Marriage: When the Heart’s Not in it

Some truths are so obvious we miss them.

“Why doesn’t anyone stay together anymore?” I asked my husband this morning as we heard of another Christian friend who recently divorced. We have been walking through a messy marriage situation with a young, Christian couple we know, and so we have talked a lot lately about the “how’s” and “why’s” of marriage, trying to figure out why so many are falling apart.

I read something this morning and the familiar truth of it seemed so new, so profound but so often missed.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Common translation: “The things (people, activities) in which you invest your time, money, energy and thoughts will be the things you care about the most.”

And while I think this Scripture is referring to “heavenly treasures”, based on the verse before it, the concept remains true in our earthly relationships.

Could we be more distracted, as a culture, more neglectful of that truth?

The television, the I-gadget, the computer, the sports team, the careers, the hobbies–what’s left to invest into the person with whom we are meant to be ONE? How much of our time, energy and money goes into our husband or wife? Our thoughts? Our attention?

Investment is deliberate. Relationships–especially marital ones–don’t just happen and flourish left alone. If I scattered some seeds over the ground and left them, chances are unlikely my garden will flourish. It takes tending–investment of time and energy–to grow healthy, thriving plants.

How does the garden of my marriage grow? Do I spend time there? Do I work there? Do I cultivate positive thoughts there?

Make no mistake–my heart will be where my time, thoughts and energy are spent.

Are you investing your earthly treasures in your spouse? If not, your heart will not be there either.

Our marriages are worth fighting for. Let’s begin investing.

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20 Responses to “Marriage: When the Heart’s Not in it”

  1. Hayley Ferguson says:

    I was just talking with my husband about this topic after reading your post. In my experience, it really boils down to whether or not you accept that divorce (suing one another at the law) is acceptable and legal or not. Sorry to be so blunt. I believe it’s a great witness for the Lord when we have happy marriages and that should be the goal. BUT I believe the response to your question of “why doesn’t anyone stay together anymore” has more to do with it’s now “legal” (able to obtain a piece of paper to unregister that union with our legal system) to get a divorce. The exception clause in Matthew refers to not coming together (as in the wonderful example of Joseph wanting to put Mary away privily BEFORE he knew her but not before they were by Judaic standards considered husband and wife and also Lots daughters who had not known/ been intimate with their husbands.) So a young man in the judaic religion could put away his wife and not continue on to a cohabitational situation. This in no way gives us Godly permission to divorce (we also have to sue each other which is sin.) We have no right on this earth to happiness, we as Christians (and a light) should attain to be joyfull by the Lords help. Emotions such as happiness or sadness are changeable with each situation. We have no right to remarriage because we didn’t know what kind of person we were marrying (God is not mocked what we reap we shall also sow.) Obviously people change but putting up with a difficult marriage is part of our dying saccrifice to the Lord in return for His Grace to us. I’ll probably offend some but this is not my intention but what I’ve commented here is just my interpretation after studying this subject for myself, you’re entitled to your interpretations too. I’ve had times when I’ve been almost suicidally miserable with my marriage choices but also times of elation. Regardless I stay with my one flesh partner that no man can seperate (only physical death can.) People used to believe this before the general communist subversion of our societies and so people stayed together, simple. Were they always happy, I doubt it but I believe more were happy because they worked harder at being happy with no way out.

  2. Sharon says:

    Do you love your spouse more than yourself? Do you love like Christ loves us.The world tells you to do what makes you feel good’not thinking about others. You are always suppose to have fun and lots of romance. You never hear about how much you are blessed by loving others more than yourself. I think it’s just so much easier to quit a relationship,because the world says there is someone more exciting out there. The devil is working very hard to destroy Christians,you destroy the stronghold,the home,everything else tumbles down. PRAY,PRAY for couples and families.Be an example of God’s love.Show others how rewarding it is to have a blessed marriage and share with them how to bless theirs. God bless us all.

    • Keri says:

      Sharon,I just have to tell you that Yes!! This is an entire Post in itself!! One of the ways that I have understood just how much the Lord loves me..is by the way my husband loves me! He truly does love me like Christ says to..but..it wasn’t always this way.It has taken time and maturity on both of our parts.Thankyou for your comments!!

