Challenges, Money & Finances, Purpose

Reflections On Hardship in Marriage

Over the years (particularly on social media) I’ve seen arguments back and forth about a wealth and prosperity “gospel” and how it aligns (or doesn’t align) with the message of Christ. As I read through some of the articles, I started thinking about how these conflicting messages affect marriage.

In John 10:10, Jesus talks about “life to the full” or “abundant life.” What exactly does that mean for our marriage? What happens during all the *real* life moments when life feels far from abundant?

Is Jesus our golden ticket to a care-free, loving union? We raised the same question on our Instagram account today (read the caption, pardon the formatting):

So many spouses reach out to us because they’re fighting for their marriage and feeling like hope is lost. Chances are, you’ve felt that way too. Marriage takes two, but sometimes one side of the union gives up entirely.

Broken marriages happen because we’re broken people. Marriage has a unique way of exposing our brokenness more than any other relationship in life. It shows just how selfish we are, how entitled we feel, and just how unloving we can be. Sinfulness is the default human condition.

So, what do we tell to the husbands & wives who email us asking for advice on how to fight for their marriage? We only know one answer: Jesus.

Do we point couples to Christ because he’s some kind of wizard who can wave his wand to make all marital problems disappear? Or, is it because he’s a “love guru” who will finally teach them how to love each other well?

Nope, none of the above.

Marriages need Jesus because he’s the only one who replaces our brokenness with his fullness. He’s the only mediator who takes our sin and exchanges it with righteousness. He is the only judge who found us guilty and sentenced himself. He is the only King who adopts us in as his own children.

Only God is big enough to save you, and he’s done it. It doesn’t mean everything will work out perfectly, just that we have a hope that will never expire. In this life, we’ll experience brokenness. But in Christ, we have hope to celebrate and carry on in every circumstance – including marital strife.

Next time you face hardship in your marriage remember this: God is big enough to save you, powerful enough to change hearts, and loving enough to restore your marriage. Dig into God’s word, pray, and rest.

Stay fierce, Ryan & Selena

A photo posted by Ryan & Selena Frederick (@fiercemarriage)


I will admit, I too find myself falling guilty to the thought process of God wants me to have “abundant life” i.e. a happy, long, prosperous and fulfilling marriage right? But is that his ultimate goal for us?

Let the comparison game begin

Typically what happens is we start comparing our marriage and it’s shortcomings to other ideal married couples. We then begin petitioning God for the things we want in our marriage, based on what someone else has. Before we know it, we’re frustrated with God that our finances, our relationship, our life isn’t full of happiness like we prayed for?!

Again, are we really understanding who God is at this point? Are we truly considering His end-game.

The pattern I’ve seen is when our own insecurities set in, we start praying and claiming things over our marriage that God may be saying no to because his plan and his ways are higher. (Isaiah 55:8-9).

This might mean enduring pain and discomfort…

Hardships force growth and help us glorify God

A great friend of ours since high school Josh (who’s been around the world filming, photographing and documenting for The Alliance) said it brilliantly,

“Hardships force some of our greatest growth, when we have no option but to lean into Jesus. Health and wealth are nothing if we aren’t centered in Christ. There is no promise of ease or comfort in being a Christ follower….just remember how life ended for Jesus’ apostles. In modern times, look at the lives of believers outside of the West and the suffering (and death) that so many face for choosing to follow Jesus. This isn’t to say Christians should feel guilty for having wealth (just by being born in America, we ARE wealthy by the world’s standard)…but if we are pursuing ourselves and our own happiness first, we are misguided and following the god of this world.”

Again, placing God as the means to our end ultimately causes us to lose focus on who He is and what He intended “full life” in John 10:10 to be.

Perhaps we are approaching the throne of our Almighty God with the wrong questions that stem from the wrong perspective of who He is and who we are as His children.

He is so much more to being a child of God than getting a golden ticket to a happy/problem-free life or marriage.

Father, Savior, Counselor

God is our Father. Jesus is our Savior. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor.

