What to Do When You Want to Quit Marriage

Though most every spouse marries with stars in their eyes and expectations that scrape the Milky Way galaxy, there isn’t a spouse on earth, on any continent, in any country, who hasn’t experienced harsh unexpected disappointments. Like piles of heavy wet snow on power lines and branches, accumulated hurts and disillusionment threaten to snap personal resolve as easily as limbs surrender to the overwhelming weight of winter’s crystals.

Have you too entertained the thought of quitting at some level?

My husband’s and my overarching marriage narrative is a wonderful one because it is a tale of redemption. But in those hard places, before the redemption came, before it was spring again, we both experienced the pain of disappointment and loss. I wondered if we’d ever see beauty once more, or if we’d have to settle for a long winter.

I wanted to quit my marriage, not end it entirely as in get a divorce, but I have wanted to stop trying so hard in the cold heavy parts of our relationship. I have felt, This is too hard, we aren’t getting anywhere. I have been tempted, and it is a real temptation from the enemy of our souls, to

  • quit sex,
  • quit working so hard to understand and be understood
  • quit serving and giving myself
  • quit biting my tongue and watching my words
  • quit trying and settle into détente.

Quitting any area of marriage is slamming a door shut on intimacy. Like a thermometer, intimacy is the rising or falling temperature of your marital oneness and depth. Intimacy is not just sex. It’s communication, sacrificial love, self-control, courage…and sex.

Why did we all expect marriage to be so happily ever after?

Ponder this question in reply: why do you think Jesus spent so much time with tax-gatherers and sinners as the Pharisees so sharply accused? Quite simply because He knew that they knew their inadequacies and failures. Jesus saw hope for new life, new light in those men and women and children who understood they were broken needy sinners.

Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Simply stated, we can’t receive the gifts of the kingdom unless we know we cannot attain them or buy them or earn them on our own.

We struggle and want to quit in our marriages because we underestimate the sinful natures of our spouse and ourselves. Marriage is hard because it’s the union of two sinners.

In my Bible study this year, our class is going through Romans which has reminded me afresh “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). My wanting to quit has so often been because I expect too much of my spouse and myself and underestimate our depravity.

I still remember some of those crisis points in our marriage. I felt frightened a few times, fearing we’d never find common ground again. I felt lonely, knowing we weren’t operating out of oneness and because I didn’t have anyone I could talk to. I felt unappreciated that my efforts to love, serve and help weren’t met with the gratitude I had expected. To quit trying appeared like the relief of a desert mirage.

At the core, I wanted to quit because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Life wasn’t working the way I thought it should. I wasn’t able to make it all work. Paul said basically the same thing when he wrote, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18).

Though I felt emotions that scared me, God wasn’t bothered by my wanting to surrender and quit trying. In fact, He kinda liked me in that barren winter place…discovering that my expectations weren’t working…finding I wasn’t sufficient in myself to make everything work in my marriage. He knew I was disappointed with Him, too, and that too didn’t bother Him a bit.

True marriage is the union of three, not two.

In those alone moments when I had nothing else to try, no book with ten tips waiting on my nightstand, I prayed one of many desperate prayers over the years. I told God, I have no idea what to do next, no idea what to say or try. Will You show me? Will you guide me?

Never was there an immediate reply. I always wished for one, but learned to rest in His mysterious ways…to trust He could somehow break the ice…make a way…open our eyes to His beauty.

And that is what He wanted. “Come to Me,” Jesus said.

I was inadequate…my own attempts a failure…I needed Jesus and only Jesus.

So what do you do when you feel hope is lost and you want to quit?

Come to Jesus.

  • His strength will help you resist the darkness that threatens; the darkness of unbelief & resignation…the darkness of lost hope. IF you will ask and IF you really want to follow Him.
  • His light will shine on your heart to illumine false thinking, small and large steps of new understanding. IF you are willing to see your sin, If you are willing to change. (Is there that much sin in me? Oh yes there is.)

When you come to Jesus, the third Person in your marriage, remember:

  • He is always praying for you to choose His way. “He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
  • He is your husband when yours fails, “For your Maker is your husband” (Isaiah 54:5).
  • He is your dearest Friend when you have no one, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).
  • He is your Comforter when you feel all alone; “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
  • He waits to guide you by His Spirit; “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

Your challenge and mine is to believe all this is true and walk by faith when our feelings tell us the opposite. It’s what Jesus did all His life, but especially on the cross. And because He did, He can help us follow His steps.

God’s greatest joy is to rescue, resurrect and restore. It’s His specialty. He LOVES to take broken hearts, fractured relationships, shattered hope, and restore it to better than it was before.

I pray you will make your marriage health your highest goal, seeking to grow your relationship with your husband and your Savior this year.

May you too be counted among those who didn’t quit and because you didn’t discovered the wonder of the resurrection!


