Finding God in a Difficult Marriage

Today’s article is a response to the “Share Your Story” post from last month. The writer wishes to remain anonymous, but I thank her for her authenticity here just the same!
I’ve been learning lately that conflict and pain can be used to deepen my character and grow my relationship with God. 
But I often choose the easier way.
And all I can do is read a book to stay awakeEleven years ago I married a fun loving and caring man who was also a recovering drug addict. Being sober for some time and ministering to other addicts, four years into our marriage my husband ended up turning back to drugs and rage to cope with life. From the beginning I always felt like I needed to be the dutiful wife and one would think I would now no longer need to uphold that image of a wife …
But I did. 
For the next six years that followed, I gauged his moods, held feelings in, made excuses for him, and took on more responsibilities with the home and kids. But underneath, I lived as the victim and rationalized my own sins. I complained endlessly to close friends, fantasized about what my life would be like with someone else, and felt jealous of other people’s families. 
I always knew I struggled with codependency (revolving my life around him and his problems), but it wasn’t until recently I realized how it was destroying my soul and the relationships that matter most to me. The realization came when I learned from a neighbor that a month earlier he had an altercation with someone in the neighborhood that could have landed him in jail.
The situation was the last straw. 
All of my pent up anger emerged from within and I told him things had to change or I was going to give up. I had no more energy to keep up an appearance or make things work. So I packed my bags, took the kids, and spent the night at my sister’s house. I wanted to stay away indefinitely, …
But God had different plans. 
Through the Spirit and the counsel of godly friends, I went home and committed to work things out within myself before making any big decisions.
This was God’s mercy and the beginning of something different than before. I knew I was at the end of my rope in our marriage but then began to feel at the end of the rope with myself. As I looked at the role I played in the marriage, I saw how I perpetuated the unhealthy patterns by …
Being more desperate for him to change than desperate for God.  By accommodating him and holding things in, I was being self-centered, not God-centered like I thought.
Seeing how much I needed to grow was humbling. The first area that I saw was and is a need to be honest with where I’m at, every day. This involves pausing to spend time processing emotions before God, especially anger and hurt instead of denying them. Second, I also needed to start pursuing a real relationship with my husband, like sharing feelings and struggles vulnerably, apologizing when I’m wrong, forgiving and addressing issues without being afraid of conflict.
The recent ordeal and hopelessness about my own struggles has become a blessing in disguise because I am forced to look to God for help, security and joy.  I see God teaching me how to love authentically. My expectations are more realistic these days. I’m beginning to share more honestly, and have stopped trying to fix him and be a know-it-all.
I just feel less confident in myself and more dependent on God. And despite it still being difficult, my husband is willing to join me in taking personal responsibility as we work on our marriage together.
So rather than choosing to be a victim, today I give thanks for these struggles that draw me closer to Him.

Photo credit by Charadactyl (Flickr)
 

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  • “Being more desperate for him to change than desperate for God.”

    Isn’t this so key? What are we most desperate for? It doesn’t come out just in our words, but in our behaviors.

    Glad you chose God and that your marriage is still intact. I am blessed by reading of your story this morning.

  • JosephPote

    The line between being faithful and being codependent is sometimes rather gray, isn’t it?

    You’ve marked it well in this post. When we are trusting God, we don’t base our behavior on fear of conflict or appearances.

    Blessings!

  • WarriorWives

    Wow…that was an amazing story! What a hard decision this wife made. I’m so thankful she was willing to share.

  • What a testimony! It is in your honesty that growth is found–both yours and those of us who read your sharing. Writing authentically isn’t always easy, but it is always what God works through.

  • Ro elliott

    Thanks so much for the honesty here…Oh yes…to see the log…how often we miss this in the middle of the conflict…it is so easy to focus on the other one…and yes we can grow to be thankful for those times of struggle because of where we see the growth that came through it all….I am so thankful you all allowed God to come and redeem all the pain and continue to walk together in the process. blessings~

  • Heather Copple

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was beautiful.

  • messymarriage

    Yes, she really brings up such an important point where most or even “all” messy marriages veer off into the ditch. Unless we are seeking God first in our lives we are doomed to fail. I’m so glad you stopped by to support and encourage her, Lisa! I’ve already heard from her and she is blown away by the kind comments. 🙂

  • messymarriage

    Yes, you highlight an important point, Joe. Codependency very often looks like what a “good Christian wife” should do and be. Thanks so much for encouraging this sweet young woman. She feels very blessed to read these encouraging comments! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    I’m so thankful too, Elizabeth! She has my admiration and appreciation for sharing such a painful and personal story with all of us. Thanks for coming by to encourage her! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    You’re so right, Pamela. Growth is only found when we are honest about our failures. It is only then that God can heal us. Thanks for encouraging this young woman. It means a lot to her and to those of us here at Messy Marriage.

  • messymarriage

    Yes, she has done two (among many) remarkable things here. She has been humble enough to see her own contribution to a toxic situation instead of staying the victim and she’s been brave enough to share it with all of us. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your kind words with her, Ro!

  • messymarriage

    Thanks so much for encouraging her, Heather. It means a lot! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing with such transparency about your struggles! It’s clear that you are growing and moving in the right direction. Blessings as you journey forwards.

  • kdsullivan

    I was once in a similar relationship, and you are so right to notice where you need to grow as well. Can I offer my prayers for your marriage? If you will allow, I will add you to my blogging prayer list.

  • messymarriage

    Thanks so much for stopping by to encourage her, Ann. She really is moving in the right direction–including the step to share her story here! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    Thanks for sharing how this personally impacts you. I would think it would make a big difference to her–to know she has someone who relates so closely. I’ll relay your desire to pray for her. Perhaps she’ll choose to reach out to you personally, kd.

  • A big thank you to your guest for sharing such an intimate story. Bless you and your marriage, friend. How hard it is to see when we contribute to dysfunction. This is a brave telling.