After years in a troubling marriage it is easy to give up and assume the only choice is either more of the same or divorce. And because divorce has been taken off the table for many Christians (a topic for another day), the only real choice, it seems, is continuing to live in a miserable and unhappy marriage.
It is unlikely that misery is the only choice left in your marriage. It is more likely that the other choices are simply not as easy.
One choice might be focusing less on trying to change your spouse and more on changing yourself. I’m sure your spouse has many faults that need attention. However, addressing these issues are choices your spouse would have to make for himself or herself. Focus on choices you can make. This may include self-improvement through reading, small group support, or individual therapy.
Another choice might be changing the attitude you take toward your predicament. Even when faced with a situation you cannot change, you remain free to choose your heart’s attitudes toward the situation. Are you choosing to be a victim of your circumstances? What would be different if you chose to use your pain as an opportunity for growth, rising above the situation and living in your best self, with dignity and strength?
This allows for yet another choice, the choice of perspective. What if the challenges in your marriage are not merely something that is happening to you, but rather an opportunity for you to love your spouse as Christ has loved you? God showed his love for us while we were still in our sins (Romans 5:8) and calls us to love each other with this same kind of love (John 13:34). Maybe the point is not changing your spouse, or even your marriage, but you being transformed into the image of Christ.
Marriage is hard and after years of the same old thing, it is easy to feel stuck and powerless. Know that you are not stuck and you are not powerless. You have the freedom (and the responsibility) to choose how to respond to your marriage. What will your choice be?