3 Things to Remember Before You Call It Quits in Marriage

3 things to remember before you call it quits in marriage_thumb


Over the years, there have been several questions that have surfaced on my blog more than any others.  Though spoken in different ways from different people at different times, these questions usually go something like this:

“What if I’m the only one putting any effort into my marriage?”

“What if my spouse never gives, but always takes?”

“I’m so lonely in my marriage. I want to call it quits. What should I do?”

For some, calling it quits means living in the same home, but giving up on any hope of a healthy marriage.  For others, calling it quits means separation or even divorce.  Before travelling down one of those roads, I’d like to remind you of 3 vital things.

1. Remember your vows.
“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish ‘til death do us part.”  The day you and your spouse were married was the day you promised all these things as you stood before God, before your family, and before your friends.  Remember, this commitment you made was meant to be lifelong, and calling it quits would break that unconditional promise you once made with all your heart.

2. Remember what marriage is.
Marriage was never meant to be a contract to be broken, but a covenant to be cherished. Here is the clear difference between a covenant and a contract.



Based on unconditional love between God, a husband, and a wife Based on conditional consideration between two people
Sacrificial Action (i.e. I’ll do it no matter what you do) Reciprocal Transaction (e.g. If you do this, then & only then I will do that)
Based on Mutual Commitment Based on Mutual Distrust
Seeks to Give Seeks to Get
For Life For Now

In a nutshell, a contract is all about what you get. A covenant is all about what you give.

3. Remember the purpose of marriage.
In 8 Mistakes I’ve Made in Marriage, I shared that in my early years of marriage, I felt like an important part of Susan’s “duty” as my wife was to make me happy. I was a bit more focused on me than on us. I didn’t think so at the time, but now looking back I relied on Susan to lift me up when I was down, to help me upon command, and to meet my physical needs when called upon…just to name a few.

Did you ever think, “Once I get married, then I’ll finally be happy”?  It doesn’t take much experience in marriage to discover that this simply isn’t true.  The only person who can ever provide ultimate joy for you is God, not your spouse.  Perhaps realizing this truth means changing your expectations of your spouse. Ultimately, marriage is not about happiness, but about holiness. It’s a holy union between God, a husband, and a wife—a union established to glorify God.  

Are you thinking about calling it quits in your marriage? Have these things I’ve reminded you of helped? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • mels

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. Sometimes these are the little things that keep me moving forward and hopeful for a better future.
    I have since learned that what he was doing to my daughter and me are definitely considered abusive, both verbally and physically. I’m so relieved to be out of that situation. Thank you again for your kind words!

  • mels

    Well said! I thought I was marrying someone who was equally yoked with me. But I soon found out that it was all an act. I’m 37 and don’t know that I want to get married again. It’s so difficult to know if the person you’re marrying is really who they say they are.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Heartbroken x3 I am so sorry you going through this pain. If your husband truly wants to rebuild it is possible. There are some thoughts and actions outlined in this blog you may want to discuss with him. http://www.markmerrill.com/2010/08/19/rebuilding-trust-in-a-relationship/#more-1307

  • Jar of Clay

    Thank you for the article. I am a spirit-filled, born-again believer who is asking her husband for a divorce. Sometimes the vortex of pain outweighs the timing for the move of God. If God is the author, finisher, and perfecter of my faith, then He has to do the fixing. I yield. I have no power. I have prayed and waited for 10 years now. I’m depressed, fat from emotional eating, in physical pain (not from physical abuse), and sad for the example I’m demonstrating to our children. And, quite honestly, I don’t have God’s love toward my spouse. I am a poor and ineffective witness in my own household, church, and community. How did this ruby fall to such a wretched state?

