Feeling Trapped in a Loveless Marriage?

Recently a comment caught my attention. First of all, because of the pain I was sensing in this person’s words, and second, because it got me to thinking about my own messy marriage journey. Here’s the comment to an article I posted about a spouse continually refusing to admit fault

My wife has behaved this way for our entire marriage. Trying to explain it to her doesn’t help. I’m at a loss. Communication is key to solving problems, yet she quickly becomes 
emotional, defensive, angry, etc. whenever I try to workout misunderstandings. It’s as if I’m supposed to just suck it up and move on. —signed, Ataloss

What a despairing place to be … to be in the inconsolable darkness of a truly messy marriage, to feel as if you’ll never crawl out of the pain, to feel that you’re all alone and hopelessly trapped in a prison of emptiness and pain.

I get it. I do.

And I’m not so bold as to say that I’ll never return to that place in my lifetime. But I do know how I was able to find freedom and hope in the convergence of messiness and marriage

Yield
By Kt Ann

I use the word convergence because we’re all at a crossroads in this messy life. We can choose to keep moving forward—allowing the fears and frustrations of our messy marriage or messy life to drive us into dangerous collisions or …

We can yield.

And it’s important to consider whom we are yielding to, and for me that is Christ, the One who is the true source of freedom and hope.

My marriage before yielding …

  • I allowed the conflict between me and my husband to embitter my heart and marriage.
  • I allowed the terrible hardships we faced to drive a wedge between us, repelling me from my partner.
  • I believed the conflict and hardships were signs that I had married the wrong person.
  • I believed that pain was the problem.
  • I believed that my husband was the inflictor of that pain.
  • Sometimes I even believed that God was the inflictor of that pain.

After yielding to Christ …

  • I allow Christ to soften my heart and infuse me with grace when conflict arises.
  • I allow Christ to open my eyes to the ways I need to change, while surrendering my spouse’s need for change to Christ.
  • I believe that conflict and hardships are part of this messy life, because we are messy people.
  • I believe that Christ came to redeem the messes my husband and I make—making them into something new and beautiful … in the yielding.
  • I believe that pain is one miraculous way that Christ refines my heart and marriage everyday, and bonds me to my spouse, drawing me to my partner in ways I cannot fully understand.

What I’m saying is not easy to hear if you are in a dark place like this commenter. And it’s important to reach out for the help of a good, Christian counselor, if you feel this kind of despair.

But also realize that Christ is the One who waits for you to yield this mess to Him. He’s the only One who truly holds the key to your freedom. 

[Jesus Speaking] “If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39 (CEV)

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 (NLT)

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Linking up with NOBH, Revive Your Marriage, Playdates with God, Seedlings in Stone and Marital Oneness Monday

  • Lori

    Beth, you have a wise perspective on what it takes for a marriage to succeed. I just read Gary Chapman’s “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” and found some of the same principles in his wise, hope-filled book. It’s an excellent marital resource. I think this might be the first time I’ve visited your blog. Glad to have found you. Lori, from Be Not Weary

  • Yield. What a great word picture for this, Beth. I am married to a wonderful man, but I’m still having to learn to yield. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it.

  • Beth, It is truly amazing how having the right perspective completely changes how we experience our circumstances. This is described so well here in your post today!

  • Ro elliott

    great truths here…if couples can see that the marriage really magnifies those places in our hearts that were already there…marriage should be a safe place to allow God to come and bring greater freedom…so sad that it becomes a prison for so many. great post…blessings~

  • So so true! Yielding to Christ is the way to live out messy marriages. Often it is through the mess that He changed and refines us. Love this!

  • JosephPote

    Beth, I love your response to this issue.
    I, too, totally get Ataloss’ issues. I’ve been there, myself…enough times to say that, at least to some extent, this sort of frustration is part of every marriage at times.
    There is a major difference between an abusive relationship and a relationship with communication issues. It’s difficult to tell, from Ataloss’ note which category his might fall into…and the lines of demarcation are not always clear, especially to the people in the relationship.
    Either way, though, counseling is a good idea. And either way, yielding to Christ is the best response.

