Marriage is hard. Even the happiest married couples know the road can get bumpy. You may even experience times when you fear your relationship may not make it, and one or both of you may begin to lose hope.
You’re not alone. Other couples have faced what you’re facing and persevered, coming out stronger than ever.
You may wonder: “But how? I don’t know how to find hope in a failing marriage.” When you’re in a place where you’re losing hope, seeing a way out can feel almost impossible. But remember, Jesus Christ, tells us that “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Here are five ways you can start finding hope in your marriage:
01. Seek God
This may seem like the Sunday School answer, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. God, the Creator of the Universe, made you with wonder and joy in His heart. He created your spouse and brought you two together. He cares about your marriage and wants it to thrive. He is ready and waiting for you to seek His help. Remember: our God is a God of hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” | Romans 15:13
Connecting to God is your first priority when you’re seeking hope. Block out time in your schedule for reading God’s Word. Let the Scriptures fill your heart and begin refilling your spirit. Spend time in prayer, as well as time quietly listening for any promptings from the Holy Spirit.
If your spouse is willing, spend some time seeking God together. Pray together for His strength and peace and wisdom to come into your relationship and begin healing your marriage. Scripture reminds us that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) The two of you plus our Creator are a formidable opponent for the enemy—even during the toughest times.
Losing hope in your marriage usually happens because either or both you and your spouse encounter some wounds along the way—wounds you’ve suffered as well as those you’ve inflicted. There are bound to be some grudges, harsh words, and even hurtful actions littering the path to feeling hopeless.
When we are hurt, it’s tempting to lash out and hurt in return. Hurt people hurt people. But that destructive cycle will never bring hope back into your marriage.
Forgiveness is the key to rooting out any bitterness and anger in your heart toward your spouse. It’s not easy, especially if you feel you’re the one who deserves an apology, or if you know it isn’t likely your spouse will ask for your forgiveness.
But ultimately, forgiveness isn’t something we do for anyone else. We do it to set the record right in our own hearts. Most of all, we do it in obedience, because as Christ-followers we are commanded to forgive:
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” | Mark 11:25
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” | Colossians 3:13
Maybe you don’t think your spouse deserves forgiveness, but neither do you deserve God’s forgiveness. He forgives you anyway, and we are to forgive as He forgave us. As difficult as it may be, commit to forgiving your spouse. Let go of the bitterness you may be carrying, and allow hope to take its place.
03. Have Patience.
When we’re in pain, we want it fixed now. When we’re frustrated, we want a solution yesterday. And when our spouses aren’t fulfilling our expectations, we want them to get things fixed right now.
Whether your expectations are reasonable or not, people don’t change overnight. Having hope for your marriage requires patience.
Patience, hope, and love are intricately connected, and we see this in Scripture:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” | 1 Corinthians 13:4
If you love your spouse, you will be patient with them. An attitude of loving patience naturally inspires hope. When you are practicing patience, you are giving your spouse (and yourself) the time necessary to improve, and that’s reason enough to be hopeful.
Paul, too, follows this logical progression from love to patience to hope. First, he names patience as one of the primary attributes of love, then lists the consistent actions of love:
“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” | 1 Corinthians 13:7
The loss of hope can be a direct result of anger and frustration that desired changes haven’t happened yet. In other words, loss of hope is sometimes impatience in disguise.
Resist the sin of impatience, and resolve to be patient with your spouse. When you can accept that your relationship won’t be fixed immediately, you leave room for hope to grow.
04. Focus on the positive.
Many people have had this experience: they buy a new car, then suddenly they see that same make and model everywhere. Those cars were there before, but the new car buyer didn’t notice that make and model of car until they start focusing on that exact make and model. What we focus on expands.
If you’re focused on your spouse’s habit of not keeping the house tidy, you will notice every dirty sock, unwashed dish, and unsorted piece of mail. Your frustration will grow with each new discovery. If you focus on the struggles in your marriage, your spouse’s flaws, and your unmet expectations, those shortcomings in your mind will expand to fill your perspective – and crowd out hope.
Proverbs 11:27 says, “Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.” Don’t search for what is evil in your spouse. Instead, seek out what is good in your spouse and then fix your attention on it. See how God is working on their heart. Pay attention to how the Gospel is transforming how your spouse shows up in each area of life.
If your spouse is a good parent to your children, focus on that quality. Celebrate their strengths. If your spouse is a hard worker and a good provider, focus on that gift. Praise their efforts and thank them for doing great work.
Even if your relationship is in a difficult place, you can still find something positive about your spouse to celebrate. Once you’re actively looking for the good in someone, you are certain to find it. Focus on the good in your own thoughts and in your communication with your spouse. Thinking and speaking positively to and about your spouse is like planting and watering seeds of hope in your marriage. Watch that connection start to grow!
05. Become a better spouse.
We have control over very few things in life. You can’t control your spouse. You can’t change their mind or heart. Only God can do that. Marriage isn’t about changing your spouse into the person you think they should be. That will only cause hurt and frustration for both of you. It’s about giving them space for God to help them become who He wants them to be.
What you can control are your own attitude and actions. You can’t force your spouse to be patient, but you can practice patience. You can’t force your spouse to be forgiving, but you can offer forgiveness. You can’t force your spouse to be unselfish, but you can choose to put their needs above your own. You can’t force your spouse to be gracious when you mess up, but you can offer grace to them over and over again.
Jesus is clear about how we are to respond in love, regardless of what others say and do:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” | Luke 6:27-28
If this is how Jesus tells us to treat our enemies, how much more should we treat our spouses with this kind of love!
If you’re struggling to show this type of selfless love, ask God for help and pray the way King David did:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” | Psalm 139: 23-24
None of us are perfect except God. It takes two people to create a struggling marriage. That’s where we can lean into God’s Word and the example of Jesus showing love to us. The vows you made are worth keeping, and your marriage is worth the effort to keep it strong and healthy. Don’t give up. With God’s help, you can find hope in your marriage!
🎨 Credit :: Colin McFarland
Digital Marketing Manager