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33 thoughts on “What to Do When You Want to Quit Marriage”

  1. My husband doesn’t know if he wants to stay married to me after 30 yrs we have had a difficult marriage ( blended family infidelity lack of communication and lack of intimacy) we are Christians and have always tried to bring it back together for our family and for our God but this time is different I know we are tired and we are trying but I think he’s pretty sure it would be easier without me! I am fearful and I am defeated I am learning a lot about myself and how I’ve contributed to the issues but I want nothing more than to have the marriage God has for us
    To be an example for others whom struggle with these issues! I am trying to trust God but This is hard

  2. This article may be geared toward women but it spoke to me in high volume. My wife and I married young and have been through so many life changes. It has been way to much for us to handle in a short 8 years together and 6 years of marriage. I know my previous law enforcement career damaged me to unspeakable measures. It built up so much anger in me and I never dealt with it properly. I unfortunately took my frustrations out on my wife emotionally. I never realized how bad it was until I was out of law enforcement for 8 months as of January 4, 2018. My wife confronted me about it and said she has checked out of our marriage. I have been in reflection since that day 14 days ago. I have been able to rid myself of that anger and I have changed my life completely. I just wish I knew how to express my love for my wife so she does not leave me. She is my world and the one who has brought me to Jesus Christ and she has been my strength through my life and my career downfall. We need more guidance. I pray everyday and talk to God all day about my troubles so He can continue to change my heart. Any encouragement from someone? Any helpful advice? I am trying to give her space and time but I miss her and love her so much.

    1. Hi, Adam. My name is Bev and I provide online mentoring for FamilyLife. Barbara asked me to reply on her behalf. Thank you for your honesty and transparency in sharing your struggles. It sounds like you are showing the signs of true repentance by changing the way you think and act. However, like you mentioned, the toll has been heavy on your marriage. Your wife does not trust you and it may take a while for her to believe that you are sincere. This is to be expected. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation. However, that is always God’s heart whenever possible. I still believe He is in the miracle business. If your wife would be open to going to a Weekend to Remember conference, that would be ideal, even if you stay in separate rooms. Let her know that you will give her as much space and time as needed. Here is the link for events: http://familylifeministries.org/weekend-to-remember/

      If you have a church that you belong to, I would seek pastoral counseling. Or, you can contact this ministry for counseling and referrals: Counseling/Referrals

      Here is a ministry that is designed to help you overcome whatever habits, hangups, and hurts that you have. It’s very effective and you can look up a group in your vicinity. Celebrate Recovery

      Here is a radio series on anger:
      Overcoming Emotions that Destroy

      Here is Dennis Rainey’s book for men:
      Stepping Up

      And here are more radio programs on God’s ability to save marriages. Saving a Marriage

      Again, I am so impressed by your humility and willingness to do whatever it takes to bring healing and restoration. Ultimately, that is what your wife needs to be convinced of. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in her, too.

      I would also like to pray for you.

      Heavenly Father,
      I thank You for Your miracle-working power to heal, save and deliver. Nothing is too difficult for You, the Creator and God of the universe. I ask for You to intervene in Adam’s marriage. You are the God of mercy and grace. I ask for that outpouring on their marriage to bring healing, restoration and transformation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


      Beverly Cooper

  3. What if the spouse/husband in this case, is not a Christian? He yells, speaks profanity, treats the wife like a child, is a good father at times, but does not discipline them…instead yells at them and/or at me, never helps with any “housework”…keeping things clean and orderly, dishes, doesn’t help in teaching the children to do “housework” etc., you get the picture

    1. Hello, CJ.
      My name is Bev and she has asked me to reply on her behalf. Thanks for commenting on Barbara’s post. In regards to your situation, I am very sorry to hear of the difficulties that you are facing in your marriage. I think it is important when responding to understand that God never expects us to submit to another’s sin. However, in abusive marriages, it is wise to have a support system in place, especially if there is a possibility of physical assault.

      I would highly recommend checking out Leslie Vernick’s website. She has numerous resources, many that are free. Go to http://www.leslievernick.com. She has a great book called The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. You can also check out her broadcast series on FamilyLife Today here: http://familylifetoday.com/guest/leslie-vernick/

      Here is another article: Are You in an Abusive Relationship?: http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/archived-content/miscellaneous/are-you-in-an-abusive-relationship

      Heavenly Father,
      I thank You that You are the God Who Sees. You know what is happening in this marriage and I ask that You intervene. I ask You to release Your healing and deliverance over their marriage. Give CJ wisdom and direction in the next steps to take. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


  4. Awesome article. I am there. 25-1/2 years of marriage and have tried classes, books, seminars, DVDs, CDs, counseling, prayer, prayer, and more prayer. I once believed God wanted to restore our marriage and use it as an example of what he can do, but we just seem to keep failing. Years of this take a toll on every part of your life and wellness.

