Why I Didn’t Leave My Husband

My husband and I are leading a marriage group through our church, using the book, Intimate Encounters. In the first chapter you’re asked to complete a marriage inventory that reveals how strong you are in specific areas of your marriage. It wasn’t a surprise to me that our strongest area is and has always been the spiritual area.

I’m certain that if we didn’t have that spiritual strength in our marriage, we wouldn’t be together today.

May 30, 1987

As you might have read from my “Beth’s Story” page, my husband and I have had a messy marriage and it hasn’t always been easy to stay or feel committed to our marriage. I’ll admit, I’ve certainly been “tempted” to think that divorce would provide that much needed “escape” from my pain.

Don’t get me wrong—I realize that in some situations, divorce is not a “choice” or at the very least, not a choice you necessarily would want.

I’m not talking about that today.

What I’m talking about is having a messy marriage that has worn you down, mess after exhausting and hurtful mess, and you’re tempted to give up but God doesn’t want you to

That’s where my husband and I found ourselves years ago.

Thankfully, God met us there in that pit—in our time of despair and hopelessness—on more than one occasion. I give Him full credit for lifting us out and giving us a “firm place to stand.”

So what am I saying kept us together?

And what keeps us growing closer and more deeply in love even today?

I believe it is Christ giving us the ability to persevere. As we trust and surrender our marriage to Him on a daily/minute-by-minute basis, He teaches us to love each other better even in the worst of circumstances.

After all, it’s one thing for me to love my spouse when all is going well and he’s treating me like I’m the center of the universe. But that’s not reality … at least not sustained reality. Anyone who’s been married for longer than a year will tell you that!

In other words, Christ taught us to truly love one another because of, not in spite of, the messy and painful situations we went through, and even now, on occasion, go through.  

I really don’t think I would’ve known how to be a conduit of God’s love in my spouse’s life, without the training ground that difficulty and pain provide.

What about you?

What keeps you and your spouse together?

What practices do you have that strengthen your bond?

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:1-2 (NIV)

One more thing … Messy Marriage is beginning a new Link-Up for all of you “Blog Hoppers” out there! Yay! Please come on by and link up with your stories of marriage and parenthood at Wedded Wednesday starting on the 30th!

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Today we’re happy to join e-Mom for Marriage Monday on the topic of “commitment.” Check out who else we’re linking up with – NOBH, Monday’s Musings, Marriage Moment, Matrimonial Monday, and Playdates with God

  • It is the same for us Beth, allowing Christ to hold our marriage. Love for Him and our desire to please Him kept us trusting and persevering.
    Thanks for sharing, I pray someone will be encouraged.

    • I’m glad we’re kindred spirits in this fight to remain committed in our marriages, Ugochi. I’m so thankful for His grace and love working through me and through you. Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

  • LuAnn Braley

    Ditto. Love the “Wedded Wednesday” theme. Will be back for that. Oh yay, you have a button in your sidebar. No ifs, ands or buts, God is the only reason DH and I are still together. We’ve both at one time or another had to draw on that power that comes from obedience to Him.

    • So glad you’re drawing from God’s power too, LuAnn. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it? And I’m also encouraged to know you’ll be joining me for Wedded Wednesday! I’m super excited to have our first link up! 🙂

  • Ditto. Love the “Wedded Wednesday” theme. Will be back for that. Oh yay, you have a button in your sidebar. No ifs, ands or buts, God is the only reason DH and I are still together. We’ve both at one time or another had to draw on that power that comes from obedience to Him.

  • Denise Oldham

    Bless you, thanks for keeping it real.

  • Loving each other because of, not just in spite of. Beautiful, Beth. We don’t always think like that, but it is true. Those messes are our growing ground to be more transformed into the image of Christ. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • It’s more of a hindsight kind of realization, isn’t it, Lisa? We can’t see it when we’re going through the pain, but we certainly see it on the other side of God’s redeeming work! Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  • Christina@toshowthemjesus.com

    I have played around with the thought of divorce a few times. When the pain is so intense, you just want to escape it. But time and again, God’s grace has intervened. These days, I rest all my trials at the feet of Christ through prayer because I can’t do this marriage thing on my own and in my own strength. And I’m excited to see you are having a link up on Wednesdays. We can link up posts about parenting as well as marriage?

