We’ve all been here. Trying to help a hurting marriage.
A couple in LifeGroup is blatantly fighting or—worse—passive-aggressively flinging invisible stones from opposite sides of the couch.
It’s not pretty. Throw pillows are in danger.
What do I do when one of your friend’s marriages is struggling?
Let’s first acknowledge that no one is immune from a hurting marriage. That’s why—as Pastor Craig wrote in his book From This Day Forward—we must continually seek God, fight fair, have fun, stay pure, and never give up. There is also a LifeGroup study and Bible Plan.
Jesus summarized the two greatest commandments like this: Love God. Love people. We know that we’re supposed to love them, but the bigger question remains: Just how do we love them?
For starters, we can:
- Embrace the awkwardness. The cultural norm is to run from anything that isn’t sunshine and rainbows. “It’s none of our business,” we could say. But LifeGroup is exactly the place for real, life-giving conversations. We recently ended up on our friends’ doorstep—at midnight. Not because we have all the answers, but because they’re our people and we desperately care about their marriage.
- Yield at the intersection. To help a hurting marriage you’ve got to understand the relationship between grace and truth. Truth without grace is straight legalism. Grace without truth is meaningless sentimentalism. One without the other simply does not portray our God in accurate lighting. He is both: truth and grace. And both are rooted in a deep, steadfast love. Just as Jesus demonstrated both attributes, this should also be our approach. We can dance with this compelling tension while encouraging healthy marriages and pointing others back to Him.
- Think Hunger Games. We are at war, but not with each other. Satan loves to distort God’s perfect designs, like marriage. He seduces us into isolation, longing to pick us off—one at a time. But we are not unaware of his schemes. Just as Haymitch told Katniss as she was headed into the games, “Remember who the real enemy is.”
- Push for restoration. Healing is always possible when two people are committed—even imperfectly committed—to God and to each other. I’ve seen some crazy awesome stuff happen when individuals and couples allowed God to invade their mess. Restoration is what He does. It’s who He is. He specializes in bringing beauty out of ashes, making all things new.
- Be a team player. You are called, equipped, and fully capable of being the leader God has called you to be. But also know you’re not alone! Your campus team and pastors always, always have your back. They’re available whenever you need them. Teamwork is necessary when wading through some especially sticky situations. We are the Church, and we’re better together. Finally, remind couples to consider adding a professional counselor to their team. Marriage is the big leagues; sometimes the best idea is to bring in a pro.