When your relationship hits a road bump, rely on God to fill you with His never-ending supply of love.
- Posted on Feb 18, 2020
Intimate relationships of any kind are our greatest spiritual assignments. They are meant to mirror and magnify whatever is going on inside of us, serving as a reflection of our relationship with God. I thought I knew who I was before I got married. I thought I was grounded in my faith. I thought I had it all under control. I thought wrong.
For the first three years of my marriage, I would cringe whenever I saw what I perceived to be “happy couples” talking about their relationship. Their fairytale love anecdotes made me feel like my love was counterfeit. I would lay in bed replaying fantasies of a perfect love where one person fulfills an endless list of needs—and my loneliness worsened. I was suffering, but didn’t speak up. I started to wonder if maybe I had made a mistake.
The start of our decline was gradual and, at first, composed entirely of minimal offenses.
Someone half-listening while texting and checking social media, or prioritizing the never-ending grind for money over date night. Small stuff, nothing to sweat. Not until those small offenses—neglect, financial strain, lack of intimacy and the loss of friendship—morph into reasons for divorce.
I almost lost my marriage. Lord knows if I had continued to take matters into my own hands, I would have.
One Sunday, I cried and let myself sit with the brokenness and desperation. I got on my knees and surrendered my relationship to God. I remember praying, “God this marriage is yours. If it is according to your will, save it. I can’t do this on my own anymore.”
That one prayer set the foundation for God to work on our marriage. God, being the way-maker, promise-keeper and miracle-worker that He is, took all the broken pieces of our marriage and created something more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. He built us back up stronger than we were when we first started and I will always give Him the glory and the honor for that.
It was a slow and painful process to come back from all the ways that we had hurt each other. I started to learn new ways of praying over my relationship both from reading the Bible and seeking the wisdom of more established couples in our lives. These are the five prayers that helped transform my life and save my relationship.
1. Lord, grow my love for my husband—bigger, stronger and deeper.
My mother-in-law has been married for thirty years. Every year on our anniversary, I ask her what advice she has for us. One year, she advised me to pray that God would grow my love for my husband more each day. She said that it was, and continues to be, a daily prayer that keeps her grounded in her marriage. It was such a simple prayer that I never would have thought of it on my own, but it makes sense.
Praying that God will grow the love between you and your partner allows God to cement your relationship in a way that is only possible with His divine intervention.
2. Fill me with your Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22–23 outlines the fruits that are manifested in the life of a believer when the spirit resides in them. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Part of the problem I was able to identify in my relationship is that I was relying too much on my own strength and ability to be a good wife. Because I depended on myself rather than God, when storms would come, I would become defensive, angry and spiteful. These are not attributes of God and revealed how cold my heart had become to the spiritual warfare that is always taking place around us. I am a better wife today because I lean not on my own strength or understanding, but on God’s. I ask God to fill me with His spirit daily, so that I can be led to speak, behave and think in ways that will nourish my marriage and not damage it.
3. God, give me the courage to speak, the humility to listen and the wisdom to understand when each is needed.
Growing up, my family had a tendency to avoid difficult conversations, until there was an explosion over something as little as the batteries on a camera not being charged. These life experiences have shaped me to be conflict-averse, which turned out to be detrimental to my marriage. While my husband was very vocal about all his thoughts, I had a tendency to not share what was bothering me, which allowed resentment and hostility to breed in my heart.
This prayer has allowed God to transform how I communicate in my marriage. I am learning when to speak (timing is important) and how to speak (tone matters, too.) I am learning the importance of speaking up when something hurts or makes me uncomfortable. I am also learning how to listen to his feedback without always taking it as a personal attack.
4. Shift my perspective so that I can understand how my husband is feeling and see my own flaws more clearly.
It’s true that my husband was not blameless, but I was so focused on attacking and blaming him for his shortcomings, that I was blind to how I was feeding into the problems in our relationship. It was easier to criticize and judge my husband, rather than sit with all the ways I was responsible for being toxic in our relationship. I also struggled to see our differences as just that—differences. I was hyper-focused on him being wrong and me being right. This prayer has helped me to be more empathetic towards my husband when he speaks up, as well as be reflective of my tendencies to react from hurt. The beauty of this prayer is that the more I started to look in and work on the ways I interacted in our relationship, the more I started to see my partner mirror the same reflection. When I stopped being so defensive, he started to be more reflective about the ways he communicated and reacted to me.
God has the power to shift how you see the world and how you see your partner. Praying for a change in perspective is a game-changer. Praying for discernment and awareness about the roles you play in intimate relationships will change how you relate to others, which in turn can often change how they relate to you.
5. Pour healing into our lives like rain.
Funny story about this prayer actually. My husband hates it—or at least he claims to hate it. We had been going through a series of difficult situations and we were both exhausted and drained from the emotional labor. I found myself asking God why everything had to be so hard, if I was trying to draw close to Him. I’d been praying this prayer for a few months, when I felt God spoke to me and said: “You asked me for healing. What did you think was going to come before the healing?” At that moment, I was reminded of how sometimes God needs to break something down in order to rebuild it. I understood that what we had been experiencing was a direct result of my asking God for healing in our lives. When I told my husband, he joked that he had not asked for this prayer, and questioned why I hadn’t requested healing to come down as a light drizzle as opposed to pouring rain. I still laugh when I tell people this story.
If you are lost and feeling alone in your marriage, ask God to heal your wounded heart. Healing is painful, but it allows you to see what is happening inside of you and within your marriage.