Standing for your Marriage. Holding on to Hope through Trusting God for your Marriage’s healing
What does it mean to Stand? Throughout this website, you will see references to “standing” for your marriage. It is the central theme of this website so I want to take a moment to fully explain what I have come to understand on the subject.
13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
1 Peter 5:8-10
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Standing is a conviction of the Spirit to believe and to have faith in God to work in a person or situation that the world either says is impossible or all signs point away from what God is telling you. You “stand” when you have strong conviction that it is the “right” thing to do according to God’s Word. God’s perfect will is outlined in His word. When we try to live according to his Word, we are trying to live in His perfect will.
Though the bible clearly spells out God’s plan and will for marriage and family and His thoughts on divorce and separation, God also does not want you to have an unhealthy relationship. For that reason, “standing” is much more than just asking God to bring back a spouse. It is about standing for *all* of the changes that need to take place in your marriage. He wants your marriage to be a healthy marriage for both husband and wife. In “standing” you are actively working to purify yourself so that you can be the spouse that God has called you to be. You are also standing in the place of your spouse and interceding for them in prayer that God may also work in them to make them the spouse God has called them to be. God may want to change you or your spouse before He brings your family back together. It is critical that while you are faithfully standing for your marriage, that you are also allowing God, day by day to change and purify your life.
Above all you must understand that in “standing” your faith must be in God and not in your spouse. Your spouse has a free will and God will not control them back to you, but if you stand for your marriage you are trusting God to work in the situation and you will know that you are doing all that you can do to stand for what is right and oppose what is wrong. In the end, Christ will be glorified before man and God will bless you no matter what your spouse does! The following 10 steps outline what we must do to “stand” for our marriages.
1) Praying and Trusting God – As is implied in the word, to “stand” for your marriage means that you will pray for the restoration of your marriage and trust God in that restoration. We know that divorce is not God’s will and if we ask in accordance to His will He will be faithful to hear us.
1 John 5:14-15
14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 Corinthians 7:10-12
10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
31“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
6“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
2) Work on your Problems and Purify Yourself – Marriages don’t fall apart by accident. They fall apart because we fail. Most of the time, that failure is a cooperative effort between both partners in the marriage even if one party is more at fault than the other. You must take an honest assessment of your life and your marriage and look for your own shortcomings. Whether you or our spouse are “mostly” at fault for the state of your marriage, you must look for areas where YOU can improve and commit yourself to work on those areas. You should seek council from your pastor or qualified Christian councilors about your problems and how you can be restored from past failures in your marriage. In addition to problems that may have directly hurt your marriage you should examine your whole life and seek to “purify” yourself from all sin. Don’t just “ask for forgiveness” but truly REPENT (or turn away from) the sins in your life. Depending on your situation that may mean making dramatic changes in your lifestyle. You should not put yourself in a situation where you could be tempted to fall back into the sin. As all Christians should do, we should constantly be examining our lives for ways that we can improve and become more “Christ- like.”
1 John 1:5-10
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
3) Find someone to hold you accountable – Don’t work on your problems in a vacuum. Don’t run from your church, family or your friends or the people who know you best. Seek counsel from your pastor and confess your sins and shortcomings to him so that he may help you in your walk toward restoration. Find a close friend or two with mature Christian walks and ask them to hold you accountable. This step is absolutely critical in cases where habitual sins, like alcoholism, or drugs have plagued your life. Humble yourself and pledge your full openness and honesty to those who will hold you accountable. Do not however, go around telling intimate details of relationship with everyone you know. Be careful of your motives that you are not simply trying to “rally” support.
21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
17Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
4) Pray for your Spouse – As mentioned above, failure in marriage is usually a cooperative effort. But you cannot, and should not try, to change your spouse. Instead you need to constantly hold them up in prayer. Intercede for them.
1 Timothy 2:8
8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
5) Bless those who curse you – During the time that you stand for your marriage, Satan will often try to discourage you. Satan wants your marriage to fail and he’s willing to make you miserable just to get you to give up. He hates your faith in God and he will find people to attack and mock your faith. When you are being attacked, know that God is faithful when we call upon his name and that He is the reason for our joy. Don’t just turn the other cheek but also lift the attacker up in prayer. Speak blessings over them. Psalms is a good book to read during these times. Often, attacks are a sign that God is working in the situation. Rejoice in that!