    • Yeah, I think sometimes Satan plants a few of those ideas in our heads–although I’m certain I had enough culpability to go down that road all by myself! Thanks for being vulnerable enough to let me know you struggled in this way at one time as well, Christina. It’s nice not to have to stand out there all alone! 🙂 And yes, you can write on either marriage or parenthood. Both topics are welcome! Looking forward to it, sweet friend!

  • I have played around with the thought of divorce a few times. When the pain is so intense, you just want to escape it. But time and again, God’s grace has intervened. These days, I rest all my trials at the feet of Christ through prayer because I can’t do this marriage thing on my own and in my own strength. And I’m excited to see you are having a link up on Wednesdays. We can link up posts about parenting as well as marriage?

  • Divorce never entered my mind, but it crossed my husband’s lips a passel of times — he tends toward more drama than I do, and used to rely on empty threats. They never worked.
    God found us in the pit a few years ago, and it does take resolve to come out of it. Divorce, in the mind of many, is always an option. God planted an uncanny stubbornness in my soul and mind about it. I will fight for my marriage. I’ve done it the wrong way many times, but have learned to correct myself and to share with my husband how I’ve done it.
    Faith paths differ. Understanding God differs. Spouses are not always (or even usually) on the same page. Our constant is Christ. My husband can’t always name that link, but it’s very, very clear to anyone knowing our story.
    Can’t wait to have a link-up. I learn a lot, and love to share, too!

    • Your words remind me that part of what made my commitment to Christ strong was my husband’s commitment to Christ. If he had wavered, I’m not sure I would have stood so strong. And I’m so glad you have an “uncanny stubborness planted by God!” He knows what we need for the journey, doesn’t He, Amy? Thanks so much for weighing in and I look forward to seeing you at the link-up! Yay!

  • Divorce never entered my mind, but it crossed my husband’s lips a passel of times — he tends toward more drama than I do, and used to rely on empty threats. They never worked.
    God found us in the pit a few years ago, and it does take resolve to come out of it. Divorce, in the mind of many, is always an option. God planted an uncanny stubbornness in my soul and mind about it. I will fight for my marriage. I’ve done it the wrong way many times, but have learned to correct myself and to share with my husband how I’ve done it.
    Faith paths differ. Understanding God differs. Spouses are not always (or even usually) on the same page. Our constant is Christ. My husband can’t always name that link, but it’s very, very clear to anyone knowing our story.
    Can’t wait to have a link-up. I learn a lot, and love to share, too!

  • This is powerful—- Christ taught us to truly love one another because of, not in spite of,— a line I will teach my children. No doubt, it’s only by God’s grace that my husband and I have stuck through all the messes of the past 19 years. And my man’s AMAZING Christ-like servant-heartedness sure helps, too 🙂

    • I’m so glad you have an amazing Christ-like man, Alicia. God blessed me with one too and I don’t take for granted just how important that has been to us staying committed in marriage. Thanks so much for your sweet words of encouragement, my friend! I hope you can join us at Wedded Wednesday too! 🙂

  • This is powerful—- Christ taught us to truly love one another because of, not in spite of,— a line I will teach my children. No doubt, it’s only by God’s grace that my husband and I have stuck through all the messes of the past 19 years. And my man’s AMAZING Christ-like servant-heartedness sure helps, too 🙂

  • Pam

    Love the commitment you and Gary display, Beth…always inspiring. :o)

    • Thanks so much, Pam. I have to say, you were on my mind when I wrote this post. Praying for you! God will make a way!

  • Pam

    Love the commitment you and Gary display, Beth…always inspiring. :o)

  • GreatPeaceAcademy

    Oh what a really great reminder, that we can turn our messy stuff over to the Father. He knows all about it anyway and if we submit our will to His will then we can have a healthier and more fruitful marriage.

