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.
[bctt tweet=”Being a Christian doesn’t make you magically able to understand your spouse.”]
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.
[bctt tweet=”Pride holds many Christians back from having a great marriage.”]
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.
[bctt tweet= “When there is forgiveness, healing can take place.”]
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.
No, if you want your marriage to be great, you cannot ignore it. It takes investment and effort to create a marriage you love, just like a work of art.
[bctt tweet= “It takes investment and effort to create a marriage you love.”]
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.
[bctt tweet=”If you are waiting for your spouse to change, your marriage is going to continue to struggle.”]
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!
Enter your info below to join the challenge.
What a great post! I think one of the challenges in my marriage is communication. I mean we communicate well, but sometimes we fail in this area.
Yes, that absolutely seems to be a challenge for most couples at some point or another. Thanks for stopping by, Valerie!
Hang in there
For some reason the world thinks we are perfect because we are Christians.
Men and women communicate totally different. We men are always looking for solutions. While women are passionate and detailed.
I must admit pride gets in my way a lot.
That’s why I love what your husband said. Tell him that’s my new saying now.
And I will keep it in my heart.
Thanks so much, Vernon! You are right about the communication differences 🙂 I will pass on your thoughts to my husband, too!
What if you are a Christian in the marriage but your husband isn’t? Mine was baptized as a young man but follows no practices now. He won’t go to church with me and our son and he smokes, dips and drinks too much. I’m worried he’s going to be a bad influence on our children, I don’t feel like I can NOT expect him to change. What do I do in that situation?
Hi Dana, that is a really tough situation. I would say prayer is the number one thing to do, as well as seeking some wise counsel. If you have a pastor’s wife or mentor, reach out and get support. If your husband is practicing unsafe or unhealthy behaviors, you may need to deal with that in a more specific way than I can speak to on this blog. I would also highly recommend counseling if he’s willing to go, and if not, then I would recommend it at least for you.
I really liked this. I feel judged when we are not perfect. Thanks.
That is so hard Amy! I am glad this encouraged you.
Yessss so much of all of this!! I feel like pride, unforgiveness, and expecting your spouse to change are probably the biggest. And the beauty of those three points is that you don’t need your spouse to do anything different for YOU to make the change you need in your marriage. I always marvel at how minuscule my husband’s flaws become once I take a cold, hard look at my own, with the willingness to humble myself before God and submit my spirit to Him.
You are so right, Isa. It’s amazing what happens when we turn our efforts towards changing ourselves instead of our spouse!
Pride and unforgiveness are definitely huge elements in disagreements that Christians are not exempt from. But being able to put aside prejudices and working on vanquishing grudges can do a lot for a relationship. Thanks for sharing!
The major one that hinders marriage is communication matter.Thanks for sharing to us
I am a leader in my church and my marriage is falling apart. I’ve sought counsel from my pastors but that didn’t go down so well, my husband instead became very hard hearted towards me and our marriage just got worse. Communication has broken down completely to the point that we only have small talk. If I try raise my issues he says for as long as I don’t obey Him things will not change. He doesn’t acknowledge his part in the breakdown of the marriage and I basically do whatever he wants but still that isn’t enough. I’ve tried talking to my pastors wife but I’ve realised that the season that our church is, people are very busy to attend to my issues. I feel so hopeless, I’ve even stopped leading at cells and serving because I’m so broken. I don’t know what to do anymore. For some reason I thought getting counsel from older Christians would solve our problems but it hasn’t been so. My husband and I have grown apart, he’s even threatened to kick me out. So now I just oblige hoping that this will make him happy and not so angry. But I am dying on the inside.
Oh friend, I am so so sorry to hear about the pain you are dealing with in your marriage. I pray that you can get the support and help you need. Don’t give up – there is hope!
Dear Sister in Christ, very sorry for the pain you have experienced. Prayed a special prayer for you, your husband, and your marriage. May God comfort, strengthen, and give you wisdom, as well, providing the support you need. Praying this trial does not crush your spirit, but builds you in your faith and capacity to love like our Heavenly Father – as hard as it may seem. Love, don’t give up …as said. There is hope! Psalm 23; James 1:1-7 – May these bible scriptures encourage your spirit. Blessings!
Many are the plans in the mind of man but it only the purpose that will stand l have dealt in this thing as well but just know the joy of the lord will strengthen you first we must bind up the strong man Matthew 3:25 speaks and the spirits that eps. 6:12 speaks of then pray the scriptures over your marriage daily on purpose even when you don’t feel like it on purpose we must give up to Christ even in our own self will giving thanks in all things l ask the lord to cover you both in the blood of Jesus and watch him do only what he can do, go ahead and rejoice Ms. Perfect because he will be the both of your rewarder…..
I thank God I found this page where Christians are vocal and speak about their situations.. I went through it all, you name anything,.abuse, extra marital affairs,kids outside of marriage, drunkenness and a lot more. I thank God about the spirit of conviction in me that kept on encouraging me not to quit.Funny, I hated reading scriptures that tell me of God revenging on my behalf. I prayed for salvation of those who persecuted me.. I always try to counsel those who go through it, but marriage approach has so shifted that I can t site my examples. Humility with the mind of victory is a sure and working virtue.. One thing sure you are a laughing stock, you look ematiated and not attractive at the time BUT believe me, VICTORY IS VERY CERTAIN..I m a witness living like a queen now.
I would like the five day trial, if it still an option. Is their a book that can help me as a man with my marriage.
I have updated the post to include the form where you can sign up for the challenge.
Is it possible to get your Better Attitude Marriage Challenge email for me and my wife
Hi Ron, I have updated the post to include the form to sign up for the challenge.
I would like the Marriage challenge to send to a family member.
Hi there, you should see the form to join at the bottom of the blog post. Feel free to share this post with them (please don’t subscribe them without their knowledge).
I read a book called Communication Sex and Money by Ed Cole many years ago. Great advice in those pages. Sadly my husband won’t read gems like that and now 37yrs of marriage and lots of struggles our marriage is a huge mess. There’s so many complexities in our situation it just seems hopeless. We are nearing retirement with still a mountain of debt which he won’t talk about or plan for. Our old age looks very bleak. No communication, intimacy or financial stability. He works away and comes home on weekends which now I dread. Monday is a relief as the weekends are either depleted or toxic.