Improving Your Marriage Not Your Husband
by Sandy Ralya
Would you like a stronger, more intimate marriage? Most women see room for improvement in their marriage, but few seldom get the results they desire. One reason? Many try to improve their marriage by changing their husband. This strategy NEVER works! If you engaged in any sort of pre-marital counseling, you were told you can’t change your spouse, but knowing that fact hasn’t stopped the vast majority of women from trying.
After several unsuccessful years spent preaching to my husband, comparing him to others, and using the silent treatment or withholding sex to effect change in his life (remarkably I thought this would work!), I quieted myself and asked God to show me a better way to impact the heart of a husband whose personal struggles were negatively impacting our marriage.
Amazing things will happen when you stop and invite God to share His input with you. When I came to the place where I could admit that my efforts weren’t enough to produce even the smallest true reform in Tom and then fully surrendered to God, I began to discover His plans and principles for my life and marriage in Scripture. One of the most powerful marriage-improving tools I discovered was fasting.
Amazing things will happen when you stop and invite God to share His input with you.
Before you tune me out, let me testify to its power in my marriage—not once, but twice. When we’d been married 11 years and our marriage was in its worst condition yet, I began fasting food and would drink only water one day a week while praying for Tom, me, and our marriage. During my times of prayer and fasting, God revealed many things about me that needed to change—things that had previously been hidden from my understanding. Obeying Him, I experienced great peace and increased dignity. Meanwhile, God changed Tom’s life—something I was incapable of. My husband sought godly counsel (without my asking) and very quickly, God healed him from using pornography, abusive language, and controlling behaviors. Our marriage improved dramatically!
Fast-forward with me several years. In 2006, several family-related difficulties placed severe stress on our lives and marriage and Tom’s and my unity began to slowly disintegrate. Again, I defaulted to my old habit of taking matters into my own hands to force Tom to my side of the issues which divided us—all to no avail. Then, early in 2011, our church encouraged everyone to participate in a 21 day fast, and we joined in. During this fast, we devoted extra time to prayer. Additionally, I recorded many prayers for my marriage in a journal. One month later, when we were on our annual winter vacation, I found myself walking on the beach and reciting my problems to God when suddenly the Spirit arrested my thoughts and whispered, “Worship Me”. I began worshipping for several minutes when the next impression came to me, and the next, and the next. To make a long story short (recorded in The Beautiful Wife Mentor Guide), I took each Spirit-inspired step when I got home and once again, God heard and answered my prayers for my marriage. Within a few months he miraculously restored our unity and has knit us tightly back together. I attribute it all to the power of the fast and obedience!
In the Beatitudes (Matthew 6), Jesus provided the pattern by which all God’s children should live. The pattern includes: giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus said, “When you giveÉ”, “When you prayÉ”, and “ÒWhen you fastÉ”. If Jesus needed to fast in order to accomplish great things on earth, how much more should we?
Would you like to improve your marriage? Changing your husband won’t work. But there are answers that satisfy, not the least of which is fasting. Putting aside something you love (food) while devoting time to seek God in prayer, will supply you with the answers you need for every marital struggle you face and the power needed to improve your marriage.
Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a Christian marriage mentoring ministry, and the author of The Beautiful Wife Curriculum.