Loving an Unrepentant Spouse

When an unfaithful spouse shows sincere repentance, the other spouse may decide to forgive and continue to love. But who would choose to love an unrepentant spouse?

Kim Pullen made that choice. And she’s glad she did!

I am pleased to introduce Kim Pullen to you today as a guest blogger on MannaForMarriage. Kim Pullen is an author, speaker, and teacher who advocates for healthy marriages. She helps spouses overcome the devastation of affairs and pornography by focusing on a dynamic, intimate relationship with God.

Thriving in a 26-year marriage that was once traumatized by adultery and a four-year separation, Kim shares hope and healing with spouses who feel isolated due to their partner’s sexual sin but don’t know how or where to begin their recovery journey.

———————————————————————-

6 Reasons to Love Your Unrepentant Spouse

If we look to movies or romance novels for a definition of love on which to model our marriage, we’ll quickly find ourselves confused, disappointed, and embittered. To Hollywood, love is a feeling. But that’s not real love.

Real love keeps a couple together when feelings wane and passion ebbs. It keeps them committed when the world crashes in and when their bodies age and fail. Real love satisfies a couple for decades. That’s because real love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice.

Getting Re-educated on Love

In 2011, I discovered my husband had multiple affairs during our 19-year marriage. I was shell-shocked. “I don’t love you anymore,” he said.

unrepentant

We separated—me to find answers, and my husband to pursue the world. That’s also when God, the author of love, began my re-education. The qualities of real love—truth, humility, patience, perseverance, boundaries, and repentance—became more than religious terms, and God challenged me to back up my commitment with faith and obedience.

After four years of prayer and practical application, my husband and I were reconciled. Our emotional intimacy grows daily and exponentially. It’s a marriage I never could have imagined.

Here are the six reasons why I want to encourage you to choose to love your unrepentant spouse even in the face of addiction and infidelity.

  1. We All Have Core Wounds

Every one of us had some kind of dysfunction in our childhood. Even if your parents were saints, they were still sinners like their parents before them. Where you have dysfunction, you have sin and pain. Where you have pain, you have a need to medicate.

My grandfather taught my father it was weak to show affection, so I grew up starved of the love and approval a daughter so desperately craves from her daddy. For my husband, emotional abandonment in his childhood came in the form of his parents’ ineffectual boundaries. Our parents weren’t “bad people”; they simply had core wounds from their childhood they passed on to us (Exodus 20:5-6).

Whether your spouse is a professing Christian or not, they have core wounds. In all likelihood, they are unconsciously using their sexual sin to medicate themselves from pain just like you may use food, entertainment, shopping, or control to medicate yours.

  1. We’re All Sinners

It’s hard not to think the way the world does about sin, that one crime or violation is worse than another. Our whole court system is based on it. Murder is more criminal than slander. Rape gets more shock and awe than a porn site, and embezzlement stirs up infinitely more rage than shoplifting. It’s all perspective.

But not to God. Romans 8:23 says we’ve all missed the mark or fallen short of God’s standard. Revelations 21:8 puts murder on the same level as unbelief, cowardice, and lying. Yes, there are different consequences and repercussions on this side of heaven, but it only took one of our sins for Jesus to have to go to the cross.

That doesn’t minimize our spouse’s betrayal. That particular pain is excruciating. You may fantasize about pouring coffee on his laptop, flushing his iPhone down the toilet, or even snipping off his man parts—

Uh, but there you go. You sinned according to Matthew 5:22 (anyone who is angry with another is subject to judgment). You have become just as guilty and deserving of punishment for putting Christ on the cross as your unfaithful spouse.

Sure, there’s righteous anger, but most of us aren’t angry with our spouse because they’ve disrespected God (John 2:14-16).

I know it doesn’t seem fair, but how fair was it for Jesus, an innocent man, to die for our sin? I worshiped people’s approval more than God’s, and I tried playing God in my husband’s life because I was terrified of rejection and abandonment. Bottom line: even though I professed undying devotion to God, who is the Lover of my soul, I betrayed Him as much as my husband betrayed me.

unrepentant

  1. We Made a Covenant with God

On my wedding day when I stood at the altar before my family and friends, God was there, too. I vowed to my husband, my loved ones, and God, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish” for the rest of my earthly life.

