How a Failing Marriage can Flourish Again
No marriage is perfect. Mine surely isn’t and I’m sure you’d nod in agreement with me that yours has its fair share of flaws as well. The longer I’ve been married, the more I’ve become aware that mine and my spouse’s imperfections never seem to stop showing up. At every stage of life, career, and parenting new challenges arise that continue to expose weaknesses and shortcomings in us both.
This seems like a recipe for disaster and for many couples it can be. But it doesn’t have to be. Your marriage can flourish rather than fail, even when it’s full of inadequacies. The key? A hope-filled faith in God, a humble willingness to change and a recognition that God’s ways are the right ways even when they’re contrary to your own preferences and tendencies.
We see these principles illustrated beautifully in Jeremiah 18:1-12. This passage starts with Jeremiah watching as a potter turns his wheel and forms a piece of clay into a pot. Midway through his shaping of the pot, the pot becomes marred. This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Imperfections that show up and ruin the clay from becoming the intended vessel. But what does the potter do? He simply balls the clay back up and reforms it into a new vessel. Same clay, same potter, new blemish-free vessel.
Jeremiah spends the rest of this passage explaining what this means. God is the potter and we are the clay. God has complete control over the formation of the clay and his skillful hands can at any point remake something flawed into something useful. What a reassuring truth! But then Jeremiah explains further the role of the clay. If we aren’t submitted to and pliable in the potter’s hands then his beautiful purposes for us can be thwarted. God commands Jeremiah to share this sincere message of warning with the tribe of Judah. If Judah doesn’t turn from their ways and submit to the Lord, it will lead to their destruction. But God already knows what their response will be. And it’s heartbreaking. “But they will reply, “It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.” Jeremiah 18:12
Judah doesn’t believe there is hope for them, even if they return to the Lord. Therefore, they are going to charge forward in their own wisdom and submit themselves further to their own pride and stubbornness. I can’t help but think too many marriages are stuck here. You may feel there is no hope, but God says at any time I can turn what seems marred into something that has meaning and purpose. It may feel excruciatingly painful to change patterns that have been your crutch for a lifetime, but when you humbly accept your need for change you’ll discover that all your crutches ever did was hold you back. And you may think that between you and your spouse, you’re the one that’s right but God says it takes two people completely committed to searching out and living out his ways to make marriage something beautiful.
If any part of your marriage is stuck in a cycle of failure, then I invite you to examine your heart and start a conversation with your spouse. Would you both be willing to let God start over and remake you into something new?
I pray that as a couple you will choose to be hopeful for what he can do with your imperfections, pliable in his hands and willing to be reshaped as it seems best to him.
Disclaimer: This is not a one size fits all article and it may not apply to your situation. This is meant to be a conversation starter, a dose of encouragement and the nudge we all need to choose humility over pride. I always recommend getting counseling from a trusted, biblically grounded, licensed therapist to help navigate concerns you may have about your marriage. Focus on the Family offers one free hour of counseling with one of their licensed counselors. They also have a local counselor referral service to vetted Christian counselors HERE.