In this episode of the Purposed Marriage podcast, we discuss some of the things standers may see and observe from their prodigal spouse during the process of restoration.
Tommy and I get a number of inquiries from readers asking my perspective or what we often refer to as the prodigal’s perspective on certain topics. One of the more common questions is, do you think my prodigal is open to the possibility of restoration. More than likely, if you are asking this question, the answer is yes!
During our pause, it was evident to Tommy when the Lord was working on me and softening my heart. We began having more meaningful conversations and spent quality time together with our children. That doesn’t mean there is no hope of restoration if your spouse (or ex-spouse in some cases) doesn’t desire to speak to you or spend time with you, but it may mean you have a longer road ahead if the latter situation is one you find yourself in currently.
Below are some practical tips along with biblical guidance that greatly impacted my life during our separation and divorce.
- Show your prodigal sacrificial love without expecting anything in return.
Nothing demonstrates Christ’s love like sacrifice and selflessness. Find ways to love and serve your prodigal without expecting anything in return. If you are not sure what to do, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and don’t be surprised if He reveals something that is outside your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone forces trust in the Lord and growth in your spiritual walk. That awkward and uncomfortable feeling also produces authenticity. Your prodigal will sense if you are attempting to serve with an ulterior motive so the more authentic, the better.
There are numerous examples I’ve shared in our podcasts where Tommy went above and beyond in his pursuit to love me well. His acts of service displayed the love of Christ in ways that were not present during our previous ten years of marriage. Over time, the seeds he sowed took root and began to grow. His sacrifices did not go unnoticed. It did not happen immediately, but in time, God revealed the fruit from his labor.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
- Ask if you can pray with your prodigal or if you can pray for them.
It’s important to use discernment when addressing your prodigal. Some days there may be more of a reluctance to talk about spiritual matters than others. But, when you recognize there is an openness and willingness, ask if you can pray with your spouse or pray for them. Not only will this create a healthy dialogue, but it will also shine a light into what’s happening in the life of your prodigal.
I don’t recommend this every time you speak, but perhaps monthly or bi-weekly depending on how often you talk. Also, be sure to prepare your heart for their response. Don’t take it personally if they do not request prayer for your marriage. When you spend quiet time with the Lord, you can pray for your current situation.
If your prodigal is agreeable to prayer, that is a great sign that God is at work! Desiring your prodigal to have a restored relationship with the Lord should far outweigh the longing for a restored marriage. Keep in mind, only the work of the Holy Spirit can transform the heart and mind so be patient and loving when approaching your spouse.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
- Take responsibility for any sinful behaviors, habits or actions that you may have contributed to the marriage.
I recognize this may be very hard to hear, and you may be wondering why you should take the initiative if you’re the one being wronged. This difficult question has a very simple answer. God took the initiative to love us when we were unloveable and we should do the same for our covenant spouse. Repentance is necessary before reconciliation can occur and God’s Word calls us to reconcile relationships. You have no control over your prodigal’s actions or inactions, but you can take personal responsibility for yourself.
I remember vividly every time Tommy came to me to apologize for past sins and ways he had wronged me. At first, I thought he was using his sins as an excuse for his bad behavior. With time, I came to understand that God had transformed his heart and his godly sorrow was sincere.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-28, 36
For those that have little to no contact with your prodigal, there is still hope! We did not always communicate well or communicate often. It takes time. God hears your cries and understands your desire for healing and restoration, so don’t give up on the process. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I pray these steps come in handy.
- Pray fervently. 1 John 5:14, Romans 12:12, James 5:16, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Read Scripture for encouragement and guidance. Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 25:4-5, James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Fast. Joel 2:12, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 5:6
- Serve while you wait. Galatians 5:13, Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 20:27-28, Romans 12:10-13
- Lean on your church family. Galatians 6:2, James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24-25
Dear friends, may God continue to bless you and strengthen you as you stand for your marriage, no matter where you are in your journey!
The worldwide pandemic we are currently experiencing has been the cause of much stress and hardship for many families. Husbands and wives in troubled marriages will likely tell you the federal, state, and local directives regarding stay at home orders have served to heighten and exacerbate the already existing tensions found in their broken homes. For some, the increased conflict and friction has instilled a strong resolve to abandon the marriage covenant, and pursue a path that leads to liberation and greater personal happiness. But is a path that embraces divorce one that Bible believing Christians should willingly chase after? The answer to this question, and so many others can be found in Scripture. All we need to do is be open to what God’s Word is plainly telling us.
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.Hebrews 19:4-6 ESV
When Jesus told the hypocritical Pharisees that God joined husbands and wives together, He did not suggest marriages stay intact only for as long as things were working. Nor did He offer a way out of the marriage covenant if one or both spouses felt happiness and fulfillment was no longer in reach. On the contrary, our Lord declared separation should not occur. In other words, don’t do it.
Through the years however, society and culture has gone to great lengths to minimize and marginalize the importance of holding true to one’s marriage vows. Unfortunately, much of this way of thinking has crept into our churches. No fault divorces are not all that uncommon among professing Christians, and attitudes concerning marriage and divorce have become almost identical to those held by non-believers and secular society.
But if your heart truly yearns to be in line with God’s will, and you desire to honor the Lord and bring glory to His name, even in the midst of the volatile storm that may now define your marriage, I strongly urge you to focus your eyes upon Jesus, and to follow the example He demonstrated while ministering here on this earth. Christ never abandoned his bride. Up until his dying breath, He was forgiving and loving. Despite our rebellious, stubborn, and sinful behavior, He always remains right there, never leaving or forsaking us. This is the example we are called to follow.
For many years, I lived the life of a Christian husband and father in name only. I chased after worldly pleasures to satisfy my own flesh. In the end, the environment this behavior cultivated in my own home, led to the destruction of my marriage. Unbeknownst to me at the time of my separation and divorce, God was working to remake me into His image. This also was the case for my precious wife. For us, the tribulation and destruction the Lord allowed to be brought into our lives, became a way to direct our hearts, minds and souls back to Himself. In His perfect timing, true reconciliation and restoration of our marriage occurred. Praise be to God for the discipline He exerts over His children! Although we may not like it at the time, it is for our own good and benefit that the refining fires of correction are brought upon us.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.Hebrews 12:11 ESV
God indeed works in wondrous ways, but the lesson we should all learn as it relates to suffering, is in the tremendous opportunity it presents for transformational growth to occur. When these storms come, do not seek to pin blame on others, or wallow in self pity. Instead, allow the Holy Spirit to convict your soul and bring your thoughts and desires back into alignment with God’s will, rather than your own.
You may be one of those individuals who is now struggling with your marriage. Perhaps your spouse has left, or you are in the beginning stages of the divorce process. In either case, as someone who experienced the miracle of marriage restoration, I can say without a doubt, no circumstance or situation is too difficult for God. The key for believers is to trust in faith and wait for the Lord to do what only He can. Humble yourself and submit to His will daily. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge His Word, and you will be guided alongside the path that brings honor and glory to Him.
The Lord has a special plan for you, your family, and your marriage. Rather than allowing our present circumstances to shape and determine where our relationships lead, take charge through the empowering of the Holy Spirit and allow transformational change and godliness to chart your course as you head into these turbulent waters.
May God Bless.