Are You Hopeless In Marriage?

By Samuel Rainey

Today’s guest post is authored by my son, a marriage and relationship therapist, who has gained deep wisdom from his work, his own learning at home and from his suffering. It is a great honor to share Samuel’s insight with you. I look forward to hearing from you how God uses these words in your life and your relationship with God Himself.

Most people who have not done significant spiritual or relational work do not know how to do conflict well. Invariably, we will unconsciously adapt our conflict styles to what we were exposed to in our childhood homes. The saying “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” is true here.

How are we to know a different way of being without the help of someone else to show us another way or to another place? A hopeless marriage doesn’t have to mean the end of the relationship.

Marriage provides the divine context for taking another person to another place. It offers hope that I can live alongside someone who will help me to become a better person, and I can do the same for them. The reality is that once the newness wears off (which happens at different rates of time for different people), couples often lose sight of the purpose of marriage.

I often hear, “I just want to be happy and live in peace” when asking people what they desire in their marriages. Generally, this is in reaction to the growing disconnect and conflict that exists between husband and wife. However, when you don’t do the necessary maintenance and work, a marriage decays and begins to break down. This is true of the material world just as it is for relationships.

Cleaning up and fixing something that has been neglected for a long time takes more energy and effort than the time it would have taken to maintain. In relationships, if you do not spend the time proactively working and engaging the faulty issues in your marriage, when it comes time to “fix it” or “buy a new one” it’s going to feel overwhelming.

This overwhelming feeling coupled with the everyday needs and demands of life make it even more difficult to find the courage, energy, and hope to dig out of the mess. If you’re at this place of hopelessness in your marriage, seek out a counselor. If you’re afraid you’re on the road to hopelessness, here are some suggestions to work on:

  • Do go on regular dates with your spouse.
  • Do monthly budget meetings to review and plan financial concerns and needs.
  • Do yearly/bi-yearly marriage enrichment activities (counseling, retreats, books, etc.).
  • Do not turn on a  “screen” (television, cellphone, computer/tablet) at least two nights per week.
  • Do not blame your spouse for anything, ever. Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Do not use the word “divorce” unless you are in the process of filing.
  • Do not have an affair with work, alcohol, Facebook, video games, food, or the TV.
  • Do practice non-sexual touch without it leading to sex.
  • Do not hide behind your kids’ activities to avoid conflict.
  • Do not use your kids to fulfill your loneliness.

Regardless of how hopeless it might feel, no relationship is beyond repair. As we learn in Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.” I have seen couples dealing with multiple layers of betrayal, lies, and brokenness work diligently on repairing their relationship.

When you married your spouse, they became the right one, don’t buy into the lie that there is someone better out there for you. If you’re willing to do the hard work, hope can be restored.

©2020 by Samuel Rainey. Samuel is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in the Nashville area. This post originally appeared on his blog, Five Minute Sherpa. You can also find him on Twitter. He and his wife reside in Franklin, Tenn, with their four children. 

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11 thoughts on “Are You Hopeless In Marriage?”

  1. Much of the frustration felt by W and Roz seems to be the result of the failure of seeing themselves as the “chief of sinners.” I too have experienced this same frustration at times during my marriage of 41 years, but, when the Holy Spirit brings to light that I haven’t loved perfectly and I see myself as the one who needs His refreshing, it is easier to repent and ask my husband for forgiveness (though initially I perceived things to be his fault!) and see our marriage put back onto a solid foundation. Rather than asking the Lord to speak to my husband, I ask Him to speak to me about my own wayward heart. He will not despise a broken and contrite spirit!

    1. Hi Becky, the great thing that has resulted from me praying for God to speak to my husband is that, at the same time, I am choosing to be still, to be quiet, and to listen. I am trusting God to work, and I praise Him for using those moments to speak to me! As Missy mentioned, taking my attention off of my husband and our marriage allows me to put Jesus in his rightful first place. That is one thing I am thankful for in this difficult situation, it forces me to look up to Him, to fix my eyes on Him! As I mentioned in my previous reply “I’m trying to trust God to lead me and give me the strength to move forward as he works in me.” I believe this speaks to me acknowledging that I am aware that I also have work to do, I am not blameless, I am responsible for my actions and how I respond to the actions of others.
      Hopefully this makes sense, and thank you for listening.

  2. When I placed my hope in marriage, I have always been disappointed. But placing my hope in Christ as allowed me to find joy, even in the most challenging marriage. Turning my focus off of the marriage and my spouse allowed me to find satisfaction and contentment.

    1. I totally agree with you Missy, thank you for sharing. As I’ve been walking through this, I have been reminded that, regardless of what is going on, I am to seek God first and trust Him to work things out and work in me. Yes I feel frustrated and disappointed, but my hope is in him. Isaiah 40 says that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. My contentment and fulfillment come from knowing him, and remembering that he is with me.

  3. “Hopeless in marriage” was exactly what I needed to read this morning . Communication is often difficult when we’ve spent years on opposite schedules and handle conflict from completely opposite directions…so a reminder to keep trying from the perspective that someone would say out loud, “I’m here but almost hopeless,” without critics…is helpful. Thank you.

  4. I only wish it were this simple..
    So what do you do when your spouse lays 100% of the blame on you, and is totally unwilling to even begin to consider they might be part of the problem? And if you do bring up something all of a sudden I’m attacking, I’m being emotionally abusive, I’m deceived, I’m avoiding the real issue, etc, etc, etc.. The only “sin” or problems that are allowed for discussion are mine. We have been to counseling. Of course now, all of the counselors we have seen are “not qualified”. We have been to Family Life Conferences. Family Life Conferences don’t address this sort of thing, maybe touched on, but not enough to make any real difference.
    So no.. I have no hope in this marriage. Divorce isn’t an option, by the way.
    So where is God in all of this? When are you all going to really get into sin, selfcenteredness, spiritual pride, and blaming the spouse? Of course, you will address it with the husbands, because we all know really it’s always the husbands fault.

    1. Please remember that there are 3 of you in your marriage – you, your spouse and God. Trust in God even when you cannot trust in your spouse. Let God bring them and You around.

    2. W…I have totally been there. I’m actually there now and it’s been that way for several years. Do I believe that God can do the impossible, yes; but the reality in front of me is so different than what I believe God for. I understand your frustration and your pain. All I can say is that I chose to just work on me; to fully become who God called me to be and I left my spouse in God’s hands. We all have things we need to work on so I left it up to God to work on me, as well as my spouse. It’s not easy, but it is doable. One hour, one day at a time. Celebrate the small victories – they will lead to one big victory. Celebrating your victory and forward movement and standing in agreement in prayer with you.

  5. This is what I needed to hear because this is where I’m living right now. I’m trying to trust God to lead me and give me the strength to move forward as he works in me. I don’t know what to pray a lot of the time so I just pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to my husband because communication between us is a challenge right now. Thank you for sharing and for your suggestions as well. God bless you as he allows you to be a blessing to others!!

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