6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

A few days ago, I shared just part of my struggling marriage story and how difficult Valentine’s Day is when you don’t feel like celebrating love. If you didn’t catch that first part, please go back and read For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love  before you read any further here so that you can get the whole picture. :)

I’m happy to say that our marriage is in a much stronger place now than it was then, although not without its problems. So, this Valentine’s Day will be easier than the one I previously described.

However, I know so many of you wives out there are hurting, too. How do I know? Because the number one searched word that leads people to this blog is the word “unloved” from a post I wrote way back in 2013.

Since then, I’ve been contacted by so many Christian wives who truly desire to walk in obedience to the Lord even in the midst of marriage problems, but they just aren’t sure how. I have been that wife myself!

So, if you find yourself in a marriage that just plain stinks this Valentine’s Day (or birthday, anniversary, Christmas, whatever you happen to be celebrating) – if you believe you can’t show love because you feel so unloved – I have some advice for you that comes from my personal experience as a struggling wife.

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

1. Remember who you are in Christ. This has been key for me in overcoming lies from the Enemy about my marriage. In Christ, I am completely and perfectly fulfilled. I am perfectly loved. I am wanted. I am cherished. I am chosen.  Any loving that I do, has to flow from that place of understanding who I am as a Daughter of the King and Christ’s Bride.  When I find my identity in Christ instead of in my marriage, then I can survive the tough times.

2. Pray. Pray without ceasing that the Lord will give you His unfailing love for your man. I can’t tell you how often I’ve begged this of our Father over the years. That agape love comes not from us, my sisters in Christ. Rather, it is an overflow of abiding in the One who IS perfect Love. Pray for your man, as well, that he will demonstrate love to you in return. The Lord can affect changes in his heart that you can never hope to make!

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3. Seek counsel. My husband and I might face the effects of PTSD on our marriage for the rest of our lives. I pray not, but it could be so.  We’ve found a few godly friends who really “get” us and even more importantly, “get” our marriage dynamic.  They understand because they’ve been there, too.  However, I highly recommend seeking out a godly Christian counselor.  We’ve been through several over our nearly 16 years of marriage.

Our current counselor is by far my favorite. He doesn’t downplay the reality of PTSD as some do, neither does he downplay the power of Christ. He brings scripture into our sessions and ends each one with a prayer that brings encouragement to our hearts.

My friends, there is an indescribable comfort in realizing that your marriage problems are not unique.

Others have faced them and overcome them before!  You are not alone as the Enemy would have you believe. Seek help! And if your man won’t go with you, please don’t use that as an excuse not to get help for yourself.

4. Make a list. Sometimes when I’m really struggling to love my husband, I make a list. I take note of all of the things I admire about him – all of the reasons for loving who he is as a person.  This really helps me to turn my focus from the negative, things I dislike, to the positive, things I like.  It also helps me to look back and see the ways in which he has grown over the years. After all, he is a work-in-progress, just as I am. Remembering that fact helps me to show him more grace and love.

5. Read your old journals or love notes. Every once in a great while, I pull out my memory box and look through pictures or keepsakes from the early years. I read the notes my husband wrote to me. It’s easier to love someone when I remember that he loves me, too! The memory box also helps me to remember how marriage can be easy between us.  It doesn’t always have to be a struggle (that’s another lie straight from the Enemy, sisters!). Good years will return as long as we both continue to follow the Lord and pursue each other.

6. Pursue your man.  Okay, honestly, I still fight this one so hard at times – it’s a pride issue for me and an area the Lord is still working in.  However, I’m learning that when I obediently reach out to my husband instead of waiting for him to reach out to me, he responds and we both gain. Pursuing him might be as simple as stopping what I’m doing and looking him in the eyes when he speaks to me, or choosing to sit next to him on the couch and hold his hand even if he sat way over there in the first place.;)

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I know how difficult the above advice is to hear when you’re so broken-hearted, so wounded, so unloved.

Yes, I know it is.

But I have faith in the God who works out the impossible!

I’ve seen it in my own marriage in places where the Father has torn down our shabby constructs of love in order to build up newer, stronger foundations that rest on Him alone. I believe Him when he says I can do ALL things through His strength – even loving someone whom I might believe to be undeserving of my love. I can love someone who doesn’t love me in return, perhaps even someone who truly despises me at the moment, because of the power of Christ in me. And you can do it, too!

You can celebrate Valentine’s Day without glossing over that fact that your marriage is hurting. You can be honest with your spouse. You can choose to act lovingly toward him even if he is not reciprocating. You can cling to the hope that Christ redeems us, and He redeems our marriages, too!

You can, my sisters in Christ, because of Jesus.

Father, when we feel discouraged in our marriages, when we struggle to speak even a few loving words to our husbands, help us to remember that our marriages are works-in-progress, too.  Show us the progress, Lord!  Give us agape love for our husbands so that they might be drawn to us and drawn to You.  Remind us to pray for them. Remind us to pursue them. Show us every small way in which we can encourage and uplift them because of Your strength in us. And when we’re feeling so unloved ourselves, help us to turn to You, the Author of perfect Love. Teach us to be satisfied in You.  Especially on this Valentine’s Day, I ask you to bind up the brokenhearted and give them Hope!  Because of Your one and only Son’s death on our behalf….

