This may come as a surprise to some, but yes, even Christian marriages struggle.
If you are a Christian and have ever felt disappointed, frustrated, or even angry with your husband, you are not alone. You may not know what to do or where to turn.
I can relate, because I have been there. As a pastor’s wife, I remember feeling somewhat stuck, not knowing what to do when my marriage was struggling.
The first thing you should know is that it is totally normal for Christian couples to struggle.
Christians are not perfect, nor do they suddenly become relationship experts when they follow Christ. So if you are in a difficult marriage, you don’t have to give up or feel like you are totally alone.
The second thing to do is to consider some of the reasons why your marriage might be struggling.
HERE’S 6 REASONS WHY CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES STRUGGLE:
1. Communication Challenges
Communication is a huge challenge in marriage, whether or not you are a Christian.
It seems as though this topic comes up almost daily when I talk with people about marriage. Communication has definitely been one of the biggest difficulties in my own marriage.
There’s a few key factors at play here, I believe. One is the fact that men & women communicate differently. There has been tons of research done on how we communicate, and the majority points to a fundamental difference between men and women.
Clearly, there are many exceptions, and each couple may have their own set of communication challenges. But in general, it is commonly understood that:
- Men talk less than women
- Women tend to be more emotional in how they communicate
- Men sometimes have trouble doing more than one thing at a time (i.e. have a conversation and do anything else), where as women can be cooking dinner, having a conversation, and putting on make up at the same time (okay maybe the last part isn’t a good idea)
- Men can more easily forget what was discussed
- Women can hold onto a conversation for months, if not years, especially if there were emotions involved
When we consider these issues, it is no wonder that we have communication challenges, even in Christian marriages.
As I said before, when you are a follower of Christ, it doesn’t make you magically able to understand the opposite sex more easily. It doesn’t remove the normal human tendencies that God created us to have.Being a Christian doesn't make you magically able to understand your spouse. Click To Tweet
However, what it does do is tell us what we should be aiming for, and what God can help us with in our marriage: for example, being quick to listen and slow to speak; having patience; and being kind in our words.
2. Lack of Vulnerability
Among Christian circles, I have seen the lack of vulnerability be a major culprit in marriage challenges.
What do I mean by this? Well, there seems to be a hesitancy to share when we are struggling in our marriage, for fear of being judged by others.
In some circles, it is common for men and women to openly complain about their spouse – which is not exactly healthy. But at least they are not pretending things are great when they are not.
But within Christianity, more often I see a trend towards the opposite: acting like things are totally great, when actually things are falling apart.
Sometimes we are unwilling to be vulnerable with others in our circle – even good friends – because we don’t know what their reaction will be.
We also sometimes think that since we are Christians, we should have this marriage thing figured out.
We believe that we shouldn’t be struggling, therefore we don’t ask for help when we need it. This is a major mistake and a big reason why Christian marriages struggle.
If you haven’t already stopped reading, thank you! But I might make you upset with this next point. I believe pride is another significant reason why Christian marriages struggle.
Why do we fear what other people think? Because we are proud! We don’t want to be looked on as weak or unable to keep our marriage together.Pride holds many Christians back from having a great marriage. Click To Tweet
Going to get help for a medical issue is one thing – but going to counseling for marriage? That’s a whole other level of humility.
Reaching out to others means recognizing that no, we can’t do this thing on our own. We’re not perfect, and we need help.
In a sermon my husband preached recently about Jonah, he shared this point, and I think it’s a good reminder. He said, “Humility is God’s favorite attribute”.
Yes, pride keeps many of us from having a great marriage. Instead, we refuse to seek help – either from God or from others – because we feel like we should have it all together as Christians.
Unforgiveness is another reason why Christian marriages struggle. The Bible is really clear about the need to forgive. Yet, so often in our marriages, we refuse to do this. We cling to our rights instead of forgiving our spouse for their wrong.
Certainly this has been an issue in my marriage. There have been times when my husband has hurt me, and I have struggled to forgive him. I have thrown myself a pity party for what he did, and wallowed in my anger about the situation.
But this is actually not what God calls us to do.
God tells us to forgive, and this goes against most of what the world around us expects.
The good news is this: when there is forgiveness, healing can take place. And you can choose to move forward with forgiveness at any point in time. Just because you’ve been stuck in unforgiveness does not mean that you have to stay there.When there is forgiveness, healing can take place. Click To Tweet
Look, I realize that there are things that can happen in marriage that seem unforgivable. Infidelity, for one, produces incredible pain and broken trust.
There’s also things like addiction, pornography, and gambling that can cause great harm to a marriage relationship. And Christians are certainly not exempt from these challenges.
Most of the world around us would either A) think that those issues are not a problem or B) think that you have every right to end the marriage due to them.
I believe, however, that God’s ways are better than man’s ways. And when forgiveness can happen, restoration and healing can take place.
5. Lack of Investment
Another factor that can affect our marriages as Christians is a lack of investment.
Sometimes we think that because we are Christians, and because we go to church and perhaps read our Bible and pray, that we shouldn’t have to do anything more to invest in our marriage. Basically, we should be “all good” if we are simply following Jesus and seeking His will.
But here’s the thing: marriage is like artwork.
Creating something beautiful doesn’t just happen. You can’t just throw a piece of paper on the ground, and pour two paint colors on it, and expect it to look great.It takes investment and effort to create a marriage you love. Click To Tweet
As Christians, we have an edge on the rest of the world. We have the Holy Spirit living in us, and He can help make our marriage great. But it still takes effort on our part.
Being a Christian is not like having a genie that gives us everything we want with a few rubs on the outside of a bottle.
It’s more like having a farm with top of the line fertilizer. You can’t just expect that because you have the fertilizer, your garden is going to grow.
You still have to put in the effort of tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering, and wedding. But adding that fertilizer will help produce an even better crop than if you didn’t have it at all.
I believe we as Christians can have GREAT marriages, but we still need to work at it.
6. Expecting Your Spouse to Change
This is a major culprit for why Christian marriages struggle, including my own. For many years, I expected my husband to change. I did not think I needed to change (there’s that pride thing again).
Instead, I thought that if my husband would just change his ways, then I would be happy, and our marriage would be great. I didn’t realize that ultimately, the only person I could control was me. The only actions I was able to change were my own.
In Christian marriages, we often look to our spouse to make the changes. Sometimes I think we use the excuse of “my husband should be the spiritual leader” to avoid putting in the effort to make changes in ourselves.
Or, we feel like we have already worked hard enough ourselves, and we are tired of waiting for our husband to reciprocate. So we decide we’re not going to try any more unless he puts in more effort himself.
This is not a good place to be. If you are expecting and waiting for your spouse to change, your marriage is going to continue to struggle.If you are waiting for your spouse to change, your marriage is going to continue to struggle. Click To Tweet
BUT WAIT, THERE’S HOPE:
Okay, perhaps the 6 reasons Christian marriages struggle discouraged you. But here’s the good news: just because you’ve had struggles in your marriage does not make you a bad person.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have enough faith, or that you are a weak Christian. No, it just means you are human. The question really is – how are you responding to the struggles?
Are you finding yourself stuck in one of the 6 reasons above?
If so, I’d like to invite you to join my free Better Attitude Marriage Challenge!
Recognizing your marriage is struggling is half the battle. Once you can accept that you need some help, you are well on your way to making changes and improving your marriage!