A Loving Spouse or a Difficult Spouse?

What’s best, a loving spouse or a difficult spouse?

Well it all depends.

What are your goals? A happy life? Contentment here on Earth? The fulfillment of a marriage that everyone agrees is a true love story?

Or, is your goal to get to heaven?

Sure when we get married we all dream about having a beautiful marriage, a loving spouse and the ideal family. But the truth is, and this is a difficult truth, what might be best for you and your soul is to have a spouse who makes life a challenge for you.

How can this be so? Is that really what God intends for marriage?

Yes, God wills all of us to have a beautiful loving relationship with each other. But when God sees us respond to a challenging situation, a difficult relationship, a difficult person in our life… then He knows that we are really working for Him and not just for us.

That’s how God loves us. He loves us even if we are totally wretched, horrible to others, and generally difficult to be around. Does He want us to be like that? No.

But when we are faced with hard situations in our marriage, whether it be a spouse who treats us badly, has a physical ailment, is confronted with emotional problems, or has challenges in their career or business…if we can accept them and love them, then we are imitating Jesus and the way He taught us to love.

When we got married, God didn’t say I want you to love your spouse until death do you part as long as your spouse is nice to you, a nurturing parent, great provider, and is always fun to be around. He knew that some of us love more than others. Some of us go through periods when we are very selfish. Some engage in sinful activities. But we are called to love everyone, not just the people who love us and are easy to live with.

So , if your main goal is to get to heaven and to bear the crosses that God gives you, then vow to love—no matter what—the spouse that God has given you.

What if you have a “bad marriage”?

Let me ask it another way. Is there really such a thing as a “bad marriage”? Let’s say you’re married. God put you and your spouse together. He had you meet that one person that He had chosen for you. And, He sees marriage as a sacrament and He was there to bless the marriage, making it really a three way union: you, your spouse and God.

How can that be “bad”? God arranged it. He created you and your spouse. He ordained any children that came from that union. God doesn’t make mistakes.

Are there challenging marriages?

Do we defile the marriage that God gave us?

Do we have ups and downs in marriage?

Do we sometimes seem to “grow apart”?

Do we feel under attack or unfulfilled?

Consider what happens when a marriage that was seemingly “good” runs into major obstacles. The father has a financial setback, the wife is unfaithful, a child dies, the nest empties, there is an addiction or mental disease, one spouse just becomes more selfish…

Now the comfort of the smooth sailing marriage enters a turbulent time and one or both spouses decide they aren’t up for the choppy waters.

Again, do you really think that God didn’t foresee this? After all the horrible sinners that have come before us and with all the sinful ways of our current world, do you really think that God didn’t know it would be tough?

You aren’t in a “bad marriage”. You are in a “God marriage”. Every marriage is good just like each one of us is good, even those of us who are “difficult”.

Back to the difficult spouses

Now those of you who might be “difficult spouses”. (In fact, I might be a “difficult spouse”) I can see the wheels turning. “That’s my problem… I’m a difficult spouse and my spouse should just accept me for that.”

This is not a license for you to continue to be difficult. You have your own soul to consider and God does not want you to be difficult to your spouse. So you need to do the best you can to be the best spouse you can be. Apologize. Amend your ways. Ask to be forgiven. And you need to love your spouse even if they aren’t able to truly love you in your difficulty.

Perhaps your spouse is the “difficult spouse”. Do you have to lie down and accept anything that comes your way? Any kind of sin or abuse? Absolutely not. First, you can and should pray for them. After all, the best thing for their soul is to love you and others. If they aren’t doing God’s will it’s not good for them, even if you are able to endure whatever hurt comes your way.

You should ask them to change and tell them your concerns and relate any pain they have caused you. Get priests and/or Christian counselors involved. You have every right to try to build the best marriage you can.

But, in the end, you can only control yourself. And, their best or their current state may not meet your needs or expectations. God knows that and He is watching to see how you respond. He’s watching them, too, but your main concern is you, how you love and how you bear your crosses.

Two broken people

There is a wonderful song from Casting Crowns called “Broken Together”. Here are a few of the lyrics:

“Maybe you and I we’re never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us?
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together.

I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we won’t give up the fight”

So yes, that’s what life and marriage is really about… two very flawed people struggling through and helping each other no matter what. But, we need God’s help. Our hearts need to be open to His help. Then, we need to fight through the rough stuff, with Jesus by our side.

Does our culture really believe this or support this? Absolutely not. This approach to marriage is not what we promote. And there will be many around you, if you are in a difficult marriage, who will tell you that you deserve better. Or that God wants you to be “happy”. You should not have to “put up with a jerk for a spouse”. I’m sorry you have a “bad marriage”.

How should you respond to this kind of input? Generally I think you need to ignore it. This marriage is really between you, your spouse, and God.

What you may need to do is go to confession. Talk it over with the priest. Review what your vows really mean and then remain committed to your spouse no matter what. This is true unconditional love, not the easy kind of love that our culture promotes for marriage.

Some who give you this input may seemingly have good intentions. You can thank them for their concern but the truth is that you may let them influence you to make a decision which is completely contrary to what God wants. And it will harm your soul and their soul and help to destroy your covenant with your spouse and God.  This then causes much harm to your spouse and shows the rest of your family the marriage vows mean very little. And, later they may justify the same action in their marriage because of your example.

Is this a tough message? Yes.

But I believe it’s God’s message. Review chapter 13 of First Corinthians from the Bible. You will see what I mean. Love is patient and kind and has no memory of the hurt that may come your way.

True love just endures.

No matter what.

Just like our merciful God.

John S. Cohoat

By

John is a Midwesterner, born and raised in the great Hoosier State of Indiana. He jokes that he has a “checkered past” in that he didn’t choose the path that many thought he might when he left Notre Dame and rose quickly through the ranks at a large public accounting firm. He’s been the Chief Financial Officer at a medical laboratory and CEO of a small hospital. John has owned an ice cream company, operated restaurants, worked for large Catholic Health Care organizations, did real estate business development, wrote a book and owned a bed & breakfast. The last several years John led a membership and consulting strategy organization for small business owners.  For over a dozen years, John has mastered the art of copywriting for several small business clients and Catholic organizations. His true passion now is personal spiritual development including copywriting/fundraising for Catholic organizations and spiritual writing. You can find out more about John and his work at www.cohoatbusinessgrowth.com including samples of his writing.

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  • Leslie Russell

    I cannot tell you how much this article has meant to me. My husband is loving, and yes, extraordinarily difficult sometimes. Becoming a more loving, patient, and forgiving wife is my goal of Advent this year. Thank you, John Cohoat, for your wise words.

  • Michelle

    I’m not sure if I agree with the author. This seems to justify to have/be a difficult spouse or even having a SM relationship. I think rather than having a difficult spouse, the greater testimony in a good marriage is how to be a loving spouse. I think Regardless of the marriage we are in, God has already given us enough ingredients and tools to work them through.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    It sounds like you didn’t read the article all the way through.

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