Healing Sick Marriages

by Allen Dvorak
via Gospel Power, Vol. 14, No. 33, Aug. 19, 2007

Any marriage which lasts for very long will experience some rough times. If the physical attraction which dominates the engagement period and the beginning of marriage for many couples is not accompanied by an abiding love, the relationship is on shaky ground. The passion which characterized the beginning of the marriage is often cooled by the character flaws which one spouse discovers in the other. It doesn't take long for such a marriage to become "sick," i.e., in danger of dying form its own weakness.

It is a good thing that Americans are not as quick to give up on family members who are physically sick as they seem to be on "sick" marriages. Nursing an ailing marriage back to good health is much harder than just putting it to death by means of a divorce. Divorce is readily attainable and one can put the stress and difficulties of a tempestuous or unfulfilling marriage behind him faster than he can identify the true problems and work to solve them. Divine regulations regarding marriage and divorce are often ignored because they point in a direction which the spouses do not want to go!

Sometimes there just isn't anything we can do to keep a sick family member from dying. Nevertheless, we will still try whatever treatment is possible or advised, grasping at the smallest hope of recovery. Believe it or not, there is no such thing as a "terminal" marriage, even in cases of adultery! Even "seriously sick" marriages can be healed, but, like serious physical sickness, the recovery process can be long and difficult.

For an ailing marriage to recover, both spouses must be willing to work toward that end. Many marriages die because one or both spouses simply give up on the relationship. It is the definition of frustration and pain for one person to seek to save a marriage while the other spouse is deliberately working to end it. Perhaps the first step in the healing process is for both spouses to decide that the marriage is worth saving.

In order for a doctor to effectively administer treatment to a patient, he must determine the patient's ailment. It is almost impossible to help a troubled marriage without a clear identification of the problem(s). "We just can't get along" is usually not a diagnosis of the problem, but merely a symptom. Naturally the causes of sick marriages vary, but selfishness is usually at the foundation of most marriage problems. One spouse wants his or her way about something (everything?) and stubbornly refuses to give any ground even in areas in which no moral compromise is involved. Note the company in which the apostle Paul places "selfish ambition"; "For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;" (II Corinthians 12:20). Describe any marriages you know?