    • Yeah, trying to hide our messy stuff never quite works with God–or our spouse’s for that matter! haha! Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  • GreatPeaceAcademy

    Oh what a really great reminder, that we can turn our messy stuff over to the Father. He knows all about it anyway and if we submit our will to His will then we can have a healthier and more fruitful marriage.

  • Pamela

    What has helped us is being willing to give the 60 or 70%. There are times I need to be the 70%er. Other times my husband needs to give the 65%. He may have extra pressure at work, I may have physical issues. It’s not always an even 50/50. We decided early in our marriage to be willing to give what the other can’t. Right now he’s working on a doctorate and I’m willing to do without as much me/him time, help around the house and willing to do as many things on his load as possible. Believe me, there’s been many times he’s given the 70%.

    • I’m so glad you and your spouse are willing to pick up the slack in your marriage when needed. That’s so important to persevering and staying committed in a relationship. Thanks so much for coming by and adding to the discussion, Pamela!

  • Pamela

    What has helped us is being willing to give the 60 or 70%. There are times I need to be the 70%er. Other times my husband needs to give the 65%. He may have extra pressure at work, I may have physical issues. It’s not always an even 50/50. We decided early in our marriage to be willing to give what the other can’t. Right now he’s working on a doctorate and I’m willing to do without as much me/him time, help around the house and willing to do as many things on his load as possible. Believe me, there’s been many times he’s given the 70%.

  • edelweisstexas1

    Thanks for stopping by my post today. I appreciate your honesty as well. The messy side of marriage is not something they tell you about before hand. We stand there with stars in our eyes and think we will be this happy every .single. day… To quote The Grinch, “WRONG-O!!”

    I have found that in our marriage, sticking it out and remaining committed through the junk of life, we are now bound even tighter to one another. When Dave was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago, the first thing our son-in-law said was,

    “The both of you are already so close, I can’t imagine what that’s going to look like when the 2 of you come out on the other side of this!”

    No one knows me like Dave and vice-versa. Not only that, we love each other in SPITE of what we know about each other! It’s more than true love, it’s tried and true love!
    Connie

    • Your words remind me of the old saying, “You can let life turn you bitter or make you better.” I think that you and your husband have allowed God to make you better and on top of that–closer! What a winning combination! Thanks so much for coming by and weighing in!

  • edelweisstexas1

    Thanks for stopping by my post today. I appreciate your honesty as well. The messy side of marriage is not something they tell you about before hand. We stand there with stars in our eyes and think we will be this happy every .single. day… To quote The Grinch, “WRONG-O!!”

    I have found that in our marriage, sticking it out and remaining committed through the junk of life, we are now bound even tighter to one another. When Dave was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago, the first thing our son-in-law said was,

    “The both of you are already so close, I can’t imagine what that’s going to look like when the 2 of you come out on the other side of this!”

    No one knows me like Dave and vice-versa. Not only that, we love each other in SPITE of what we know about each other! It’s more than true love, it’s tried and true love!
    Connie

  • grantham lynn

    Your post blessed me. It’s true sometimes we do just have to stick it out and trust. I find myself saying ‘for this I have Jesus’ and leaning on him. Thanks for sharing these truths.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Sherry

    • Yes, and I’m so glad we “have Jesus” in our lives and marriages. Without Him we certainly not have the commitment that He alone can provide. Thanks so much for your encouragement of me, Lynn!

  • grantham lynn

    Your post blessed me. It’s true sometimes we do just have to stick it out and trust. I find myself saying ‘for this I have Jesus’ and leaning on him. Thanks for sharing these truths.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Sherry

  • I’m glad we’re kindred spirits in this fight to remain committed in our marriages, Ugochi. I’m so thankful for His grace and love working through me and through you. Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

  • So glad you’re drawing from God’s power too, LuAnn. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it? And I’m also encouraged to know you’ll be joining me for Wedded Wednesday! I’m super excited to have our first link up! 🙂

  • You’re welcome, Denise. Thanks for stopping by!

