How Can I Save My Marriage?
TERRY L. COOMER, Pastor
HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH
139 SHADOW OAKS DRIVE
SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS 72120
By the time most
people contact us through For the Love of the
Family Ministries, they are real veterans of marital
wars. They are people who have battle scars
and new wounds. They may have been to counseling
or talked with their pastor, but they are at the end
of their rope. The prospect of divorce is terrifying
for most people.
I always wonder
how do two people who are Christians get to this point?
Have they not been listening in church or applying
what they hear? Or is their church a place that
teaches the Word of God for church building rather
than practical godly Christian living? I know
the answer and generally the stories are all very
similar with some twists on them.
The pain and the
agony they are experiencing is real. They are
terrified of the future and generally the prospect
of divorce. Many times infidelity has happened.
(See How Do Christians Get Involved in Infidelity?
on our web site www.fortheloveofthefamily.com).
However, there seems
to come a point where one's unhappiness becomes weightier
than even the fear of divorce.
The answer that
I frequently give to their desperate question, "can
our marriage be saved? is usually quite conditional.
It really has a lot more to do with them and how they
are going to approach the issue. It certainly
has nothing to do with my talent or abilities. It
has a lot to do with whether they are willing to have
Biblical change take place in their life and learn
to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians
They must learn
the putting on and putting off process the Bible describes
4:22-24, and seek to glorify
God in their every day activities of life, I
Obviously, to get to the position they are now in,
the process has not been happening and they have been
following the dictates of the flesh in their life.
I find that they are arguing and are angry with each
other about several things. They have not understood
the process of Ephesians
I want to give six
vital building materials which are essential in order
to not only salvage a marriage, but to re-build it
into something, solid, intimate, joyful, glorifying
to God, and life lasting.
The first building
material required in rebuilding a marriage is motivation.
Some folks who contact
us lack motivation. They really do not want
anything to change in their life. They are comfortable
living in their sins and going their own way.
After all, in their
mind, it is the other side of the marriage that needs
to change and then I would be happy. No doubt
there does need to be change on the other side, but
there needs to be Biblical change on your side as
well. The Biblical process I try to share with
folks is like trying to gut a house while you are
living in it.
I believe that God
wants us to have a Christ honoring marriage.
God hates divorce, Malachi
2:14-16. He hates
it because it always involves unfaithfulness to the
solemn covenant of marriage that two partners have
entered into before Him, and because it brings harmful
consequences to those partners and their children.
Divorce is never
God's best and it will follow the person for the rest
of their life. It will also make their life
more complicated than they ever imagined. I believe
that almost all marriages are both salvageable, and
worthy of being saved. I also understand that
sin has put some folks in an awful position.
I believe that most
people would be ultimately happiest remaining married
to the person they are currently married to, as long
as the issues are resolved and Biblical changes made. When one or both mates lack motivation to change the process
is doomed. It will
require hard work and commitment to Biblical change
in their lives and marriage.
The second and perhaps
the most important martial building block, is teachability, Proverbs 18:15. It is the ability to stand back from
yourself and openly observe and examine your issues
in the light of God's Word without being defensive in the least
bit. Most people who are at this stage are extremely defensive.
You must be insightful in order to re-build a marriage.
In essence, when an issue is identified, we want to
know what God's Word has to say about it.
Then we want to
apply Biblical principles to the issue. To find
out what is on the heart, two people must be able
to communicate enough to ask the heart questions.
Many times the com- munication has so broken down
in a marriage they cannot talk without fighting or
insulting one another with anger and sarcasm.
By the way that is not controlled by the Spirit behavior.
Most of the time,
generally the wife says, I do not love him anymore.
She feels her emotional needs are not being met.
They are not, but where she is in her relationship
with God and her husband does not lend itself to love,
but to anger, wrath, anxiety, hurt, pain etc.
If you can communicate,
determine not to do so by being angry, insulting,
and sarcastic. You need to find out what is
on each others heart. Proverbs
4:23, Keep thy heart
with all diligence for out of it are the issues of
life. What is down there must come out and be
dealt with Biblically.
Every issue of our
life and how we handle it will be determined by what
is in our heart. Folks, we must learn to listen
to His voice in the everyday issues of life to glorify
Him. To find out what your spouse's most important
emotional needs are you must ask the How, What, When,
Where, and Why issues. You have to get into
their heart by asking what is on their heart.
