Desperate Marriage Myth #2 – People Cannot Change

Betrayal
Today we’re continuing on in our series, “Desperate Marriages” with the second common myth …

People cannot change.

Let’s use the example of a spouse getting caught in an affair. After you’ve threatened to divorce him, he straightens up and promises to cut all ties with the other woman.

The false belief that “people cannot change” is expressed in two ways: spouse-focused and self-focused.

Spouse-focused – Your first reaction will be to distrust your spouse. If he’s lied to you hundreds of times before, and if he’s broken the marriage vows equally as many times, then you’ll be tempted to think, How can I ever trust him again? Your trust has been broken in critical and numerous ways, so you’ll be skeptical, even cynical about his efforts to change.

Self-focused – You’ll be tempted to question yourself. You’ll wonder if there’s something you did or didn’t do to contribute to your spouse’s wandering ways. You’ll question whether you can ever really win your spouse’s love back, because you’ve come to believe there’s something fundamentally deficient in you as a spouse.

Both of these are normal reactions given the circumstances, but they must be understood fully and challenged with the truth of your situation, if you hope to recover.

Spouse – You’re right to wonder if your spouse can be trustworthy going forward. You didn’t lose trust in your spouse overnight, so it’s going to take hundreds, even thousands of positive, truthful interactions with your spouse to regain trust in him.

But even though this will be a difficult road, it is not an impossible one!

If your spouse is committed to going to counseling and working on the marriage as well as the trust issues over a prolonged time, then there is hope. Healing will come in time, but not without proper handling of the destructive elements in the marriage that only a good counselor can walk you and your spouse through. FYI – a helpful resource for navigating the rebuilding of trust is Beyond Boundaries.

Self – It’s normal to question yourself but this too can become a problem. When you’ve let your questions about yourself turn into shame or a sense of hopelessness, then you’re headed in the wrong direction.

But if you take an honest look at yourself and deal proactively with the areas where you’re wounded, sinful and dysfunctional, then you’re taking the right path. When we humbly admit and deal with our failures, God can and will take the broken pieces of our marriages and redeem the hurt. Be sure to seek a counselor and godly accountability to walk with you through this painful process.

Let me say one more thing here, don’t in any way hear me say that it’s your fault that your spouse committed adultery or any other abusive action. You are responsible for yourself and your choices, just as your spouse is responsible for himself. No one can “make” any one choose to sin.

 

What stories of redemption in marriage have you experienced or witnessed?

 

What would your prayer be for someone who’s facing this desperate situation?

 

Join me next Monday when I’ll be discussing the third myth – I have only two options, resigning myself to a life of misery or getting out of the marriage.

Photo by Lexieortiz!!

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Linking up with – NOBH, Momma Notes, Marriage MondaysMaking Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Playdates with God and Marriage Monday

 

  • Tracy @Daily Dish Magazine

    People can change. We are all changing all the time. No one is ever the same person they were last week or last year. I really enjoyed this post, I think it can help a great number of people!

    • Yes, we truly are changing all the time, Tracy. But let me add this to the discussion–sometimes we are not changing for the better! 😉 Thankfully, when we live with hearts yielded to Christ, we can count on beautiful transformation, albeit sometimes very painful! Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging me.

  • Andrea @ Wonderful Again

    I am in the process of reconciling with my husband – nearly 4 years after we divorced due to his infidelity. I heard “once a cheater, always a cheater” more times than I could count and it definitely influenced my decision to file for divorce. That said, he HAS changed and I’m finally able to see that, though he didn’t begin changing until I did. As you said, it’s not that his affair was my fault. But my behavior afterward prevented us from escaping the patterns of blame, withdrawal, and anger that we fell into. It destroyed my marriage…. Not the affair itself but the aftermath.

    I wish I had found more resources early on to help me cope. Once I focused on changing my own behaviors and trusting God to do the rest, it’s amazing how much I’ve come to respect the man I was once able to call my husband. Hopefully I’ll be able to call him that again one day soon. 🙂

    • Anna Owens

      Andrea – what resources have you found since then that you wished you had found sooner? Maybe you can point me in the right direction. Thanks!

    • Wow, Andrea. I so appreciate what you’ve shared here, my friend. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to share this. And even more impressive, to have turned your heart from self-protection (among other things, I’m sure) to resting in God’s power and love. I’m lifting up you and your husband and praying that your marriage is restored and healed–better than it was before the affair. Hugs to you!

  • I think these issues are at the core of so many broken marriages in our society, even within the church. To someone who is going thru this, I would say, bring the issues in your marriage to a trusted Pastor. Have some accountability. So many people have issues in their marriage and never want to share them with others. Satan rules in the darkness. There is so much victory in taking that first step and admitting that things are a tad bit broken. And broken is ok…cuz it can always be fixed. Christ is the glue that holds our marriages together.