    As background, I sought premarital counseling through my church. We had the blessing of our leadership. What are we telling the body of believers, and what are we asking in counseling? If we honestly look back at what we’ve done to prepare for marriage, a lot of times we can see the error of ourselves (human pride) that doomed the union from the start, let alone if there is imbalance (human imperfection) that follows a perceived equal yoke. There it is. We often have POOR MEASUREMENT for spiritual equality in the yoking. Premarital counseling should get to the heart of spiritual equalness rather than other types of compatibility.

    I have requested marital counseling, but he won’t do it. Even so, God can still work a miracle in our hearts and restore the marriage. But maybe this is a lesson I was meant to learn. Maybe I must release the pride of “being married” in order to love myself. God is still with me. He will still forgive me. And I will be about His business to care for our children and myself.

  • Nicole

    I have to chime in and agree with warrior. I recently divorced a narcissist, alcohoholic who got worse and more dangerous the more unconditional love and acceptance that I gave. It was dangerous in my home and I do not believe that God wants us to put ourselves in a place of harm. I do not believe that I deserve to be happy, but we should be safe in our home. My husband left 2 years ago and still created a lot of dangerous situations with his drinking and radical behavior surrounding those episodes. It is also important to remember that an alcoholic creates a very dangerous financial liability. If they drink and drive and kill someone a spouse and children could end up losing everything and be out on the street. I will always pray for my ex-husband including the miracle of God’s hand on his heart, but I am not going to subject myself and my children to the life he is living at this time which creates emotional and financial risk. I pray especially pray for all men I know who have lost their way in their responsibilities as fathers and husbands.

  • bitter&unhappy

    FlowerChildBoomer, I often wish I had your kind of understanding from others. Some people seem to think no matter what is wrong, it should be worked out. Or, as I was told in my first ever marriage counseling session a week ago, I will lose my soul if I don’t work things out with my husband. :(

  • helpless

    If we make it I will have been married 25 years in June.Our relationship like most has been a roller coaster with us both being totally different people and it feeling like I was the only one trying, About 5 years ago my husband got put on probation at work for flunking a drug test he had assured me time and again that he had quit and I believed him. Just this last September he lost his job for the same thing. I was devastated I really believed he had learned his lesson, On top of this he has no desire to work unless it is what will make him happy. While I have taken a job totally out of my comfort zone to try to make ends meet. How do I stay knowing I will never trust him or that he has no desire to take care of me or our family?

  • http://youaretheoneiwant.com/ Summer M

    Hopeful, you are truly an amazing woman. I am so inspired by your testimony – may God give back to you 100 fold the love you have shown this man (your husband).

    I am reminded that the abused often become abusers, and know that your love for this man is exactly what he needs. Who knows what he went through to mistreat you in this way, but I believe no one who loves themselves would treat their spouse that way… you are allowing love to win this war because scripture says love NEVER fails. It can melt the hardest heart. I will pray for you to stay strong. Thank you for being an incredible example of sacrificial love & a true godly woman!

  • http://www.SmoothMom.com/ Ashley J Lee

    I will pray for your family.. If you believe in God then it is evident if divorce or separation occurs we must wait or be reconciled.. well I’m waiting for reconciliation (me alone) and I trust in God.. I can promise waiting to reconcile is difficult but the other option is to be single and I don’t want that for our children or even myself-as you may feel also if you part ways. SOMEtimes it is necessary but equally if not more difficult… I think CHRISTIAN counseling can be amazing but the most important weapon (we do not fight in flesh) is prayer. God Promises to sanctify a spouse if they are in the home and we are sanctified. on the other hand, if they leave- we are given peace to worship with God and not called to serve them(be in bondage((I had to check the original word written in Hebrew and the definition to make sure what that meant lol))) but stay strong, whether you reconcile or remain single know there is MUCH support (like FB group “covenant marriage standers”) .. if your spouse enters adultery, Never think you must do the same to ‘move on’ as the world sees it. we move on and ahead with life, but never with a spouse other than the one of our youth, unless Lord forbid they die.

  • Justin Wilson

    All this sounds like the gospel of bitterness. Where in the Bible did God ever say he put you here to be happy?