    1. I am very sorry to hear your comment and I don’t know what to comment…. I just wonder if we still need to restore our marriage minutes by minutes, day by day, again and again….

  5. I receive Family Life emails, and so this title spoke to me, although it seems to be written for women. I am trying to get what I can from it as a man. And, one of the replies mentioned Leslie Vernick’s boundaries resources. Are these aimed at women or can they help men in this situation?

    I am in a very sad marriage, with a wife that will not try. She is intentionally cruel and unloving. I would leave but don’t want to hurt our children. They are both grown, but I still want to spare them. She came from a broken home, and never knew her father past the age of 4. Her best friend since childhood also came from the same situation. Her best friend never married. Their conversations frequently involve how bad all men are. Our latest fight started because her friend said to her, “you can’t trust your husband to stay good. He’s blown up before and will do again, you can count on it.” So she came home and used that as ammunition to pick another fight and tell me how much she hates me and how unlovable and unworthy I am. I am so wounded by that that, yes, I blow up. People say leave for a while, don’t answer back, go for a drive. I have done all that and I am still a prisoner in my home. She also physically assaulted me last night (not the first time). I wrestle with thoughts of, am I a wimp if I press charges for that? I have no bruises, except on the inside. But I don’t know what to do. She has no conviction that her behavior is wrong and sees no need to change. I feel very hopeless.

    1. Dear moderator, I know that you need to edit out sensitive info, and please do. I understand you are doing your job and take no offense to that.

      I thought of some other information that will help explain my situation. If your advice is go to counseling, we have, several times, both at church and with licensed therapists. It’s usually her idea, and her goal is to put the blame on me, but having nothing to hide and desiring to fix our marriage, I always went. But anytime the counselors move toward her behavior/areas to change, she always stops going.

      We have not been intimate for nearly 4 years (in March it will be 4). I believe she entered menopause the year before. So while her behavior has been cruel most of our marriage, there used to be good times in between. But at that time, it only became all bad. She started saying she deserved a more handsome and richer man than me, picking, oh, a country star she could never have. It is like female pornography, I guess, meaning that she looked at other men and became dissatisfied with me. She kicked me out of our bed then – reason given: she hates me – and I have slept in one of our sons’ rooms. I have tried to be reassuring of her beauty, but if she is seeing herself age, she overreacts by saying there is no one more beautiful than her, I don’t deserve her, and she deserves someone equally good looking. She has also not said she loves me in all that time, except once this past September, during an episode of vertigo. She has a bad case of tinnitus, and I was caring for her, cleaning her vomit and giving her cool damp cloths for her head, praying over her, and things like that.

      I simply don’t know what to do to improve things, and I really have no hope they will improve.

      1. Hello, Jerry.
        My name is Bev and Barbara has asked me to reply on her behalf. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am truly sorry to hear about the abuse that you have been enduring in your marriage. Yes, the resources on Leslie Vernick’s site tend to be geared towards women due to the higher incidence of women being abused; however, I believe the principles would be very relevant for you as well. (www.leslievernick.com)

        I find that many people in abusive marriages feel they are doing a service to stay in the abusive relationship for the sake of the children; but I believe that the abuse, whether acknowledged or not, has already taken a toll on them. There is probably a lot of underlying anger and resentment for what they have observed. I would consider reaching out for support to address these issues.

        Here are a few resources that I think you will find helpful:
        My Wife is Physically Abusive: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/relationships-and-marriage/my-wife-is-physically-abusive
        Bold Love by Dr. Dan Allender: https://www.amazon.com/Bold-Love-Dan-B-Allender/dp/0891097031/ref=la_B001HCW4JU_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516140557&sr=1-7
        Men can be Victims of Abuse, too.: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/07/22/men-can-be-victims-of-abuse-too/
        Desperate Marriages by Dr. Gary Chapman: https://www.amazon.com/Desperate-Marriages-Moving-Healing-Relationship/dp/0802475523/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

        Heavenly Father,
        Thank You for bringing Jerry to this site. He is hurting and needs a miracle in his marriage. I pray for healing and deliverance for this family. Nothing is impossible with You, Lord. I ask for his wife to be given the gift of repentance. Soften her heart to You, Lord, as oftentimes hurting people hurt people. Have Your way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


        Beverly Cooper

      2. Jerry, I just prayed Beverly’s prayer.

        Hang on the fact that God loves you. Deeply. Forever.
        He is loving you right now.
        If you were able to understand how deep he does, your situation wouldn’t matter.
        He is walking your path before you.
        He protects you with his high hand.

        That’s what I told myself 2 days ago. Of course my problem doesn’t exist comparing to yours. But I want you not to feel alone. Of course she loves you, she is just being ensnared by the devil.