      • Sharon says:

        Dear Kari, As an older women,I see so many wrong ideas women have about their marriage.If their husband is not perfect,they will change them.WRONG!!!Pray Ladies pray.Love the man you have, not the one you think he should be. Let God change his heart. Your job is to love him as he is. I have listened to alot of unhappy women,they can not see their faults,but they can list their husbands real quick. As my husband says,there are three sides to every problem,his side,her side and the truth. Wives need to LOVE the man they married,not change him into the man they think they should be. I have been married almost 29 years and I have lived what I am telling you and I have the most amazing husband,but I don’t force my will.I tell my husband how I feel about something and he considers it. Sometimes saying nothing gets better results than demanding your will. Search the Bible.See how Christ loved us.Did HE demand HIS will. If you study the life of Jesus,you would understand what true love is.This love is not just for our husband,but everyone.God showed us grace,can’t we show others? Have a very blessed day. Sharon

  3. CL says:

    This is true, but I would add that a major problem these days is that the traditional, patriarchal hierarchy has been subverted to such an extent that most Christian marriages reflect this subversion and so we see that a Christian marriage doesn’t have a greater chance than a secular one of enduring.

    What is pushed in the culture as egalitarianism winds up being female-dominant. Power abhors a vacuum and when men are constrained and not allowed their proper places as leaders and rulers over their wives, the curse of Eve – “your desire shall be for your husband” – is lived out as women fill the power vacuum, both ruling over their husbands and in power positions in governments and churches. Few are willing to talk about these uncomfortable truths that make people (especially women) feel bad.

    • Keri says:

      CL..okay..I think I get what you are saying here..But..traditional
      patriarchal hierarchy?? What on earth??..is that like..the husband is supposed to be the head of the home and the wife submissive? It took time and growing in the Lord for me to truly understand what being submissive to my husband really meant.In the early years of marraige I could manipulate pretty well to get what I wanted and then I began to learn from studying the Bible and by other Women’s example what this really meant.Sometimes just simple things like when he asks me to go into town a different way although it may take longer but it is safer.To not stop at Walmart late at night..another safety thing.Sometimes just making the potatoes he wants with dinner(although I think they take to much time). We probably all know many women whom we could easily say that they rule their homes because they feel that they do it better.Pray for them..It’s easy to be submissive to a husband who loves you like Christ loves the Church..but traditional part..whatever..you can tell I don’t agree with that term..

      • CL says:

        If you reject traditional patriarchal hierarchy, should I assume you prefer progressive matriarchal equalism? Please explain what you believe in since you are critical of what Christians have been taught for the past 2000 years.

        • Keri says:

          Hi Cl..I would probably say that it is the “terms” you are referring to.I have been a wife for almost 30yrs. now and have learned what it really means to let my husband be the leader of our home like he is supposed to be and to submit to him.I don’t see either one of these “terms” in my Bible but I think I know what you are talking about.I really feel like they are new,kind of twisted terms..just my personal opinion here.Never even heard of the second term..I’m 51!

          • 7man says:

            New terms? : Traditional Patriarchal Hierarchy.

            “Traditional” refers to the way Christianity has been practiced and taught since the time of Jesus.

            The Bible is filled with “Patriarchs,” one of the main ones being Abraham. Male headship is patriarchy.

            The Trinity is a “Hierarchy” with the Father sacrificing his Son and giving us the Holy Spirit. They are equal persons but there still is hierarchy in their relationship. (Also the word Trinity is not in the Bible.) Hierarchy is headship. Jesus prayed that not His will be done, but that of His Father in Heaven. Jesus exists in a hierarchy.

            These really are basic concepts that are well defined and have been in use for generations. Your opinion may matter to you but it is no way determines truth. In other words you can believe what you want, but the Truth is unchanging since the Truth comes from God and He is unchanging (because He is perfect and perfection cannot be improved upon; hence God cannot change).

            Christians are allowed and even encouraged to use intellect, rational thought and logic to understand God, Salvation and how we should conduct our lives.

