When You Feel Trapped in a Difficult Marriage
By Rhonda Stoppe
“That’s it, I’ve had it!” Sue exclaimed as her husband stormed out the door. How long was she supposed to go on living in this difficult marriage? Almost from day one Sue knew she’d made a mistake. Throughout their courtship, her husband had seemed to be a kind and patient person. That all changed within weeks after their honeymoon.
Sue knew God wanted her to honor her vows but over the years they had been married leaving was always in the back of her mind. Once children came, Sue found joy in raising her kids. But now that they were older her thoughts often drifted to what life might be like if she were to break free from the chains of her difficult marriage.
Can you relate to Sue’s story? Or maybe you know someone who can. What advice would you give them? Let’s look at 5 things to do when you feel trapped in a difficult marriage.
1. Surrender Your Disappointment to Christ.
Can you relate to Sue’s story? I know a woman who found herself in a similar situation. But after spending some years in misery she decided to surrender her disappointment to Christ. And do you know what happened? Although her husband changed very little over the years, she changed. Her determination to trust God to make good from her difficult marriage is what God used to draw each of her kids to Christ. Because her selfless Christ-honoring love for their father showed them that pressing into knowing and loving Jesus really does bring joy ~ even amidst life’s disappointments.
When your life’s purpose is to know Jesus more with each passing day, the natural outcome will be for you to see life’s ups and downs as opportunities to make Christ known to those around you ~ especially to your children. And the more time you spend with Jesus, the more His character will spill out of your obedient life and thus create in others a desire to know Him too.
2. Remember You Are an Ambassador for Christ.
The apostle Paul often found himself in circumstances much worse than any you and I will likely ever face. And yet he never lost sight of his mission to proclaim Christ. Yet Paul said, “I want you to know…what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12 ESV)
Listen as Paul pleaded with the believers urged to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV).
3. Realize God Uses Challenges for Good.
If you were in prison, would your prayer request be, “Hey, guys, I’m in chains for telling people about Christ. Could you keep praying for me to have additional opportunities to speak the gospel more boldly?”
You won’t likely find yourself in chains anytime soon, but sometimes a difficult marriage can make you feel like you’re in prison; am I right? What if God has you right where He wants you? What if, like in Paul’s life, the Lord knew you would be most effective sharing with others, including your children, the hope of salvation because of your pain? Let me put it to you this way:
If the only way God can bring your kids into the Kingdom is by showing them how faith in Jesus is real through your struggle, is it worth it?
4. Follow the Examples of Others.
My friend Tina thinks it is. She said, “If my husband’s controlling bent is what drove me to my knees and my son to Christ, it was all worth it!” Wow. Isn’t she right? (You can read more about Tina’s story in my book Moms Raising Sons to Be Men.)
5. Understand Your Ultimate Goal.
I meet people all the time who say they would do anything to help their children grow up to reach their fullest potential. And yet those same people often stop short of working to build a strong marriage. Sadly, the connection they fail to make is how the length a parent will go to love their spouse with Christ’s selfless love is an incredible contribution to their children’s stability and well-being. And their positive influence has the potential to impact not only their own children but their children and even their children’s children.
Your kids’ security lies in the health of your marriage relationship. When you live with your eyes focused on the mission God has called you to—to know Christ and make Him known—you will have learned the key to building a no-regrets marriage. When you determine to live in a manner that reflects a genuine love for Christ—no matter how smooth or difficult your marriage relationship may be—you will do far more to draw your kids to salvation than any words you could ever say. And isn’t that your ultimate goal?*
*Please note that abuse is a different story, and if you or your children are in a situation where abuse is involved please contact the center for women and children to get help now!
Rhonda Stoppe, the No Regrets Woman, has mentored women for more than two decades. Steve Stoppe has pastored First Baptist Church, Patterson, California, for 19. After 37 years of marriage, they’re still head-over-heels and ready to share their secrets to building a no-regrets marriage. They’ve appeared on Focus on the Family and together write books, speak at marriage conferences and rescue troubled ministry marriages at their ranch in Northern California. They have four happily married children and ten grandchildren. To invite Steve & Rhonda to speak at your next event, and for more resources & videos, follow their social media links and connect with the Stoppe’s at NoRegretsWoman.com.
Rhonda is the author of 6 books and appears on numerous radio programs including FamilyTalk, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and hosts The No Regrets Hour. She speaks at women’s events, Pastor’s Wives Conferences, MOPs and homeschool conventions. Sharing the gospel is her sweet spot––she’s an evangelist at heart.