Every marriage that breaks down is different.
But there are similarities that I’ve learned to look for that indicate whether a couple is truly ready to do the hard work necessary to repair a broken marriage.
What are those things?
- Ownership of their issues
- Willingness to repent
I don’t honestly know why I feel I should share this, but I do. Maybe there is someone who will read it who needs to hear something I’m about to write, I don’t know.
What I’m about to relay is the beginning of an interaction I’ve had with a man who contacted me about the possibility of he and his wife engaging in one of our intensive counseling sessions.
I trust there’s something here to help you, to bless you, to encourage you to do the hard work your marriage needs.
Joe (not his real name) discovered that his wife was engaged in what he called an “emotional affair.”
Thankfully, he quickly saw the part he had played in driving her to that place:
- working too much
- money and success had become his gods
- meanness toward her
- harshness toward their 7 year old son
When Joe contacted me everything had already come out.
He and his wife had each been crying constantly for days. They had attended church together the previous Sunday and had cried for most of the service. The church leadership came alongside to make recommendations of counselors to see.
Joe contacted me after the idea of an intensive counseling weekend came to his mind.
A quick Google search later and we were connected.
From everything I heard from Joe as we interacted via email, he and his wife both sounded like they were in a good place to receive help.
Joe emailed me as they worked through our application process… giving me an update on their situation. Here is the reply I sent back…
We are praying. Trusting the LORD to do all that is needed for both of you in His perfect timing. I’m encouraged by the progress I see already.
Continue loving your wife well my brother. You will need to persistently take the lead in love. Her full repentance will flow out of the evidence she sees of yours.
And instead of focusing on forgiveness of the man in question, focus on entrusting him, and the wrong he’s done, to God. God will deal with him exactly as he deserves, either through discipline if he remains unrepentant, or through grace if he turns to Christ. Either way, God’s justice will be done. You can rest easy knowing that as you continue to work out your own repentance. That is your only concern right now… the log in your own eye.
Trusting God with those who have hurt you is a difficult thing.
Especially when it’s your spouse – and someone else they turned to in place of you.
The instinct is to retaliate, to make them pay, maybe even seek revenge on the “other man.”
But healing will never come as long as you stay in that place.
Joe had it right. He knew that he had as much to do with his wife’s affair as she did. I’m not saying it’s his fault. I’m saying that affairs don’t happen out of the blue.
There are many, many things that pile up over the years that contribute to the final inner pain that pushes a spouse over that line, in most cases.
Joe listed plenty of them in his own life, and every one was right on the mark.
If you want to start moving toward healing, you’ve got to let go of the pain and your right to see somebody pay.
That’s the only way you can see clearly to deal with your own sin and junk. Just listen to Jesus’ words…
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:3-5
Your marriage can’t heal with that log in your eye.
Do you see the hilarious picture Jesus paints (who said Jesus isn’t funny?)?
Here’s somebody with a stinkin’ log in his eye. It’s a hazard to anyone who comes near. Everytime he turns his head, he whacks somebody with it. And he’s concerned about a tiny little speck in another person’s eye. If he doesn’t get rid of that log, he’s going to knock them out, not help them.
A broken marriage is an ideal time to deal with logs. It’s one of those times in life when the tenderness of your wounds makes you aware of all kinds of other things… especially the things that caused the wounds. Dealing with the log is accepting that you had a part to play, even if the other person is “to blame.”
Work on addressing that log.
Then you’re ready for God to do something marvelous.by