    This lie right here cause divorce and adultery. the one seeks to get happy by any means necessary idea will find themselves doing everything for selfish gain.

  • Denise Haller

    are you serious? It says it all over the Bible, That god created man that they may find joy. I have found joy in believing in our Heavenly Father and trusting in him. I know that he knows me personally, knows my needs, will help me carry my burdens. He didn’t say everything would be perfect, he said that we will be tried and tested, but he does tell us “I didn’t say it would be easy… I said it would be worth it” It is how we come out the other side that proves, and hones us to be better and stronger. Steel that is proved in the fire separates the impurities and makes it stronger. We must be proved in adversity to separate impurties (satan) and come out stronger on the other side.

  • R B Pierce, US Navy Chaplain

    Truth is, Mark — when you “give,” even when you feel you’re doing so “unfairly,” you always “get more” back. BUT: One cannot “give” with this “expectation”… and have it work. You hit the nail on the head: thanks.

  • Hoosier62

    So you are telling this guy what exactly? Is it you think it is his fault his wife cheated?

  • Eddie

    I am not a perfect person nor do I ever claim to be. I always tried to be a thoughtful husband and do the right thing. Things were fine before I got hurt at work and forced out after fifteen years of service. After that, things changed. Some was financial strain but my ex-wife changed after six years of marriage. She began to lie, steal money from our accounts and stopped paying the bills. All while I was trusting and loving as always and then she dropped the bomb and said she wanted a divorce. She became petty, childish and spiteful.
    I don’t know why and not knowing is what is so hard. I don’t know if I can trust again along with exposing myself to more pain ever again. I can’t be the only one like this.

  • jed

    That’s all well and good, but let me share a grim reality with you: if you have kids and divorce, it gets waaaay worse once your divorced. You see, you are still both bound to raise your children, so you will see your ex spouse all the time. School events, doctors appointments, ball games, etc. Think you don’t get along now? Wait until there’s no reason to keep peace (you have to live with one another and so you TRY to reduce conflict). Once your divorced, all bets are off and your ex will dig their heels in on issues you used to disagree about. You have a level of control when married, but when you divorce, you relinquish that control to a judge who doesn’t care about your disagreements and will roll their eyes at your petty disagreements. Don’t want your kid hanging around with a certain other kid? What if your ex disagrees, but you feel strongly? In marriage, you’ll likely come to a consensus. in divorce your ex can, and might, tell you to pound sand. Your choice: accept again and again you really have no say in the matter, or take a $5,000 gamble and go to court. Please, take my first hand advice, divorce doesn’t end anything, it’s just the beginning of a much more contentious relationship. Suck it up and work it out, or learn to bite your lip. (Obviously excludes abusive situations)

  • Elwood

    Getting married is an act of faith. Like that old joke, “Men marry a woman, hoping she’ll never change – and then she does. Women marry a man, hoping he’ll change – and then he doesn’t.” It is very possible that man and woman are equally yoked when they get married – they have both given their hearts to Jesus – and after getting married (possibly *long* after getting married), one spouse takes his/her heart back FROM Jesus and lives for self instead. That person could spiritualize it and say “God only wants me to be happy.” I personally know of several of these instances, and suspect that I’m in one of them now. It’s like part of the house has gone off the foundation. 1 Corinthians 7 gives this situation as an allowance for divorce.

    So, what’s worse: breaking covenant with your spouse, or living in a marriage that does not honor Christ? If one spouse is trusting God and the other isn’t, then the spouse who’s trusting God needs to seek the Lord about that. One solution does not fit all circumstances. But this where I’m at, and I don’t want bitterness to take root in my heart.

    Mel, now that you’re ending one chapter and starting another, the God of all wisdom will help you through this. And I’m praying that a sister in the Body will come along to walk through this with you, not with self-centered worldly wisdom nor with religious condemnation or rules, but with God’s higher thoughts and loving heart.

