1-Because we’ve allowed God to change us. One of the factors people often use to explain why they have decided to leave a spouse is “they’ve changed or they aren’t the same person I married.” Honestly, I’m almost certain that without changing, we may not have worked quite as well as we have. When I hear someone say “You haven’t changed a bit”, I usually shake my head and say, “Oh yes I have.” I’d like to take them by the hand, plop them down in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and begin sharing with them all the ways I (we) have changed. I think what was key for us was allowing God to change us individually, as He deemed necessary. Because of our desire to please God above all else, we react to each other and situations differently. We surrendered our lives over to Christ and said, “Here I am Lord. Have Your way in me” rather than “There (s)he is Lord, have Your way with him/her.” It’s easy to tell God the changes you’d like to see in your spouse; it’s much riskier to ask Him to change you. One of my divorced friends told me of the sadness she felt over the fact that her ex-husband was missing out on the chance to know the new and improved person she was becoming because of the changes the Lord was making within her. Change takes time: He refused to wait out the process. If you try to open a cocoon before the process is complete, you will kill the butterfly. I’m so thankful that Pat isn’t a quitter, but rather, a man with strong endurance. He’s walked beside me, held me up, listened and comforted as God, the Potter, began the process of working with the clay. Pat changes much more gracefully than I do. (Remember- peaceful guy with turbulent girl.) He surrenders quietly while I don’t go down without a fight. We must become determined to allow the Potter to do His work and be faithful to pray for each other as He creates His masterpiece.
“And the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it over, reworking it into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jeremiah 18:4, AMP).
2- Because we don’t keep secrets. I knew a woman who kept her online gambling addiction a secret from her husband. He had no idea of the amount of money she had won, nor the huge amount she had lost. They are now divorced. That is just one example, of the many we know, of a marriage ending in divorce because of secrets. Secrets are dangerous and they can be deadly to a marriage. When Pat and I married, we each brought a past that was going to walk with us through the future. I remember the night I laid beside him in bed, in the dark, and began to pour out the secrets from my past that I had never entrusted to anyone before. Shame and embarrassment covered me; but he wore love and compassion. He didn’t turn away, nor did he walk away; he just held me and continued to love me. It was then that I knew that this man could always be trusted…with anything. Marriage must be built on a foundation of trust and secrets break trust. Never put yourself in any situation where you would need to keep a secret. The Internet is full of enticing sites that want to lure you away from each other and into the arms of a stranger. Just like the song says, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little feet where you go..” Don’t keep secrets. If you spend too much and mess up the bank account, be honest and tell. If you find yourself struggling with an addiction to gambling, alcohol or pornography, or any other, please talk to your spouse. If you have been withholding information about where you really spend your free time, please stop. Seek help through a trusted counselor. In the same way black mold grows in the darkest areas and becomes a deadly poison; secrets grow and poison our relationships. Can you trust your spouse with your secrets? If the answer is “no” maybe it’s time to ask the Lord to reveal why.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
3- Because we don’t throw stones or hold grudges. In the book of John there is a story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The Religious leaders brought her to the temple and thrust her, along with her sin, front and center, for all to see. Everyone picked up a stone. Everyone except Jesus. No one has an opportunity to know the idiosyncrasies, the failings and shortcomings, or the sins, of a spouse than better than the other spouse. Pat and I don’t pick up stones, nor do we expose our shame to the public. There isn’t any “water-cooler talk” with anyone who will listen. Oh there was a time, back in the day, when I would gather with a bunch of wives and we would enjoy a good laugh at the expense of our men. The guys would chat together, rolling their eyes as they talk about the “ol ball and chain at home.” What one might think is teasing and just for fun can quickly become gossip and cause embarrassment for the other. I’ve seen it happen. Social Media has opened the door for us to share our lives with friends and family; that’s not a bad thing. Yet, for some it has also become an outlet in which aggravations, frustrations and disagreements with a spouse are made public for anyone to read and make a comment on. We should never try to expose another’s shame. We’ve also decided not to pick up and throw stones from the past, which means we don’t hold grudges against each other. The past is the past and what happened there, stays there. When we are in a disagreement, we don’t bring up mistakes or hurts that happened days, months, or years ago. Those are the arrows many couples like to use to gain the upper hand in an argument. When one matter upsets us, rather than talk about the issue at hand, it can be tempting to just let it all out and discuss the last five years of problems. Throwing stones at each other by pointing out failures and mistakes that happened long ago will just causes a breakdown in communication. It’s easy to pick up a stone and prepare to throw it forgetting that for every stone we hold there is someone holding a stone they’ve prepared for us. Don’t throw stones at each other;they kill.
“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7, NKJV).
4- Because Pat doesn’t take offense easily. I say Pat here because it has taken me longer to master the skill of living life like a duck. I can be quick to jump the gun, quick to jump to conclusions and quick to speak without thinking. My quick responses almost always get me into quick trouble. Pat is just plain quick-witted and quick to move on and let my outbursts roll off his back, like water off a duck. I believe that Pat is able to be a man of peace because he is a man who is not easily offended. If I am having a “moment” and I react in a frustrated, irritated manner, Pat never allows my overreaction to create a negative reaction in him. He doesn’t blow up at me. He doesn’t get mad and storm away. Even though I don’t always speak in that gentle loving tone I hear flow so nicely from the lips of other wives I know, he remains a man of peace. As hard as I try to place my name under the heading of “The Virtuous Wife” in Proverbs 31…it’s been impossible to keep up with the lady! She does it all, she has it all AND she provides it all. Honestly, she exhausts me, but there is one verse in particular that gets me every time I read it. Verse 26, “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness” (NIV). Deep sigh. The Amplified Version says “…the law of kindness is on her tongue…” I wish the law of kindness was always on my tongue, but unfortunately, it is not. One of us had to be slow to anger to help the other one out. This prevents us from trying to outdo the other with quick comebacks and sarcastic remarks. When we are quick to take offense, we are usually quick to make cutting, hurtful remarks that are meant to wound each other with more severity than the offense towards us. This only leads to more quarrels and more hurtful remarks as we try to gain the upper hand in the battle. Pat has taught me, over the last 32 years, about God’s grace by living a life that has so much grace for others. I understand God’s grace better because I married a man of grace.
“Great peace have they who love Your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165, AMP).
5- Because we protect what we have. Pat and I are committed to each other and to being watchful of areas of weakness that may creep in and cause division between us. We are very aware that families are destroyed every day because couples listen to the viewpoints of a world that forgets how God designed us to live together as husband and wife. We live in a world that values things over relationships, a world where marriage is no longer respected or honored; a world where misplaced priorities cause us to lose interest in each other and often leads to the demise of marriage. One of the decisions Pat and I made early on in our marriage was to seek wisdom from others for our marriage. We went to marriage conferences, studied with other couples, read books on marriage, and found God had honored that decision. We’ve worked hard, remain teachable and we continue to protect what God has joined together so that no man, or devil, can separate us. We are faithful to attend church and spend time in God’s Word daily, so our minds are constantly being renewed and instructed by Him. We are faithful to pray for one another. We both realize that if we are to protect our marriage, we must protect our relationship with God above all else.
“All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41, AMP).
And there you have it...our list of 10. Of course there are many more factors we could add to the list, but the biggest reason is Jesus. We need Him every day to help us in every way. If you are in a marriage that is struggling, we hope you will allow Jesus to help you. If you'd like to contact us, we'd love to hear from you. Just head on over to the contact page.