Did the article on Messianic Marriage seem to leave you out? If one of the scenarios below fits your situation, maybe you can use a few words of encouragement or advice. We may not be saying anything you haven’t heard before, but sometimes people need reminders—not “revelations”—to provide perspective.
I really want to marry but it seems less and less likely that I ever will. The idea of being alone for the rest of my life greatly distresses me. When Yeshua said some remain single for the sake of the kingdom, he said “let him who can accept this accept it.” I haven’t accepted it; yet I don’t seem to have a choice.
First, it is possible that you may still marry. Continue praying about it, and don’t be afraid to ask your closest friends to pray with you and for you. As you petition God for a mate, try asking him to shape your aspirations to fit his best for you. Two areas in which to seek God’s guidance are setting standards and learning to be content. By setting standards, you rule out certain possibilities for marriage according to Scripture and in some cases, according to your particular calling. Learning to be content means that you know how to enjoy the Lord and enjoy life while single, though you would prefer to be married. You probably would not choose to marry a person who is miserable with their life, and others feel the same way.
You might also speak to a mature believing couple about marriage. Perhaps you have unrealistic expectations which they can help you adjust. Or maybe they will be able to point out ways that you can work at becoming “more marriageable.”
Maybe you already have developed reasonable expectations about marriage and would make a wonderful partner—if you only had the right opportunity. But for whatever reason, marriage does not seem likely for you.
Doing without a husband or wife can make you more acutely aware of God’s love. No man or woman will ever love you as much as God does, and it is important to realize that whether or not you ever marry. But maybe being a husband/wife and parent is a big part of who you always thought you would be. It is natural to grieve over the loss of that likelihood. All things are possible with God; still, our lives don’t always work out as we hope or plan.
As wonderful as God’s love is, it does not numb us to pain. What his love does do—if we accept it—is help us endure. Instead of denying the hurt, instead of feeling guilty or resentful about it, be open to other opportunities God has for you. If your main goal in life were to be married, you’d have every reason to despair. But we exist to glorify God. He is our present help, and our ultimate future. Whatever hardship we endure here and now is relatively short-lived. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
I married an unbeliever. I knew the Scriptures said something about only marrying believers, and my believing friends told me I was making a mistake. But I was sure that it would just be a matter of time before my spouse accepted the Lord. He/she still is not a believer and I’m starting to see that we’re out of step in more ways than I expected. What good would it do to say I made a mistake when we need to make this marriage work as best we can?
If you tell yourself, God or your believing friends that it wasn’t wrong to choose an unbeliever you may end up making a whole string of ungodly choices to justify your first. We can so distort ideas of right and wrong that eventually it becomes nearly impossible to make a right choice. That’s something to avoid at all costs.
Repentance sheds a new light on everything. Don’t turn away from your marriage, but do turn away from the willfulness whereby your choice of partner was contrary to God’s direction. God stands ready to forgive you. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Not only do we receive forgiveness, but by repenting, we affirm what is right. That points us in the direction of making more right decisions. We draw closer to God instead of drifting away.
Wrong choices bring unavoidable consequences, even after we are forgiven. There still may be some painful repercussions in your marriage. But once you accept God’s forgiveness, you can face that pain in a godly way. By putting your relationship with God first you’ll have the best possible tools to cope with a marriage that may entail more than the routine number of hardships.
I was already married when I came to faith in Yeshua and my spouse is not a believer. I never had a choice about being “unequally yoked.” Before I was a believer, our marriage didn’t seem to have any more or less problems than most. But now my faith is a constant source of tension between us.
Some tension and troubles come because we made a right, rather than a wrong decision. We naturally want to be praised and accepted for doing the right thing. It is painful to be misunderstood and maybe even rejected because we have done as we ought. Yeshua is the best example of someone who suffered for doing the right thing. He really knows how you feel, and you are probably experiencing some of how he felt as well.
Know that like Yeshua, you can transform hardships into victories when you respond in the power of the Holy Spirit. The first chapter of James is a good epistle to read to help you persevere in your faith, and in your marriage. As you reflect on this passage, ask God to encourage and strengthen you.
Remember that none of us can afford to let our prayer life become intermittent. It can be more difficult to grasp the lifeline of prayer when you are discouraged from walking with God in your own home, but that is all the more reason to persevere. When you can’t talk to your spouse about the Lord, you can talk to the Lord about your spouse! (That is true for those with believing spouses as well and should not be overlooked.)