Beyond what He (as a Father) can give, He wants us to love and pursue Him and His kingdom (Matthew 6:33). He’s even gives us the order in which we should pursue him: FIRST.

Jesus is our prime example of love and sacrifice…of enduring hardship for a greater purpose. Even more than that, he is our SOURCE for everything of value we need in this life, including the hope, joy, and security we need to endure hardship.

His death should not be reduced to a footnote in our worldly desire for a prosperous marriage. In other words he shouldn’t be the way to get what we really want, he should be what we really want.

I’m not condemning happiness and those amazing problem-free days that we experience in our marriages. We should celebrate when times are good! What I am saying, however, is that if our only objective is health, wealth, and happiness, then we are minimizing who God is in our marriage and His plan that might require some hardship.

The result will leave us closer to Him; experiencing a deeper joy, a more fulfilling peace that is inexplicable to the world around us, ultimately bringing all glory and honor to Him.

HE is the better life

Dare we reduce God to our golden ticket to a better life? He is the better life. He is the ultimate end, not a means to some other, better end.

The love of Christ is so much more than the appearance of a happy marriage, or having all the money in the world…it’s true, deep, inexplainable joy. It’s peace in the midst of a raging storm, it’s comfort in the midst of deep loneliness and pain; it’s grace and mercy when we sin. 

Prayer:

Father, you are mighty. Please forgive us when we seek other things before you. Help us to realize that YOU are all we need and anything which comes along with you is extra, but you are all we seek. Guide us in your ways, that we may bring glory and honor to you in and through our marriage. In your precious Son’s name, amen.

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  • Jenn

    Thanks for sharing. This is exactly the reminder and encouragement I needed. I’m going through the most difficult time imaginable in my marriage after recently learning of my husbands ongoing 12 year sex addiction and constant cheating. He’s now committed to changing and recovery, but I’m struggling with the decision to stay married to him. This is a great reminder.

    • Leanna

      Jenn, I’m so sorry to hear of your heartache. Infidelity is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Glad you are plugging into this and hopefully other Standing resources! Rejoice Marriage Ministries and tapatalk group standing for marriage restoration are a couple more I have found to be helpful. God bless

  • Annalise

    Infidelity is most certainly awful. It does however speak the truth of what you mean to your spouse. He may be mentally committed to change but that won’t fix the emotional commitment therefore know that the infidelity will continue. Maybe you have children still at home that he doesn’t want to leave, or maybe he knows that divorce will cost him a great deal monetarily. I guarantee you his reason for staying is not because of you. You can’t give him what he needs, desires or craves because if that were the case, he never would have cheated. No amount of prayer will make him want you. You can’t make someone desire you or love you. Yes, you can have complete and total transparency but trust me when I tell you there are so many ways to cheat and keep it a secret. Cell phones you don’t know about. Secret apps to hide the communication. You can even put a tracker on his cell phone but there are ways around that too. You will never trust him again so why would you want to stay? If there are children at home, just know that they see, hear and sense everything! You will be doing them a disservice and teaching them that what they see, hear and sense is normal. Their relationships will end up just like yours. For example, they notice when there is no affection and they ask mom and dad to hug each other or kiss each other. How sad is that when they have to ask? It’s because they know something isn’t right. Love yourself, love your kids first. If you’re able to emotionally give yourself to your spouse sexually trust me when I tell you, you will always think about what he did with the other woman. You will never be able to commit yourself to the moment. There will always be a third person in your bed and in your mind and it will not be God.

    • Jessica Diaz

      This completely saddens me. Sorry but Jesus would not want you being so harsh. I had an affair with someone I worked with. Do you think I don’t regret it? Do you think my counseling is a sham then because my husband will never trust me? Your response really rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Dawn

      Annalise, girl I am so sorry you have been hurt but I think your perspective is skewed by your experience alone. After dealing with this myself and being in married groups with my church and seeing relatives who have experienced this same thing I can say with total confidence that God can change anyone and any marriage. It doesn’t mean it always happens but you can’t assume it never happens either. I think you’ve put up some walls and have let your heart harden. Have you had any counseling? It’s not an easy process and it will take time but marriages can be completely healed after infidelity. God is bigger than our sins. I will pray for you. I can hear the pain in your response and I hope one day you can free yourself from this. God Bless.

