We are failing at marriage

I have failed my husband. My husband has failed me.

And we are not alone. It is happening in every. single. marriage.

Failure.

When Connor and I were married three years ago, we included in our ceremony one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 14:4-7

I could not wait to share that kind of love with my sweet and wonderful husband for the rest of my life.

In the months following our wedding, we did everything we could to build a fortress around our marriage to keep evil out. We prayed together – over our marriage and each other. I felt so safe in our relationship.

Not to say our first year wasn’t rough. It was. Learning to respond with love and grace, regardless of our emotional state, was an incredible challenge.  But we really loved each other so, when those lessons of humility kept coming, we did our best to welcome them with open arms. Because, after all, love is not self-seeking. We made real progress. It was precious and beautiful progress towards maturity in our love and the ways we related to each other.

The scary thing, friends, is that all marriages are at risk of Satan’s influences. Even (and especially) the strong ones.

See, while we were “building” our marriage, I was still feeling “failed.” Things would happen between us that hurt me. Every time I would say, “I forgive you,” and would really want to mean it, but the hurt lingered in my heart and refused to go away. So I became passive in my love towards my husband. Eventually, I did not feel loved and I did not want to forgive my husband anymore. The trust we had on our marriage day had been dismantled.

I knew I wanted to repair our marriage to what it had been before the broken trust, but I kept getting lost. I willed my heart to forgive him. I prayed desperately for God to help me and heal our marriage. I thought I was making little steps of progress. However, there was still hurt and anger brewing inside me that quietly bided its time and built up potency – until one day, when it burst like an ugly pus-filled wound.

While driving myself to a meeting for work, I was overwhelmed with what had happened to my once beautiful love-filled life. I was MAD. I could not accept that my marriage was flawed and always would be. I could not believe that I had “chosen” to forgive my husband.  He needed to know my wrath, my disappointment, and my hurt in full force. He did not deserve to be forgiven. He deserved to know EXACTLY how he’d hurt me and to be punished. I had let him off too easy. Guys, these kind of thoughts are not unique to me. This is the human condition. Human nature longs, with an ugly bitterness, for retribution when we are wronged. So when all of these thoughts attacked my heart, Satan won a battle in those moments. I was seething and it was ugly. I was failing my husband. I had been offering him conditional love. “Mmm, I’m only going to love you completely if you do right by me, all the time. Otherwise, forget it.”

Drowning, I cried out to God with an utterly broken soul. And when I was done, he spoke to me very clearly. Very. He said, “Dearest, this is not your burden. I am the one who deals out judgments in righteousness. It is not your job to make sure your husband ‘learns his lesson.’ I have you in my hand, sweet one, and you are loved. I have your husband in my hand and he is loved. Do not despair – all will be well. You do not know what Connor and I are working through right now. I am with him. This anger is not for your own hands. You can release it to me.”

Finally, I was able to unclench the fist I had been choking my heart with. I began to realize that my husband is and will forever be a human. All humans are broken and imperfect vessels. That is where the true beauty of marriage in Christ begins. I did not marry a perfect man – he will never be a perfect man. He did not marry a perfect woman – I will never be a perfect woman. Spouses will fail each other. It is unavoidable.

From that point on, forgiving him for the things I had held on to was something I chose to do over and over again, every day. You see, sometimes, true forgiveness is a commitment you must choose to act on with every thought in your head and word in your mouth. Forgiveness is WORK. One step forward, two steps back, rinse, repeat.

As Christians we are told to love each other like Christ loves us. Christ loved ME so much that he died for me. Regardless of the fact I have sinned against him and spit on that gift in more ways than I can name. That he loves me, regardless of anything, is a truth that I know to be infallible. I have found only love and grace from Christ, so shouldn’t that be what my spouse receives from me? No matter what wrong has been committed. The “big” or “small” of the wrong does not matter. Our choice to forgive though – that matters.

There is a blood that covers over all of our offenses and imperfections. Both of our slates have been wiped clean. Our marriage has been wiped clean. While we are imperfect – GOD IS PERFECT!!! When we look to our spouses to complete us, we fail. When we look to Christ to complete us and choose daily to love each other with grace and forgiveness because God loved us – then, our marriage is daily renewed, deepened, and made into something more beautiful than you can imagine.

I LOVE my husband more than when we got married. I have more compassion for my husband than I ever thought possible. We work harder at our marriage than most. We refuse to fail. Having been to a fragile place in our relationship, we know we never want to be there again. We are strong, in Christ. We are imperfect, but we are willing and eager to love each other unconditionally.

This is why failure is happening in every marriage: because we are human. We are selfish. If you feel that failure in your marriage, my heart aches for you. I want you to know that you can have your marriage back. I want you to know you can find healing. It is not easy and it is not quick, but you can get there. It starts with forgiveness. Long-term whole-hearted forgiveness, that only Christ can give you the strength to follow through with.

Do you have a story about forgiveness and marriage? Questions? I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below or send me an email at thegracefilledhome@gmail.com

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3 thoughts on “We are failing at marriage

  1. My husband and I have had many ups and downs in our 11+ year marriage. We, too, had that verse in our vows and while I feel we have oftentimes strayed and “failed” each other, it is also our perseverance to never give up on one another that has kept us together. I can proudly say that we are the closest and strongest we have ever been, even though we live 1200 miles away from each other currently. You are doing so well – just continue pushing on!

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