Amen!

Jen :)

 


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Related Articles:

For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

How to Love When You Feel Unloved

Through My Grace-colored Glasses

It Was Ugly

For more encouraging articles on marriage, check out the Celebrating Marriage pinterest board!

Sharing this post with:

Making Your Home Sing Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Wedded Wednesday, Tell His Story, Wholehearted Home

Comments

  1. says

    Jen, thank you for sharing from the overflow of your own heart and life. It’s a blessing to know others who aren’t giving up just because the road gets challenging. Thank you for being such a blessing to me and to so many others! Love you!

  2. says

    Jen,
    Thanks for this. It will be something I can refer to and keep my head in check with it.
    As I read it, 1 John 4:10 came to mind-God first loved us. And what were we like when He did that? In rotten filthy ugly rebellion toward Him. He set His love upon us in Christ. In order to love others, sacrifice MUST be included in the equation! Thanks again! You have blessed my heart! :)

    • says

      Amen to all of this! Yes, we don’t like to hear the word “sacrifice” or to think that love might sometimes be “hard work,” but the truth is that real love is both of those things. But it’s also very much worth the extra effort! Thanks for stopping by this evening.
      Jen :)

  3. says

    Thank you for being vulnerable in this way. I know your words will minister to many others! I am not married, but love coming across great marriage advice. Blessings to you!

    • says

      Thank you, Constance! Loving like we should can be so difficult at times, especially when we hit a rough patch. But He is faithful! I’m so glad you stopped by tonight.
      Jen :)

  4. Theresa says

    Jen, I just want to thank you for sharing yourself with others. I find this at a difficult time in my marriage and trying to figure out how to “love” my way through our anniversary. I know counseling is necessary but your other suggestions are important, too. True, that they are challenging and I will fight through my pain to try. Thank you for spreading the Good news with us!

    • says

      Hi, Theresa, I’m so glad you found these words today. Loving your way through an anniversary or holiday is so hard when you’re not feeling close to your spouse! I wrote another post along those lines that you might be interested in, if you haven’t read it already. It’s called “For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love.” I’ve loved and lived through several of those hard anniversaries myself. I’ll pray that the Lord helps you through!
      Jen :)

  5. Jean says

    Thank you so much, Jen, for this much-needed post and words of wisdom! I really feel like running away from a husband who has been unemployed for years now and refuses to move forward through counseling, personal devotions, career advice, or even private talks with me, his wife. He grows more irritable, stubborn, and dark. He hasn’t even celebrated our anniversary or my birthday, and no gifts for Christmas. It’s hard. But this blog helps. I’m reminded to count on Christ, Who is constant and faithful, in Whom I can find my identity, and Whose love is perfect even in our weakness.

    • says

      Oh, Jean, my heart just hurts reading all of this. But I know you are not alone! So many women find themselves in similar situations. And although choosing to stay is not easy at all, I believe the Lord honors your obedience! It is only through Christ that we can do the things the world tells us are impossible to do. You are an encouragement to me this day, Jean. I’m praying for your marriage today! Thank you for sharing a bit of your story here.
      Jen :)

  6. Lucia says

    Thank you, I was scrolling thru pintrest and so happens to see this. Im going thru a very HARD difficult time in my marriage, divorce has been said so many times during thus year by my husband. I want that too but sometimes I feel like it’s just a mistake if I run with that. I will loose my family that our daughter choose to ask me to stay cus she wants her family together.. Please keep me in ur prayers I need the LORD to guide me nd help me thru thuis..

    • says

      Lucia, my heart goes out to you because I well know how marriage problems can really take a toll on the spirit. Unless you have a biblical reason to leave your marriage (that cannot be resolved), I encourage you to try toughing it out! But don’t do so alone. Find a counselor, pastor, or other qualified individual to walk with you and your husband through this hard time. Find friends who will listen to your complaining when you need them to, but who will also respect your desire to stay married. Most of all, pray like you’ve never prayed before and trust that the Lord is at work, even when there is no “evidence” of it, even when it doesn’t feel like He’s there. I want you to know you are not alone, Lucia, and I’m praying for your marriage even as I type these words! Also, if you need more encouragement, you can search this site for more articles or visit my friend’s site – Sharing Redemption’s Stories. Most of all, know you are loved by our Heavenly Father, and He can be enough for you during this dark time.
      Much love,
      Jen

  7. Kelly says

    I just read this post and the not celebrating valentine’s day post. Thank you. I think these are two of the first post from a Christian blog that didn’t gloss over the hard stuff. I needed it.

  8. says

    Wow. What a faith filled, beautifully written reminder of ways and reasons to love your husband. I’m not experiencing any major issues at the moment, but it was encouraging to read this. Sometimes we forget to put God into the equation even though he’s the one who joined us. Love this post. God bless!

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