Restoring Hope in a Troubled Marriage

A lady emailed me in response to my Step-by-Step Formula for Resurrecting Hope. She’s going through a painful situation. Her husband left her for another woman. Still married to the man, he continues to flaunt his misconduct by living with the other woman and giving his wife a hard time about her belief in God. She wrote asking my advice on what to do.

Some people might tell her “divorce is wrong” and she should hang on to hope that this marriage can be restored. Others might tell her to ditch her husband and move on. Honestly, it’s not my place to say either way. It’s not my place to judge what God will or will not do in her situation. Only God can answer that for her. All I can do is set her on a path which will lead her to God’s answer for her.

I have a feeling there are others out there who struggle in marriages that are dying on the vine, and so I’d like to address this concern with the SAM experiment. Here’s the advice I gave her and that I give anyone struggling in a painful marital situation.

1) Get very clear on the ideal husband you’d like to have – the ultimate – how he would act, treat you, be, etc. Get very specific. What are his beliefs? How does he take care of himself? How does he treat you? Etc. Be prayerful and seek the Lord’s input on this list. Let this list be your “Sam.”

2) Let go of “who” SAM is. It may or may not be your current husband. Let go of the “who” and give that to God. Allow Him the possibility of transforming your husband, radically changing your view of him, teaching you to unconditionally love your husband the way he is, or of bringing someone entirely new into your life. Put your Hope in Christ … not in an individual!

3) Keep a lookout for anyone or anything that comes into your life that aligns with SAM. It may be a stranger who helps you out of the blue. It might be a child. It may be your husband, or it may be a friend or sister. Anyone.

Example: In my situation, Sam appeared as an elderly gentleman at the landfill when my truck broke down and wouldn’t start. Together we figured it out and got the engine started. Another time, Sam appeared as my 9-year-old son. I came home from a week at a church girl’s camp, and he’d totally reorganized his room without being asked. What once looked like a tornado aftermath was neat and tidy. What’s more, he’s kept it that way for over a month!

4) Be grateful for those SAM moments – express gratitude to God and to anyone involved for them. Document your SAM moments in a notebook or journal.

In the case of my 9-year-old, I took him aside and thanked him for what he did, letting him know why it meant so much to me that he would organize his room and how it made me happy and lifted my burdens.

5) Continue to be prayerful through this process because God is going to teach you things that I can’t tell you. He knows what you should do and who you should or should not have in your life. But the clearer you become, the more evident God’s hand will become in your life and the more you will see what you should do.

Once you’ve made your list of the ideal, ask yourself if there is anything you need to be or do in order to be prepared for this person to walk right into your life. If that ideal husband appeared tomorrow, what would you need to be ready for him? Do you want to be in better shape? Would you want a hair cut? Would you want some aspect of your home in better condition? I was telling this to a young single friend of mine and she said she’d keep her legs shaved. 🙂

For example, if “Sam” is in great shape, eats healthy and has lots of energy. Could you keep up with him if he appeared in your life tomorrow? If not, then you know you need to work on your own health and body. See what I mean? Be who you need to be so that there’s nothing between you and your ideal.

Throughout the process be prayerful. Ask to see your situation through God’s eyes. And be sincerely grateful for the tiniest glimpses of SAM in your life!