Our spouse’s infidelity? That’s the “worse.” Our spouse’s sexual addiction? That’s the “sickness.” My agreement to love and to cherish him didn’t include “as long as he loves and cherishes me back.”

Let’s be clear. We did not make a commitment to let our spouse treat us like a maid, a sex toy, or wall. Setting boundaries is also an act of love. God sets boundaries for us throughout Scripture so that we can stay in relationship with Him (1 John 1:5-10).

Calling your spouse to repent and return to their commitment to God and to you is the most loving thing you can do for them.

  1. Love Moves Them Toward Repentance

If your spouse has secret sin, you don’t have to be the one to expose it.

Let me say that again because this thought is hard to wrap our head around: if you’ve furtively tracked your spouse’s whereabouts via GPS, secretly scoured their phones for illicit messages, or privately poured over credit card statements looking for evidence of their betrayal, STOP!

God sees all of our sin and our spouse’s sin as if we’re doing it right in front of Him (Psalm 90:8). He can’t be fooled or mocked (Galatians 6:7-8).

Instead of getting angry or hiding, what would happen if you reacted to your spouse’s sin with God’s love and healthy boundaries? Paul told the Romans they could overcome others’ sin with kindness (Romans 12:17-21). Peter agreed, saying love overcomes sin (1 Peter 4:8).

How in the world can loving my spouse like Jesus lead them toward repentance (Romans 2:4)? Think about your response to Jesus’ love for you. You didn’t deserve his love and kindness, but he gave it anyway (Romans 5:6). And because he did, you repented.

  1. Jesus Set Us an Example

From the cross, Jesus expressed love and compassion for the people who were murdering him (Luke 23:34). It may seem impossible to love like this, but if Jesus did it, so can we. It ain’t easy, but it is possible because love is a choice, not a feeling.

When my husband chose adultery over me, I chose to believe that Jesus could move the mountain of sin off his heart (Matthew 17:20-21).

When it looked like my marriage was dead, I chose to follow Jesus’ example and claim God’s resurrection power to restore it just like Jesus believed his Father could raise him from the dead (Acts 2:24).

That’s because Jesus said if I have faith, nothing is impossible for me (Matthew 17:20). He also said if I stay connected to him through his Word, he’ll do anything I ask (John 15:7). Through the Apostle Paul, he said I could can do anything when I rely on him for my strength (Philippians 4:13).

  1. God Commands It

The last and most important reason I need to love my unrepentant spouse is quite simply because God commands it.

In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he turned Jewish tongues wagging when he flipped the Law on its head and told them they needed to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors (Matthew 5:44).

Why? Because it’s his hallmark and evidence to a sin-sick world that he’s real, and alive, and loves us desperately (John 13:34-35, 7:23). When we love like this, we are the most like Him (1 John 4:17).

For a girl that grew up desperately craving her daddy’s love and approval, how could I not respond to Him?

What Stops Us

What keeps us from loving our spouses when they aren’t repentant? Pride, fear, and unbelief.

Pride because we’ve forgotten we signed up to be a servant like Jesus (John 13:14-17).
Fear because we’re afraid of being rejected and abandoned (Deuteronomy 31:6Matthew 28:20).
And unbelief because we’ve forgotten how powerful our Creator is (Psalm 18).

Oh, and there’s one more: because it’s hard (Hebrews 12:7, 11). It’s hard to love with firm boundaries and respect. It takes supernatural fortitude to maintain a love that protects the truth and integrity of the commitment we made. It’s a love that sees not who we or who our spouses are, but who we can be.

Such a love is unstoppable (1 Corinthians 13:1-8).

——————————————————-

If you identify with Kim’s story, please visit her website, HopeForSpouses.com, or her Facebook page, Hope For Spouses. You may also contact Kim at kim@hopeforspouses.com.

Thank you, Kim!

Advertisements

The Gift of Delight

Does your spouse delight you? If not, what can you do about it?

We tend to think that our delight is our spouses’ responsibility. We sit around and wait for them to delight us. Perhaps we feel sorry for ourselves as we criticize them for not delighting us. But we have a far better option:

We can CHOOSE to delight in our spouses. 

