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In my decision-making article, I ask what the most critical question you can ask when making a decision is. The answer to that question is, “Are you in faith to move forward with your decision?” This video explains the concept.
Many times in my counseling career, folks came to me questioning whether they made the right decision when they got married. They thought they were in love. They believed it was the right thing to do. They were “in faith,” so they got married. But things have gone awry, and their “faith for the marriage” is now languishing.
At other times, there have been situations where two people were married, but they did not have the best motives for getting married. Now, fifteen years later, they are convinced they made a wrong decision on their wedding day, so the dissatisfied couple is asking why they should stay married.
The first couple did not know all that they wished they had known, and the other couple “knew better” but chose not to respond the right way to what they “sensed in their spirits.” These questions are more common than you might imagine. Typically when you fully unpack the above scenarios, two primary issues come into view.
There is no way to know God’s will with absolute certainty when you look into your future. God does not give us all of the future information about our lives. James 4:13-15 teaches us to say that if it is the Lord’s will, we shall do this or that. Therefore, the best we can do is move forward by faith.
Where you land on my two questions will determine how you respond when the going gets tough for you. It is not unusual to get into a “future situation” only to find that the circumstances have taken a turn for the worse (Matthew 14:30). In fact, you can guarantee that part of your future will be disappointing (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).
The story of Joseph in the Old Testament is a sober reminder of a person who experienced a future strewn with difficulty. But Joseph had enough “sovereign clarity” to understand that in the mysteries of God, the Lord was working a plan for the good of many (Genesis 50:20). His faith was in God rather than knowing all the details of the outcome.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
In some marriage situations, the marriage has gone wrong, though the person thought it was a good idea in the beginning. In other cases, there is the person who was never in true faith to get married, but did it anyway and is now contemplating ending the marriage. In either case, God speaks to these bad marriages in two clear ways.
Option #1 – Ultimately, you cannot do anything outside of God’s decreed will. God could stop you if He wanted to do so. We may make our plans, but God is the one who orders our steps (Proverbs 16:9). And if He permits “your steps,” even though they take you to some difficult places, the Lord will be there before you arrive (Exodus 1:5).
Even when we mess up, the glory of God will shine through our finite and imperfect planning. Most certainly, it is not all about us. God can “use sin sinlessly,” and even though your choice to marry may not have been the best decision, God still guides, either by allowing, hindering, or stopping the covenant.
And since He did not stop your covenant relationship with your spouse and you are married, now it’s time for you to trust Him and His purposes for your life, rather than seeking to end what He has permitted.
Option #2 – God only gives three clear ways to end a marriage: death, adultery, and abandonment. These sad circumstances do not mean that you should dissolve your union, even though in the case of adultery or desertion, it is a biblical option. See Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7.
Let your next decision be to trust God. Rest in him. He is perfectly working even when you are not correctly doing things. Whether you had the “right faith or no faith for your marriage” is not a biblical option for you to end your marriage. He is calling you to trust Him now, even though you may not have done that as well as you could have when you married.
Somebody, somehow, and at some level, is being selfish in the marriage. It is probably both people, though one can be more so than the other. If the desire to get married were a selfish one, it would not be a surprise that the motive for divorce is (to some degree) selfish as well. The better approach would be to first work on the issues related to selfishness rather than looking for an “escape clause” to get out of the marriage.
Doing things the way you want to do them may be the reason you’re married, but you don’t want to make that mistake a second time by doing what you want to because things are hard for you. If your motives are not entirely pure at this point, divorce will not rectify the real problem.
My recommendation would be to get some help for yourself and fight for your marriage. Your wisdom may be finite, and you’re not entirely comfortable with where you are in your covenant or who you have married, but let me urge you to rest in the One who is not finite and He can lead where you are blind.
Though it may seem this marriage was “meant for evil,” I can tell you that God means it for good. Honor your covenant. It will take some work to get there, but it is worth it. And be sure to find competent, biblical help because you’re too subjective now. You need people who are outside of your marriage to help you practically.
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).