There Are NO Guarantees In Marriage

Kate says,

I think as humans we tend to grasp for guarantees!  We like things that feel concrete and definite. Especially when we have invested or are considering investing in something or someone.

Marriage is no different. When we get married, we are vowing to love our spouse through all that happens in our lives. We are not able to imagine or understand the complete scope of what that might be, but it IS what we are promising. With the promise, at the time of our wedding we feel that it is a guarantee of sorts. Yet we have seen so many marriages that are stuck, completely broken or somewhere in between. They want things to change and when we encourage them to “be the change they want to see in their own marriage,” we hear questions and comments like this!Ted cunningham

  • If I work on me and do all that I need to do, how long do I put up with this?
  • I have worked on me and done all that I need, my spouse has done nothing. God wouldn’t want me to stay in a marriage where I am treated like that, would he?
  • I deserve better.
  • This is not what I signed up for.
  • I am tired of being a doormat and the only one to work in this marriage.
  • You can’t tell me this is what God wants!
  • I married the wrong person.

It is so hard to work hard in your marriage and not get the results you desire. To work and feel like it is not being reciprocated.  To want a guarantee that your spouse will also work hard, but not getting it. Ted Cunningham, a marriage focused pastor from Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, MI said this on his facebook page awhile back and it is spot on!

“Some would say, ‘to be a good disciple you need a good marriage.’ However, this is not always the case.
To be a good disciple of Jesus you must BE a good spouse. Being a good spouse does not guarantee a good marriage because there are two people involved.
So, what’s the solution? Be a devoted follower of Christ and bring that to your marriage.” (emphasis added)

Not only is this spot on, it got me thinking about this theme that we often see in marriages. And really, there are no guarantees in marriage or life for that matter, other than the promises of Jesus and that he will ALWAYS be with us. Since there are no guarantees here are a few things to remember:

You being the change doesn’t guarantee their change

We say it here at OFM all the time. Be the change you want to see in your own marriage. We say that because, you can only work on you. But you should be working on you and that can have great impact on your marriage. While it is not a guarantee, it is a much better approach then waiting for your spouse to change or meeting their selfish, angry, apathetic attitude with a dose of your own. Be the change you want to see. Period! No, be the change for a year and then your all done or whatever exception you can come up with. Be who God is asking you to be as a husband or wife, not matter what your spouse is or isn’t doing!

Your still called to be the wife or husband God is asking you to be regardless of your spouse

God asks us in Ephesians, both husband and wife separately to do certain things. He asks this of us because he knows this is the BEST way for a marriage to work. He knows our strengths and our pitfalls and therefore is giving us a map to the best marriage possible here on earth. But again, it is not a guarantee. Your spouse may choose to continue to treat you in the way that they currently are. Do you deserve better? Yes you do. However, God is for your marriage and wants your spouse to be that “better.” He wants you to grow through, to be refined by him. If that doesn’t happen with your spouse, he is still asking you to be the wife or husband you can be with his help. Remember it is God’s kindness that brings us to repentance. Just as our kindness, love, respect and encouragement can be a blessing to our spouse.  Keep working on your regardless of the results. God is doing a good work in you and it is always our hope and prayer that your spouse will join you on that journey.

There is no “until” in Ephesians 5

This is a tough one to swallow, but the word until is not used in Ephesians 5. We cannot decide to love and or respect our spouse “until” . . .

God said he would never leave you or forsake you

God will never leave you. That is good news my friends!!  He can and will give you everything you need in your marriage. That includes times in the wilderness, whatever the reason. He never said this would be easy and that there wouldn’t be trials. In fact he said there WOULD be trials and that he would be there with us.  Hold on to that hope and promise.



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10 Responses to There Are NO Guarantees In Marriage

  1. Thanks for the encouraging and truthful words. It is something I will ponder over the next few days. I was one of those using the excuses you mentioned. I have chosen to change and be the wife God called me to be, rather than expecting my husband to change to make me happy. God is good. God Bless. I followed you on Twitter and I liked your Facebook page.

    • Hi Jack, thanks for asking two great questions. Brad and I would encouraged first and always that God can redeem any situation-no matter the circumstances. We have personally seen marriages come through more “yuck” than I can ever imagine and be a testament to God’s goodness. I believe that your two questions are very different. The Bible speaks specifically to adultery and a that a spouse can leave the marriage. Every marriage and every situation is different, but even when there is adultery in a marriage, doesn’t mean God is done. He can work through you as a spouse, if you are willing. That does not mean we are saying that every marriage where there is adultery, the spouse should stay-it is merely a challenge, that we tend to think everything is over and done. It doesn’t have to be.

      As for sexual refusal in marriage, Brad and I talk often about that subject here at OFM. We do believe that continued sexual refusal is a sin and very damaging to your marriage and your spouse. But I believe my points are still valid, God can and will give you everything you NEED in that time and you can still be the wife or husband God is calling you to be. Is it right or easy what is happening to a spouse when they are being refused the amazing think called sex, that God created specifically for marriage. No! But we are still called to love and respect our spouse. Even where sexual refusal is concerned. At the same time, that doesn’t mean you don’t bring up the topic and try to get help. Loving and respecting your spouse means protecting your marriage and asking for help when you need it. But it also means putting your spouses before yourself. Marriage is an earthly [picture of Christ and the church. While we will never reach it, we are being asked to set aside our selfish nature and put our spouse above us!

