A marriage breakup is one of the worst crises a man or woman can face. So many emotions to work through. So much confusion to deal with. Trying to navigate it all is extremely difficult. Knowing when to hold on and when to let go is a bigger challenge than anyone else can possibly imagine.
If this is where you are today, I understand what you’re dealing with. I know the pain and confusion that is trying to consume you. You don’t want to be in this situation, but you are. So you’re searching. You need some answers. And you need some guidance.
Hopefully, I can give you some answers and guidance you’re searching for. This won’t be the answer for every unique situation. But, it will give you some basic guidelines for navigating this horrible place you have found yourself in.
When to hold on and when to let go
1) Hold on to your covenant. Let go of the marriage you used to have.
Your commitment to your marriage covenant is in your hands. It’s your choice to keep or to give up on. You have every right to hold on to this commitment even if your spouse has chosen not to. You don’t need anyone else but God to agree with your decision to hold on to your covenant. And it’s up to you to hold on to it as long as it takes or as far as you can.
Holding on to your covenant is not the same as holding on to your marriage. You need to let go of the marriage you used to have. You may have to grieve the loss of what you used to have. But you must say goodbye to that marriage. Your old way of doing marriage didn’t work, so why would you want to go back to it. It’s time to let it go and make room for a new marriage to be built.
2) Hold on to God. Let go of your spouse.
Your relationship with your heavenly Father is your most valuable relationship. No person or thing can take the place of God in your life. There is never a day in your life when you don’t need Him. So you must hold on to Him and trust Him to get you through this. He is the one who will never leave you or forsake you. The Lord is always faithful. He is for you and He always wants the best for you.
You have to let go of your spouse. You cannot hold on to another person as if they were your possession to keep. Even if you believe your spouse is wrong for breaking their marriage covenant, you have to respect their freedom to make that choice. You have to set your spouse free. And when you set your spouse free you honor them as a human being who has rights. Then, hopefully from that place of honor, you will lay the foundation for the restoration of your covenant and the rebuilding of a brand new marriage.
3) Hold on to love. Let go of selfish ambitions.
You hold on to love because of who you are and who you want to be. Allowing yourself to continue to love even in the face of pain and rejection is allowing yourself to become more like Jesus. You hold on to love in spite of the condition of your marriage. Your spouse may not deserve your love and may be far away from receiving your love. But that doesn’t have to stop you. This love is yours to keep and no one can make you let it go.
Real love is not something that only serves to meet selfish needs. You don’t choose love only when your spouse deserves it and pull it away as a means to punish him/her. Let go of selfish ambitions that are always about what’s in it for you. Let go of doing things and saying things that only serve to manipulate your spouse into pleasing your self-centered ambitions. That’s not loving and it will never give you the life and happiness you want. You deserve a better life than that so let that stuff go.
4) Hold on to connections. Let go of divisions.
As I wrote before, your connection to your spouse is key to growing a marriage and restoring a marriage. So you have to find those points of connection and you have to hold on to them. Whatever connection you have left with your spouse, you have to see how valuable it is. Even if it seems too small to do any good. Don’t underestimate it. Do what you can to hold on to the connection.
The opposite of what connects the two of you are those things that create division between you. These things can be hard to let go of because both of you can feel very strongly about it. But if you’re going to create a new path for your marriage to be restored, you will have to make some choices about the division you’re willing to let go of.
5) Hold on to hope. Let go of desperation.
Hope is as vital to your soul as air is to your lungs. You have to have it. And if anything threatens to steal your hope you have to fight to hold on to it with everything you’ve got. If marriage restoration is in your future you will have to have hope to get you there. And if marriage restoration is not possible, hope will be necessary to rebuild your life in a new direction.
If you’re holding on to hope you have to let go of desperation. Desperation always comes as all hope seems lost. And desperation rarely brings positive results. Most of the time, desperation clouds sound judgment and causes men and women to do things they end up regretting. And desperation is always in opposition to waiting patiently on the Lord, which is what hope enables you to do. So let go of desperation before it does you harm.
6) Hold on to faith. Let go of what you see.
The bible says faith will take what we hope for and bring it into existence. (Heb 11:1) It says faith is necessary to please God. (Heb 11:6) And it says believers in Christ are to live life walking by faith and not by what we see. (2 Cor 5:7) So hold on to your faith. Don’t let any circumstance or naysayer steal your faith. Guard your faith with all your heart.
And if you’re holding on to the faith you have, then you will have to let go of what you see. Your circumstance can look bleak and impossible. This marriage breakup may look like it’s beyond repair. Now, I’m not suggesting you live in denial of the reality of the situation. But what I am saying is what you see in the natural will often lie to you. It may take more time than you want. But trust me, I’ve seen it happen. The Lord can be doing work on your spouse’s heart to turn them around and you will not see any evidence of it until they’re ready for you to see. So let go of what you see.
Holding on while also letting go is not easy. But if you’re wanting to give marriage restoration a chance you will have to find a balance between the two.
I’m sure there are many examples of how to hold on while letting go. If you would like to add some in the comments, please do so. We love to get your feedback.
Image by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net