Tips for Healing a Broken Marriage
By: Al Robertson
Lisa and I spend a lot of time speaking truth into messed up families. Especially marriages that are on the brink of disaster. We aren’t asked to help because we did it all perfectly from day one, but because we didn’t. I think they love the idea that God can put a relationship that’s on the brink of collapse back together again — stronger than it was before.
And to be sure, our marriage did teeter back and forth for months a few years ago. Truth is, we were in trouble before we were in trouble, if you know what I mean. For a while there, no one gave us a shot at making it.
It was at that point of uncertainty about our marriage that we both began to do a whole bunch of soul-searching. We both felt like frauds — leading a large church and telling people how to live. And there we were — I was — in a marriage that might not even make it. I had to dig deep. So did Lisa.
I came to the conclusion that I had changes to make. Not practical changes like sending her flowers or taking her on a date. Our marriage wasn’t in trouble because I hadn’t taken her to a candlelit romantic dinner at Genusa’s. No, I had to dig deeper than that — to look honestly at my relationship with God and figure out how I could have drifted so far off track. Finding God again had to come first — before Lisa, before my position at church — before everything.
While I was looking deep into my soul to find out what went wrong, Lisa was doing the same thing. Then, after a few weeks, we agreed to pursue God together. And we made some serious changes, mainly changes in how we think — what our priorities should be. It wasn’t a long list, but the changes we had to make went to the core of what was wrong with us.
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE IS FIRMLY ROOTED IN CHRIST
The first thing we did was to reach out to others — people who knew God’s word and who had great marriages. We went to marriage seminars, workshops, and counseling sessions, and we read more marriage books than I care to think about — we did it all.
All of the good advice pointed us in one direction. In one way or another, they all told us, “Your problem isn’t your marriage. Your marriage is a symptom of your problem. Your problem is that you haven’t been seeking intimacy with the God who created you. Before your marriage can be ‘fixed,’ you have to fix this. You have to return to your first love — to Christ.”
Lisa and I tell the story of both our brokenness and redemption in great detail in our book, “A New Season.” I encourage you to read it because Lisa does such an incredible job of telling how she came to the end of herself. She describes how she had made other people, men mainly, her gods. At first her daddy was her god. Then other men. Then me. All of us let her down because none of us was qualified to make her special, to fulfill her. And she couldn’t do that for me either.
I’M IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL!
One of the Bible verses that spoke to both of us when things were at their worst is Ephesians 5:31-33. Paraphrased, it says that as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his earthly family, we should submit to one another in the same way we submit to Christ. We should also love one another in the same way that Christ loves us.
So, I asked myself, “What does that even mean? How does he love me?”
And the answer that I received is that he loved me when we I was at my worst. He loved me when I was on the streets of New Orleans living the life of the prodigal son. I thought about the most shameful, dirtiest, filthiest thing I had ever done, and I realized that he loved me just as much at that moment as he did when I was in the pulpit preaching. Once I came to terms with his love for me, he then turned around and told me, “That’s how I want you to love Lisa. Relentlessly and unconditionally! Just like I love you.”
This is a permanent love — one that transcends personal failure – mine and Lisa’s both. This love endures. It’s the kind of love that says, “I’m going to be obedient to God and stay until he does something miraculous in our marriage.” And that’s what I did. The biggest change was that instead of my desire being primarily for Lisa, Christ became my first love. I began to play second fiddle in Lisa’s heart too.
When Lisa and I made God first in our hearts, our love for one another grew far beyond where it had ever been before. We were loving like God loves.
Read this carefully because you will find out that you are never more like God than you are when you love sacrificially and unconditionally. Sure, your spouse is a sinner, a broken and wicked person who stands guilty before God. And if you gave that a loud “AMEN,” I have some bad news for you — so are you. You are just as whacked up as your spouse is — before God, you are! And the only reason you have any shot at all at being redeemed is that the God of love, who never gives up on people like you and me, stayed in it with you for the long haul.
I have a lot more to say about family — raising kids and loving your spouse. But this is where it all started for Lisa and me: Choosing to rid our house of our worthless idols and pursuing the only god who really is GOD! If you want transformation in your family, this is where you begin.
I have no regrets that Lisa and began traveling on this path together all those years ago. It really is something to marvel at! I only wish that we had done it sooner.