If we will determine to enjoy our spouses, we will be giving the best gift ever!

delight

Delight is an essential part of a healthy marriage, but we often fail to express it. When the gift of delight is missing, husbands and wives can sometimes feel like Mark or Karen:

Mark knows that his wife is committed to him, but he doesn’t feel that she really enjoys being with him. Most of the time, he suspects that she is merely tolerating him. He is thankful for his marriage, but he often feels lonely. He is troubled by the thought that he is inadequate to make his wife happy.

Karen appreciates her husband’s commitment, but she fears that she can’t keep his interest. She often feels unknown and unvalued. At one time, she had hoped that her husband would see her as fascinating, but now she worries that he doesn’t see her at all.

What would happen if Mark’s wife began to show him that she enjoys his company? And if Karen could see that her husband delighted in her, wouldn’t that change everything? …

[Click HERE to read more of this article at StartMarriageRight.]

Blessings to you,
Tami

A Winner and a Webinar (3 Tips for Marriage)

Most successful couples practice this one skill. In fact, this skill is so important to a healthy relationship that the direction of a marriage can be predicted based on this skill alone. Do you know what that is?

Another practice is so powerful in marriage that couples who make this a habit have a divorce rate of less than one percent. Wow! Do you know what that habit is?

Webinar

Anyone can develop these skills and begin to use them immediately. In a webinar last week, Dr. Jessica McCleese and I discussed three tips that will transform any marriage. We used the acronym MAP to discuss those three practices.

You can watch the webinar replay HERE.

Jessica is a licensed psychologist who uses biblical principles to help couples improve their marriages. I very much enjoyed working with Jessica on the webinar, which she hosted through her website BeFullyWell.com. You can view the webinar on YouTube HERE.

Winner

Thank you to all who entered the drawing for the book giveaway this week. Congratulations, Ken!  Ken will be receiving a copy of Gary Chapman’s latest release.

chapman

As always, you are invited to join our weekly prayer time on Thursdays, or listen to the recordings HERE. If you would like us to pray for you by name, just let me know. We consider it a privilege to pray for marriages and families.

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

 

Encouragement for Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman

What can you do if your spouse is abusive … or depressed … or addicted? How do you live with someone who won’t communicate?

In his latest book, Dr. Gary Chapman tackles all of these difficult situations, and more. As he addresses each challenge, he offers strong encouragement and practical instruction.

This new release comes with a long title, Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away, as well as a long subtitle: Real Help for Desperate Hearts in Difficult Marriages. That’s okay, though, because the book is also long on encouragement. Its delivery is as good as its promise.

chapman

The core of this encouragement is the confidence “that there is hope for the hardest of marriages.” For spouses in struggling marriages, hope must be the starting place, as well as the refrain: “in every troubled marriage, one or both partners can take positive steps that have the potential for changing the emotional climate in a marriage” (17).

Reasons for Hope

Hope in a desperate marriage comes from four bedrock truths. When people accept these truths as reality, they become people of hope, and their marriages gain a platform for change, even transformation. Here are the four truths:

  1. You are not a victim of your circumstances. “Your environment may influence you, but it need not dictate or destroy your marriage and your life” (19).
  2. “People can and do change” (20).
  3. Misery or divorce are not the only options in difficult marriages (20).
  4. No marriage is completely “beyond hope” (21).

Dr. Chapman’s goal in Loving Your Spouse is to encourage husbands and wives to embrace “the positive actions that one individual can take to stimulate constructive change in a relationship” (24). Years ago, a friend shared this illustration with me:

Suppose that a husband and wife are back-to-back in conflict. We know that if both of them will turn around, then they can be face-to-face again. But what if only one is willing to move? Well, what if that one will walk around the other so that the two are again face-to-face?
One person can make the difference!