How do you feel about that? What is it that
makes you happy or sad? What do you think I
need to understand about you? What emotional
needs of your life do you think I need to understand?
Write down what
is said. Then go away and study the Scripture
on the issues that have been brought forth.
Ask God to give you wisdom in understanding where
your marriage is and what are the needs in his or
her life, James
1:5-6. Are you teachable?
Are you willing to deal with the things God shows
you from His Word about your life? You will
need the help of a godly pastor or counselor who can
guide you in the areas of your life that you find.
defensive will destroy the process of re-building
your marriage. Also, ask God what areas of my
life need to change? Write down what the Lord
shows you and then study His Word on the matter.
Then apply the Scriptural principles to change your
behavior. God is in the behavior changing business
and He wants to change your behavior. I want
you to understand that your behavior, and much of
it has been guided by the flesh, has been ingrained
in your life for years.
Change does not
come easily on ingrained fleshly behavior. Of
course, the devil will whisper in your ear that it
is your spouse who needs to change. The devil
is seeking to destroy your life and he certainly does
not want you to submit yourself to God, James 4:7-10,
I Peter 5:6-9.
Folks, this is all
about taking a real Biblical look at your life, rather
than reactively pointing your finger at your spouse
or someone else. The more insightful and teachable
you are, the more progress you will make.
You will start the
process of glorifying God in your life daily, I
dealing with your feelings and emotions, and start
a true process of Biblical change in your life.
Remember, people who are lead by their emotions rather
than God's Word will be lead into sin every time.
Most people make poor decisions when led
by their emotions.
The third building
material needed to re-build a marriage is the willingness and
ability to embrace and work through what ever emotional pain might
come up during the process of taking a Biblical look
at our lives and marriage. Basically, it means
dealing Biblically and directly with sadness, anger,
and fear rather than fleeing from them. Most
people employ a variety of addictive behaviors in
their efforts to numb out, and avoid their pain.
They turn to alcohol,
drugs, food, anger, excessive recreation, accumulation
of things, immoral sexual relationships and other
addictive behaviors. We need to study what God
says about these behaviors in His Word. Allowing
painful feelings to well up, and pour them out to
God, will give God the opportunity to help the broken
heart, Psalm 109:22, For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within
me. Psalm 147:3, He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
You see folks; it is like cleansing you heart and
mind. It is like having a heavy weight lifted
off your chest. The basis of all relationships
is learning how to submit to one another, Ephesians
Part of that submission
is learning how and what to communicate. This
requires being open with one another and sharing with
one another without being defensive and getting angry
with one another.
The fourth building
material involved in re-building a marriage is trust. Before you can ever trust anyone you must learn to
God and His Word.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord
with all thine and heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding, In all
thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.
Have you trusted
God today for your salvation? Have you realized
you are a sinner and repented of your sin and ask
Jesus to come into your heart and be your Savior?
If not, you must do so today. That is the first
basis of trust. God cannot and will not change
your marriage unless you are saved.
Are you willing
to trust God at His Word to re-build your marriage
and to deal with the areas of your life that He will
show you? Are you willing to trust God with
your life? You and your partner need to learn
how to trust each other. That may not be an
easy process. If infidelity or chronic lying
is involved, trust becomes a real issue.
You will need to
trust the godly pastor or counselor who is trying
to help you as well. You will also have to trust
yourself which may not come without true repentance
and confession of sin on your part and the desire
to build a real relationship with God.
Some people are
trust damaged from the experiences of their life with
others. They find it almost virtually impossible
to trust. Trust is earned as a result of progress
made, new insights developed from God's Word, as well
as the provision of a consistent, safe, caring, connected,
environment. You have heard someone say, "I
would not trust him as far as I can throw him.
When someone says that to me, I say "then don't
attempt to throw him. Trust comes back in small
steps as progress is made. It all starts with
trusting God who cannot lie.
The fifth needed
building material used in order to develop a new and
greatly improved marriage is trustworthiness. The lack of personal trustworthiness has sabotaged
many attempts at getting the marriage re-built.
this context, trustworthiness means following through
with your commitments. Doing what you say that you will do.
Many times people
are well intentioned, but they lack the discipline,
focus, and responsibility that they would need to
complete any type of re-building project. I
find this to be the biggest hindrance to trying to
help people in the matter of re-building their marriage.