  • Neil

    So it seems like don’t get married. Just be holy with God.

  • IStayedMarriedTooLong

    Cut your losses. Move on. Immediately.

  • IStayedMarriedTooLong

    Dude, I went through the same deal and more over a 17-year marriage. She cheated on you for a reason, so don’t expect things to improve any time soon. I stayed in it for my kids too, but I stayed too long. EVERYONE would have been happier, and the family law industry a lot less richer, if I had been a little more practical about where things were headed a lot sooner-nowheresville. The sooner your kids see a happy dad the better. Sounds like that might start with being a responsible single dad…just sayin’

  • IStayedMarriedTooLong

    He sounds like a jerk. Get happy, move on. Immediately.

  • IStayedMarriedTooLong

    Bless you for trying, but WHY in the world would you stay in such a dysfunctional relationship? You may find out what you are doing will have lasting damage for you and prevent this dude from getting help or at least a badly needed reality check. Get happier, move on. There’s life out there.

  • IStayedMarriedTooLong

    Good for you. Doing the right thing is staring you in the face.

  • http://www.e-wooster.com thedragonman

    I can really relate to this post, I am in a covenant and it is clear that my wife has been in a contract. We have been together 15 years and through all the ups and downs I have fought to be a good husband. Early on in our marriage my wife was diagnosed with a personality disorder caused by a chemical imbalance. When she took her medication she was a loving and thoughtful person, when she didn’t she was mean selfish and spiteful. I held true to my covenant for mental health is included in the terms “In Sickness and in Health” she did not. The medication made her gain weight and she was already upset at what God blessed her with. She disappeared with our 5yr old twins January 23rd and I do not know where they are. I have my ideas but no real proof. I pray that God keeps them safe.

  • JR

    Mels, I feel like I am not hearing both sides of the story. But it sounds like your man has checked out and does not want to be with you.

  • hbstg

    I am one of those people who truly believes in forever but that does mean that you cannot separate while taking steps like counseling. God can work miracles when given the change but you should not be grated like that by anyone in your life. If you bad a daughter in this situation what would u tell her to do? You are no less valuable.

  • army wife

    I encourage anyone who has ever been in love with their spouse and thinks they are not now to look deep at the other person and try to see their actions as symptoms of the bigger problem. After 25 years of a very strong and loving marriage my husband ended his 28 year career in the military with a tour in Afghanistan. After spending the year alone with my yellow ribbons tied and doing the best I could I found out that he began an on line affair that continued in person for almost a year after he got home. The betrayal was almost more that I could bear. The pain and mistrust nearly ended us. I was so wrapped up in my pain I couldn’t see what was happening inside him. He was so disillusioned by the war and then disgusted with himself that he just stopped caring about anything. Counseling did help provide an emotional tourniquet but it took two people willing to lay down their hurts and disappointments in the other to find our real strength together. Someone at that time told me “Peter was with Perfection and still betrayed him 3 times”, I kept that thought in my heart and in time found forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, the pain still comes in like a wave and tries to drag me out to sea at times but I’m thankful for a husband willing to swim in after me and God’s strength to get us back to shore. Just think before you leave, what is your spouse dealing with, what does God have planned for you both.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Well said army wife. Thanks for sharing from your heart and your experience.

  • mels

    JR, yes you are correct… Looking back I can see that he had been “checked out” of the marriage for quite some time. He is not interested in reconciliation and it doesn’t appear that he ever will be. I’ve accepted his decision. I’m focusing on my relationship with the Lord so I can continue to grow closer to Him, and in the process, He’s healing me and making me whole.

  • mels

    Lol, based on your user name, I’m guessing you may have been in a similar situation as me?
    I have accepted his decision. I don’t stress too much over my wayward spouse anymore, and instead focus my energy on improving my relationship with God.

