I receive a lot of email from couples who are ready for divorce. Often they ask, “Is it too late for us? My spouse isn’t interested, and I feel I can’t go on. We are headed for divorce.” Of course, such a plea is usually accompanied by several horrifying and depressing details of what went wrong. It’s no wonder they think their situation is hopeless!
But one thing I tell such couples is this. Don’t give up! Just because your marriage feels hopeless to you does not mean it is hopeless to God. Are you ready to try a new approach?
Allow me to share a testimony of a couple who had every reason to give up in despair, given their circumstances. Here is their story, shared with their permission:
My wife and I were so out of control, that we were verbally attacking each other, and even worse, we had gotten to the point of physically attacking each other. We were in a constant cycle of forgiveness, anger, and attack. Although we knew that we loved each other, we felt that our marriage was a mistake. God certainly did not want us to be miserable. So we attempted to end our marriage by looking for comfort in another person’s arms. We separated, and I was left with two small children, 2 and 4 years old. It was heartbreaking. I wanted to have my wife back, even though we both seemed to have totally destroyed our marriage.
Several months later, we were in divorce court, finalizing the visitation schedule, when we decided to try and work things out. Well, after a week, we were back on the “crazy cycle” again. It appeared as though our marriage would not survive, until I purchased the Love and Respect book. I read it to my wife, and waited for her reaction. We laughed, we cried, and we found hope! Hope that there was a chance to keep our marriage. No one taught us to be married, we needed some help, and marriage counseling was not working for us. Pastors meetings were not helping us. Our parents and friends were not able to help us either. God was there in our time of trouble, working on our hearts, but we needed some guidance, some training on how to get along with each other. Love and Respect did that for us.
Although things in our relationship are not perfect, I love my wife even more than the first day that I met her, and she respects me for the man that I am, and together we are joyful and at peace. I never could have imagined marriage could be this wonderful! (Michael A.)
Testimonies like this are a great encouragement to me, and I trust to you too, no matter what your circumstances are. But is Love and Respect a magic bullet? No. Are there couples who write us and have failed? Yes. But one thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to give up too soon. Things don’t change overnight! If a marriage has been out of control on the Crazy Cycle for 15 years, it may take a good 15 months of applying new principles to get it running on the Energizing Cycle. A good rule of thumb, when it comes to relationships, is one month of hard work for every year of craziness. That’s not too bad, is it? Yet spouses want to give up after unconditionally loving or unconditionally respecting for one month or even one week, although they have been unloving and disrespectful for 20 years!
The question on the table is: Will you give up too soon? Could your breakthrough be just around the corner? Can you trust God to give you the strength to act in obedience no matter how your spouse responds? We’ll look at this last question next time, but for today let me encourage you to NOT GIVE UP.