Taking the
Deadlock 
out of
Wedlock

The Technique Of Repairing
A Cracked Marriage

This book is less concerned with good things to do to save a marriage than with good things to believe. Emotional energy is nonexistent unless first of all one discovers good news to believe about the problem. Believing right things soon leads to doing right things. And then problems begin melting away. The reason is that believing the real truth activates secret, dried-up springs of motivation within the human soul.

Here are five truths solid as the granite hills, each of them an item of good news about your marriage. You will not be burdened with duties to perform that are beyond your strength. You may however need strength to believe that the good news is true, because mankindís favorite obsession is believing bad news:

  1. God is more concerned that your marriage become a happy one than you are.
    1. He invented marriage. If marriage proves too difficult for human beings, its failure naturally reflects on the wisdom and reputation of its Inventor. Some people troubled about marital problems asked Jesus for advice. He answered, "íA man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.í So they are no longer two, but one. Man must not separate, then, what God has joined together. " Matthew 19:4-6, GNB, emphasis supplied. The point is that you have Someone working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to ensure that your marriage is a happy one. Donít resist what He is doing.
    2. Each marriage is as important to God as if it were the only one on earth. "Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Fatherís consent . . .. You are worth much more than many sparrows!" Matthew 10:29-31, GNB. So, when God says "you are worth" so much, He includes you and your marriage!

When a marriage begins to crack, we feel desperately alone. Itís good news to realize that Someone cares, for once you recognize this fact, the problem ceases to be yours. It becomes His problem too and you can stop asking: "What am I going to do now?" and begin asking, "Lord, how can I cooperate with You while You solve this problem?"

  1. Ornery spouses can become un-ornery. Often all God needs to make a marriage happy is for just one spouse to be willing to cooperate with Him in making certain changes. The changes will have to be His work, for, when it comes to solving problems like this, the Bible recognizes that we are "without strength." See Romans 5:6. It boils down to our letting the Lord heal the marriage. This is not a "laissez faire" cop-out. There is something for you to do; but that something is not an impossible work; it is a truth you must believe.

If there is one ornery spouse in the picture, God already has one perverse will to deal with. If you add to the problem by choosing also to be perverse, He is stymied. Even Heaven canít save a marriage if both partners are unwilling to let God save it. But if one spouse chooses to cooperate, thatís all God needs in order to be free to go to work.

The Bible recognizes that human beings can thwart Godís good news for them if they persist in rejecting His grace. But it offers encouragement to believe that one marriage partner can be the instrument whereby God changes the other for the better. It says that "the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband." 2 Corinthians 7:14, NIV.

That word sanctified means "put into a positive relationship with God because of the believing spouseís cooperation with Him." In other words, the spouse who needs to be changed is influenced by the one who is in touch with God. But now another problem comes to light.

In the intimate relationships of marriage, we get to know one another without pretense or veneer. Your spouse knows whether or not you are genuinely unselfish. We cannot help showing how selfish we can be, apart from the grace of God. So, when your spouse sees evidence of Godís Spirit working in you, he or she will be far more likely to be receptive to the impressions of the Holy Spirit than otherwise. Thatís one way God "sanctifies" the unbelieving spouse.

Godís favorite method of revealing Himself is not through lightning strikes and earthquakes, but by transforming ornery people. As the warm sun melts a block of ice, so this kind of love frequently succeeds in melting an icy heart of unbelief. As Paul puts it, "How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" Verse 16, NIV.

  1. Perhaps wrong attitudes on your part have provoked your spouse into unpleasantness. The change God can bring about is good news, especially if you are the one who has been primarily at fault for this is something you can correct with Godís help. Your transformation can be Godís means of saving your spouse. To be saved means to be changed from being "alienated from the life of God because of . . . ignorance" to being reconciled to Him. Ephesians 4:18, RSV.

