Staying Holy in a Messy Marriage - Elisabeth Klein
Elisabeth Klein

~~~~~~What Life Season Are You In?

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To say it can be difficult to keep walking the Christian walk in the middle of all the adversity of living in a difficult marriage is an understatement. For some of us, it pushes us even deeper into the heart of God, and yet for others, we’re so disillusioned with years of apparent unanswered prayers that we teeter on the verge of giving up on God altogether.

One of the reasons this relational pain is so insidious is that it infiltrates our safest spaces – our marriage, our family, our home. At the place where we are supposed to be able to let our guard down, to fully be ourselves, to count on unconditional love and support, we are attacked.  So here are some of the ways I attempted to continue to follow what I knew to be true during the most pain-filled stretch of my life.

Reminder: If you or your children are physically or sexually unsafe, find a place to stay while you figure out your next steps. And if you or your children are emotionally unsafe, ask a trusted friend or counselor to help you put some boundaries in place to protect your hearts.

Stay close to God.
For me, this meant daily quiet times consisting of prayer and Scripture reading, whether I always felt like it or not; regular church attendance, worship and service; and a commitment to a small group Bible study group where I was able to share what I was going through.

Hold your tongue.
I failed at this several times a day in my first marriage and I’m still working on keeping my mouth shut when what I’m about to say has either already been said or might hurt unnecessarily. To quote Dr. Henry Cloud, “Having unexpressed thoughts is an essential life skill. Knowing which thoughts to express {and which to keep to yourself and/or give to God} is a skill.” Newflash, ladies: not everything you’re thinking needs to be said, especially if it’s unkind.

If I could have you memorize one prayer, it would be this: “Post a guard over my mouth, God.” –Psalm 141:3  You don’t have to apologize and you will feel no regret over words not spoken in the heat of the moment.

Keep your side of the street clean.
Whatever it is you’re asking or wanting your spouse to do, make sure you’re doing it. For instance, if you want to see his text messages, make sure your phone is always out in the open as well.

And when you mess up with your husband – and you will – apologize. The words may feel like vinegar on your tongue, especially if your husband tends to never apologize, but you are responsible for you.

Serve your husband.
In the last few months before my then-husband was told to move out by church leadership, I ironed all of his shirts in his closet (I don’t think he noticed) and I made a huge salad from the garden for him every night (even though he had stopped coming home at dinner time). These may seem like small things but they were acts of discipline for me to love someone who was causing me pain. It was for God and it was for me much more than it was for him.

Live your life.
One of the best things you can do to keep walking the walk is to not let your sadness define every aspect of your life, which I know will take much effort. If you want to take a walk with a friend, take a walk. If you want to go to a concert, go to a concert. If you want to take a class, take a class. Your promised abundant life begins now, not somewhere down the road when your circumstances are rosier.

Listen, I know that I know that I know that being in a hard marriage is hands-down one of the deepest pains a woman can walk through. My heart goes out to you. I was you, for so very long. And I don’t know what your relational fate is – miraculous marriage restoration, releasing, another man somewhere down the road. And you don’t know that today either. But what you can know is that today…this day…God loves you, God sees you, God will never ever let you go. You are not alone and you have hope, because Christ himself is our hope.

God, not your marital status, defines your life. -I Corinthians 7:17 (msg)

If this post resonated with you, join me in one of my two marriage courses or my private Facebook group designed to help you think more clearly and feel better and steadier.

If you trying to stay for any manner of reasons and you need tools – different tools than yelling and crying – to learn how to become steadier and think more clearly, I invite you to press into Marriage Methods. For more information on this three-month course, go here.

Decision Time (formerly Should I Stay or Should I Go?)
Or, perhaps, in the quietness of your mind or in the privacy of your journal or in the confidential office of your counselor or across the table from your best friend, you find yourself asking, “Should I stay or should I go?” For more information on this five-week course, go here. 

If you’re looking for support with other women who are in difficult marriages, join my private Facebook group.

You’re exhausted. You’re confused. You might be fighting back anxiety or depression or both. It’s time to try something different, something that will work, created by a woman who has walked your journey.