  • It’s more of a hindsight kind of realization, isn’t it, Lisa? We can’t see it when we’re going through the pain, but we certainly see it on the other side of God’s redeeming work! Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  • Yeah, I think sometimes Satan plants a few of those ideas in our heads–although I’m certain I had enough culpability to go down that road all by myself! Thanks for being vulnerable enough to let me know you struggled in this way at one time as well, Christina. It’s nice not to have to stand out there all alone! 🙂 And yes, you can write on either marriage or parenthood. Both topics are welcome! Looking forward to it, sweet friend!

  • Your words remind me that part of what made my commitment to Christ strong was my husband’s commitment to Christ. If he had wavered, I’m not sure I would have stood so strong. And I’m so glad you have an “uncanny stubborness planted by God!” He knows what we need for the journey, doesn’t He, Amy? Thanks so much for weighing in and I look forward to seeing you at the link-up! Yay!

  • I’m so glad you have an amazing Christ-like man, Alicia. God blessed me with one too and I don’t take for granted just how important that has been to us staying committed in marriage. Thanks so much for your sweet words of encouragement, my friend! I hope you can join us at Wedded Wednesday too! 🙂

  • Thanks so much, Pam. I have to say, you were on my mind when I wrote this post. Praying for you! God will make a way!

  • Yeah, trying to hide our messy stuff never quite works with God–or our spouse’s for that matter! haha! Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  • I’m so glad you and your spouse are willing to pick up the slack in your marriage when needed. That’s so important to persevering and staying committed in a relationship. Thanks so much for coming by and adding to the discussion, Pamela!

  • Your words remind me of the old saying, “You can let life turn you bitter or make you better.” I think that you and your husband have allowed God to make you better and on top of that–closer! What a winning combination! Thanks so much for coming by and weighing in!

  • Yes, and I’m so glad we “have Jesus” in our lives and marriages. Without Him we certainly not have the commitment that He alone can provide. Thanks so much for your encouragement of me, Lynn!

  • oh, that “because of, not in spite of” is powerful stuff, Beth.
    wow. thank you for that.

    and how awesome that you’re doing a link-up!! you *know* i’ll be here, girl! 🙂

    • It truly is powerful, Kelli. Thanks so much for coming by and I’m thrilled that you’ll be back to join me! Hugs to you!

  • oh, that “because of, not in spite of” is powerful stuff, Beth.
    wow. thank you for that.

    and how awesome that you’re doing a link-up!! you *know* i’ll be here, girl! 🙂

  • e-Mom

    A beautiful wedding photo! Sharing spiritual strength together is the best “glue” of all. Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday today, Beth. Blessings, e-Mom ღ

    • Thanks, e-Mom. And yes, spiritual strength is like glue–super glue! I’m so glad we have a super God that provides us the strength to stay committed. Thanks, as always, for the great link-up and writing prompt. 🙂

  • e-Mom

    A beautiful wedding photo! Sharing spiritual strength together is the best “glue” of all. Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday today, Beth. Blessings, e-Mom ღ

  • nice A

    I like this part of your post most, “Christ taught us to truly love one another because of, not in spite of, the messy and painful situations we went through, and even now, on occasion, go through.” This is exactly what I was saying in my MM post that the messy and painful experiences we’ve been through have taught us Christ-likeness in marriage. How can we ever claim we are Christians if we can’t put into practice real forgiveness even to our very own spouse?

    • Yes, I could tell that we were speaking from the same spiritual “place” in our lives and marriages. It’s always great to find another kindred spirit in the blogging world, A. Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  • nice A

    I like this part of your post most, “Christ taught us to truly love one another because of, not in spite of, the messy and painful situations we went through, and even now, on occasion, go through.” This is exactly what I was saying in my MM post that the messy and painful experiences we’ve been through have taught us Christ-likeness in marriage. How can we ever claim we are Christians if we can’t put into practice real forgiveness even to our very own spouse?

