If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).
The dating couple can break up and go on to their next relationship. Vocational relationships are similar. If you don’t like your boss or the environment you work in, you can move on to the next thing. Marriage is different. Though it’s easy to get into these relationships, there is no acceptable escape plan other than death (Matthew 19:8). Sadly, too many couples ignore their hearts’ hardness and create another goal; it’s called divorce.
By the time two people enter a dating relationship, they come together with their special, unique baggage: fallen shaping influences given to them by Adam, others, and their poor personal choices. After you mix their baggage with the other’s, there is no way to avoid sinful combustion in the home. The implication is that we are sinners. We not only came from our respective mothers’ wombs speaking lies (Psalm 58:3), but we created a whole lot of baggage before we met our spouses. Some of this baggage was our doing, while other people heaped the rest of it upon us. Either way, we come together with our spouses with an eclectic mix of struggles, temptations, quirks, and flaws.
Perhaps you did not perceive all the issues during your dating relationship. Maybe your pre-marriage counseling was inadequate. Too often, there is no one with the courage, grace, wisdom, or competence to speak into the lives of engaged couples. To tell the truth, you were “in love,” so there was very little anyone could say to you anyway, right? You left your baggage at the dating door and didn’t pick it up again until you were six months into your marriage. If you have been a wise and humble couple, you have sought help for your marriage because you know the best sanctification happens in a community.
Sometimes couples do not seek help soon enough, and after being married for more than a decade, they cannot keep their problems under wraps. Their marriage problems begin to escape their ability to keep them quiet. As the couple’s nest is emptying because their children become older, they are still without a sin plan. The children are no longer a distraction, and the struggling couple has to decide between four options.
My appeal to any couple in trouble, regardless of their marriage length, is to get help. God’s grace is more significant than your problems, no matter how complex you think your issues are. The Bible has a lot to say about working through conflict. There is a plan for sin, and it begins with the gospel. The only requirement is humility (James 4:6). Though you may have started on the wrong foot, it does not mean you have to stay that way. God came to redeem and restore what you cannot fix. Redeeming broken things is at the heart of the gospel. I appeal to you to get help today!
Write out a specific and practical plan based on your reflections.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).