I got married with all sorts of hopes and dreams and my spouse seemed like the answer to them all. I didn’t know he/she had ideas and plans that not only differ from mine, but seem impractical, unreasonable and immature. I’m not sure what kind of life we can have together.
Believers who marry without a realistic understanding of one another’s expectations are in for a rough ride, but don’t lose hope. Some adults do mature and become more practical as they assume responsibility. Meanwhile, you need to begin talking to God about his expectations for your marriage, and not just talking, but listening. Through prayer and reading the Scriptures, you can understand what God intended you to give as a husband or wife, not merely what you might expect to receive.
Perhaps you feel it is not your expectations, but only your spouse’s, that need to be changed. Yet your own willingness to make certain adjustments will make your marriage better even if you are the more reasonable or mature one. It would be wonderful if your spouse would also seek God’s mind on how to be a better partner, but that is a decision only he or she can make. Each of us can only be responsible to submit our own will to God…not anyone else’s. When we do submit our will to God, it is amazing how much room for improvement we can find in our own heart before we begin worrying about the next person’s.
Concentrate on commitment. Whether or not your disappointment in your spouse is valid, now is not the time to let yourself think how much better off you would be without your mate. Yeshua said:
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
These verses show that marital problems are nothing new. The disciples as much as said, “If divorce is not an option, it’s better not to risk getting married!” Jesus does not even bother to address that attitude, but responds by taking the conversation in a different direction—that is, service to God.
It is expected that a believer who marries will overcome the temptation to “quit” their spouse when he or she proves to be less than a dream come true. That does not mean remaining “officially” married yet withdrawing from any kind of meaningful involvement with your spouse. It means continuing to keep the promises you made on your wedding day. The true test of a commitment is never when you are satisfied with a relationship, but when you are frustrated. That is the time to remember that your commitment is not merely to your spouse, but to yourself and to God.
The one element each of the above scenarios has in common is some degree of disappointment or grief.
It’s important to realize there is a godly way of dealing with pain. There is a prayerful joining of one’s heart and mind to God, whereby we can tell him,
This hurts. I know you understand my grief. Please protect me from being consumed by it. Help me to desire more of you. Help me respond the way you want me to respond.
The Lord wants us to open our hearts to him. He is pleased to keep us mindful, not only of what we don’t have and what we can’t do, but of what we do have and what we can do. This does not vanquish pain, but it helps us endure and even grow through it.
We realize some situations are not covered in these scenarios. If your spouse is physically abusive, seek professional help to protect yourself or your children from danger. It is not “unChristian” to do so. For further reading on issues of marriage and single living, you might be interested in the following books.
Who Walk Alone—A Consideration of the Single Life, by Margaret Evening, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1974.
Though written by a woman, and in parts for women—men, don’t be daunted! This book is also for you and contains valuable insights for both genders. Read this selectively however, as in her attempt to present Christianity as a non-rigid way of life, the author appears far broader in some areas than Scripture allows. Still, most of the book is very much in keeping with Scripture, making it helpful, practical and well worth sifting through.
Hedges—Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It, by Jerry B. Jenkins, Wolgemuth and Hyatt Publishers Inc. Brentwood, TN, 1989.
This one is written by a man for (married) men, but again, women and single men should not be daunted. Jenkins deals with the principle of establishing practical boundaries to ensure godly relationships, and that principle applies to all. Though his style may make you feel you are not among the group Jenkins is writing to, (and in fact you may not be) look for the principles and you will see that all of us, whether married, single, male or female, need to build “hedges” to protect our integrity in relationships.
Love Must Be Tough—New Hope for Families in Crisis, by Dr. James C. Dobson, Word Publishing, Dallas, London, Sydney, Singapore, 1983.
Are you or someone you know dealing with an unbelieving spouse, possibly an unfaithful spouse, an alcoholic or perhaps even an abusive spouse? This book offers practical insights and advice for many difficult marital situations.
The cultural context in which the authors express their views need not hinder you from mining the wisdom and applying it to your situation. Maybe someday there will be books on these topics by messianic Jewish authors. Meanwhile if we are not distracted by expressions or references that may be some what outside our own experience, we can avail ourselves of many fine resources.