  • I truly appreciate your consistent honesty and vulnerability here, Beth. You serve us fellow wives with genuine encouragement, always rooted in the only true source of strength and forgiveness, Christ. And I’m excited about your link-up! Yay!

    • I feel the same way about your consistent vulnerability at your blog, Becky. I truly appreciate you stopping by and I hope you make it back for Wedded Wednesday, my friend!

  • Becky Kopitzke

    I truly appreciate your consistent honesty and vulnerability here, Beth. You serve us fellow wives with genuine encouragement, always rooted in the only true source of strength and forgiveness, Christ. And I’m excited about your link-up! Yay!

  • Love this:

    “I really don’t think I would’ve known how to be a conduit of God’s love in my spouse’s life, without the training ground that difficulty and pain provide.”

    Amen. Hard times are a crash course in loving. Agreed.

    • Yeah, I’m so glad I can see that now, because at the time it was really hard to find that surrendered place. Thanks so much for coming by and being an encouragement in my life, Tami!

  • Love this:

    “I really don’t think I would’ve known how to be a conduit of God’s love in my spouse’s life, without the training ground that difficulty and pain provide.”

    Amen. Hard times are a crash course in loving. Agreed.

  • I’m still mulling last Sunday’s sermon which was about unity in the church. The pastor said something to the effect that we don’t grow in unity by trying harder to achieve unity. We grow in unity as we as we follow Christ and find ourselves moving in the same direction toward him. I think you are saying the same thing about marriage–if we, as husband and wife, are moving toward Christ we can’t help but be moving closer together.

    • Yeah, it reminds me of the marriage triangle – the man and woman are at the bottom corners and their focus leads up to the pinnacle of the triangle as they focus on God. It’s a great analogy, Nancy and I thank you for adding it to the conversation. Thanks also for coming by and encouraging me!

  • I’m still mulling last Sunday’s sermon which was about unity in the church. The pastor said something to the effect that we don’t grow in unity by trying harder to achieve unity. We grow in unity as we as we follow Christ and find ourselves moving in the same direction toward him. I think you are saying the same thing about marriage–if we, as husband and wife, are moving toward Christ we can’t help but be moving closer together.

  • Awww lovely wedding picture!

    I love that part of ‘not sustained reality’ – I too have discovered that true love happens in the pits, not the plains 🙂 We understand true live in hardships, not in easy times.

    Personally, God has kept growing my trust in HIM.So long as my eyes are on Him, my marriage is safe. It’s about trusting His plan as the author of our marriage.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    • I love your words – “true love happens in the pits, not the plains.” If you haven’t already, you should write about that, Ngina! Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me so faithfully! I hope you can join us for the Wednesday blog hop!

      • I hadn’t thought about it..but now that you speak of it…I’ve saved up the thought on evernote! Thanks! You are hosting a blog hop tomorrow? Will sure join in!

  • Awww lovely wedding picture!

    I love that part of ‘not sustained reality’ – I too have discovered that true love happens in the pits, not the plains 🙂 We understand true live in hardships, not in easy times.

    Personally, God has kept growing my trust in HIM.So long as my eyes are on Him, my marriage is safe. It’s about trusting His plan as the author of our marriage.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • It truly is powerful, Kelli. Thanks so much for coming by and I’m thrilled that you’ll be back to join me! Hugs to you!

  • Thanks, e-Mom. And yes, spiritual strength is like glue–super glue! I’m so glad we have a super God that provides us the strength to stay committed. Thanks, as always, for the great link-up and writing prompt. 🙂

  • Yes, I could tell that we were speaking from the same spiritual “place” in our lives and marriages. It’s always great to find another kindred spirit in the blogging world, A. Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  • I feel the same way about your consistent vulnerability at your blog, Becky. I truly appreciate you stopping by and I hope you make it back for Wedded Wednesday, my friend!

