“We are just not compatible.” “I’m not sure we were ever really in love.” “She/He just does not understand my needs.” “This is not the same person I married.” “I feel like I am married to a stranger.”…

If your marriage is not going the way you dreamed of, how long do you hang on before you consider quitting?

COVID19 quarantine has concentrated our relationships in the home. Our marriages and parenting have been impacted, either for better or for worse or both. How is your marriage going? Statistics indicate most marriages are struggling, and in this brief blog, I would like to give you courage to keep fighting.

My parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year. But it has not always been a celebration. Immediately after the wedding, my dad’s life was consumed with medical school. Over the next 15 years my dad worked extremely hard through school, residency, opening a practice, and working around the clock as he often would deliver babies in the middle of the night- always providing for us. If he had free time, he decompressed on the golf course. Meanwhile my mom worked extremely hard raising three boys and taking care of the millions of things that go into a home of 5 plus a hairy dog. And I will add that we lived in the boondocks without any neighbors. My mom was on her own. Somehow the house was clean, the clothes were washed, we ate well, and we were well rested and well loved.

I return to my original question, how long do you hang on before you consider quitting? (Let me also pause and say I am NOT referring to marriages/homes where there is abuse).

I will tell you what my mom did. In my 41 years, I have never heard my mom speak condescending of my dad. In my 41 years, I have seen and heard my mom pray throughout the day- casting her deep cares on the Lord. And in my 41 years I have never heard either of my parents argue or get upset with each other.

Would you say, 1 year is enough before quitting? 5? 6? 10? My mom quietly endured for 15 years. Then in 1984, God broke my dad. My dad’s hard-earned clinic was at risk of collapsing. On his knees, he repented of his selfishness. Completely humbled. And that was the beginning of a new husband and a new dad. Fast forward: my parents have enjoyed the last 35 years of marriage and they are definitely in love. For 35 years we have had the best mom and dad. Even sweeter still, all 3 boys grew up, left home and began their own sweet marriages and families. Most importantly, the 3 boys love Jesus above all else. Even sweeter still, their middle son, Travis, passed away in February and he is 100% FOR SURE enjoying the love of Jesus for all eternity.

I believe with all of my heart that God was pleased to sustain my mother through 15 long years, and in His grace He has given her a sweet marriage for the last 35 years. Her model for those 15 years, and both of their models for the last 35 years helped cement an image of a faithful God in their 3 boys’ souls. His love endures forever. Scripture says God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten and He will bring beauty from ashes (Joel 2:25, Isaiah 61:3).

You might be tempted to just quit, because you can’t take it any longer. And you begin to believe a new start will fix everything. “I just need to get this over with so I can get on with my life.” However, the truth is you can’t quit even if you do, because it’s bigger than you. It’s your whole family.

The reality is we are all sinners. Even our best efforts are filthy (Romans 3). If we were not sinners, marriage would be easy. But we are sinners, and because of our sin every single marriage is incompatible. But God is ready to forgive our sin and send us the Holy Spirit. His Spirit will slowly give us more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control (Galatians 5). The Spirit gives us hope. And hope makes marriage worth fighting for.

May my mom’s story bring you courage to pray and wait upon the Lord. The days might be long for a season, but at some point God will restore what the locusts have eaten and make beauty from ashes. Perhaps that beauty might be the sweet marriages that raise your grandchildren. And sweeter still, is cementing in your children a trust in God that He is faithful, so that they might follow Him all of their days. And in His grace, may your whole family enjoy His indescribable goodness for all eternity.

May my parents 50 years of marriage give you 50 reasons to keep fighting!

Happy Mother’s Day mom, I love you!

PS Sometimes we need help in our struggle. Sometimes we need help before the struggle. Either way, I strongly recommend Dr. Rod West (Friendship Baptist Church’s pastor). My wife and I have met with him as we navigated an issue outside of our family in the past. He was a huge blessing. https://christcenteredsolutions.org/

PSS Great Andrew Peterson song that deals directly with marriage. Awesome!