      Thanks for asking two great questions! Blessings, Kate

      • Kate –

        Thanks. You guys are both very thoughtful and very faithful, which is appreciated. How would you respond in a case where one spouse is constantly critical, negative, insulting, belittling and demeaning? I assume that would sort with sexual refusal rather than with adultery. I’m not sure that adultery isn’t potentially the easiest of the three to “solve,” though?

  2. Thank you for this. What does a spouse do (me) when their husband refuses to work on healing in a marriage, threatens divorce, does not act like a husband. For me some days are absolutely unbearable. I made a decision to stand for my marriage and trust that God can heal and restore us. However it is clear that I am the only one in this marriage that is working on healing.

    • Hi Hope Always,

      Thanks for writing and asking a great question. I would encourage you to continue to ask God, what he desires for you as a wife to your husband specifically. Not to any other husband, but yours. That he would lead you and show you how to love him in this time where he is not reciprocating at all. Allow God to lead you and to be your comfort in this wilderness. He can be all that you need in this dark time. I would continue on in your journey of being the best loving and respectful wife you can be.

      I would also encourage you to find a few women who are marriage positive and who will be your support both emotionally, through scripture and in prayer! Having them to lean on and uplift you is so vital.

      God is for your marriage, even when it seems like you marriage is awful. I do believe you can be an incredibly blessing in what you are facing, I also think it will be one of the hardest things you have ever done. But God has got it! Trust him in that, my friend!

      Blessings, Kate

      • I had to set a boundary in my marriage regarding sex and now after reading the post about sexual refusal as a sin, I am feeling very confused. I chose this boundary after thinking a sexual relationship would bring healing and it hasn’t., For 3 years my husband has wanted out of the marriage, yet feels that it is okay to have human physical needs, then I should meet them for him. In the past 6 weeks we had two very painful confrontations. He made it clear to me that he is done and there is no chance of reconciliation. In order to preserve my dignity, I set a boundary that since he is no longer interested in our marriage and working on healing the pain and reconnecting, than I need to not engage with him sexually.I made it clear to him how much I love him and would love to be 100% connected and committed to him in every sense. Now he calls me mean and is sleeping on a twin mattress in our bedroom. I am sick about this.

  3. “If I work on me and do all that I need to do, how long do I put up with this?
    I have worked on me and done all that I need, my spouse has done nothing. God wouldn’t want me to stay in a marriage where I am treated like that, would he?
    I deserve better.
    This is not what I signed up for.
    I am tired of being a doormat and the only one to work in this marriage.
    You can’t tell me this is what God wants!
    I married the wrong person.”

    I loved this post! As I read, I smiled to myself. God reminded me of all the times I had said these exact things to Him! My husband left his first wife because she became a Christian. He married me and 4 years later I became a Christian. Yes, he is saved now, but from year 5 until year 18 of our marriage it was a long, LONG, painfully hard walk. The interesting thing is that all that time of ‘waiting-for-my-husband’ to get it right and become a follower; it was actually ME that God was working on! Every one of those statements are “me” focused.

    Thank you for your work towards marriage, the both of you!

  4. Marriage is tough sometimes. But one thing I have learned over the course of my 36-year marriage is that love is a choice. My husband and I hit a really rough patch at around year 19. We felt we had nothing in common any longer except the children, and couldn’t agree on anything. The divide between us felt bigger than the Grand Canyon. We were preparing for divorce and seeking lawyers. One morning my husband woke up and said to himself “I don’t want a divorce, I am going to choose to love her every minute of every day.” Little by little I saw a change in him, which began the change in me. The topic of divorce slowly went away, and before we knew it, we were laughing and enjoying each other again.

    We learned many valuable lessons about each other and ourselves as God began restoring what we had torn down or taken for granted. We are a testimony of God’s grace and love and what He can do if both parties are willing.

    I agree it takes two people to make a marriage work. During our darkest time, there was only one person working on keeping our marriage together, and that was my husband. As I witnessed my husband’s recommitment to marriage and me, I slowly allowed the walls to come down and began to believe we could make this work. It didn’t happen overnight; it took a few years for me to trust entirely we would make it.

    Now that we are on the other side, I am grateful for his patience and willingness to do his part, regardless of how I initially felt.



    You are so right! In marriage there truly are no guarantees. Marriage, I have found, is only as successful as we are committed,

    Trials and tribulations will come, that I can guarantee, but it is how we deal with those trials that will give us the longevity in marriage, that we desire.

    In our early years of marriage, we had many major trials. I used almost every one of the above words,”I didn’t sign up for this.” and so on.

    It honestly was God and the commitment I vowed before Him and learning the contract that would be broken had consequence, in which I wasn’t willing to deal with for the rest of my life into eternity.

    So, I decided to give it all that I had not before. Then our problems didn’t seem so unworkable once I realized giving up, wasn’t truly an easy way out.