Unhappily Married

How long is too long to be unhappy?

Question

How long is too long to be unhappy? I’ve been married 12 years and unhappy for 10 of them. I’ve asked my husband to attend workshops, counseling sessions, and church. He’s just not interested. I’m in counseling and am making some big steps toward making a better life for myself, as well as putting God first. I’m a Christian, but don’t believe that God would want me to live such an unfulfilling life. How long do I stick this out?

Answer

Our hearts go out to you. We’ve worked with hundreds of people that experienced some of the loneliness, discouragement, pain and anguish of a one-sided marriage, some who’ve struggled for over thirty years.

How long you stick this out depends on how you interpret Scripture. What does God have to say about it? If in reading the Bible you find that God endorses lack of fulfillment as a grounds for divorce then it’s your call. If that’s not the case, then the question becomes what does it look like to honor and glorify God where you are at while at the same time doing all you can to bring about change in your circumstances?

Many spouses who want a better marriage spend a lot of time trying to “change” their partner. With the best of intentions they send the message that their spouse is inadequate, a failure and a relational loser. What gets communicated is “I’m unhappy and it’s your fault.” That’s not the most effective way to motivate someone to change and grow.

You are wise to be in counseling and we’re encouraged to hear of your growth. How have you grown so far? How have you allowed God to use your circumstances to help you “become conformed to the image of His son” (Romans 8:29)? What are some specific ways your life reflects the heart and mind and characteristics of your Lord Jesus Christ today that it didn’t a few years ago?

In your counseling process have you been challenged to understand more about who your husband is and discovering ways to meet him where he is at? Have you learned about his need for respect from you and your need to give respect to him? We would strongly encourage you to read Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. It is a biblically-based, relationally sound resource that contains many practical ways spouses can be more effective in their relational roles.

Our culture has a lot to say about fulfillment and the evil one uses that message to tell us that we “deserve” to be happy.

Christ says much about joy in the midst of difficult circumstances and has little to say about happiness as the outcome of an easy walk on this earth.

Believe us when we say that God is not insensitive to your pain. At the same time, the greatest fulfillment comes from being obedient, faithful and Christ-like and trusting Him to “supply all of our needs” (Philippians 4:19). He is the only one that can meet every need, every want and every desire. Do you feel that you have experienced that kind of intimacy with Jesus Christ? When you are hopeless concerning your husband, can you go to Jesus to get your heart filled? Have you had the experience of Jesus spilling out over your relationship from your heart with his grace, mercy, kindness and gentleness?

Sometimes the solution to a difficult situation is both viewing it and doing it differently. Ask God to see this relationship through His eyes. Learn more about what it means to love your husband by respecting him, building him up, looking at his heart with new lenses or even trying to get behind his heart to look at his world through the way he sees it and meet him there. We’ve seen God work miracles through one person’s faithfulness.

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