This could be especially true in a marriage where only one partner is a professing Christian who exhibits ornery behavior. Such behavior nullifies the "Christianís" profession and makes it appear that God is impotent to save people from themselves. Nothing can make ordinary human beings more ornery than believing such bad news. If you have been a stumblingblock in this regard, maybe you need look no further to find the cause of your marital unhappiness. What a person believes about God determines what kind of person he or she is. This is because of an unerring Bible principleóthe principle of righteousness by faith. Itís really as simple as two and two equaling four.

Good news is the communication of a message of truth concerning what Christ has done and is doing to save us. It centers in His sacrifice of Himself on the cross. Itís not only the pie-in-the-sky salvation beyond death; it means peace, happiness, reconciliation, transformation of heart here and now. To see and appreciate this is what the Bible calls faith; and such faith works to effect righteousness in the heart of the believer. It ends the great emotional energy drain, for faith energizes: "faith . . . works through love." Galatians 5:6, GNB. (The Greek word for "work" is energeo, from which we derive our word energize.) This is how guilt, fear, alienation, suspicion are melted away from the heart.

Letís say it again: all these wonderful things we are supposed to do are impossible for us to do unless we believe what Christ has done for us and is doing for us. Believing bad news paralyzes you; believing Gospel good news energizes you.

An unbelieving spouse who does not see this good news demonstrated in the life of his or her marriage partner is deprived of the most effective means God can use in making the unbeliever "un-ornery" On the other hand, the unbelieving spouse who daily witnesses this "good news" will have a hard time resisting it.

  1. If there is hope for you, there is hope for your spouse, because God made the two of you one. The devil specializes in telling married couples they are "mismatched." When two people marry, they may indeed be "mismatched," but God intends them to become increasingly suited to each other; and they will increasingly become one, if they do not frustrate Godís plan for them. His word is, "The two will become one." Matthew 19:5, GNB. Not, the two ought to become one, or the two should be one, or it would be nice if the two could become one; no, ďthe two will become one.Ē In other words, Godís plan is to make people who think they are mismatched (the devil tempts them to think so) become happily matched. This is what His grace accomplishes. But this only happens if they allow God to work out His plan in themóin other words, stop resisting Him.

If what we have said thus far is true, then as surely as one spouse can become un-ornery by the grace of the Saviour, so surely is it possible for the other partner to become so. The same God who made the one, made the other and intends that the two be "one." Of course, He will never force anyoneís will, so one can resist His grace to the bitter end.

  1. Say Yes to that impulse to do or say something nice to your spouse. Believing right things is the foundation on which doing right things rests. But, how does one get the will and energy to do what is right? The answer is, by faith. Faith is not true faith unless it "works through love." Galatians 5:6, GNB. Faith will prompt one to do or say something helpfulósuch as complimenting your spouse with words of sincere appreciation, buying him or her an unexpected gift, giving your spouse an impromptu hug, putting yourself out to do some unselfish deed that you have stubbornly resisted doing. There are a million ways faith can energize you to do what was previously "impossible." That blessed prompting is actually the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you see it? God is already working to save your marriage! Do it! Say it! God makes it possible for you to be different from what you have been. Thatís His jobóbeing a Saviour.

If your loving deed or word is repulsed, do not respond cynically. Such a response could ruin everything and put in question the motive behind your kind word or deed. Expect that your genuineness will be tested, and donít get discouraged when it is. Phony goodness seldom works, but genuine goodness has a good chance of succeeding. Genuine goodness has no way of demonstrating its genuineness except as it is tested. Tests and trials met in the right spirit increase your chances of success. If you see this precious insight, unexpected setbacks will no longer upset you. See 2 Peter 1:5.

"Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who treat you spitefully . . .. Treat others as you would like them to treat you . . .. Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate." Luke 6:28-36, GNB.

Does this work? Indeed it does! The idea on which Godís government rests is that light is stronger than darkness, love is stronger than hate, good is stronger than evil, and grace is stronger than sin. Thus Godís grace is powerful enough to resolve the greatest marital problemóif it is allowed to accomplish its purpose.

How to Love When You Can't Love .


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