  6. I WAS there after 7 Years of marriage. I DID give up, not to the point of divorce but in telling my husband I had nothing left. God worked on his heart (and mine thru him) and slowly restored our relationship. We recently celebrated, yes joyfully celebrated, our 40th Anniversary. It was not an easy road and even now our marriage takes a hit occasionally (usually when I’m tired or stressed), but God has taught us so much about ourselves and His deep desire for us to have a healthy marriage. We now mentor young engaged couples.
    Hang in there, loved ones. For you are deeply loved and God desires the best for you in your marriage.

  7. God used your hardships to bless me. Thank you.
    ​Issues not mentioned:
    Husbands who ‘undress’ the gentleman’s coat to reveal someone else. My mom felt betrayed when my father began making them arrive late at church.
    When couples get together not by decision, getting along seems to be the wrong outcome.​

    1. I came back here to send this article and realized I was not clear:

      My mom felt betrayed as, after marriage, her husband began to be late to church.

      When the husband abandons good manners, isn’t it a kind of betrayal?
      When the couple ends up together for other reasons than love, how do you know it is correct to go on?

  8. Thank you for your transparency Barbara. Your testimony minsters to my heart as I try to navigate some difficult family relationships. I love the reminders that Gods job is to rescue, resurrect and restore. Our inadequacy is an opportunity for Him to move powerfully beyond what we can imagine, for His glory. I ALWAYS look forward to seeing your encouragement in my inbox. Bless you!

  9. I am at the point of quitting, and as much as I know God is there for me, I find myself unable to turn to him. I have lost all hope and can’t keep up the fight. I am so tired of the same struggles, it just doesn’t seem worth it to keep trying

  10. Tears on my face as well. Struggling to hang on to Hope here. Struggling to not quit when this relationship is one sided. Asking Jesus to help me lay down my life daily, but STRUGGLING. Thank you for the encouragement to hope again.

  11. The people at Good News Church in St. Augustine, Florida love Family Life & this blog writer! Your post providentially touched some dear friends of mine. Keep up the good fight, we love you all!

  12. Thank you for this message of hope. I am and have been for a while hanging on to Jesus in my marriage. There has been a lot of lies and deceit that continue to happen over and over. I am at a loss but I do know He is my Husband. I don’t want to give up but my heart continues to be broken over & over. When is enough?

    1. Hi, Wendy. My name is Bev and Barbara has asked me to reply on her behalf. I have been mentoring women online for several years, so I hope to offer some encouragement to you today.

      I believe Barbara’s article addresses the normal everyday sins that each of us commit; not a continued lifestyle of deception. That does need to be addressed. Being married and being a wife does not mean you submit yourself to his sin. We are told to tell the truth in love and we are to submit to each other in the fear of Christ.

      I would highly suggest checking out Leslie Vernick’s website and all of her helpful resources, many free. She has a newsletter you can sign up for. She specifically helps women develop healthy boundaries in marriage. Check out her YouTube and Facebook videos, too. Here’s the link: http://www.leslievernick.com And she’s been a guest on FamilyLife Today if you’d like to listen here: http://familylifetoday.com/guest/leslie-vernick/

      Heavenly Father,
      I thank You for bringing Wendy here today. I ask for Your wisdom and grace for her to discover how to navigate the challenges in her marriage. I ask for You to bring healing and restoration to their marriage. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


      Beverly Cooper

      1. Thank you for adding this response. It can be difficult to read some of these articles without feeling some level of condemnation or guilt for not doing more, when in reality I am fighting to learn healthy boundaries in a very unhealthy relationship.

  13. There are tears on my face right now!! My dear son’s wife left him right before Christmas! She told him that she has met someone else. He knows how the Lord feels about divorce, but she has dishonored him in every way, including adultery. I have been trying to encourage him long distance and he is filing for divorce, but he is sad! Thank you for this timely and important message!! More people need to hear your message from the Lord!! I would like to be able to print this out and send it to him. Many blessings to you, Barbara!!

    1. Please continue to pray for them, encourage him, lift them up. I will pray for them too. God loves marriage, families, restoration, forgiveness, love, and us humbling ourselves and coming to Him and changing. God bless you as you pray for your children!

    2. Have him read, if he will, The Divorce Remedy by Michelle Wiener Davis, and For Men Only by Shaunti Feldham. It will truly shed light on his situation. I truly believe God gave me these books 10 years ago that saved my marriage. My husband had also left me for another woman at that time and believed it was the perfect person for him but God restored our marriage. May God do the same for your son.

    3. Please encourage your son to pray and trust in the lord.my wife also left last fall and after long prayers God came through and opened her eyes.she is now begging to come back home and am glad I waited for only God builds families.satan is defeated in Jesus name.

  14. Oh my, I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this. Thank you so much for all the ways you share the hope Jesus brings over and over again. What a blessing you are!

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