  • Yeah, I’m so glad I can see that now, because at the time it was really hard to find that surrendered place. Thanks so much for coming by and being an encouragement in my life, Tami!

  • Yeah, it reminds me of the marriage triangle – the man and woman are at the bottom corners and their focus leads up to the pinnacle of the triangle as they focus on God. It’s a great analogy, Nancy and I thank you for adding it to the conversation. Thanks also for coming by and encouraging me!

  • I love your words – “true love happens in the pits, not the plains.” If you haven’t already, you should write about that, Ngina! Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me so faithfully! I hope you can join us for the Wednesday blog hop!

  • We’ve been there too, Beth. What kept me holding on was my faith. I knew I wanted a different kind of family for my kids than the broken home I grew up in. I knew Jesus could give us the strength to make it through if we clung to Him.

    I agree with the others about that gorgeous bride and groom :). Thanks for blessing us with that picture.

    • It’s so wonderful to hear others’ stories of clinging to Jesus through the storms of marriage and life, Laura. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share your past with me. It makes sense though. You’ve got a unique insight from the redeemed pain that resonates in your writing. Thanks so much for coming by and blessing me week after week!

  • We’ve been there too, Beth. What kept me holding on was my faith. I knew I wanted a different kind of family for my kids than the broken home I grew up in. I knew Jesus could give us the strength to make it through if we clung to Him.

    I agree with the others about that gorgeous bride and groom :). Thanks for blessing us with that picture.

  • I hadn’t thought about it..but now that you speak of it…I’ve saved up the thought on evernote! Thanks! You are hosting a blog hope tomorrow? Will sure join in!

  • Faith

    loved reading this…so much honesty and wisdom here!! what keeps dave and I going thru the difficult times..and there have been a few over the last 22 yrs! is our faith in Christ, our personal convictions that divorce is NOT an option since neither of us is unfaithful with another person nor are we abusive to one another. We also do something practical. we date. We have kept “couple time” fairly regularly because we believe that the couple who plays together stays together. Sounds corny but it’s worked for us!!!

    • Yes, keeping Christ at the center and continuing to “court” our spouses are crucial factors that keep our marriages from breaking down under the weight of what this life throws at us, Faith. Thanks also for you kind words, my friend! They mean a lot to me!

  • Faith

    loved reading this…so much honesty and wisdom here!! what keeps dave and I going thru the difficult times..and there have been a few over the last 22 yrs! is our faith in Christ, our personal convictions that divorce is NOT an option since neither of us is unfaithful with another person nor are we abusive to one another. We also do something practical. we date. We have kept “couple time” fairly regularly because we believe that the couple who plays together stays together. Sounds corny but it’s worked for us!!!

  • It’s so wonderful to hear others’ stories of clinging to Jesus through the storms of marriage and life, Laura. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share your past with me. It makes sense though. You’ve got a unique insight from the redeemed pain that resonates in your writing. Thanks so much for coming by and blessing me week after week!

  • Yes, keeping Christ at the center and continuing to “court” our spouses are crucial factors that keep our marriages from breaking down under the weight of what this life throws at us, Faith. Thanks also for you kind words, my friend! They mean a lot to me!

  • I love this post. Spiritual Strength may actually be one of hubby and I’s greatest weeknesses in our marriage. It is something we are working on though.
    Just wanted to tell you that we will be featuring this tomorrow at Matrimonial Monday!

  • I’m late getting to the Marriage Monday posts, but so glad I am. I love how you wrote that Christ taught you both because of, not in spite of. If only all of us grasped that.

    • Thanks for saying, Julie, and for visiting! It truly is hard to see this truth in the middle of the pain, but afterwards it often becomes crystal clear! 🙂

  • I’m late getting to the Marriage Monday posts, but so glad I am. I love how you wrote that Christ taught you both because of, not in spite of. If only all of us grasped that.

  • Thanks for saying, Julie, and for visiting! It truly is hard to see this truth in the middle of the pain, but afterwards it often becomes crystal clear! 🙂