I used to have this idea that there's "The One" guy that God picked out for me and all I had to do was find this Mr. Right...but I didn't know how deadly that mindset would be when marriage started getting to be difficult. Peter and I have both been tempted to think that we married the "wrong person" because sometimes it just feels so difficult and so wrong. (Jesus is the only "One" who will never let His bride down, by the way.)
If I let myself really think that there's someone out there who was actually "God's best" for me but I missed my chance with him, then what a bummer life with my actual husband would be. That's why we must trust the covenant of marriage to sustain the love of marriage rather than the other way around; as I've said before, "It's not passion that sustains the promise; it's the promise that sustains the passion."
Before I begin, I don't want to give the impression, however, that if you're in an abusive situation you should just pray and submit. This is where your local church needs to step in and help, especially if your husband is a covenanted member who has agreed to be subject to church discipline.
Even worse, if I really believed that God had allowed me to "stray from His will" by choosing the wrong husband, I would grow quite bitter towards God. I try to imagine how I would feel towards God if I sustained this belief in "The One" only to find out shortly into marriage that, indeed, my husband is a total jerk and probably not even a Christian. I'd have to live the rest of my married life knowing that I'm in "God's Plan B" and there's nothing I can do better? Let me just tell you that I would probably try to right the wrong and murder my husband if that were the case.
The Bible mentions women who probably were tempted to feel like they married the wrong man. In fact, the weaknesses of Bible characters are so profound that this probably went through the mind of just about every wife of every husband we read about. But two examples come to mind that should be encouragement to women who feel like they married total jerks, and especially to women who actually have married total jerks.
God's Hands Are Not Tied by a "Bad"---Or Even Unbelieving--- Husband
I've benefited a lot from learning about Timothy's mom Eunace (see also a great sermon here.) Timothy's dad was probably not a believer (see Acts 16:1-3), but his mother was. So did his mom just pout and whine and give up because she found herself raising a child with someone who had totally opposing views? 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (which alludes back to 2 Timothy 1:5) gives us a really good glimpse into what she did instead:
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings,
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
From childhood, Eunace showed her son the scriptures. She must've known them well herself, because she used the "sacred writings" they had (the Old Testament) to point her son to Christ. She taught her son the gospel. He believed, was discipled by Paul, and became a really great help to the church.
God is Able to Bring Repentance to a Husband
I cannot even describe how many times 1 Peter 3:1-6 has been a refuge to me in these short years of marriage (see also this great sermon.) There have been times when I've known my husband is in the wrong. Some women have given me counsel about how to respond that is quite attractive to my sinful nature, but completely fails when held up next to this golden passage.
Verse 1 even addresses wives of unbelieving husbands in particular ("if some do not obey the word.") How are their husbands won? Is it by airtight arguments or years of nagging? This verse says that it can be done "without a word by the conduct of their wives" (emphasis mine.) Change is so possible, even in an unbelieving husband, and God's Word says that it can happen by a woman simply obeying God's Word and being submissive to her husband nonetheless.
Sarah respected Abraham (a man that I would not like to be married to) so much that she called him "lord", after all. She was able to do this because she hoped in God.
What Happens to You Is God's Plan A
From my studying of the scriptures, I have been convinced that everything God does is Plan A.
Ephesians 1 says He predestined us for adoption before the foundations of the earth. So that means He chose for us to be a part of His family, at the cost of His Son, before sin ever even entered the world.
One time I talked to a man who had adopted five kids and he said, "We wanted kids of our own, but that didn't work out, so we adopted." That is not what God did for us.
Even moreso, one of my absolute favorite verses is Romans 8:32:
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"
God didn't keep Jesus from us, so why should we ever think God will keep anything good from us?
Even if you were sinning when you said "yes" to the man you married, be comforted that those who crucified Jesus were certainly sinning as well. But God is big enough to handle your sin (see Genesis 50:20)...if He brought the best good out of the sin that put Jesus on the cross, He can most certainly bring great good out of any sin or lack of wisdom that put you in your marriage.
God doesn't want you to feel condemned because Jesus already bore 100% of the condemnation for you (see Romans 8:1.)
That said, read Part 2 (Future Husband Requirements) here!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
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Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today