  • mels

    I don’t know how long ago this happened to you, but I went through a lot of the same emotions you shared. It’s been almost 5 months since I saw my spouse, but it was very emotionally painful for the first few months. And I feel better every day.
    It’s helped to have a mentor from my church that I meet with once a week to share how I’m feeling and what I’m learning, etc.
    I also spend a lot of time praying, reading the Bible, and have joined several online Bible studies over the past few months.

  • faithncourage

    I have been married 15 years. After 6 years my husband suggested a dominatrix lifestyle. I definitely opposed, and only gave it passing attention, but his fantasies were out of control. We spent two years in counseling. He expected me to become some type of CEO and lead everything. He still has these desires and last fall said he wanted me to date other men and has in the past said he wanted to watch me with other men. I obviously said no, and sent him off to counseling for his sexually masochistic desires. I told him if he attempts it again I’d leave. He still admits to having these desires, but for about six months has not made any attempts to act on them. The problem is I just don’t feel in love with him anymore despite his going to counseling. I’m making arrangements to see a separate counselor. There is obviously other issues involved. He makes no effort to be successful in business, and I always feel like I am towing the line. He is a generally good father and seems to be very dedicated to his family.

  • emtgirl

    Is he cheating on you? I’m so sorry you are dealing with this heartache

  • Diane Martin-Realtor

    That is called domestic violence, I lived it. When I told him I was leaving him he tried to kill me. Get a safe place and leave. You deserve much more than a man that puts you down to feel better about himself.

  • Keith

    Amen Justin. I don’t think Paul was happy about many of the circumstances he found himself in and he was single. The same for the other apostles. Happy is a temporary sensation.

  • Jeremy

    It’s not a sin to get a divorce. Sometimes we marry those who we weren’t meant to be with. Don’t live your life in misery and despair with this man. After awhile you’d have to think about respect than love, and you should never have to go through that kind of abuse.

  • lillie

    My son had some what of a accident with his car that the front quarter panel came off and it is damaged.( he parks on the street) My husband said which way is the car facing? I kept listening my son said with the damaged side to the street. I said what does it matter. Well husband got mad at me I didnt want to argue and I got up and left. I was mad who cares what others think. Why did he even say anything about it.Then the next day my husband tells me I need a break from you and I dont know what I am going to do. We are still not talking been married for 20 years

  • Too old for love

    I have been married to a man for 47 years who thinks it’s all. About him,because I too was taught it wasn’t right to get divorced, but after 47 years I find that I was never happy with him, or him with me, and now I am too old to find another who would want my love and affection. Don’t make the mistake at such a young age and give up your life for him,get divorced and find someone who will share in your love. it is not a sin to get divorced. I was just told that if I divorced I would lose everything I worked so hard for over the years. But you know at 67 years of age ,I find it really shouldn’t have mattered I could have started at a younger age,you need to do the same, it’s not fair that you are not happy,it goes both ways, just my opinion!!!!!

  • GH

    Brokenguy… the bible is very clear on this…you are not to divorce for any thing EXCEPT infidelity. if your spouse is cheating, you are FREE OF YOUR COMMITMENT! God does not expect you to suffer that indignity, ESPECIALLY if you put up with it once, and it keeps happening! Move on, find a Good wife and be happy. It could be you married the wrong person.

  • GH

    Dear nosloblonde, having an affair is unacceptable under any circumstances. That being said, what drove you to that? Why didn’t you just leave him? I might be wrong, but, the instant you start cheating, you are wrong. If he was having an affair, you should have divorced him, and moved on with your life. I am not condemning you, just saying from a biblical perspective, no one has to put up with that. Infidelity is the one reason given in the bible that allows you to divorce and move on…

  • Margie

    No… they did not help at all… my vows don’t mean jack anymore… not when he has never ever lived by them… it’s been too long and I didn’t sign up for this bull… should have gotten out more than 12 years ago… 29 years and I don’t care for 30.

  • David Anthony Whitfield

    Check out the movie, “The One I Love”. You will see yourselves in it and I highly recommend it to everyone that is considering…and I am speaking to myself as well.

