If you are in the lonely position of holding on to save your marriage while your spouse says it’s over, then there is a good chance you’re wanting some help. But, you’re feeling frustrated with your desire to get help while your spouse doesn’t want to participate.
You have asked to go see a counselor together, attend a marriage class, or go to a marriage retreat, and your requests are met with cold hard rejections. And you probably heard some cruel words like “I don’t love you and I have never loved you.”
There are times when you can’t sleep and there are times when you want to sleep all day. There are times when you’re alone and you feel desperately lonely, and there are times you are thankful to be alone so you can fall apart without your spouse knowing it. And then there are times when your spouse is near and yet the loneliness you feel grips your heart so tight you find it difficult to even breathe.
How do I know this? Because I was the only one holding on, four different times. I heard those words of rejection and I felt that gripping loneliness as I watched my world fall apart. Each time I faced the fact that my wife was ready to end our marriage and move on with someone else. And each time I was challenged with the thought, “do I fight or do I give up?”
It was through those four times and over the period of twenty years that I slowly learned how to fight for my marriage the right way. Eventually, we were able to see the grace of God bring complete healing and restoration in our marriage. And now it is through our own experience and the truths that the Lord has taught us that we are able to minister hope to hurting marriages even in the most desperate situations.
So, What if You’re the Only One Holding On?
If you’re the only one trying to hold on to your marriage you need to know you’re not alone and there are a number of ministry options available to help you. If you will allow the Lord to walk you through this trial and this season in your life, He promises He will make it work for your good. Which means no matter what happens, God will help you grow from this as long as you give Him your complete surrender.
Also know that the scripture does not promise, nor can any counsel or encouragement promise that if you do these things your marriage will be saved. Your spouse has their own freedom to choose and God will not force your spouse to stay in the marriage.
However, if you hold on to your faith. Hold on to hope. Keep surrendering to the Lord, you will give your marriage an excellent opportunity to recover from this. And as you do, you can be sure the Lord will be working on your spouse to turn his/her heart around.
The help that is available for you.
First of all, there is the help only God can give. He should be your source of strength, peace, guidance, wisdom, and comfort. He is the only one that can satisfy your deepest longing to be love. You have to spend time with Him in prayer, worship, study, and meditation on His grace and the great love He has for you. This can be the best thing that has ever happened to you if it draws you closer to God.
You may also need some help to deal with you and your own emotional needs. This may mean you get some professional counseling or some pastoral counseling. Either way, make sure they are Christ centered and they firmly believe in God’s design of a covenant marriage and they desire to see your marriage completely restored.
Classes and books
Then if you are separated it does not mean you will have to go through a divorce. But there is a ministry that can help you if you are separated or going through an unwanted divorce. This ministry is called Divorce Care. You can find them on the web and locate a local class in your area. We have worked closely with one of these classes before. And we know first hand that sometimes separated spouses go through these classes and receive the help they need to restore their marriage.
Next, you can read. There are some great blogs and other Christian ministries available right here at your fingertips on the internet. You can find books at your local Christian bookstore, and library. One of the books I would recommend for this situation is “Hope for the Separated ” by Gary Chapman (author of The Five Languages). And the other book I strongly recommend because it helped me so much, is “Love Must Be Tough “, by Dr. James Dobson.
What I learned
I want to share with you the important lessons I learned from the experience we went through. What I learned from the word of God and the book, “Love must be tough.” Together, the Lord used what I read to teach me some valuable principles for walking out this type of marriage trial.
Here are my tips
It is obvious that you need to pray and if you’re in the middle of a bad situation you probably already pray as much as you are able. I know because sometimes there are no words to express how deeply you are hurting. Sometimes all you can do is say, “help me Lord” and “I need you, Lord.” Then there are times when you have to tell the Lord how you feel and how it all seems so unfair. That’s okay, you need to unload your burdens and cast your cares. But you just don’t want to stay there. Don’t let yourself fall into a victim mentality. You need to be proactive and take on a warrior’s mentality for your spouse, and a humble servant’s mentality for yourself. What does this mean?