  4. Keri says:

    For those who have had a spouse walk out on them..I just want to say before I write the rest of this that I am so Very Sorry! It happens even in our Christian World.It is so very easy to be decieved.We live in a very fallen world and we all make many mistakes.I just want you to know that you can still cling to Jesus! He is our rock in any situation.If you need help or encouragement..We should all be giving it!!Find a Strong Christian who can help you and encourage you!!They are out there..and please tell us your needs..Now I would like to share what my husband shared with me one Saturday afternoon.
    We had just gotten home from the soccer field and I had seen my best friends husband(who had left her a couple of years before).As he began to speak to me..I threw my arms around him and began to tell him how I Knew the Lord could restore them.They had been strong Christians and he even felt the Lord may be calling him into ministry.They had problems..it got worse..and he left her and their three children.As I spoke to him..I saw it in his eyes..he was “DEAD” to the things I was saying and shut me down.By the time we got home I was sobbing and begging my husband to help me understand.He opened his Bible to Matthew 7:24-27…for the sake of space,I will let you look it up and read it.Another reference is Luke 6:47-49(47) “Whosoever cometh to me,and heareth my sayings, and doeth them,I will shew you to whom he is like:(48)He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.(49)But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth;against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
    What is Our Foundation built on? Is Jesus our Rock?..We have all known Christian couples that this has happened to.I truly believe that we all go through “rough patches” in our marraiges.Ours came about 15 yrs.ago.We were both dealing with things from our past and hurts and the normal stresses of job security and little kids etc, were building up on us.We had decided when we got married that divorce would Never be an option but I have to tell you I was thinking of it and I considered myself a Strong Christian.I clung to his word!! I prayed!! and I forgave and in the midst of it all I asked the Lord to remind me why I loved this man in the first place.You know what??He did..When we ask him..he will show us.I know many outcomes don’t turn out like mine.When we talk about this time period of our marraige(which really isn’t often)..we both see it totally different.It was a hard time.We all have them.We went through another one five years ago with our oldest child.It was the hardest thing we have Ever gone through.We made mistakes..we sought counseling..and we clung to the Rock!! Jesus!! We sought counsel from a Godly couple we knew.We made it through that one also.
    I just really want to encourage those who’s “Hearts” are not in it to completely hang in there and Cling to the Foundation that you know is right..no matter how hard it is.It will be worth it!I didn’t really mean for this to turn into a book..lol..but I really wanted to share these scriptures and some practical examples.Blessings to you all this weekend!!

  5. 6 arrows says:

    “Why doesn’t anyone stay together anymore?” Good question, Kelly.

    I think so many of us, as married couples, have already lost our togetherness to some degree even while we’re still “together”. I’ve had to make a conscious effort, for example, to remember that I am ONE with my husband 24/7, not just when he’s at home. My independent spirit likes to kick in when he’s occupied elsewhere. That’s the antithesis to togetherness if that stubborn streak leads me to something that doesn’t further my husband’s vision for our family.

    It is sad to see the number of people divorcing after many years of marriage, twenty, thirty years sometimes, and more. But I can see how that may be happening. Very often, marital togetherness diminishes due to diversions like the ones you mentioned: careers, hobbies, electronics, etc., which tend to be more individualistic rather than couple-oriented activities oftentimes. After a while, it seems the only thing the couple has in common is the kids. Then when the kids are gone, or busy with their own lives…what’s left to bind the couple when the bond slowly dissolved in the busyness of life? If I learned anything last year celebrating our 25th anniversary, it’s that we need to keep cultivating our marriage every step of the way and keep Christ at the center. He is the glue that binds us as a couple and as one with Him.

    I don’t want to make this a book-length comment 😉 but I think there’s something else very important to consider in regards to the marriage relationship, and that is our relationships with other members of the opposite sex (to whom we are not married). We women need to tread very carefully in our relationships with men who are not our husbands. It is so very easy, in our limited view of other men’s lives and personalities, to just see what we want to see, and we might imagine that their qualities are so much better than our own spouse’s. The grass might appear to be greener on the other side of the fence, but we don’t see the whole yard like we do at our own home.

