Why Should a Wife Fight for Her Marriage?
Listen to how God can work in a woman’s life after the discovery of her husband’s sin to heal her pain, make her more like Jesus and teach her to fight on her knees for God to save, not her marriage, but her husband’s soul.
Pure Life Ministries Director of Women’s Counseling Carol Bourque shares from her own testimony and experience in an interview with Nate Danser.
Carol Bourque is the director of women's counseling here at Pure Life, and she has been counseling women in our Wives Program since 2011. Carol, as you know, the church is in a horrible condition and the statistics are staggering. Men are addicted to pornography and sexual sin in unprecedented numbers, and very often there's a wife attached to that man, and she is suffering silently. Last night I went through Kathy Gallagher's book, When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart, and she shared some brief quotes from women who found out that her husband was involved in sexual sin, and the agony is overwhelming. And that women really are in a fight for their own lives, and I can only imagine that the idea then of fighting for their marriage is something that they would find very difficult. You know, you've been counseling for the last 8 years or so with us, so you have you had a good amount of experience and also time to see how even the culture is changing, and I just wonder if now in 2019, are women more likely to be encouraged to throw in the towel on their marriage than they were even 10 years ago?
Well, interestingly enough, I think there is a mixture. And it actually surprises me because today, the culture would tell us, as women, that we don't have to put up with something like that. To just get out of that situation and move on and start over with somebody else. However, most of the women who come to Pure Life Ministries Wives Program for help, are Christian women. And so they really do want to stay in their marriage and help their husbands to fight in this battle that they're in.
Well, I'm definitely encouraged to hear that, because just like you said, the voice of culture is so strong these days, and you know, even if you want to do the right thing, it really doesn't do much to alleviate the agony that these women are in. And I want to read a quote from Kathy Gallagher's book about a wife who went through this. And she said,
“Early one Saturday morning he finally confessed to me that he had had an affair with a married woman. I was outraged. I suddenly began to get up and punch him with all my might. The next month was like a nightmare that I could not awaken from. More confessions and horror stories: an affair with a 55-year-old woman; topless bars; table dances and so on. The blood would run cold through my veins with each story. The left side of my face would go numb. I went from 129 pounds to 113 pounds. My hair began to fall out. I had diarrhea daily, and at times I thought that I would surely die. I could not believe that he would be unfaithful to me again. I kept trying to convince myself it was untrue but there it was staring me in the face.”
This, you know this woman is describing pain of an unbelievable magnitude and it's hard for me to imagine a woman going through something like that, saying, “You know what? Yeah, I want to fight for this marriage!” But you have seen women who experience that kind of pain actually stand up and begin to fight?
Yes, actually. You know I think once they get past that devastation, and they're in a place where they can hear from the Lord, they are willing to do whatever it takes to fight and to be obedient to what they have heard God call them to. And the call is usually when you're down on the ground, in that pain and devastation crying out to God saying, “What should I do, or should I leave this guy?” Usually there's that still, small, quiet voice that you hear from the Lord, and most times he says, “I have not released you from this marriage.” And so that's what most of these women come into our programs sensing, that God has not released them from this marriage yet. They may not understand why, but they're willing to stay and fight.
You know, Carol, I've never been betrayed by someone at a level like that, but I have experienced some very extreme mental anguish, at times. I know how difficult it is to still yourself enough to begin to hear what you said, that still, small voice. How would you encourage a wife if she just can't hear yet because the roar of the pain is so strong; how does she move forward?
Well, that's a good question, and I know that it was more an emotional mind battle for me. Because I would constantly be replaying and rethinking all of the scenarios, the situations that my husband had confessed, so my mind was constantly bombarded with those thoughts and those images. And so, for me, in order for those images and those thoughts to stop, I had to force myself to get over the Word of God. I took Scripture, every time there was a thought that popped into my mind I would take scripture, and I would meditate on it. And anywhere, anytime during the day, so what I did for myself, and I encourage women to do this: I bought some 3 x 5 cards. Well, I was actually encouraged by my counselor when I went to the program to do this. She said buy some 3 x 5 cards and get into the Word of God, and write Scripture on these cards, and put them everywhere - in your house, in your car. I mean I've got them taped in my shower. And when, anywhere, and a thought would come into my mind, I would choose at that moment to either give over and be tormented with that thought or I would choose to dwell on God's word. And I love the Word of God, because it says in the Psalms that He sent His word and healed us. (Psalm 107) That's exactly what He did for me. His word healed my mind and, there's no other explanation for what happened for me, and for many women who go through our program.