- Be a prayer warrior as you pray for your spouse. Don’t pray for them as just your spouse, but as someone who has lost their way. Ask the Lord to open their heart and make it tender again. Pray that their eyes will be opened and that their ears will hear the truth. Pray that the broken places in them will be healed.
- Then as a humble servant, ask the Lord to keep your heart tender. Pray that your eyes are open to His truth. Ask for healing in your heart. Pray that you will use wisdom and grace as you move forward. And pray that God will use this difficult time to mold you into the person He wants you to be.
You have to have hope to believe for a healed and restored marriage. Hope is the fuel that keeps you pressing forward. It is what keeps you looking at the marriage you want in spite of the difficult situation you’re in. With hope, you can fight to save your marriage even if your spouse “thinks” your marriage is over. For more on hope read, “9 Ways to Keep from Losing Hope.”
Open the door:
Don’t get me wrong, this is not, “don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” This is something I learned from Dobson’s book. If your spouse feels like they are a caged bird and they are thrashing about trying to find their freedom, you have to open the door and set them free. You can never win at love if you have to hold your spouse captive. It will be scary to set them free, but remember the only love you will ever receive from them is a love they choose to freely give you.
Create your own space:
The second thing I learned from Dr. Dobson was when a spouse moves away from the marriage, it is because they want to create some space between you and them. When this happens, the last thing you want to do is try to close the gap between you when it is not what they want.
That will only push them further away as they try to maintain the space they feel they need. What you have to do is start to create your own space. Start moving in a direction that shows you are capable of making it in life without them. When you do this you will create more space between the two of you and if your spouse has any reservation about the direction they have chosen, they will feel a greater distance between you and they will move back in your direction in order to close the gap.
Caution; this is not a game and it is not playing hard to get. It is about you moving forward with confidence and setting boundaries for what you will accept in your life.
There is a delicate balance you have to be aware of here. Your spouse will need to know you still want to be with them. And if your spouse is open to being with you at different times, then, by all means, take those opportunities. Just, be aware of what it looks like to try too hard so that you don’t push him/her further away.
Don’t be nieve:
Allowing your spouse in your life whenever they pick and choose, could be unwise in your particular situation. This is where a counselor would be able to advise you best. Because, while you do want to take every opportunity you can to work on the relationship. You also have to protect yourself from being used as a doormat. A spouse who is already compromising their commitment to their marriage can easily straddle the fence. And they will be tempted to satisfy their own selfish desires in both directions at the same time.
State your position:
This is something you must do right away with absolute clarity so that once you have done so; you will not have to keep pleading your case and as a result push them further away. Just simply, let your spouse know that you want your marriage to be restored. Tell them you are willing to do the work and get the help that will enable the two of you to rebuild your marriage.
The law of attraction is what brought you together and it is something that will help you restore your marriage. This is not about comparing yourself to someone else and you trying to present yourself attractive in an effort to compete. It is simply presenting yourself as someone your spouse will want to take notice of and think twice about losing.
It may mean presenting yourself attractive in a physical way like you would if you were going out on a date. But not in a way where you are over stressed to change your physical appearance.
Most importantly, this is about being an attractive person on the inside. You may have to put on a strong face when you are around them. But be sure, your spouse will only want to be with you again when they feel they are going to lose something very valuable if they let go of you.
If you show yourself to be somebody they pity. Or, as someone they disrespect they will likely want to continue moving away from you. So, be strong, confident, full of life, full of joy. If you have to fall apart, save it for your time alone with the Lord or someone else who is helping you through this.
Finally, three simple things to avoid that will help you to not sabotage your hard work. When you are dealing with a spouse who is trying to end your marriage you must keep these simple rules; don’t beg, don’t fight, and don’t preach.
I know this is a hard time in your life and it is not easy to walk out all of these tips I have given. But if you don’t do anything else, you must cling to the Lord. He is faithful to see you through this and He WILL cause this to work together for your good if you will only fully surrender to Him and trust Him.