Rebuilding a shattered Marriage
I am a 35-year-old born again and baptized believer, living in a large metro in India. I am a business executive. In 2008, I was married to Sobha (31), an IT executive, who is also a believer. We started our family life happily and God blessed us with two lovely children who are 8 and 5 years old. We have a live-in cook cum babysitter to look after our children and the house. Sobha and I are very busy at work and so we hardly get time to spend with each other or with the children. Job and travel take away all our time. On Sundays, we sometimes miss church as there are many things to do at home and also because we wake up late.
After our first child was born, I noticed that Sobha seemed to keep a distance from me. But she finds enough time to speak to her parents regularly and she reports everything in our family life to them. She also speaks regularly with her friends and is heavy on the WhatsApp chat. After the second child was born, she is almost totally withdrawn from me. She hardly talks to me. She doesn’t find time to eat dinner with me and the children claiming that she is too busy with household chores. If I ask her anything about life, work, children or her parents, she gives very curt and sometimes harsh and angry replies. If I forget to do something for her and the children, she gets into angry outbursts and curses me and her married life. Our family life is full of bitter arguments about all petty things. The other day, I overheard her telling her mom over the phone that our marriage was not according to God’s will. I am shocked to hear this and much worried about my marriage and my children. I wonder why we cannot live happily. I do not know what has happened to the love that we had during the initial years of our marriage! Will you please help me to settle my family life?
I am truly sad to hear about your battered married life. Thank you for writing to me about it which shows your sincere desire to rebuild your family life.
From your description of your family life scenario, it seems your difficulties started some years back and grew worse slowly which is what I observe in many Christian marriages. Even though it is not clear from your letter about the real reason for the souring of your marriage, there seem to be a few contributory factors. First and foremost, I feel that the very busy work life for you both made both of you unable to find time for each other. This seemed to have seriously affected your communication with each other. Thus even though you both lived under the same roof, you were like strangers and did not have time to build up and nourish your relationship with each other. Secondly, whatever time that she got, Sobha used it to look after some things about the children and home. Thirdly, you seemed not to have enough time to sleep and compensated it by sleeping late on Sundays, and thus missing meetings and fellowship frequently. Fourthly, it seems no one from the church bothered to visit you and made inquiries about your absence from meetings. Fifthly, it seems you have not found time for family prayer which would have seriously affected your spiritual life. Or rather, your poor spiritual life would have kept you away from finding time for family prayer. All of these seem to have kept your spiritual life at a very low ebb. Added to all of these, Sobha seemed to have complained about your family life to her parents and reported all the ups and downs to them and would have found support from her parents which would have a negative impact on her attitude and actions. Probably a mobile phone would have facilitated a lot of chat between Sobha and her parents and her friends which would have given her more boldness in reacting to you. Your busy work life would have also taken a toll on your ability to spend time together and given you both a lot of stress, thus further affecting your relationship. Sobha would have missed love and affection from her husband which would have seriously frustrated her and made her easily irritable and angry. Apart from all of these, your innocent children would have sensed the lack of communication between their parents for each other and towards them as well.
Please understand that family life is like a plant which needs to be watered and nourished with love, positive communication, togetherness, intimacy, and mutual care. If these are not poured into family life, such a life will dry down and slowly wither away. Both of you have a responsibility for your family plant to be sustained, watered, nourished, protected and strengthened so as to enable it to grow and bring forth flowers with fragrance. You as the husband ought to help your wife to help you build up because God has appointed you are the spiritual leader of your family.
It is likely that the atmosphere of intimidation, hatred and hopelessness in your family life would have affected Sobha’s spiritual life and behavior and crept in frustration in her heart which is exhibited through her irritability, anger and outbursts. It is also likely that her friends with whom she conversed would have supported her in her attitude of withdrawal and isolation from you. I wonder why Sobha’s parents didn’t bother to softly speak to you about her feelings about you.
May I say that Biblically speaking, you are the head of the family! So I hope you will be able to see that you have the responsibility to give spiritual leadership to your wife and children. Your lapse in not going for meetings, Bible studies or fellowship, and not having regular family prayer would have affected your and Sobha’s relationship with God and subsequently developed coldness in heart for each other. Please think as to how to correct this situation as soon as possible. To start with, confess your failures to God and ask Him to help you to rebuild your family life.
It’s been well said that “A Family that prays together stays together”. This is a good way to look at your prayer life. One of the most important things you need to do is to restart family prayer and to attend meetings in the assembly regularly. You are the right person to take initiative for these. Please take time to softly speak to Sobha about the need to rebuild your family life and seek her support.
You may also need to find time to spend with your wife and open up positive communication with her. Please try to prayerfully and softly respond to Sobha when she gets upset and angry. Be careful not to react angrily at her. Please pray for self-control in all your responses to her which is a fruit of the Spirit. Pray much for Sabha, that the Lord would build her up spiritually and change her attitude towards you. Try to do everything possible to make her understand that you love her deeply and that she is a precious gift God has given you. Please help her to understand that your marriage has been in the will of God, through your positive and loving attitude to her and to the children. Sobha may be helped to understand that the devil is trying to destroy your marriage (John 10:10) and that you have to live to love each other and bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of Jesus Christ. Whatever you lack in your relationship may be claimed from the Lord as an answer to intensive and agonizing prayer (Psalms 9:10; Matthew 7:7-11).
You may also think about how to reach out to Sobha’s parents lovingly and make them understand that spiritual lapse is the core of your problems and that you are now committed to rebuild it. Please seek their prayer support also and ask them to strengthen Sobha in faith. It is also a good idea to take a vacation, if possible, and be away to some quiet place to spend time together as a family. That’s where you will not have any pressure of work and daily routine. It is also a good idea to find time to visit parents or some relatives or family friends occasionally. These will certainly help you both to relax and build up your relationship with each other. But please make sure to discuss these suggestions with Sobha before taking decisions so that she will participate in it. Make sure to slowly and softly work these out rather than put pressure on her.
If Shoba is not able to cope with work and home pressure, it may be a good idea to help her think about the possibility of ‘work from home’ or switching to a part-time job or even consider taking some long leave, whichever is feasible until the children grow up a bit more. As you consider these options with her, please do it in the context of your financial needs and stability. Remember that money and work are to be considered not at the expense of losing your joy in the family life. But these ideas need open and frank discussion and prayer between the two of you so that you both will know God’s will in these matters. Please also pray for patience and be open in making these decisions, without arguments, conflicts and agitation. Let Sobha know that she is the most important person in your life and that you cherish time with her.
Dear Solomon, may I remind you that you are responsible and accountable before God for your Sobha and your children. God gave them to you to care for, love and cherish. Sobha is the instrument God chose to give your children and so she is to be valued much in this life. You need to help Sobha to help you to rebuild your family life.
Please do not lose any more time but start to rebuild your family life, but start immediately (Proverbs 9:1; 14:1). Please pray much as you prepare to take all the initiative to rebuild the broken walls of your family. You may take initiative to regain all the precious family fellowship that you seemed to have lost for some time. May God help you to do so and bring back the joy that has been absent in your family life! May God give you the grace to handle your situation amicably and peacefully rather than escalate it! Instead of getting frustrated and give up, trust God to help you rebuild (Psalms 37:5; 42:5; 55:22; 80:3) your family. I assure you of my prayer support for you, Sobha and your children.
Yours sincerely in Christ