  • messymarriage

    There’s an old marriage book by Norm Wright called, Communication, Key to Your Marriage. I thought of that when I read this person’s comment. Not to diminish the power of communication in marriage, but I see it as only a part of the picture–especially when we are dealing the Master painter of our marriages. Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, marriage has a way of bringing out the best and worst in us. We need to lean on Christ to find bring that “best” part out. Thanks for coming by, Ro. I always appreciate your encouragement and point of view.

  • messymarriage

    Yes, I can tell from your website that you resonate with this perspective shift in all areas of life. I’m so glad you stopped by and I enjoyed your post today as well. Keep ’em coming!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, I put these truths down as ways I find my way out of the messiness. I failed to mention that I often have to remind myself in the midst of the mess to do these. They don’t come natural even when I have integrated them into my belief system. Wish we weren’t all so messy, but then I guess we wouldn’t need a Savior and I don’t want to give him up!!

  • messymarriage

    Yeah, I love Gary Chapman and his many great books. I’ll have to check that one out soon. And thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate you coming by and was glad to discover your site as well! 🙂

  • It’s so common, isn’t it, for us to feel that pain is THE problem, rather than just an indicator that there is a problem?
    When I have felt that I am entitled to a trouble-free marriage (also substitute: life), then feeling happy again becomes my goal. This shortchanges the growth that could be mine by going through the pain. And clinging desperately to Him.
    Thanks for always pointing to Jesus, Beth!

  • Alicia Bruxvoort

    As always, I’m convicted and propelled forward when I visit this place. Love the way you remind me that pain isn’t pointless if I let Jesus use it. Needed that today.

  • Carrie White

    Beth, your willingness to be used by God is so evident in your comments…you have brought everything back to Christ and how His will for all our marriages is the key…yes, clear communication is needed but what is it without attempting to see your spouse the way God sees them, giving your spouse’s problems to God and working on your own is SO overwhelming when forgetting/refusing to give your own self up to God. Today, though I am not in “Ataloss” ‘s shoes this time, I have still gleaned God’s words from this post. Thank you for giving to the Lord, Beth.

  • messymarriage

    Yes, it’s another one of those spiritual paradoxes that God created. When we think we need to step in and control a bad situation, is when we need to let go and let God take control. It feels so counterintuitive, but it’s a mystery of God that I want to embrace–not run from. Thanks so much for your kind words, Kelli. I appreciate your heart so much, friend!

  • messymarriage

    I’m so glad that it ministered to you, Alicia. Give thanks to God for that little heavenly hug–b/c it is Him through me and not anything that I’ve done here. Thanks so much for your encouragement!

  • messymarriage

    You’ve so deeply encouraged me, Carrie, not because of what you’re saying about my writing or insights (which come straight from God, by the way) but because you see me as a willing servant to be used by God. That’s my prayer and what I want my heart’s motivation to always be. I’m so glad it is evident to you. You made my day!

  • Amber@Composing Hope

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I love what I’m seeing here! I can completely relate to the whole “messy marriage” thing. I’ve been on my own journey from mess to great. We’re still in the transition, so it’s been a very bumpy ride. Jesus has been teaching me about obedience to Him above all else–even my feelings. He’s graciously walking me through and I’m amazed at the work He’s doing in my marriage. Seriously. Amazing. I appreciate what you’re doing here. More people need to hear this message, because it’s all about redemption in the end and that’s what matters most.

  • messymarriage

    It truly is all about redemption, Amber. I’m so glad you swung by and so glad that God is doing amazing things in your life and marriage! Stay in touch!

  • This could well have been written to this woman in the place I was several years ago, Beth. We held on. I stopped praying for God to change my man and asked for Him to change ME. I handed it over. It wasn’t easy, trust me. But if I could give one piece of advice to young couples who are struggling it would be this: Don’t give up too easily! Because love on the other side of such a struggle is a rich and beautiful thing. Thanks for this, sweet friend.

  • messymarriage

    You are so right, Laura! And I’m so glad to know that you resonate with this post. Sometimes I feel a little “weird or different” from other bloggers–sharing so often about these messy crisis points in my marriage. Here’s to persevering through the pain and finding our marriage sweeter than ever on the other side! 🙂