Have you begun to feel like your marriage is more about duty than love? You push forward in your obligations to God, your spouse, your children, and your responsibilities, but move backward in your feelings. Duty is like living under the law—you're busy doing something, but you feel no passion or desire for it.
Many married people feel trapped because they want to fulfill their covenant in marriage, but they feel exceptional discouragement and disappointment. Their spouses may be experiencing a season of weakness due to physical or mental illness, job loss, or emotional turmoil. Or perhaps they have sinned and walked away from God.
There is hope. The same God who took dirt and fashioned the intricate details of the human body with its complexity of neurons, cells, and nerves can revive love in your marriage.
For more than 20 years, I worked hard in my marriage to make it work. I wanted more love than duty, but the needs of raising a family took first place. Love moved to a distant second, then third, and before long it was hardly on the radar. I became more duty-driven than love-motivated in my marriage. My love began to drift away, lost like a boat without oars.
While watching the movie The Painted Veil, I was moved when Kitty told Sister Mother that it was her duty to be with her husband in the cholera-ridden region of China. Sister Mother replied, "Duty is what you do when you wash your hands. Love and duty together reveal the grace within you." We need the grace of God to help us experience the divine intertwining of love and duty resulting in a wonderful, sacrificial aroma to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The acronym GRACE is your guide to living the fulfilled life that God has predestined for your marriage.
G—Go to God first.
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7).
There will be times to call your friends or reach out to your trusted Bible study buddies, but they can't be there in the darkest, loneliest moments. You may appreciate their words and acts of compassion, but it won't be enough. This is between God and you. Your private time with God will determine the level of your marital contentment. My confession to God became "My heart's not right and I know that's not pleasing to you. I submit to the Holy Spirit to help me grow in this."
It will take complete surrender and trust in him. In your hour of frustration you must speak out to God, "I believe you." Something happens on the inside when you make a verbal affirmation of your faith in the valleys. There's peaceful reassurance of his grace and presence that will guide you through the murky waters of uncertainty in your marriage.