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“Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” — Matthew 19:4-6
A friend in North Carolina introduced me to “standing for your marriage” as a concept and movement. I had always known there were those who refused to give up on their dying or dead marriage—but I had never heard it called “standing”.
Since then I have paid close attention to articles, books, websites, testimonies, and seminars about standing. I know in the military community the stresses on a marriage can cause either the husband or wife—sometimes both—to say, “Enough! I’m done!” So in order to shed light (God’s light) on a different path for your marriage, I have compiled this information using the letters S.T.A.N.D. It is not exhaustive but is an introduction to standing for your marriage—and that includes a military marriage—for your study and (perhaps) application.
“S”—What is “Standing”?
One who has chosen to believe God for the healing and restoration of their marriage, and to take definite steps towards that renewal, is a husband or wife who is standing for their marriage. Dr. Ed Wheat, in his book How to Save Your Marriage Alone, writes, “If you are in this group, I do indeed consider you special. First, by your stand you indicate a commitment to the sacredness and permanence of marriage that is God-honoring; second, you have the courage to face your own problems instead of running from them or hiding behind false pride; and third, you exhibit the maturity which, even when there is no response, can choose to love with a steadfast love that is tough and real, intelligent and purposeful, wholly committed to your partner’s well-being.” (p. 7)
If your husband or wife has left you, either emotionally or physically, I urge you to get a copy of Dr. Wheat’s little 62-page book. If God is calling you to be a stander, this book will get you started in the right direction with encouragement and advice.
“T”—Trust God and His promises.
Kim Sorgius includes this imperative in her article “5 Steps to Standing for Your Marriage” found on the “Intentionally Yours” marriage ministry website. Her first step is entitled “Wrap Yourself in Promise” where she states, “Skip this one and you’ll crash and burn in days. Over the past 3 years, I’ve met a lot of standers. Some standing for just 2 months, some for 5 years. No matter how long, they all agree that standing is the hardest thing you will EVER do. There is just something nearly impossible about loving a person who spats hate in your face, often daily. But, every day thousands of people do it and so can you . . . if you are wrapped in promise. You must learn God’s promises and stand on them, daily. Make a list and put it on the fridge. Keep a running journal if you need to. Whatever it takes to remind you what God has said.”
And what has God said?
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’” (Mark 10:27).
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13).
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
“The LORD is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made” (Psalm 145:13).
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Kim goes on to encourage you to “let go.” That reminds me of the old saying, “Let go and Let God.” Her advice is to rely on God for your spouse, your needs, your future—in prayer!
“A”—Your Attitude is pivotal.
Sherry Jennings, whose husband left her for an adulterous affair, writes in “I’m Done: What to Do When You are Sick of Your Marriage”: “Prayer changes everything. When you seek God’s face, curl up on His lap and cry out to Jesus, things change . . . As you pray, God softens your heart and enlightens you with His understanding. Spending time talking with God invites Him into your situation, your circumstances, your perceptions, your understanding, and powerfully reminds you He is God and you are not . . . thankfully! Allow Him to break your heart for what breaks His. As you pray, God will show you where you need to forgive . . . and where you need to seek forgiveness.” In this article do not overlook how Sherry’s attitude changed regarding how she should pray for Scott—and for the “other woman”—based on Proverbs 5:5-23.
The testimony of Scott & Sherry Jennings’ healed marriage is on IntentionallyYours.org. An attitude of hope based on the truth of Scripture and the testimonies of His saints will go a long way in fighting discouragement.
“N”—Your marriage is a covenant, NOT a contract!
In our years of teaching God’s blueprints for marriage to military couples, we always remind them they made a covenant with each other, not a contract. Far from a 50/50 arrangement of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. . . God teaches that “Covenant love is a never-stopping, never-giving up, unbreaking, always-and-forever love” (from Jesus Storybook Bible). It is 100/100 . . . each spouse giving their all.
Also, we know and experience that marriage is NOT about you—it is about living and loving to the glory of God. Gary Thomas’ powerful quote from Sacred Marriage is, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
So standing for your marriage may be the way we demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a watching world—“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34,35).
God’s word says—“But those who marry will face many troubles in this life . . .” (I Corinthians 7:28). God allows difficult things in our lives so that His glory may be revealed. This is hard teaching, but it is true. Standing will be very difficult—perhaps the most difficult thing you have ever done—but it is a call to commitment to your vows. An excellent resource for more information on this is RejoiceMinistries.org. I found the Q&A (under Resources) to be particularly insightful. Click on the question to receive the answers. Thousands have been helped with this information and encouragement.
“D”—Take Definite Steps.
Spend time in prayer with God and ask Him to reveal what definite and deliberate steps you need to take to grow spiritually, build community, learn more about marriage, and help your children.
- Watch your words. Sherry Jennings article “How to Speak Life into Your Dead Marriage!” is helpful and enlightening. Read it! “The tongue has the power of life and death . . .” (Proverbs 18:21).
- Consider going to a seminar to learn good marriage skills. We recommend FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember, Art of Marriage, Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect.
- Explore useful websites such as Rejoice Marriage Ministries and Intentionally Yours.
- Build a community of support. Find a good church where you can worship. Pray to meet a friend (of the same gender)—or friends—who will support your stand (not everyone will). Get a mentor or prayer partner who will hold you accountable . . . and will encourage you during the tough days of standing (there will be). Also on IntentionallyYours.org you can contact the ministry about their online community “Intentionally Standing”.
- Help your children by helping yourself first. “The Oxygen Mask” on ExcellentorPraiseworthy.org was not written for standers, but the concepts are similar and important. Read it and remember that your children will greatly benefit from your spiritual growth in Christ-like behavior. The Spirit-filled life is known by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Standing for your marriage will require supernatural vigilance. Every aspect of your life will be affected. But don’t forget—God is faithful. His promises are true. He is a god of redemption. Standing may be difficult for a season, but with God’s help it may produce a legacy of a long-lasting marriage for generations to come. I pray so.
Thomas, Gary. Sacred Marriage (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 2000).
Wheat, Ed. How to Save Your Marriage Alone (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1983).
Websites: IntentionallyYours.com; RejoiceMinistries.org; ExcellentorPraiseworthy.org
Questions to Share:
1. Which of the points made in this devotion was surprising to you? Why?
2. Pray with your spouse for the Lord to increase your love for each other and to remain committed to your marriage vows—even when times are tough (especially when times are tough).