    • Beth

      Pray without ceasing. God’s timing is perfect. Never give up. That is what Satan wants you to do.

    • Carey

      Through God all things are possible. My husband was a serial cheater. Since he found Christ he’s been faithful. He talks with his pastor regularly for ‘checkups’. Both and his pastor have access to his phone and history and honestly he both says he’s never been happier. I see a contentment in him I never saw before. Do I have bad days and nightmares about the old times? Yes, I do. And when I do I tell him and we talk and pray about it. It’s possible to get past this if both of you embrace God, but either way I’ll be praying for you.

      • Annalise

        And you think all is well? You and your pastor check his phone lol!!!! That in itself speaks volumes!!! Wake up!!! You don’t trust him and you never will again because if you did you wouldn’t have to monitor his every move as if he were a child. What’s even more pathetic is that your pastor is monitoring his every move too!!! OMG!!! Why would you want that? Forgiveness doesn’t always lead to healed relationships. Some relationships just aren’t meant to be. Forgive anyway and let what’s meant to be, BE.

  • CJ

    Jenn and Annalise, I can see both of your perspectives in infidelity. My wife of 20-plus years had a 2-year emotional affair that was exposed last summer and it has truly been the hardest thing in my life to work through. I have never experienced so much in-depth pain and grieving and trying not to think that our relationship has been nothing more than a sham.

    We are both going through counseling almost weekly both individually and together and she is recommitted to trying to make things work. It hasn’t been easy because it doesn’t take much for me to get triggered and I have to pray and press into Christ during these times or my emotions go on a dangerous rollercoaster that Satan loves to take me on in a negative way.

    We are still plugging away daily and know that Christ is putting us through a refining fire individually (I admit that I am not a perfect husband and have let fear and anxiety take me into a victim/self-pity persona for the majority of our marriage letting life’s circumstances and trials take me down and leading to my wife losing respect and love for me leading into the affair). Both of us are diligently being faithful and looking to Christ for the next right steps in our lives — which right now includes rebuilding a new and more solid foundation on Christ in a new marriage relationship we pray will honor and glorify God.

  • Beth

    Thank you for taking the time to bring God’s truth for life to us. Never give up on the covenant of marriage and your life long partner, God didn’t give up on us. Praising Him for sending Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

  • Carly

    Thanks for sharing, it’s words for a season on my marriage.

  • Viv Sluys

    Love this: “Dare we reduce God to our golden ticket to a better life? He is the better life. He is the ultimate end, not a means to some other, better end.”

  • Kyle Cochenour

    Wow. This was awesome! It is so true, forgetting to focus on what is truly important because of things that seem important simply because others have them. How crazy it is that we get so caught up in the material that we forget to remember the spiritual. Thank you for this message.

  • Ashok Agrawal

    This is a very nice blog and It is very Great post of marriages It is such a amazing post I really really like it
    Thanks for sharing
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  • Bird

    Thanks for the inspirational reading. My husband and I have been married for 8 years now, and we have had a lot of ups and downs. In the past, when my husband has gotten upset he would disrespect me by calling me out of my name, and saying a lot of hurtful things. Of course, I have forgiven him every time. The other night we had an argument and he ended up telling me F_ck to me 2x’s and said some other hurtful things. While these incidents don’t happen as often, and he didn’t call me out of my name it is still very hurtful. Especially when I don’t do anything to deserve this, and I don’t lash back disrespecting him, mainly because I’m thinking about what GOD would want me to do. I am constantly praying for him to treat me well, and to love me the way Christ loves the church. It has been better lately, because I feel we are both becoming closer to GOD. But I still feel that it is easier for him to lash out at me, being negative and saying what is wrong rather than verbally loving me with affectionate words. I know to keep praying and trust GOD, but it just makes me question if he really genuinely loves me. Then I start to question if this is a big deal, am I making to much out of it?