So, you've been describing how you fought your own personal battle. Now, let's say a wife says … She's kind of getting herself back up on her feet … just personally and she says, “You know what? I do want to begin to fight for my marriage.” First, can we talk about some wrong ways to fight? Because there's a lot of ways to fight, but we don't always help situations sometimes. Can you get some wrong ways to fight for a marriage?
Yeah, I think the wrong way to fight is obviously in our flesh, and that would be our wanting to take control of the situation, and then to control our husbands as well. So, some women either will become more like a mother to them than a wife, or some will become more like a detective or a policewoman. There are women, and I've counseled many of these, who again, trying to take matters into their own hands, by shaming their husbands or nagging them or belittling them; thinking that these things will force him to change; And men began to get resentful of their wives. They see them as that, being a nag. They do not respond well to trying to be controlled. And it's not going to change them, and that's the thing that we don't understand. Our trying to take matters into our own hands is not going to change our husbands.
So how should she fight?
On her face. Before the Lord. That is the only thing I know to say to a woman when she's asking, you know, what do I do? What do I do? And my counsel to her is you get your eyes off of your husband and off of yourself and you get them on the Lord. Ephesians 6 talks about where our struggle, our battle really is. And it says it’s not against flesh and blood but it's against rulers and powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. And we so often feel like this is a flesh, you know, physical battle. But it's more of a spiritual battle. And I think once a wife can understand that this is not about her, and her husband but it's more about her husband and his relationship with the Lord, then she can begin to fight for him, in the proper way again, in prayer.
You know, I was talking with Kathy Gallagher about this the same topic a couple of days ago, and she said that one of the difficulty she's experienced when counseling women, and telling them, “begin to pray for your husband,” is that, they say, “I have been! I mean, I've been praying my heart out that this jerk would change” and all that. So, how do you pray rightly for your husband, because you mentioned that.
I know in my own experience, with myself, my prayers were very self-focused, especially in the beginning. They really did center around me. You know, “God, change this guy…” you know, I wasn't actually saying this in my prayer, but this is what my thought was, right? You know, change this guy so I don't have to struggle, I don't have to deal with this stuff; I don't have to go through this pain, so I don't have to suffer. His soul was very small on my radar. What it was doing to him spiritually was really, especially, in the beginning, I didn't think about him or his soul, to be quite honest with you. So, I know that a lot of our prayers are really very self-focused, and so I think that once our prayer begins to be a prayer of faith, that God is able to do what we could never do and we're not trusting in man, we are trusting in our Creator, we're trusting in God to do the impossible, because if this man doesn't receive a revelation about his spiritual condition, he will most likely perish. And so, we become desperate and we intercede on behalf of our husbands so we're putting ourselves in his place, so to speak, instead of focusing on the prayer being about ourselves.
Yeah, I mean it sounds like if you were really in the spirit of intercession, the results of the marriage take a back seat.
Yeah, absolutely, and again, I think of it as you becoming desperate, almost putting yourself in that position that your husband's in and crying out to God like you're crying out for yourself on behalf of this man who you are one with. Because God says that when a man and woman are joined together, and they become one flesh. So you're crying out for him almost like it's you.
Yeah, if I was in that position, what would I need; what would I want?
Right, right! How would I want to be prayed for? Because sometimes it's like the sin and the deception that these men are in, it's almost like they can't even pray; so who better than his wife to bear him to the Lord?
That really changes things. It gives a wife a completely new direction, a completely different purpose than from “how do I fix this problem,” to “how do I have an eternal perspective about this?” And it just amazing, because in a in a real way, she's becoming like Jesus, because that's what Jesus did. That's who He is, that's His heart and His desire for us.
I was just going to say that. I was just going to say but that's the heart of Jesus. It really is the heart of Jesus. Now I don't think it happens overnight. I don't think it happens as soon as you find out that your husband's in sexual sin. I do know that there is a time where a woman definitely is grieving over what’s happened and the focus is on herself for a time. But, again, as she as she looks to God, she's looking to the Lord instead of looking at what her husband's done or done to her and that's how most women see it. “This is what he's done to me!” Once she can see that this is what he's doing to the Lord, first and foremost, and it does take time, it is a process, and some women go through that process faster than others. For me, it took a long time to get to that point.
I really appreciate those thoughts because I think it gives a really balanced viewpoint about this; that the pain is tremendous and no one is discounting that, but there really is a path forward through this and you can follow God's will in this and not just not just quit. Thank you so much, Carol, for joining us and God bless you, and may God bless all the women who are listening to this.
May God bless you too.
This excerpt is from our podcast episode, “Why should a Wife Fight for Her Marriage” Episode #351.
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