Sticking It Out through the Worst
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” - Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV)
Marriage isn’t always romance and roses. Sometimes, it’s sickness and Nyquil. Other times, it’s arguments and slammed doors. Or grief and counseling sessions. Or career changes and moving trucks. It’s not always easy—in fact, I’d say the easy times are actually rarer than the difficult. Not necessarily because of conflict or constantly butting heads, but because of life. Life is hard.
In a culture that views marriage as extreme dating and thinks of divorce as flippantly as middle schoolers change their weekly crush, it can be hard to stay the course when the tough times come. And even harder when those tough times linger.
It’s no mistake that traditional wedding vows contain the expression “for better or for worse”. Sometimes we recite that somewhat mechanically, like we tend to do John 3:16 or other overly familiar phrases, without camping out on what it means. When you get married, you promise “for better or for worse.” The “for better” is the part we like to focus on. We don’t like to think that “for worse” might mean raised voices and cancer and wayward children and struggling bank accounts and chronic illness and emotional baggage. We’d much rather promise to be there in the “for better,” when the savings account is padded, and the vacation is planned, and the kids are getting good grades and both spouses actually want to have sex at the same time.
Jesus said in Matthew 19 that when a couple is married, they leave their father and mother, and hold to each other. They become one flesh. He takes it even further and instructs that what God joined together, no man should separate. That’s pretty clear—don’t separate. Even if you’re arguing all the time, even if you’re frustrated, even if she can’t cook and he just wants to play video games and your kids are manipulating you against each other. Even if the doctor calls with the results you don’t want, and you owe more on your taxes than you expected and the roof is leaking. Don’t separate!
Not that there aren’t legit allowances for divorce outlined in Scripture, such as sexual unfaithfulness, but in today’s society, you tend to see more couples bailing in the “for worse” without Biblical reasoning. Couples declare they just ‘fell out of love” or “got too married too young and grew apart” or as you see in court documents, they simply have “irreconcilable differences”. This is all the “for worse” that the wedding vows speak of.
If you’re struggling in your marriage today and entertaining, however subconsciously, thoughts of divorce, take a step back. Re-read your wedding vows. Read Matthew 19. Remind yourself that marriage is difficult, and you’re not alone. It’s not just you and your husband going through the hard times, it’s all couples. Everyone goes through the season of “for worse” but more than likely, a season of “for better” is right around the corner if you stick it out. Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you. Draw closer to the Lord, and in doing so, you’ll draw closer to your spouse.
You’ve heard the expression “nothing worth doing is easy.” Godly marriages aren’t easy. But they’re a beautiful testament to the glory of God and the bride of Christ, the church. My friend, if you seek Him, God will sustain you and your marriage—for better or for worse.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over sixteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her drummer of a hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Visit her and see a list of books at http://www.betsystamant.com./
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