We know that bringing up the topic of marriage touches on some of the most wonderful and most difficult aspects of life. We asked a few trusted friends throughout our ministry network to give perspective on some common questions.
Life Action Ministries Board of Directors
I’m afraid my work responsibilities are starting to overshadow our marriage relationship. What should I do?
The balance between work and family is truly a walk of faith. When we choose to confront our time allocation and realize that we may be out of balance and need to spend more time with our family, it requires faith that God will be our provider—either by giving favor when we speak with our boss, or by bringing in business if we are self-employed.
Here are some practical steps to consider:
- Recognize that this is something every person who cares about priorities will face. The struggle isn’t unique to you.
- Pray about the situation with your spouse.
- Seek counsel from godly mentors, and meditate on Scriptures like Psalm 127:2; Proverbs 3:5-6; 10:22; 14:26.
- Craft a plan that will show your employer you can continue to deliver on your job, but you need to bring some better balance to your family. Craft a second plan with your spouse for how you will effectively use the time to invest in the family.
- Share your plan with your employer. Be humble and respectful. Take the same approach Daniel took in approaching his “boss” in Daniel 1:8-17.
A book I’ve personally found helpful is Choosing to Cheat, by Andy Stanley.
Life Action Road Team
How do I keep loving my spouse when my needs are not even on his/her radar?
When I don’t feel like my husband is aware of my needs, I begin to dry up on the inside and get irritable and full of self-pity. That’s when God brings me to Philippians 2:3-4, over and over again:
Do nothing from selfish ambition [rivalry] or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
God brings me to the place of taking my needs to Him to be met. These verses are what God wants me to focus on instead of my own desires. So, I ask God for wisdom regarding how to count my husband’s needs as a higher priority than mine. I ask myself, “What are his interests, and how would God have me join him in those?”
I remember one time when I was feeling neglected and not hopeful about this dynamic changing in our marriage. I read these verses and asked the Lord, “How I can live this out right now?”
That’s when I learned that a major tennis tournament was going on, and I knew this was of great interest to my husband. I felt like the Lord wanted me to sit down with him during this tournament and join him in his interest. I did my best to ask questions about the different players and about what was happening.
Needless to say, my husband loved it, and we had a great time! I even found I began to enjoy doing this with him, and I especially enjoyed his enthusiasm for me being with him. This began a journey we probably had shared while dating and first married but that I had neglected over our married life and needed to recapture.
Ambassador for Revive Our Hearts
Why should I keep going when I feel like giving up?
Marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman. It is unlike any other relationship on earth, and it is of such immeasurable value that it would be foolish not to fight for it.
However, the reason to fight for your marriage goes beyond even that.
God, the Creator of the universe, chose to give us a tangible picture, through marriage, of His relationship to and deep love for His bride, the church. When I choose to fight for my marriage and do everything I can to protect and nurture it, I am doing my part in preserving and putting on display God’s intimate, awe-inspiring relationship with the church.
Knowing I have the opportunity and responsibility to affect God’s reputation on this planet motivates me to not give up in my marriage relationship. When things get tough, I ask myself, “Will my response to this situation point others to Christ?”
Senior Editor, Revive
Our personalities are so different, and we don’t share the same interests. What should we do?
Dennis Rainey popularized the image of marriage as a spinning top. Over time, the gravity of life takes its toll. While paying bills, doing laundry, and raising children, our marriages have to keep on spinning. But without intentional efforts to recharge the relationship, every marriage will begin to wobble.
One of the best ways to re-energize a marriage is to find something to enjoy together. A friend even once reflected that his dog had saved his marriage. The time spent every evening walking the dog together for twenty minutes provided a rhythm of relaxed conversation that was vital.
But be warned—finding something you both enjoy can be more difficult than it sounds. One couple I know bought a double-seated kayak, only to find that two people trying to steer one boat was not going to work in their marriage! Instead of giving up, they bought two single-seated kayaks and discovered that paddling side by side was actually fun.
So get out there and walk the dog or buy your own kayak. Something simple or even silly like that might save your marriage!
Life Action Camp
We’ve hit a rough patch with our children, and it’s taking a toll on our marriage. How can we maintain unity?
Make sure your children know that your marriage is more important than they are. Dad, flat out tell them, “Mom is my favorite. You will leave home in a few years, but Mom and I are together for life.” Unity, or oneness, is a biblical descriptor of marriage, not family.