Many times their
irresponsibility has gotten them into serious issues
with their spouse. Lack of trust has developed
and the person just does not have the responsibility
in their life to do much. They won't go to work,
they are basically lazy and do not have the discipline
to even read their Bible or attend church regularly.
Let me give you
a scenario. The person says I want you to help
me with my marriage. Okay, we are done with
the session and you give them a reading assignment
for the next class or session. When they arrive,
let's talk about what we read. Well, I did not
get it read. That is the way their life operates.
Many times I have
had someone say, I need your help pastor. I
tell them, that the first step is to commit yourself
to being in church to hear God's Word. They say, I
will see you in church this Sunday. They do not show
up. They do not have a good priority system
and they lack responsibility and discipline.
They always have some excuse.
Many times this
same person wonders why their children or wife do
not have any interest in the things of God.
They do not understand that faith comes by hearing
and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17. Or that the just shall live by faith. Hebrews
11:6, But without faith
it is impossible to please him: for he that
cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he
is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
someone contacts me through For the Love of the Family,
and shares their problem(s), I direct them to the
articles on the web site, and ask them to get back
to me after they have read the material. If
they lack the discipline to read the article and do
not have the motivation and responsibility to do so,
I probably will not be able to help them.
They want you to
wave a magic wand over their life and make it all
better instantly. It does not happen that way.
Discipline and responsibility are two things that
a person must learn to be accountable for. When
I find a person who will not take responsibility for
themselves, we try to set up some accountability for
In essence, they
have to meet with someone and the person watches them
read the material. However, this still generally
is not going to work. They do not show up for
the meeting etc.
The sixth building
material is an obvious one - lots of
patience and lots of time.
People are used to instant
results. They want quick fixes. There
really are no quick fixes if your goal is to truly
make your marriage significantly healthier.
Sometimes this takes many months rather than weeks.
Think about how deeply ingrained issues are.
They are many times part of the foundation of our
personalities. They literally have been part
of us for decades. That simply will not change
You may realize
the problems and seek the Biblical answer, and try
to apply some of the principles to your life and then
fall back into the same old habit. That habit
has to be dug out by the root or it will spring up
12:15. A root is
something that goes deep. Let me say, the
change must be genuine and Biblical to be long lasting.
Many people talk
about wanting change, but are unwilling to put the
time in that is required to have true Biblical change
in their life. There must be the desire in the
life for a real, intimate, personal, passionate, relationship
with the Savior. There are several areas that
need help. Progress may be slow. All areas
will not change immediately.
Most marriages can
be saved. People just need Biblical direction
and be willing to accept Biblical correction in their
life. Before they come and ask for help, many
times they are fumbling around in the dark, being
angry at the darkness they think is their spouse.
When both parties are willing to work hard on their
own issues and seek Biblical answers, turn their lives
over to God, and they are patient and realistic in
their expectations for change, their marriage can
Many folks think
the grass is greener on the other side of the hill.
In essence, I do not care anymore, and I will get
rid of her or him and find someone who will really
love me. They find out that the issues they
had did not go away. They now are in the second
Folks, of those
who divorce, which is 57.7 percent of all marriages,
then remarry, 75 percent of those folks end up in
divorce again. Obviously, people who believe
it is all about my rights and what I want will never
have a satisfying life or marriage.
If you find yourself
thinking about your marriage in this manner and saying
the following things: I do not love him or her
anymore. I am so unhappy. I am an emotional
wreck. All we ever do is fight and we have nothing
but tension. He or she just doesn't talk to
me anymore. This other person at work listens
to me, I wish my spouse would. I am fed up with this
or him or her. I just don't know what to do.
now and get some help. You are on the way down.
God loves you and
he wants to help you. Contact your pastor today
and ask for help. Pass this article on to a
friend or co-worker you know is struggling.
There are several articles on our web site at www.forthelovefothefamily.com
to help you.
Our desire is that you learn what it
really means to have a good marriage and the whole
purpose of For the Love of the Family is to help people.
We try to help people to think about their life and
where they are before the disaster hits. We
also help them after the disaster hits. The
hurt and pain you feel today can be helped by the
Savior who loves you.
Terry L. Coomer is the Pastor of Hope Baptist
Church, and the Director of For the Love of the
Family Ministries. Pastor Coomer holds Family
Conferences in the local church. To have a
meeting at your church or other needs he may be
contacted at 501.819.0446. There are many helpful articles and material on our web site
to help you change your life.
serve the God of answers. If you need help
finding those answers you may contact us at email@example.com.