Marriage Restoration: 6 Essential Tools For Reconciling With Your Prodigal, Estranged Or Ex-Spouse
If you are struggling with or separated from your spouse or worse, divorced, you may have very little hope in being reconciled back to your husband or wife. This is probably because the success rate for marriages isn’t very good with about half of marriages resulting in divorce. What’s more, instead of society placing an emphasis on marriage restoration, it stops short, concentrating most of its attention on divorce recovery or divorce prevention in the case of separated spouses or spouses who are struggling in the their marriage and contemplating ending it. This is certainly what I did in 2010, when starting this blog and its accompanying radio program, Relationships360.
Following my divorce several years ago, I was on a mission to ensure no man or woman would ever have to endure the intense emotional pain and suffering I experienced once my marriage ended. Now recently having done a radio program about marriage restoration with Rejoice Marriage Ministries co-founder, Charlyne Steinkamp, who was remarried to her husband Bob of 44 years after being divorced for two and a half years, I am convinced that society’s widespread focus on divorce recovery and divorce prevention needs to be shifted solely to marriage restoration. Why? Because even if a struggling couple succeeds with not getting a divorce or they divorce and manage to reconcile with their spouse, it doesn’t guarantee they won’t divorce later on down the road if the married couple is never given the proper tools and information to help them sustain their marriage. And what are those tools, you ask?
1.) A Personal Relationship With God
The most effective tool in maintaining a marriage once it has been restored either pre- or post-divorce that I’ve discovered in my work as a marriage advocate having witnessed the testimonies of countless Christians whose marriages have been restored for many years and, in some cases decades, is a personal relationship with God. And, just like in any relationship, communication with God on a regular basis is material to its success. This is where the number two tool that leads to long-term marriage restoration comes in.
Once you have established a personal relationship with God, then you will find yourself in regular contact with Him just like you would in any relationship that is important to you. When communicating with God through prayer about restoring your marriage, you will want to tell Him what is bothering you about your situation, ask Him how to best go about communicating with your spouse so they are receptive to reconciliation, how to deal with rejection of your reconciliation attempts from your prodigal, estranged or ex-spouse, how to deal with rejection from others around you who are urging you to divorce your spouse rather than work things out, plus a host of issues related to the restoration of your marriage ranging from how to deal with the other woman or man in your spouse’s life to how to change yourself so you can deal with any issues that arise once you and your prodigal, estranged or ex-spouse are reconciled.
To help ensure God answers addresses all of your questions and concerns, you would do well to write down your questions and wait for Him to answer them in the most effective way for you to hear His response, such as in dreams, through church a sermon, via a television program or song on the radio, through scripture when reading the Bible, etc. God knows you and how to best communicate with you what He wants you to know about your marriage situation, but rest assured God will always reveal His plans for you when you read His Word, which brings me to the third tool most useful in ensuring your marriage gets restored and remains that way for the rest of your life.
3.) The Bible
In The Bible, also referred to as God’s Word, He reveals His plans for us and our lives, including His plans and purpose for marriage. In Genesis 2, God states His intentions for marriage, which is for one man to remain married to one woman as long as they both are alive. In the Bible, we also discover that God hates divorce at all costs. It was not a part of His original plan spelled out in Genesis 2, but He allowed it later in Deuteronomy 24, due to the hardness of His children’s hearts who could not bring themselves to forgive their spouses for even minor offenses, although God said that He would not hold it against a person for divorcing their spouse because of adultery.
Nonetheless, many Christian ministry leaders have urged men and women to divorce their spouses when there is ongoing physical abuse and they believe divorce is necessary in order to preserve the life of the abused spouse, but there is no scripture that directly addresses physical abuse and divorce, which makes having a personal relationship with God that includes regular prayer so vital, so that God can direct you if you are in a physically abusive situation to decide if you should separate from your spouse and reconcile with them once there is clear evidence that they have been reformed or divorce your spouse altogether. However, if you divorce your abusive spouse, there are also issues of remarriage to a new person that only a keen knowledge of The Bible and hearing from God through prayer and other means will make clear. Additionally, a fourth tool may be necessary in order for spouses seeking marriage restoration to get some of the answers to their toughest questions.
Being able to push back your plate for days or weeks at a time, or skip meals throughout the day while praying for marriage restoration shows God how serious you are, and as Isaiah 58 reveals, awesome blessings are released into your life such as being reconciled back to your spouse, when you fast. Additionally, fasting is an indication of how disciplined you would be in doing all the other things listed above that are probably easier than fasting, in order to win your spouse back and keep your marriage together once your spouse returns home. In terms of how often you should fast, you would need to seek the answer to this question from God through prayer and other forms of communication such as through dreams and regular Bible study, as I mentioned earlier. However, if you fail to do the fifth thing I suggest for long-term marriage restoration, then not eating for days or even weeks on end while praying for reconciliation with your prodigal, estranged or ex-spouse will be all for nought.
Many people misconstrue the meaning of forgiveness, and therefore, cannot seem to or want to forgive. Forgiveness is not condoning a person’s actions that hurt you. Forgiveness is choosing not to punish a person for hurting you. The greatest example of forgiveness is Jesus Christ being hung on a cross to die for our sins, not just one sin, but all the sins that we will ever commit in our lifetime. For more on this, read Colossians 2:14. This is how often you should forgive others, including your spouse, when he or she harms you with words and actions – an infinite number. The need to continually forgive your spouse even if it is for the same transgression is also spelled out in Matthew 18:21. If you cannot forgive your spouse, then inevitably a wall of resentment will build up between the two of you to the point you won’t be able to communicate with each other, which is an essential component of any successful marriage or any relationship for that matter. In order for any restored marriage to have staying power, both spouses must possess a forgiving heart. Likewise, the sixth and final tool is key to ensuring that spouses move towards marriage restoration and stay there forever.
6.) Godly Counsel
Just as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, this blog and my radio show, Relationships360, will now focus on helping spouses to restore their marriages, not just prevent divorce or help men and women simply recover from divorce and then possibly move on to other relationships or marriages. Being a Christian woman, any advice or direction given to you through this blog or my radio show is based on time-honored Christian principles. Likewise, husbands and wives desiring to stay married for life should seek counsel from people and groups or organizations that support God’s plan for marriage and marriage reconciliation and not just advocate for divorce recovery like many divorce support groups in the Church and elsewhere tend to do.
Books, CDs and other resources can also be helpful to you that seek lasting marriage restoration, including those produced by marriage restoration expert, Charlyne Steinkamp. She and her deceased husband of 44 years and fellow Christian, Bob, have written 20 books, produced a host of CDs and other resources focused on marriage restoration that are available through www.rejoiceministries.org. If you wish to reconcile with your prodigal, estranged or even former spouse and then remain married to him or her for the rest of your life, I highly recommend that you check out their website. You can also listen to my radio interview with Charlyne about marriage restoration here and if you like what you read here today, please leave a comment and/or follow Relationships360 on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. You can also subscribe to this blog and receive free relationship-building tools and resources.