    • Oh, yes, Satan does indeed rule in the darkness and in the secrets we try to keep. But taking that first step to humbly come into the light, Nicki, is truly the right path–the path to victory. And your statement, “Christ is the glue that holds our marriages together” is a profound and perfect analogy, my friend! Love it!

  • Shelly Miller

    I love what you do to help us be better in our marriages. Good words. I think we are equally responsible for our reactions as our actions.

    • Thanks so much, Shelly! I really appreciate your sweet words to me and offer them back to Christ, since He’s the One who inspires and influences. We couldn’t do it without Him!

  • One thing I have learned, Beth: All things are possible with God. Good thoughts here, my friend.

    • Oh, yes! I’ve seen the impossible done in my life and marriage. Hoping that others will trust Him to do the same in their marriages, Laura. Thanks so much for stopping by, sweet friend.

  • Oh yes … miracles still happen, my friend!

    • And, Linda, my husband and I are living proof of that! So it’s my joy to lift up those here who need that miracle from our Savior–reviving their marriages as well.

  • Thank you for reminding us of the hope we all can have for change. I’m so very thankful that change IS always possible; otherwise, where would any of us be? I pray many will have renewed hope today by this message, Beth, in their marriages and in their lives in general. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thanks so much for your prayers for those who struggle in a desperate marriage, Lisa. I’m lifting them up as well and am so grateful for the never-ending hope we have in Christ. He’s in the business of redeeming all that is lost!

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    I think on of the cruelest things we can do to ourselves, is to blame ourselves for another persons faults and failures! Rather than brooding on this, looking forward and working together to heal a marriage is the only the only positive and good thing to do!
    Much love XX
    Mia

    • Yes, Mia, and it happens all the time! But like you’ve said, it can keep them from progressing–working together to heal the marriage. So I hope this is a wake-up call for those who’ve gotten stuck in shame. There is healing and cleansing in our sweet Jesus, isn’t there? Hugs to you, my friend!

  • People absolutely CAN change…but only through CHRIST. When we realize how much we are loved by Him in spite of ourselves, it fills the hole of hurt in our hearts and then we WANT to CHANGE. We desire to love better than ever before. We long to please the ONE who is LOVE…and day by day the new creation in Christ emerges. My love to you, dear Beth. Great series, great blog…Blessings and hugs…

    • Yes, Sheila, it really does transform our desire to change and gives us the ability to change, when we give it all over to Christ. And like you’ve said, it comes from the loving relationship we must have with our Savior. Trying to do any of this on our own will only lead to more of the same desperation. Thanks so much for your sweet friendship and kind words, my friend!

  • Beyond beautiful Beth! Thank you for the encouragement this morning. All things are possible with God.

    I would be delighted to have you share this with our group of moms. Stop by to be encouraged as we have a guest post splashing us all in God’s goodness. And as always, I would be crazy honored to have you link up.

    Just moms. Sharing our notes. Creating a melody.

    http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com/2013/09/thank-goodness.html

    • Yes, “all things are possible with God!” It’s a message I hope that our listeners are encouraged by and take to heart, Sara. Thanks so much for stopping by and for hosting over at your place today, my friend!

  • Kim Adams Morgan

    Great message, Beth. I think many times when infidelity happens in a marriage, friends and family pile on with all the negative, and encourage the injured party to get out before they are hurt again. This doesn’t allow them to take their own time to reflect on accountability (there is always a cause and effect) and allow forgiveness and repentance to take place so healing can occur. God works miracles all the time. We just need to get out of the way and allow Him to.

    • Yes, that’s so true. We see them hurting and feel like we’re helping them by protecting them from the very things God wants to use to strengthen them in their faith. You’ve stated it all so well, Kim. Love how you end your statement, God works miracles, we just need to get out of His way! 🙂

  • I love how hope-filled your words always leave me. Like a shot in the arm to believe in *possibility*. I’ve been in a busy season and away from many blog circles lately, but being back here is so nice today, Beth. And thank you for visiting me, too.

    • Aww, thanks so much, Kelli. You always encourage me when you stop by, my friend. I hope that those who are in a desperate situation will be encouraged as well. I have missed you, my friend, but I know that you are always up to lots of good things wherever you go–observing the world with your big blue eyes!

  • I’m living proof that God changes people… Redemption through grace is a sure sign of the love of our Father in all of our lives. It sometimes is easier to see in the life of reckless men, that’s all. May all of our lives point to the sovereignty and compassion of our Father. Keep up the solid work and calling, sister.

    • That’s so well put, Floyd. I definitely agree that it’s easier to see redemption in the life of reckless man or woman. There’s something so amazing about grace being lived out in a life transformed by Christ. Thanks so much for coming by, my friend. I appreciate your encouragement as well.

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