There are many husbands and wives who think their marriage was a mistake. They’re looking back with regret at their decision to marry. And they’re wondering now if there is some reasonable way they can correct their mistake. They don’t want to hurt their spouse, their children, or their family. But they just can’t imagine having to live with their mistake for the rest of their lives.
Maybe, this is the way you feel. Or, maybe you have a strong sense this is the way your spouse feels.
In either case, I understand this line of thinking. I’ve been there, on both sides. So I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone for feeling this way.
However, I do want to challenge this way of thinking and the reasonings that go along with it.
Because it may seem like an innocent way of trying to figure things out. You or your spouse may be trying to understand how you got to this place in your marriage. And one, or both of you are thinking if your marriage was a mistake, maybe it should be ended.
The truth is, this line of thinking is toxic to a marriage. No doubt, before these thoughts even occur there is already some trouble in the marriage. But this type of thinking is like pouring toxic water on a plant that is already dying. Thinking your marriage was a mistake is in no way a solution to the problems you’re having.
Thinking your marriage was a mistake does not happen overnight. It usually develops with time. And this is not an independent thought that just stands on its own. This thinking occurs during times of trouble and is always supported by other faulty reasonings.
Do you think your marriage was a mistake?
Let’s challenge this thinking.
Let’s look at some of the faulty reasonings that support this way of thinking.
Faulty reasoning #1: “The one that got away”
A lot of people marry someone who was not their first choice. For one reason or another, the relationship didn’t work out with someone else. And now they have to settle. Now they have feelings and imaginations of what life would be like if they married the one that got away.
In situations like this, I’m reminded of an old song. It says: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
I know that’s a secular song and the entire message is unclear. But there is some truth to what it is saying. Love is a choice. Love is not something that can only happen if you are with the right person. You get to choose. And you can choose to love the person you’re married to with an undivided heart.
To love the one you’re with, you have to get rid of any thoughts you have about the one that got away. As the bible says, you have to cast down imaginations and bring every thought into obedience.
I love this quote from Zig Ziglar: “I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person. But I do know that if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. It is far more important to BE the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person.”
Faulty reasoning #2: “This marriage doesn’t fit the picture”
This is another place where your thoughts can lead you into thinking your marriage was a mistake. Every one of us has some sort of expectations when we enter into marriage. It may not be something we do intentionally. We just naturally have some type of picture in our minds. It’s like hearing someone’s voice before you see their face for the first time. There is always a surprise when you compare reality to the picture you have.
You can’t do anything about what your expectations were before you married. But you can do something about the way those expectations are hurting you now.
Pastor David Barringer wrote a great article on this called “Just like the picture”: 4 Approaches to Developing the Uniqueness of Your Marriage. In it, he said: “When it boils down to it, the more you follow a “perfect image” of a marriage that you’ve seen on social media or in someone you know, the more you’ll wind up frustrated in your marriage. The more you follow a Perfect Savior, the more you’ll see your imperfections and see an opportunity for His grace to shine through your marriage.”
If your marriage doesn’t fit the picture, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean your marriage was a mistake. It simply means you have an opportunity to grow in grace.
Faulty reasoning #3: “We were not ready for marriage”
Getting married too young. Or, after a short engagement can also make you think your marriage was a mistake. The mistake you feel is you didn’t know each other well enough. Or, you didn’t know what marriage would be like.
Maybe you were not ready for marriage. Maybe you could have used more time to get ready. But, that doesn’t mean your marriage was a mistake. It just means you were not as prepared as you could have been.
You cannot let this regret work against your marriage. There’s a lot about marriage you can’t understand until you get married. Now that you know what you know, use this knowledge to move forward.
Faulty reasoning #4: “We are so different from each other”
Too many couples buy into this flawed thinking that sameness is the key to a successful marriage. But it’s not true. If this is your reasoning for thinking your marriage was a mistake, you are believing a lie.
God’s design for marriage is between a man and a woman, Genesis 2:21-25. He designed marriage for opposite sexes, not same sexes. His design is for two completely opposites to come together and be joined together as one. Just as it takes opposite sexes to create life, it also takes opposites in other areas to create balance in a marriage.
I firmly believe this design by God goes much further than physical differences. While I understand the need for common ground between a husband and wife. I also know how valuable it is for husband and wives to come together with different strengths, different talents, and different views
Faulty reasoning #5: “We are not getting along”
Constant arguing, strife, bitterness and contention is tough to deal with in marriage. When you’re in the middle of a lot of conflicts it is easy to slip into thinking your marriage was a mistake. But, again this is wrong thinking.
“Conflicts are not a sign you’ve married the wrong person. They simply affirm you are human.” Gary Chapman
Life can be tough sometimes. Mix in the toughness of life and the selfishness we are all capable of, it is easy to understand why conflict happens. But, this does not mean your marriage was a mistake.
Faulty reasoning #6: “God did not join us together”
This is one of the biggest faulty reasonings many people have when they think their marriage was a mistake.
Did you miss God’s will when you married your spouse? Or, did you miss out on marrying the right person when you didn’t allow God to lead you into marriage?
Some people believe God has created the perfect spouse for everyone. And if you miss God’s plan you end up marrying the wrong person.
I’ve seen this happen with people who got married before they became a Christian. Then try to explain why their marriage was a mistake.
While I do believe as believers we have an advantage of seeking the Lord’s will and guidance. And when we do seek Him. His wisdom helps us make the right choice for who we marry.
But even if you miss God’s guidance when you marry it does not mean your marriage was a mistake. It simply means you now have to trust in His redemptive plan. He can turn your situation into something more glorious than you ever thought possible.
For more on this, read Gary Thomas’s post: God Didn’t (and Won’t) Tell You to Marry Your Spouse
Thinking your marriage was a mistake is actually doing more harm to your marriage.
On the day you married you enter into a covenant. This covenant is sacred to God and He expects it to be sacred to you. He expects you to keep it.
Even if you did marry the wrong person because your first choice got away. That does not excuse you from your covenant.
Your marriage may look completely different from what you were expecting. It does not matter. Your covenant is more important than your picture.
Maybe you did make a mistake by getting married unprepared. Still, that does not exempt you. Your marriage covenant can help teach you how to be married.
Even if you and your spouse are very different from each other. At least you have your marriage covenant to share in common. And with covenant as your foundation, you can build something unique. You can build a marriage that reflects both of you.
If you and your spouse have a hard time getting along, your covenant can guide you to a place of peace. All you have to do is focus more on honoring your covenant and less on the issues that pull you apart.
And when you think God didn’t join you two together, think again. What does it mean to enter into a holy marriage covenant before God?
God may not have been playing heavenly matchmaker when you two got together. But I don’t believe Jesus was talking about God being a matchmaker. When He said, “what God has joined together, let no man separate,” He was speaking of the covenant.
Jesus was referring to why God created marriage in the beginning. He was saying marriage is a holy covenant God created for a man and a woman.
So when a man and a woman enter into marriage they are what God has joined together.
In other words, a God-sanctioned marriage is between a man and woman. When you entered into this covenant, you qualify as a marriage He has joined together. Because He has sanctioned it.
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