27“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
6) Learn from the past but move on – Sometimes, in severe conflicts, your spouse or the people around them will dredge up past sins, problems and issues in your life. Treat this as an opportunity. Anything brought up against you should be discussed with your pastor or counselor. Examine yourself and make sure that problems of the past will always stay in the past and that history will not repeat itself. Severe conflict is a time to “burn” up and completely destroy the sins of your past. Don’t miss the opportunity!
16John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
7) Walk in Forgiveness –It is important to forgive. Whether it is forgiveness for the transgressions that led to your current crisis or transgressions that are occurring because of the crisis, make sure that you release it all to God. If you have difficulty releasing forgiveness, you must seek counseling on the matter. Unforgiveness will lead to a hardened heart. Don’t let unforgiveness hinder your stand!
37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Reach out to others – Resist the temptation to turn completely inward during your time of standing. While this should be a time of introspection, repentance, and healing, you must also keep from letting your circumstances overwhelm you. Get involved in your church. Attend church at every opportunity and volunteer yourself to help others. Helping others will help you. How you stand for your marriage can be a tremendous blessing and ministry to those around you particularly if you are making a dramatic turnaround from past sins in your life. You should not, however, be in a position of leadership at this time (see 1 Timothy 3 for more on qualifications of overseers and deacons.) instead, heep yourself completely submitted and accountable to your Church leaders in anything that you do. You should approach everything as if you are “young” or “newly renewed” in Christ but don’t be hindered from doing good deeds!
20First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
9) Keep yourself humble – When you follow the steps above you will find yourself growing rapidly in Christ. Your Christian walk will improve dramatically. This is often is very stark contrast to the complaints that your spouse still holds against you. If you are in a severe conflict. Your spouse may not want to see your changes or they may not believe your changes are real. Until your differences can be resolved, you must work and pray extra hard for humility in your walk with Christ. Few things will alienate others from Christ like hypocrisy or the appearance of hypocrisy in a believer.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
1 Peter 5:5-7
5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
10) Comply with the legal process – This is perhaps the most difficult step of all for many reasons. As Christians we should try to settle our disagreements, including those over marriage, in the church among believers.
1 Corinthians 6:1
1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?
But if your hand is forced and your spouse has started legal proceedings against you towards a divorce, you must comply with the process.
1 Peter 2:13
13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
If you find yourself with a legal situation you should find a qualified CHRISTIAN lawyer to represent you. Find a lawyer who understands that you do not want a divorce and who will share your goal of reconciliation and work toward that end. Complying with the legal process can be painful. You may be forced to ask or answer difficult in your own defense. If you have a qualified Christian lawyer, trust him to guide you through the process in the best way that will hopefully lead to restoration. The legal process can be cold and damaging to your marriage but when your hand is forced, don’t be foolish and above all don’t compromise your integrity by not complying with the law.
Below are some suggestions for things that you should pray for when you stand:
- Repentance and Healing in your Life and the Life of Your Spouse
- Blessings for your Spouse and Children – No matter how bitter things may be, pray blessings over your spouse. Lift your children up in prayer and pray specifically for their protection during this difficult time.
- For Godly Council to Your Spouse and against Ungodly Council This is both generic and specific. Pray that God will put the right people in your spouse’s path that will provide them with Godly council. Pray that your spouse will see through any ungodly council. If you know of specific counseling they are getting pray about it and it’s impact.
- Healthy Communications – In a healthy marriage, problems get resolved through communications between the husband and wife. In unhealthy relationships communications break down. In divorce communications far to often will end completely. Pray that you can establish healthy communications with your spouse to resolve your differences.
- Against Control – Standing is not control, or an attempt to control the situation. It is walking in belief of a conviction that God has placed in your heart. You cannot control your spouse and God WON”T control your spouse. If you are only “standing” to try to restore your marriage then you are putting your faith in your spouse and not in God. It is God’s perfect will for your marriage to be restored but your spouse has a free will and God won’t force them to return. You need to be at a place where you are standing for your marriage because it is the RIGHT thing to do. God wants to get you to the point where you can truly say that even if God doesn’t restore your marriage, that you will still honor and love God as your all in all. Your faith in God and your commitment to Him does not depend on the choices that your spouse makes. Pray that God will help you keep your focus on Him and that you will not lose your focus, misplace your faith, or try to control things on your own or even through prayer.