It is very difficult to live in a marriage that is more roommate than love affair. Women don't want to live their married lives without the love and affection of a husband. I often hear, "This isn't what I signed up for!" As we meet together she realizes she is angry at heart at the direction her life has gone. These women are hurting and frightened. They feel betrayed and foolish. What they really want to know is, "Can I get a divorce?"
One of the questions I ask is, "What will divorcing your husband accomplish spiritually?" Will divorcing him glorify God? Will he see Christ in you? Will you grow and change into the image and likeness of Christ through divorcing him?
A woman in such a situation typically asks me if I think her husband will even care about seeing Christ in her if he is not really engaged in the marriage. The answer is we always hold out every hope a wayward husband will repent of his emotional abandonment. As long as he stays in the home or is willing to remain married there is still hope!
God's Word gives simple instructions to a woman living in a difficult marriage or a woman who is married to an unbeliever.
Wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:1-4 (NLT)
These are difficult things to hear yet Scripture tells wives that they may possibly win over their wayward husbands by conduct that reverences God. We can truly not overestimate the impact a loving and respectful wife can have on her husband's heart.
It is never wrong to honor God, even at personal expense. Even when it means that her pride is wounded and that she is deeply humbled by accepting her present circumstances (1 Peter 1:19). To endure such a trial she must develop desire that is greater than to be happy or to have her own way. She must develop the desire to reflect Christ for He is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27)!
Bearing up under such difficulty in marriage is only possible as she trusts God and believes He intends to bring good out of the circumstance (Rom. 8:28). As much as the wife wants God to work in her husband's life, He may be doing the most intensive work in her heart, growing and changing her to be a closer image-bearer of Christ (Romans 8:29).
I have seen women grieve to the core of their souls in this process. They grieve over all the bitter and hateful words they have hurled towards their husbands. They grieve over their past discontent and wish with every fiber of their being they could go back in time and talk to themselves and warn themselves of what is ahead if they do not stop living with a sinful heart and attitude. In the process, they see themselves changing, first in their thoughts and then in their actions and desires. As all these changes take place in the heart they begin to overflow into everyday life and suddenly people see Christ in them.
Once angry and bitter women become long suffering, forbearing, loving and kind in ways they could never imagine! Even in the face of tremendous pain and sorrow their lives radiate Christ. These things are possible as the women immerse themselves in the Word of God and forsake their sin. Repentance and change become a way of life and even in the absence of love in the marriage, there is joy.
Perhaps you don't believe me. I know some of you reading this today will think I am suggesting a wife in this situation become a doormat or tell me she is suffering some kind of "abuse." I don't believe I am promoting anything of the kind. I am suggesting that one changed heart will bring one changed life and we don't know how that will affect a man whose love for his wife has grown cold. I believe God is in the business of revolutionizing lives, don't you?