here on FancyLittleThings before. I am no marriage counselor. I have nothing to offer but my own story, my own experience with what God can do when you are desperate for your struggling marriage.
So, for all you out there who find yourself in that place, I wish I could spend an hour on the phone with each of you, like I did with my new friend, and let you know that there is hope, no matter how desperate things feel right now. If I could, here are some things I would say…
Seek God more wholeheartedly and earnestly than you ever have.
Simply, have you prayed about your marriage to God as much as you’ve talked about it with others? When we are desperate, we reach out to family, friends, anyone really, who might offer us support, encouragement, a glimmer of hope. We need people to talk this out with, but we need God more. I did not have a developed prayer life when crisis hit my marriage. I was still so new to the idea of it being a conversation between God and me. I began using the shower as a sacred place for prayer. I would get down on my knees (not easy at 8-months pregnant) and let my tears join the warm water that flowed over me. I offered those tears as my prayer, not having the words to express my pain or knowing the questions to ask God to answer. I assumed He knew, so I just wept at His feet.
Go to God’s place. Find His people. Receive His peace.
Haven’t been to church in a while? Get there. One of most frightening times of my own marriage crisis was my first time to church without my husband by my side. I was for sure that everyone in that place was staring at me, suspicious of his absence. The emptiness in my heart felt so real, I was sure I was see-through. I couldn’t get through one note of a song, one word of a prayer out without a tear flowing down my face. When they invited people forward for prayer, I rose and walked and stood, shaking with fears and tears. But, within moments, I felt hands on my shoulders. I heard whispered prayers surround me. I literally felt peace wrap around me like a warm hug. My fears were gone. My tears dried up. I know things in my marriage began to move in a new direction from that point on.
Be Still. Be Quiet. These can be the most proactive and powerful moves we make.
My instinct was to talk. I wanted him to talk to me. We needed to “talk this out”, but talks just ended up in fights. Walls weren’t broken down, but instead, built up another layer. I was the desperate wife. He was the bitter man. The more I clung, the more he pulled away. But the desperate within me believed if I let up for one second that he would be gone. So, when I felt God asking me to be still, to go quiet, it was not easy to do. It took more courage than anything I’d had to do in my marriage up to that point. In fact, maybe that is part of my experience in church that morning. That peace that enveloped me, it told me that I was going to be alright, whether my marriage survived this or not. It took away my desperate state and replaced it with a surrendered one. My marriage was in God’s hand. My security? My future? My heart? Same place.
My quiet spoke more loudly to my husband than anything we’d said or yelled so far. He sensed the desperate leave me, and it made him want something else than the bitterness and desperation that was living within him. He began to seek God. He had his moment where he surrendered it into God’s hands.
God did heal our marriage, but he did it by healing us. The hardest part about being in a struggling marriage is to get our eyes off the marriage, off our spouse and onto ourselves.
Nothing changes in the union of two broken souls until things begin changing within those souls. Let the broken be made whole, and then the union can be healed.
If you find yourself feeling desperate in your struggling marriage, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you.
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