Managing Marital Problems

Managing Marital Problems

By Jill Briscoe

I remember one such call that I received.

“I want a divorce!” the lady announced loudly and angrily.

“My husband doesn’t do divorces,” I replied. “He is a pastor. He institutes Christian marriages. He tries to help people who are in trouble in their relationships as well.”

“It’s too late,” she replied brusquely. “We are incompatible.”

“Don’t you know that incompatibility is the reason for marriage, not divorce?” I asked.  “Let’s talk.”  I told her that Jesus can turn water into wine!  “Sometimes,” I said, “when the ‘wine’ runs out of a relationship and everything becomes flat and ordinary, Jesus can bring the taste and sparkle back, whatever the marital problem is.”

“Have you seen this happen?” she asked me seriously.

“Yes,” I told her.  “Some marriages are down to a miracle, but God is really good at miracles. He invented them!”

Like the desperate lady on the phone, many people have lost hope of anything happening to solve their marital problems and save their marriages.  Many couples have set off in grand style to live happily ever after, only to see their highest hopes and dreams crumble.  They have put all their human energy into making it work, but phileo love (friendship love) by itself cannot sustain a relationship.  It can sustain it on a certain level, but when trouble comes, something more than mere human love is needed.  And when the marriage is in trouble, eros love is completely set aside.

But God is a God of miracles.  I have watched some couples turn to God in desperation and ask Him to save their marriages.  As they have invited Him to take His rightful place as Master of their lives and loves, He has done His healing work.

Sometimes that master of ceremonies of a wedding in Jesus’ day would sit between the bride and the groom to preside over the event and make sure nothing went amiss.  When Stuart and I married, we used that picture when we bought our wedding rings.  We purchased three stones.  The middle one represents Jesus, and the ones on each side represent Stuart and me.  Every day I am reminded that if we keep Jesus at the center of our marriage, it will work!

How does this play out?  Well, if you lose your temper with your spouse, you will remember that the Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Eph. 4:26).  In other words, don’t go to sleep without putting things right.  Say your “sorrys” before you put out the light.  Keep short accounts with your spouse, and don’t let a whole lot of unresolved things pile up, creating unseen barriers between you.

Perhaps you are upset with your spouse.  You begin internally justifying yourself and mentally putting your partner down.  You judge his or her actions, giving a day or two of stony silence for punishment.  But the Bible says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Lk. 6:37).  Christ is sitting in the judgment seat and Christ alone.  So let Him be the judge of your spouse’s behavior.  By all means, express your feelings and what you think about the matter, but in love!  Then always be willing to forgive as God has forgiven you.  Love is gentle and kind, forgiving and forbearing.  It doesn’t keep a running record of the other person’s wrong but is quick to see the best in people.  Focus on managing marital problems by letting agape love govern your reactions to your spouse - it will transform your marriage.

Just Between Us (JBU) invites you to look through these articles and share in the experiences of other Christian women and how they worked on managing marital problems in their own marriages.  Ultimately, however, ask yourself this - is Jesus the Master of my marriage?  Is He in charge?  Turn the problems in your marriage over to Jesus.  He’ll know what to do.  

Leslie Strobel shares her story and offers help and hope for Christian women when their husband is not a believer in Christ. more

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