I'm editing this. I originally wrote that this is for those struggling in their marriage. That's not necessarily true, because having a self sacrificing attitude that accepts all circumstances as from God would improve even a great marriage. So here is step II of my series of marriage blogs - then I really will work on my marine biology book. really.
This marriage, and even the particular struggles you are having right now are part of God's perfect plan for your life. In step one, I encouraged you to get your focus off your husband and allow God to be the one who meets your needs. God can meet your need for affirmation, approval, acceptance and especially your need for a godly family. Let go of all expectations for your husband, and begin to focus on how you can bless, minister unto, and encourage your husband. Think of your husband as your ministry - even if he is not doing the same. After recognizing that your job is to meet your husband's needs, for you were created for him and not he for you, it's also important that you recognize that God has placed you in this particular struggling marriage for a purpose (even though you came to the conclusion that your spouse isn't perfect and you set out to help him see how he could improve with no success).
James tells us, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of various kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverence and perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete." Trials are a gift from God, for they develop in us the character that God wants us to have. If your marriage is a particular struggle, then consider it the trial God has given you to perfect your character. Embrace the struggle, and even, yes - this is key - thank God for these trials. The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances - for this is God's will for us. So, step II is to realize that this struggle is from God, a good gift given to us to perfect our character - and one which we should thank Him for, embrace and consider all joy, pure joy, joy....yes, consider it joy, even though it is a tremendous trial.
I've found that often God will not release me from certain circumstances until I have the right attitude: A surrendered attitude that is willing to accept whatever things God allows in my life, without grumbling or complaining, a thankful attitude that trusts God, trusts His plan for my life even though it doesn't line up with what I think a perfect life, godly family or relationship should look like.
Surrender to God's plan, accept that He has not allowed your marriage to be healed yet because He has a greater purpose in allowing it to struggle so. He wants to refine you. He wants to train your character. It's a lot harder in America for God to teach us how to be content in all circumstances, for we have everything we need. We don't suffer as Christian's in other countries do or in the distant past have, our suffering and the refinement that accompanies suffering are obtained through having the attitude of Christ in the midst of relationship challanges.
If you are struggling in your marriage, offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. Thank him for this struggle, it will be a great sacrifice - but an offering that is pleasing and acceptable to Him.
Step III to come!