What can I do to heal a broken marriage with a reluctant spouse who just wants to flee? Every bone in my body tells me that this is wrong for the children and us. Have tried everything. He lives in another country, but comes for visits. He is angry, unrepentant, unresponsive and cold. It has been three years now; he filed for divorce two years ago and it will go through next year. I have begged the Lord to help us. I have worked on myself, but he won't do the same. What can I do to save my family and marriage?
LMW from Abu Dhabi, UAE
The broken heart of God over broken marriages (Part 1)
How good to hear your question which takes marriage as seriously as God takes it and to hear that you are willing to fight to save your marriage. God gave marriage in the Garden of Eden as a beautiful gift to Adam and Eve. Not just to them, marriage was to be passed down to the whole family of man. Marriage should be the place of intimacy, safety and the flourishing of each person to their full potential.
Malachi 2:15-16 says; "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 'I hate divorce,' says the Lord God of Israel."
Broken people today are producing broken marriages which are producing a broken society. Divorce rates have been on the rise dramatically over the last 50 years all over the world. You do not wish to become one who adds to those statistics and that is good. You mention that you have worked on yourself and that is also a good thing. Too bad you cannot bottle your commitment, motivation and humble spirit and hand it to your husband to drink every drop of it.
You are willing and he is not. You cannot make him willing and that is very frustrating. If he is fully persuaded that he wants to go through with a divorce you probably will not be able to stop him. You really don't want him simply tied legally to you anyhow, right? You want a real marriage, even if one not perfect that needs some work. So what can you do?
Next: The steps that are in your control
Taking positive steps (Part 2)
The only person you really have control over is yourself and you have it within your power to make some positive choices. We can't know in advance if those choices will produce restoration to your marriage or a divorce but they will produce health for you and your children and they will prepare you for your future whatever it is.
When my husband left our marriage many years ago I got a really good piece of advice from a cousin who had also been through the same thing. I fully believe God used her to speak this to me and I will pass it on to you. She told me that after her husband left (by the way that marriage was fully and miraculously restored), she went around literally giving everything to Jesus. She spoke out loud; "Jesus I give you my…" and then she would name the thing - her material possessions, her children, her wayward husband, her emotions, her future, her thoughts - EVERYTHING. This was not just a verbal exercise. She really meant it from the bottom of her heart. It meant she didn't own that thing anymore; Jesus did. So now it was all his responsibility, not hers.
I took my cousin's advice and it freed me from the responsibility of making anything happen or worrying about what more I could do. I had turned it over to God. Not only that, priorities were now straight. My eyes were no longer on my husband; they were on the Lord. Though I don't guarantee it, your husband may actually notice this the next time he visits. No pressure on him because you are no longer expecting anything of him.
This shift produced rest but don't confuse rest with being passive. Most of what I learned about intercessory prayer was birthed during that time and intercession is anything but passive! So prayer is another healthy choice you can make.
Next: How to make your prayers count
Effective Prayer (Part 3)
There are many specific ways to pray that can have a great affect on your final outcome. From what I deduce about your husband, he does not want to try because he feels the situation is hopeless. He is also probably protecting himself from further hurt. As a wife your prayers are particularly powerful. Wield that power and boldly access the throne room of God seeking grace and freedom for your husband. Here are some suggestions.
Binding and loosing: The Bible says; "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) Bind any demonic force that has hold over your husband's thoughts or actions; bind hopelessness, bind any generational curses or sins that may be playing into this situation. Loose a spirit of hope, loose the love of God to be shed abroad in his heart, loose angels to protect him, loose a hunger to know and serve God.
Persistence: Read Luke 18 which is the story of the persistent widow who will not give up until she gets justice in her case. This principle is very important and tells us that no matter what we MUST NOT GIVE UP. Continue praying no matter what things look like in the natural realm. God is always doing more behind the scenes than we can see up front.
Fasting: Fasting is one of the most powerful kinds of prayer; it really pushes into the spiritual realm for results. Consider incorporating some measure of fasting into your life at least once a week.
Prayer of agreement: Can you join in prayer with a Christian friend or a group who will help you concentrate prayer on your husband, your marriage, your children and your future? Praying together with other believers is both effective and comforting.
Pray that God will surround your husband with godly people; ones who will affect him positively and will challenge him to make right choices. Pray every way you know to pray, read the scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to give you more ways to pray effectively. But keep your eyes on the Lord and not your husband.
Next: What does the future hold?
What is the final outcome? (Part 4)
Suppose you pray and fight and believe for the healing and restoration of your marriage and then in the end the divorce goes through? Well, the most important thing for you to know is that your prayers are not in vein no matter what. Trust God for the outcome and for the unfolding of his good plan for your life. If you have surrendered your life to him, you will see it come to pass.
Your life has significance. God has something for you to do that no one else on earth can do. Find out what that is and start working on it. Turn your gaze from your past to your future. Do you have an unfulfilled dream? What did you want to do as a child that you have never yet done? What gifts and talents reside in you that are not being put to use? How can you raise healthy happy children who are fully serving God?
I don't know if you will be going forward in life with your husband by your side or not but I know you will not be going forward alone. One of the most beautiful and comforting lines in scripture says; "For your Maker is your husband-the Lord Almighty is his name." (Isaiah 54:5) With him as your husband you will never be forsaken again; you will be loved and secure. Reach up - his hand his outstretched now.