How Not To Give Up On Your Marriage

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This post originally appeared on "Write, Laugh, Dream."

My husband is a recovering drug addict. I say, "recovering" because although he doesn't use drugs anymore, he's still learning how to not behave like an addict.

Being married to someone struggling with addiction is harder than it sounds. The usual advice is to, "RUN!" Yet, here I am. Even though leaving seemed like the obvious "right" decision I felt God telling me to stay.

"Be still," he said.

When things were at their worst I didn't see how anything good could come from staying but I had faith and I obeyed.

I can see there's a purpose to it now.

Being married to someone struggling with addiction is an interesting paradox. I have to be firm but kind, have boundaries yet, be flexible and full of mercy. I say I've been going through "Extreme Marriage Bootcamp."

For example, every time we have an argument my husband is ready to run out the door. He loves me but he always says it. It's his defense mechanism. He's learned to always take care of number one. Growing up, the people who were supposed to love and care for him hurt him. It doesn't excuse his behavior but knowing this, I extend mercy to his "fight or flight" response.

My husband is a believer but he doesn't trust that God will never let him down.

I was raised the opposite of my husband. I was taught to depend on God and not on people. I was told that people would always let me down but my Father would be good to me and had a plan for my life. I can't say I've always held onto those teachings but nevertheless, it was how I was raised. There's always been someone who I could turn to for support and a reason to hope.

When it comes to giving up on our marriages, we can't make choices based on our feelings; We have to make choices based on our faith.

Whoever said that marriage was going to be easy?

If you're in a season of difficulty or decision, here's:

Eight Tips to Not Give Up on Your Marriage

  1. Ask yourself: Are you arguing about something that's happened already or are you arguing about something that hasn't happened (yet)? There's no point in arguing about things that haven't happened. We have to give God space and room to soften hearts. God blesses us the most when we allow Him full control over the things we don't have control over.

  • Walking away in anger is never a good idea. I'm not sure who first recommended walking away as a coping skill but its use is abused. Walking away from someone breaks communication and it's downright hurtful. Instead, try saying, "I really want to talk about this but I'm worried that if I talk about it right now, I'm going to get emotional" (attention women: men hate that!). Then, you can try the conversation again later. If your spouse is persisting on talking to you, try to not get mad and scream at them to go away until you angrily go cry in your room and watch episodes of "Fuller House" (Hypothetically, it's really just not a good idea...).
  • Pull in close to God and let Him love you. There's a space in us that we try to fill with other people but it's really our human separation from God. It's so easy to put the responsibility of "fulfilling our needs" on our spouses but it isn't their job. Our spouses are our partners, we weren't created to fulfill each other. When we understand that, it makes marriage a lot easier.
  • Marriage is a partnership but it can sometimes feel like one person is doing all the work. Like a real-life partnership, that might be true. Remind yourself that each partner has special skills and attributes, one is not more valuable than the other but both are necessary to make marriage work.
  • Pre-plan responses to heated topics. There's always going to be those same things that you're arguing about. If you wanted to be super pro-active, write them out and ask yourself this about each one: What's the worst-case scenario about [your issue]? What's a more realistic view [of the current issue]? What's one thing I could say differently to prevent [the issue] from becoming an argument?
  • Stop comparing your relationship to other relationships. This is a big one. Your friend Suzy has the most good-looking husband, your neighbour's husband is a chef and she never has to cook dinner, the people across the road keep having kids their marriage must be sizzling... yeah, no. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors but I would say everyone carries the cross they're able to bear. God will turn our pain into purpose if we stay faithful and keep our eyes on Him (and not on our neighbours!).
  • Stop trying to make your marriage look like other marriages. Number six is "wishing," number seven is "doing." It's okay to not be okay. It's even okay to not even look like you're okay. There's no shame in being an occasional hot mess.
  • Keep calm and say nothing. "Whoever restrains his words has knowledge and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding." -- Proverbs 17:27 (ESV). The old adage your mother probably told you, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" applies to every situation. Mama knows best. Practice silence.
  • All that said, God doesn't bless all marriages. We have free will and we can marry people that God doesn't want us to marry. We don't have to stay married to the wrong person out of guilt or pressure from church culture. If you're in an abusive relationship or your spouse has abandoned you, give yourself permission to go.

    However, when we're in a marriage that we know God blessed, we're sinning against Him if we give up on it. It's not just giving up on our marriages, it's telling God that we don't have faith in Him.

    God is so good to us. If we stay faithful to Him and practice obedience, He promises to give us the desires of our hearts. It's a wonderful, incredible, blessing when God restores love to a broken marriage.

    "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

    -- Psalm 37:4

    I know it happens. I'm proof.

    If you're a woman with a loved one struggling with addiction join us in the, "Live, Love, Hope" Community for support and encouragement.