Must a Christian Stay in an Unhappy Marriage?


God wants us to be happy – right?  Doesn’t He love His children and not want them miserable or unhappy?  If a person isn’t meeting their mate’s needs, then they have failed and the unhappy mate should move on to have a marriage that is satisfying and fulling, correct?  That’s certainly the way movies, TV, unbelieving (and some believing) friends and the world around us sees marriage.  Life is short so why suffer when we don’t need to?  God understands our needs – He created them.  He is a loving, forgiving God who gives second and third chances.  So, if the marriage isn’t what we want it to be, what else are we to do?

Can you find the fallacy in that reasoning, the lie the enemy uses to destroy relationships?  It’s the presupposition that happiness is our main goal in life and marriage.  But is that biblical?  Does God promise us happiness in life or in marriage? Is the only purpose of marriage to make us happy?  What if God has a different, a better purpose for marriage than fun and pleasure?

First, we must understand God’s purpose for us before we can understand where marriage fits because marriage is only one part of life, even though a very big part.  God’s purpose for us in this life is not to make us happy (that will happen in heaven) but to make us holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).
A.W. Tozer describes, “No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he should be.”

Marriage is one of God’s most effective tools in maturing and refining us, in making us into the image of Jesus, because it so clearly shows our pride, our selfishness and our self-centeredness.  Adjusting to living day after day with someone who is opposite to us in gender, temperament, personality and often birth order is difficult.  Then add our sin natures, our hurts and failures in the past and our lack of spiritual maturity and you have a recipe for disaster.  We must stretch and grow, humble and submit, serve and forgive over and over and over.  We must love even when we don’t like, forget what is fair, drop our need to be heard or understood and treat our mate like Jesus treats us.  That’s a long way from “living happily ever after.”  But growth and stretching don’t come from everything being the way we want it and from only getting and never giving.

Author and speaker, Tyler Ward, says that marriage is about personal reformation. He describes, although happiness is often a very real byproduct of a healthy relationship, marriage is designed to pull dysfunction to the surface of our lives, set it on fire and help us grow. The job of marriage is to refine our dysfunction and spur us into progressive wholeness.  An unhappy marriage, then, shows where one or both fall short of thinking and acting as Jesus does.

The key is to stop seeing your mate as someone who should meet your needs and instead focus on meeting their needs no matter what.  Your mate is not your enemy, the one standing in the way of your happiness.  Instead, they are your partner through life.  Either both of you work through your issues and find peace together, or neither of you finds peace.  The Golden Rule needs to rule your lives and your expectations need to be realistic and attainable.  None of this is possible without Jesus being the center of each person’s life.  Without Him it can’t be done.  With His help it is possible – hard and difficult, but possible.  Without Him it is impossible.

Some marriage relationships go beyond unhappy and are toxic, damaging and even dangerous.  Next time we’ll talk about them and how to handle those situations.  (Augusts 21, 2023  Doylestown, PA)

1 Peter 1:15-16  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

What are your expectations of your mate, yourself and your marriage?   How have they changed since you were married?

What advice would you give someone who said they wanted out of their marriage because they weren’t happy?  What if one of your married children told you that?  What advice would you give?

Pray and ask God to help you do your part to make your marriage what He wants it to be.


Christian Training Organization

(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)

Copyright © 2023

Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View) Copyright ©1995-2024