    I’m wondering, too, how Facebook and other social media are changing the nature of male/female relationships? Neither my husband nor I partake of social media, but our adult children (who are not married) are on FB, so it’s gotten me thinking a lot about relationships through that medium, and how that affects how those same relationships then play out in real life, face to face. Will friendship with a person of the opposite sex sort of help to “keep the door open” for a new relationship in case “the marriage just didn’t work out”, like some people say? Are couples going to find it easier to bail out of their marriages when the going gets tough if there seems to be a plentiful field of new options available?

    Not saying a person can’t have friends of the opposite sex when you or said friend are married to another. There are Christian men I know (and who are also known by my family) who I would call friends. We don’t need to make a law where there is none. Yet we must never fail to seek the Lord on what He would have the nature of all our relationships be, and how we can be in His will in the way we deal with the people God has brought into our lives. We need to be rooted in the Word to conduct ourselves in a God-honoring way in ALL our relationships.

    Ahh…this was way longer than I intended it to be! Thanks for bearing with me! And keep preaching it, Kelly 🙂

  6. Carolina Jackson says:

    Not one single celebraty is able of keeping his marriage. Why? Carriere, fame, fans… everything comes before it. They are unable of sacrificing one single thing for that relacionship.
    In our case, we can put many other things before it too.
    Why do many christians couple stay together even if their marriages are not easy? Because they know that the marital vows are not just a formula you say in a wedding ceremony, but a covenant, a promise that needs to be kept.
    Keep your marital vows even if it’s not easy. keep your feet on the earth. Your spouse is not perfect, the same way that you and I are not either. We have chosen a person, now let’s make it work.

  7. The thing I find absolutely the saddest is when one spouse’s heart IS in the marriage, but the other refuses to invest. Of course, this is one of the reasons why discernment and a gradual, low-pressure courtship can be so beneficial. Intensely emotional (or physical) dating can sometimes result in marriage to a person you believed to be more invested and committed than was actually the case. It positively breaks my heart to see.

  8. Amen! Such a good post.

    I just started seriously blogging recently. While blogging can be a way to bless and encourage others, I am constantly reminded that it (like any other distraction!) can steal me away from those things that are most important.

    God first. Then marriage. Then mothering. THEN all the other things. 🙂

    Thanks for you wonderful reminder.

  9. Mrs. S says:

    Kelly, I am really enjoying Tim Keller’s new book The Meaning of Marriage. I think you would too. I am in a very happy marriage and it is even helping me so much! It is helping me give wise counsel as well.

    Very short summary: He talks about how modern marriage is very indivialistic, self-centered, consumeristic, and overly concerned with romance/sexual experiences. Once people start giving more than they are receiving from their spouse then they feel like they are entitled to get out because it is all about them.
    Instead marriage should be a deep convenental spiritual friendship where you focus on loving/serving the other person and helping each other grow in Christ.(Romance is good too it just can’t be foundational).

  10. Kristen says:

    I think the short answer to your question is, “We don’t treasure our marriage!” And I think it’s interesting that the investment has to be made first. We can’t say, “I’ll invest only if I feel love for this person.” Another thing, I think, is that Christians don’t truly understand what Paul says about marriage. That it’s a picture of Christ’s relationship to the Church. If Christians really thought about their marriage in those terms….things would be a lot different.

  11. Melissa M. says:

    I agree with Mrs. S. (and others). I have a preteen son and when the time comes for him to be married someday, I would like to ask my future DIL “If you could only afford to elope, would you still marry my son?” After watching several marriage-minded shows on TV, it seems that more young women are only thinking about planning her “perfect” wedding, not about the commitment on the other side of the ceremony. Also, when I married 24 years ago, my thoughts were that I would get to spend more time with my beloved, and alas, it very quickly became less time spent together. So, I think loneliness has something to do with more divorces. As I have sometimes thought, “Why sit here and be lonely when I could be free and spend time with who I want?” But I remember that I made a covenant with God and my beloved and the grass is not greener on the other side.

    • 6 arrows says:

      “But I remember that I made a covenant with God and my beloved and the grass is not greener on the other side.”

      Well said, Melissa.

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