Dr. Chapman does not use that illustration, but he argues for that principle: “One person must always take the initiative. Perhaps that person will be you.” (38)

Realities to Live By

Dr. Chapman is careful to point out that we cannot change or control our spouses. However, we can choose our own attitudes, and each of us can influence others.  Loving Your Spouse outlines six realities which form the basis of a plan-of-action for every marriage. The final principle of “reality living” is this:

Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world. Meeting your spouse’s emotional need for love has the greatest potential for stimulating positive change in his or her behavior. Since love is our deepest emotional need, the person who meets that need will have the greatest influence on our lives. (231)

In the first part of Loving Your Spouse, Dr. Chapman discusses the reasons for hope, the basis for change, and the motivations that underlie misbehavior. He then identifies ten difficult situations and addresses each one specifically in a separate chapter:

  1. the irresponsible spouse
  2. the workaholic spouse
  3. the depressed spouse
  4. the controlling spouse
  5. the verbally abusive spouse
  6. the physically abusive spouse
  7. the sexually abused or sexually abusive spouse
  8. the uncommunicative spouse
  9. the unfaithful spouse
  10. the alcoholic or drug-abusing spouse

chapmanIn each of these focused chapters, Dr. Chapman shares real-life situations, gives specific counsel, and lists resources for further help. Loving Your Spouse is full of both encouragement and practical advice. Not only will this book be helpful to you as you apply the principles of “reality living” to your situation, but you also will be able to encourage others who are struggling with some of these specific marital challenges.

For You

A giveaway:  Moody Publishers is providing a complimentary copy of Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away. If you would like to enter the drawing to win this book, simply leave a comment on this post (or HERE) no later than April 17. I will notify the winner on April 18, and you will receive a paperback copy in the mail.

A webinar: You are invited to attend a webinar this Thursday evening, April 12, as Dr. Jessica McCleese and I discuss three terrific tools for building marriage. There is no charge, but to attend the live discussion, you will need to register at befullywell.com.  I will share the replay with you next week, God willing.

A prayer:  You have a standing invitation to join us each week as we pray for marriages and families. You can join us by phone or online every Thursday at 12:30 (Eastern), or you can always listen to the archives online. Let me know if you would like us to pray for you by name.

Blessings to you!
Tami

 

Singles and Marriage

Whether you are single or married, there are six important things to know about marriage.

We looked at the first three things last week, and today we will look at the remaining three:

#4. Marriage will not complete you.

Single people are not “halves” waiting for their other “halves” to join them. Two single people are two complete people. But after a man and a woman marry, God unites these two individuals as one married couple. Two people become one flesh and one team.

Christ is the only One who is able to fully satisfy us. Whether we are married or single, Christ is the Lover of our souls who knows us completely, loves us unconditionally, and cares for us perfectly.

#5. Marriage is not the cure for loneliness.

Singles struggle with loneliness, but so do married people. In fact, some people say that the loneliness they experienced within marriage was more intense than the loneliness they felt when single. [Click HERE to continue reading this article at Kristen Hogrefe’s website. ]

———————————————————-

Kristen is an excellent writer, specializing in young adult fiction; and I am privileged to guest-blog for her again today. She is also a great friend, and it was wonderful to see her last week at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

6 Truths for Singles about Marriage

 

Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?

If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage.

Here are six important things to know about marriage.

#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.

When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.

In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:

For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:5, NLT)

God will be our husband? What does that mean? [Continue reading this article HERE at KristenHogrefe.com. I appreciate Kristen’s heart for young adults and her strong commitment to biblical truth. Through her writing and speaking, “she challenges young adults and the young at heart to think truthfully and live daringly.” I recommend both her blog and her young-adult novels.]

 

7 Prayers for Your Marriage

One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to pray.

And one of the best ways to pray is to use the Scriptures as a guide.

That is because the secret to prayer—just like the secret to marriage—is unity. When two wills line up together, there is great power!

As we study the Bible, we learn the longings of God’s heart. As we allow God’s desires to become ours, we move into harmony with Him. Through this union, the Spirit of God works in awesome ways, restoring what has been damaged and creating new beauty.

Below are seven Scriptural prayers for your marriage, one for each day of the week. Perhaps you and your spouse would like to pray these verses together as you ask God to protect and strengthen your marriage. If your spouse isn’t interested in praying with you, don’t be discouraged—just keep praying!

Click HERE to read the 7 prayers at StartMarriageRight.com.

Blessings to you,
Tami