How Long Does This Take?

Many times people ask me, “How long does do I have to stand? Nothing seems to be happening.” Others express their frustration in other ways. “I don’t think standing is making any difference. He (or she) hasn’t changed a bit.” Others tell me, “Oh, I stood for a few years, but nothing ever happened, so I quit.”

Unfortunately, most people begin standing for their marriage because they love their spouse and  want the marriage restored. Why do I say unfortunately? Because that is the wrong foundation for a stand and when the initial goal is wrong, then all the markers that measure the success of that goal can be  discouraging.

The key to understanding a stand is to understand covenant. The “until death do us part” section of the marriage ceremony is not there just for tradition. God designed marriage covenant to be one man and one woman for life. Covenant gives stability to a relationship and to the family that follows. When we are committed to each other no matter what, we have the incentive to work through situations and challenges. Children can grow up with the security that mom and dad aren’t going anywhere. Covenant provides a strong foundation for a healthy family.

When marriage is based on performance, though, things are fragile. Each spouse has his or her own “tipping point” — the set of circumstances that will cause the break up of the marriage. When that tipping point is reached, for them the marriage is over. Children watch it happen to their friends all the time and every argument between their dad and mom strengthens the fear that this could be it for their family as well.

When one spouse walks out on a marriage and the other spouse determines to stand for the marriage, that stand must be based in an understanding of covenant faithfulness — until death ends the marriage. In other words, the spouse that is standing for the marriage is saying, “I took a vow to be faithful to my husband (or wife) until one of us dies. Since neither of us is dead, that vow still stands and I will honor it with my life.”

That means that I will continue to live as a married person, not dating, not seeking another spouse. I will teach my children to honor and respect their father (or mother) the same way I would do if we were together as a family. I will intercede for my spouse as his (or her) chief intercessor because no one else on earth can pray for him (or her) the way I can because we are one.

When a stand is based on this foundation, time is not a factor. The goal is not to get your spouse back, but to honor the covenant that you freely entered into and the promise that you made to God regarding your own faithfulness. So what you measure is not what your spouse is doing or not doing, but what you are doing or not doing.

Are you seeking the Lord daily? Do you know the peace of being in His presence? Is His Word becoming your daily bread? Do you seek to walk in the spirit and not the flesh? Have you opened your broken heart to God so that He might heal you and strengthen you? Do you know what assignment He has for you? If so, are you fulfilling His call on your life?

One of the greatest problems you will face as you stand is being surrounded by people who believe your marriage is over and you should be “getting on with your life.” Sadly, many of them will be Christians. Instead of helping you grow in the Lord and support your stand of faithfulness, they will encourage you to look to another person or situation for fulfillment. They will think you are crazy for being faithful to a spouse who obviously doesn’t care.

If your initial goal was to get your spouse back, these arguments will make more and more sense to you. If, however, you have based your stand in being faithful to your marriage covenant as long as you both live, then you will realize that finding another person is not the answer. Walking daily with the Lord is so fulfilling that no human being could ever offer a better alternative.

What your spouse does or doesn’t do or say will no longer rule your life. As you fully submit your life to the Lord and begin to experience the joy and peace that only He can bring, frustration will be replaced with purpose and power in Him. There is no lack in Jesus — no loneliness, no frustration, no despair. Those things can only rule our lives when we make something else our goal.

Perhaps as you read this you are thinking it’s easy for me to say those things, my husband came home. Be assured, I can say them to you today because I walked in that place with Jesus before my husband returned. I know the joy and the peace of being there. I have lived what I am telling you today and I can guarantee you there is nothing else like it on the face of this earth. Love, Marilyn

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Author: Marilyn Phillipps

Married 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren. My initial career of nursing prepared me to work with marriages that are wounded and in need of healing. For 35 my husband and I have led 2=1 International, a ministry to marriages and families around the world. We have seen miracle after miracle when many had given up hope.

12 thoughts on “How Long Does This Take?”

  1. Another timely post. I have been asking myself and God this question. My husband had the affair 6 months ago moved out 4 months ago. I have made up my mind to stand from the start and have totally thrown myself at Jesus feet. It has been just in the last month I can see changes in him too.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, it has been a rough 4 years – I have asked myself this questions many times but yet still I stand. God and God alone.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with this whole post.

    I am curious about one thing, though. What if the spouse that initiated the divorce marries someone else? I am not saying that should or will change anything, but what does one do at that point?

  4. The thing I find hard is this. We are all sinful. I did my share of incorrect and inappropriate things to my wife over the years. I have cussed at her and been angry. Emotional abused her. Never physical, though. She on the other hand has kissed my brother and had emotional affairs with other men. We both have our faults and flaws. In spite of this, I love her and want to remain married. She is seeking a divorce. What should I do??

  5. Thanks Marilyn,
    Your words give me new hope and strength. I was divorced in may 2007 but me and my wife reunited in may 2008 and for 15 months were working on reconciliation. We hit some of those stumbling blocks and my wife gave up in October 2009 and started redating a man she met in 2007 in AA. She claimed to be saved but has now been seeing this man ever since. I'm standing because of good people like you who are sharing God's word and the significance of our marriage covenant. Pray for me. Kevin

  6. I re-read this post because I saw my husband for the first time since he left 7 or 8 months ago. I am at a loss but your post is helping me – again. To be honest, I don't know if standing for this marriage is the right thing as it might end up destroying me, but your writing is calling to me.

  7. Many thanks – newly on to this site. Have been standing for my marriage for over 3 years and have been feeling that it is destroying me, but still totally committed. My husband,s heart seems as hard as ever, but God!

  8. When you look at this as an assignment from God, keeping your covenant vows no matter what, it is liberating. No longer do I question what I am to do – I am to wait on the Lord! Really, where else am I going to go? To whom will I run to? To Jesus! I am to be faithful to the vows I made to God and my husband, this is what I am responsible for. God will take care of the rest. I pray God will give me and all of you the strength to stand for Him and the marriage covenant.

  9. Marilyn~
    Thank you for your simple explaination of Covenant. It helped me. I think others who write about it make it too complex to understand…and people just don't get it…your explaination, You Get it.
    Thank you…please keep writing and thank you for encouraging us…you didn't have that when you Stood for the Restoration of your Marriage and Family…and I thank you for your willingness to Share, be Transparent and Encourage Us and Teach Us~Equipping us…We are so Blessed to have your Voice in the Midst of this Terrible Storm that has hit our Marriages and Families. Thank You.
    Blessing to Mike and You and Yours !!!! YOU SHINE for Him…Pointing the Way to the Christ.

  10. I stood for a marriage before,he remarried, I gave up my stand when I approached him in his engagement, he said never..so I met someone then, he moved his wedding date back, and I actually ended up remarrying one month before my ex. Now I am standing for this marriage, my spouse claims to be a follower of Christ, and recently filed for divorce, and moved 3000 miles away from me to join a cultish false christian church and religious bible school.
    I think it is much harder if the divorce occurs, as we are fallen human beings, so imperfect..and even God doesnt force us to come to believe and accept Him..you cannot force someone to remain married to you or love you..I do pray for my spouse, however I know if he gets the divorce he can remarry immediately…I know God would never want another divorce, so I will have to remain all alone to keep my vow in to this covenant remarriage.

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