  • justme

    I am a hearing woman that has been married to a deaf man for almost 20 years. We have one child together that is hearing. In the beginning I wanted very badly to learn and be involved in his deaf world, but he would always find ways to keep me out. He has been unfaithful many times in our marriage, but refuses to admit to it even though he knows I know things 100% and they aren’t guesses or suspicions but facts. Some examples are: seeing texts where he was making plans to have sex with one deaf woman while I was out of town- the woman asked him if he was going to feel guilty about his wife after they have sex and he replied **** no. Another example is he and his best friends fiancé having conversation on FB and he told her he cant wait to feel her soft skin again. and **** his wife and all hearing people. These were instances from a few years back so its been a while. These two examples are only two of very many. I had planned to leave him but he threatened to kill himself and said he was going to change. He promised not to have anymore contact with these women or the others that he had inappropriate contact with and he started going to church and I thought he was doing fine, but saw that he has a couple of these women on his FB again. I tried to talk to him about it, but he said he has changed and it was nothing bad going on. My point I tried making with him was it is extremely disrespectful to me that he is even having contact with them at all. Also when we are trying to do family things he gets calls quite frequently on his video phone app from deaf females. I asked him would he feel like it was ok for me to have as many male friends that I talked to daily as he has females ( keep in mind I don’t have a history of cheating or being disrespectful to our marriage or child) and his response was I am hearing so it is different. Instead of us being able to talk about this he gets very defensive calls all the females in his contacts by video phone – even the preachers wife- and tells them that his wife is jealous and he cant talk to any women. I feel like I cant win – I feel like this marriage is hopeless no matter what I try. He says I don’t want to be involved with his deaf world and that is his excuse for a lot of stuff. In the beginning I tried and I am the one that always looked for things we could do with the deaf community and he would not want to. Now, I CANT be involved with the deaf world, because the only way for me to defend the accusations he has made against me to them..such as I am jealous and don’t like deaf people is by telling them things about him that are awful – he is my child’s father and I can’t ever imagine putting these private things out there about him so I get to be the one that is looked at like I am crazy.
    On a side note: I was beyond devastated by the things I found out a few years ago. The betrayal was very deep it went way beyond cheating. He acted as though I were his enemy and he hated me – but that isn’t how he was acting in our life, so I was blindsided – I had no idea, no clue at all that these things were going on until I saw the first texts – then I started digging and it was awful. I don’t tell anyone all of the details because they are very painful.
    Is there any hope for this marriage? I have tried to get him to go to counseling with me but because an interpreter would be involved and the deaf world is so small he refuses to go. He doesn’t want his actions to be talked about in the deaf community. I have swallowed my pride for many years now and let people think what they want of me but its getting to be too much. I am never happy, but I know God would want me to do all I can to keep my marriage- I just can’t think of anything else I can do.

  • Momofour

    Jeremy, please prayerfully consider your comments. It is a very weighty comment to tell someone what is and is not a ‘sin’. Your comment is not grounded in scripture. “no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

    Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/divorce-remarriage.html#ixzz3JIEyiIBl

  • Momofour

    I hope this reaches you in time to repair and reconcile. Continue to seek God’s direction and guidance. Remember what Matt wrote in this article–consider your VOWS. Also remember that you have not faced any situation that God is not with you and able to direct you out of, according to His best for you. It saddens me to see people actually encouraging you to divorce rather than prayerfully continue to fight for your family!!

    Please know that I will pray for you and your husband. Seek out people who will pray for you, encourage you and your husband rather than people who rationalize and justify breaking your covenant.

    I urge ANYONE who is struggling in a difficult marriage to remember what we are told in Ecclesiastes- a cord of 3 stands is not easily broken – if you and your husband each seek what it is that YOU can do to draw closer to God, He is always faithful to guide you. In doing that, you will strengthen the foundation of your marriage-even if your husband deals with a personality or mental disorder.