Want to Run from Marriage? Here are 3 Reasons Why You Can Stay

My husband and I at our friends' wedding,
reminiscing our own 'l do's'.
Last Sunday, I sang in a wedding. I sang the song which I took a dislike on while in college and boys would sing it to me while I passed by-- "We'll build a house, Zernah Faith..." just to tease me. Yeah, you must have heard of that song, Household of Faith. (If not, here's my little sis and her husband on their wedding day singing so divinely.) It's a beautiful wedding song for couples and today, just as last Sunday, I feel blessed for the privilege of singing it for my friends who are starting their lives as husband and wife together. I pray for them many perfect moments with the Lord, as they grow together in love.

But weddings don't tell us the real score in marriage. Weddings look so heavenly; marriage is hard. Weddings are filled with fun, tender moments; marriage with mundane, challenging and lonely times.

And yet, marriage is wonderful. It is one of the most wonderful gifts of God. It gets so much out of us and gives us back the deepest and fullest there is in this life that, we, humans could ever know. 

Having a spouse is a blessing. Didn't the scriptures say so? (Look up Proverbs 18:22). It is so sad, though, that many don't feel happy with their spouses and are ready to put on their running shoes and call their marriage quits.

Years ago, even a few months ago, giving up on my marriage would have never crossed my mind. But the conflicts at the home front had intensified, and then grown cold, that I felt so helpless and hopeless. I thought, wouldn't it be easier to simply give up? Why am I still here?

I was ready to put on my running shoes, well, actually, any shoes as long as it gets me far, far, far away. But like the many times in my life, even if I've been to places, the farthest I got was at Jesus' feet. I couldn't help but be on my knees groaning my heart out to Him with all it's ugly, sad contents. Maybe, just maybe, one more prayer would help? Not that I haven't prayed enough for my husband and I, our marriage and family. But, my, was I desperate!

So this time, while mentally at the door ready to bolt, I slowed down, unlaced my running shoes and put on my praying gloves. I cried my heart out to God. I know it wouldn't be fair to ask, 'Why me?' when so many women, and men, go through the same agony of struggling in their marriages, scared of seeing it break to pieces, but yet wanting the hurt of a ripped heart come to an end. So I asked, "Now what, Lord? What can YOU do for us? We are hurting. We need you." I must have screamed the last part in my mind, so great was my anguish.

These problems do not come overnight. They build up in countless moments when spouses disregard each other's interests, ignore each other's efforts, neglect each other's needs and withdraw from each other. As one friend said, "I've never felt so alone in my life than I am now, " and she had just been married  for a year when she said that! When this is true in a marriage, why stay? So many have strayed, so many have left. Why stay?

Why Caleb stayed...

Let me tell you Caleb's story (Numbers 13, 14). He was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to search out the land of Canaan as instructed by God. When the spies came back, Caleb found himself on the opposite side of popular opinion. He was so unpopular that the people even wanted to get rid of him by stoning him. God intervened and alluded Caleb for standing on the truth-- we, God and us, can! But for the rest of Caleb's people, the Israelites, God didn't allow those in his generation to enter the Promised Land.

Caleb could have gone ahead. But he stayed. He stayed with God and His faulty people. What was his reason to stay? I don't know. All I know is he stayed and allowed God to work for him and in him.

Here's why we, too, can stay.

1. Stay with God. You can run, but there's a better way-- run to Jesus. I was born a rebel at heart. I find it so hard to conform, except to my own yardstick. My poor parents had a hard time bringing me up from the time I was conceived, to the time I was born, to my toddler years and onwards. It was a constant butting of heads over what I wanted and what they thought was right. My parents were good Christians and wanted only the best for me. But I wanted to know for myself what was best for me. And so one day, I came to the decision to do my own thing. I decided to leave without telling them about my decision. I couldn't allow them to dissuade me. Fortunately for me, I decided to become a missionary. And every time I find myself in a desperate situation, gasping for breath, not knowing what to do but wanting so much to simply run, I go to Jesus.

Caleb stayed when he could have left on his own and claim God's promise for His people. But he didn't. He stayed. He knew how imperfect his people were, but he stayed. He stayed knowing God was with Him.

2. Stay true to your calling (as a wife and/or as a mother). The first part of 1 Corinthians chapter 7 talks about marriage, and urges people to stay in their calling: if single, single; if married, to stay married. It is not a commandment, but a strong suggestion to live as we are called. "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" (v. 20).

Caleb stayed true to his calling and taught the next generation to live boldly for God, preparing them for the Promised Land. Is it wrong to stay for the sake of the children? Is there a more better alternative than to live with the children you love and the husband/wife you vowed to love? If anything, there is no better way to do life than with them.

Maya Angelou wrote: "If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning Good Morning at total strangers." Give the best of your life to the people within your sphere and in so doing, glorify God.

Caleb helped educate the next generation and got to see them enter the Promised Land. In fact, his son-in-law became the first judge of Israel at the time when they had no human king and God was their king. What a sense of fulfillment Caleb must have felt to see all that happen! He must have been glad he stayed.

3. Stay because God is faithful. Whatever good we do here on earth stems from the Source of all goodness. God alone is good (Mark 10:18). We can stay in our imperfect marriages because God is faithful to His promises to us. In marriage, He is perfecting us. The apostle Paul was so sure of this. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6)

And whatever bad (mistakes or intentional deeds) we have done in our marriage can be forgiven. God faithfully forgives as we forgive. Move on. Move forward. "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14), Paul said despite going through all kinds of hardships. And we can do that, too, despite marriage being hard- with us being so hard to forgive and so unforgiving. We can with God.

I wrote a song for my husband's and my wedding and I especially love this part--- "This vow I take God is faithful to help me keep, as He keeps us by His side. Until the day we'll be with Him together in the sky." Yes, God is faithful. He will help us keep our promise, just as He wants to keep us by His side.

In the latter part, when Caleb and his people were receiving their inheritance of the Promised Land, he took on the challenge of taking an area called Hebron, which was inhabited by giants. Time and physical changes didn't diminish his trust in God. Marriage, I believe, is bigger than the giants Caleb took on the job of chasing. Let us not allow time, physical and emotional deficiency to erode our trust in God. Don't trust feelings, trust God.

Even if...

In our struggles in our marriage, I know God has a purpose for it all. I'm staying to see what He has up in His sleeve and what would happen. I don't want to wonder with the question 'what if'. In my prayers for my marriage, I want to say 'even if', just as those three Hebrew men told Nebuchadnezzar the king, even with the threat of a fiery death. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But (even) if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16, 17, 18).

I'm staying with God even if I go through the fiery trial of my imperfect marriage. I'm staying for I know Him to be faithful. I will keep on serving Him and the people within my sphere even if He won't save me from my marriage, for I know that He saves me.

Who knows if God is using our marriage as the tool to shape us up into the bride that we will be when we meet Him as our Bridegroom.

As I hope and pray for my friends' marriage, I also hope and pray for God to keep both my husband and I by His side. And if we have been neglectful in building a 'household of faith', now is the time to do so. Not because our tenth anniversary is coming up, but because it's the only house that will withstand the storms in this life. I know it's never too late to build once again this marriage on the sure foundation of Jesus. With faith, I am hoping for my husband and I to keep growing together in love. God with us, we are able. We can stay.

Here are some verses to encourage us to withstand the fiery trials in marriage...

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

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