Only after husband and wife agree to be a team can they effectively enter their role as parents. Dad and Mom, observe each child separately to see if there is indeed bad behavior. Rather than trying to correct the behavior, determine possible root causes, and find Scripture that addresses the deeper issues. Sharing Scripture with them is part of what it means to raise them in the admonition of the Lord. Remember, this responsibility falls to Dad first (Ephesians 6:4).
As parents, we have to release ourselves from the responsibility of “making” our children follow God. We can raise them in an environment that models a relationship with God (marriage is one of those models), but we cannot guarantee life change. There was a time in my life when I was actually a “rough patch” child in the household I grew up in, and my parents had to work with me to help me through that time. From that experience I would say this: When your children are old enough, be sure to let them know that one day they will stand before God without you. That was the message I needed to hear!
True Woman Movement
My husband keeps looking at porn. What should I do?
First, recognize that you’re not alone. Nearly 65% of Christian men say that they view porn at least once a month, often causing immense pain to their wives.* You are not alone. Don’t isolate yourself by hiding this sin in secrecy. Hiding sin—your own or someone else’s—only multiplies it. Case in point: While most men who attend church regularly are slightly less likely to look at porn than unchurched, men who self-identify as “fundamental” are 91% more likely to look at porn than unchurched men.*
Environments that tend to emphasize performance-based faith and leave no room for honest confession … increase the risk. Don’t let your marriage become that kind of place! Drag this sin out into the light. James 5:16 says we should “confess your sins to one another … that you may be healed.” This is your first step in winning the battle with porn. You and your husband need to talk to someone you trust, and ask for help.
Second, be careful with your husband’s heart and reputation while you seek the help you need. Even though your heart is hurting, you need to be tender with his. He is likely filled with shame, which could present as anger or withdrawal. Getting help will likely be hard for him.
But dragging sin into the light doesn’t mean you drag your husband’s name through the mud, or control his every thought and move. Be respectful, but make sure your own needs are carefully and confidently communicated. You need help and can’t do this alone. Ask him to go with you when you talk to someone, possibly selecting a couple you both trust so you both get the help you need. If he is unwilling, humbly tell him that you will be going to a woman you trust to get support for yourself.
Finally, as long as the situation has not become abusive or escalated to physical adultery, hang in there with your husband during this hard time. Try to have a perspective marked by grace. Give your husband the love and companionship he does not deserve right now.
God’s Word says in Titus 2 that His grace teaches us to say no to worldly passions and to live holy lives. Grace leaves room for God’s love to rush in to your husband’s heart. God’s Spirit—not yours—is the primary tool for conviction and training in righteousness. Be a tool of that grace, and believe that God can change your husband’s heart and life.
Life Action Camp
My spouse wants to have sex more than I do. What should I do?
Too busy, too tired, too sick, too angry, too afraid (of getting pregnant again or of pain), too hormonal, too insecure, too hurt … all are reasons, and in some cases excuses, that we give to avoid having sex with our spouse. We need to be careful here. Sexual intimacy is a small part (time-wise) of our marriage, but if that part is not right, it affects every other area of our relationship!
If you struggle with this—and many do—there are a few things you can do to get a healthy perspective on this area of your marriage.
- Speak truth to yourself. God made up the idea of sex in the first place. It wasn’t your spouse’s idea! And God made it beautiful. Sin has perverted and distorted this act of unity. Mark 10:8 says, “‘The two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.”
- Realize that the Enemy gets a foothold when we withhold ourselves from our spouse, no matter the reason. “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5). If I truly love my spouse, I will seek to meet their need in a physically intimate way.
- Seek godly counsel from a biblically minded mentor or pastor. If you are feeling overwhelmed with sexual sin from your past, then repent. God promises to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). God desires for you to walk in His grace so you can move forward in healing from hurtful sexual choices, whether made by you or by someone else, and into a place of abundant freedom, even in this area.
- Communicate with your spouse. Whether you are the one wanting to have more sex, or the one not wanting as much, communication is still the number one way to overcome the problem. The Enemy wants us to walk in isolation, but only further division results when this happens. Talk with and listen to each other.
- Pray about this, together and separately. Ask the Lord who created each of us to give insight and discernment into the ways we are responding. Ask Him to give deep understanding and a desire to meet each other’s needs, even if that means dying to your expectations in order to meet your mate’s needs.