When You’ve Married the Wrong Person

“I consider Your ways, and turned my feet to Your path.”
Psalm 119:59

Once upon a time, Jill and I took our five daughters to Disney’s “Princess Wishes on Ice.” There were six princesses, but really one story, one formula thread through each tale: Young girl meets or is saved by handsome young man—story climaxes with their wedding. And the standard quippy quote follows, “And they lived happily ever after.”
But for many (for you?) the “ever after” part often reveals more heartache than happiness.
Perhaps you’ve experienced what we might call the “fairy-tale-fallout.” As the romance and infatuation wanes, reality emerges, and things become unpleasant and even unbearable. The bond of matrimony becomes a bond of imprisonment. But then well-meaning family and friends remind us it’s only a temporary sentence because, “We can always get divorced.”

The problem? We just married the wrong person. That’s all. No problem. No fault. Nothing unusual…just the typical “ever after” reality. We said “I do,” and we can just as easily say “I don’t.” And so it goes with our modern marriages, pre-nups, and who’s next.

Take for example our modern day tale of Diana Stewart and Charles Windsor—not so happily ever after. In fact what a horrible ever after…infidelity, alcohol, and death. And yet listen to the ironic reality we’d explore as quoted from Charles and Di’s wedding ceremony:

“Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made, the prince and princess on their wedding day. But fairy tales usually end at this point with the simple phrase, ‘They lived happily ever after.’ This may be because fairy tales regard marriage as an anticlimax after the romance of courtship. This is not the Christian view. Our faith sees the wedding day not as a place of arrival but the place where the adventure begins.”

—Robert Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury

Let me ask you, “What’s your view?”

Do you feel as if you’re best days are behind you? Do you wonder if you’ve married the wrong person? If you just said, “Yes” to yourself, or under your breath, let me ask you to think about embracing Runcie’s view, which is really Christ’s.  You’ve heard it before, right?  “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” Let no problem, no issue, no other person separate.

As a pastor I’ve maybe not seen it all, but I’ve seen lots. I’ve seen marriages brought back from infidelity, from isolation, from the brink, not by a fairy, but by faith. I’ve seen God change lives in dramatic ways—and if you’re feeling as if you’ve married the wrong person, I’d lovingly plead with you to choose to walk by faith over feelings, faith over whatever is frustrating you about your spouse.

But how?

Trade the fairytale for a faith tale. I know it’s also pretty quippy, but the pastors cheese makes remembering an ease!

F          Focus on My Part

Most of us are great at placing blame at the feet of another. And while we all realize relationships are two-way streets, we won’t get anywhere creating further polarizations by putting it all on our spouse. Own what’s yours. You can’t control your spouse’s actions and you can’t control your spouse’s attitudes. But you can control yours. That means I’m going to accept responsibility for my marriage. I’m not going to blame other people. I’m going to be responsible for my part of the problem and my part of the solution.

In Psalm 119:59 David says, “I consider Your ways, and turned my feet to Your path.”

A         Ask God for Help

While I realize this might be not a step, but a leap for some, we are reminded over and over again in the Bible that what is impossible for man is made possible by God. Matthew 19:26 Jesus says, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If God is who He says He is, He is far more capable of getting the job done that we are. And here’s the great thing…we don’t have to bribe Him for help, or do some great deed, we don’t have to give some amount of money, or file some petition with a 1,000 signatures. We just have to ask! “Ask, seek, knock.” (Matthew 7:7)

I          Inventory & Identify the Issues

What seems to be creating chaos in your relationship? Some common points of tension might include:

  • Unmet Expectations
  • Underestimated Differences
  • Unconfessed Sin
  • Unresolved Forgiveness

At times, we get paralyzed with the number of things going on—where to start, how to work through the past?! One step at a time. Curiously enough, Jesus usually asked someone He healed what their problems were and what they wanted Him to do about it. Didn’t He know? Yeah, He knew…but He was checking to see if they did. In Psalm 139:23-24 we read: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

T         Take the Next Step

Great marriages just don’t happen, and no one goes blissfully through marriage with no problems, no transitions, no tensions.

…They don’t just happen. They take effort.

It takes the next step.

It takes a willingness to change. It takes persistence. It takes flexibility. And most of all to have a great marriage, it takes time. You didn’t get into your mess overnight. You’re not going to get out of it overnight. Some of you give up too soon. You check out, go find somebody new, and you never deal with the issues. The problem when you go to that new relationship, you take you along. And you’re half the problem and those issues are still unresolved.

And I know one of the greatest enemies of reconciliation is emotional fatigue.

“I’m done.”

“My tank is empty.”

“I just can’t do this anymore.”

Can I lovingly ask you to put your finger on the pause button for a moment? Take the next step. Focus on your part, ask God for help, inventory the issues, take the next step.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

H         Humble Yourself & Ask for Help

You’ve been there right? In a store waiting for the person behind the counter to see that you’re waiting for help. You clear your throat, jingle your keys, trying to get their attention. “Man their service is terrible!” “Where’s that comment card!”

So why is it then, that we’re snobs when it comes to someone helping us get an ice-cream cone, but we’d refuse the help of others who would assist us with matters so much more significant?

Answer? Pride. It’s what got Adam and Eve in trouble. They wanted to be the boss of them—they wanted to be God. Newsflash, I’m not God and neither are you. But when we try and solve every issue or problem on our own, we’re eating the same bad apple.

In James 4 we read that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” In fact what a great word to describe what God has done for each of us through Christ. In Philippians, the apostle Paul writes that Jesus left the scepter of a king for the rags of a servant. He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross, that through His love we might have life eternal.

Would you ask for help? You see a dentist for your teeth, a Jiffy-lube for your oil change, a doctor for your strep. How about seeing a counselor or pastor about your marriage? Maybe if you’re thinking that you’ve married the wrong person, that the grass is greener, it simply because you need to water yours.

In Romans, Paul writes, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Words of Christ.” God wrote a book, a best-seller in fact, that is full of things to build your F.A.I.T.H.

What do you say?!

If your ideal has turned into a ordeal, would you pray about God taking your fairy-tale and turning it into a faith-tale?