Last week, I interviewed a very special person, Meghan Villatoro, for my podcast, Rooted by the Stream which is live this week. Meghan has a blog, podcast, and a marriage coaching business, all of which can be found at her website, restoreamor.com. Meghan is living proof that God can restore marriage. After enduring infidelity in her marriage and a four year separation from her husband, they are knit together again in love and in sharing faith. Meghan is proof that miracles can happen even when all seems lost.
One of the remarkable things about what happened in Meghan’s life is that she left her familiar surroundings in New York to go to El Salvador, her husband’s country of origin. Once there, they began to have children. It was after her third child that she realized her husband was involved with someone else. The tremendous sorrow, depression, and fear that followed could have consumed her, but Meghan began to pray. On her website, she has many resources including prayers that came out of her experience.
Prompted by this conversation, in this post, I’d like to share 7 spiritual steps for strengthening or rebuilding a marriage. God CAN restore marriages!
#1 Make God First in Your Life
It may sound hard. Perhaps it sounds hard-hearted to you. But, a first principle for having a good marriage is that you put God ahead of everyone else in your life. He should come before your spouse, your children, extended family, the job, hobbies, entertainment – all of it. Why?
The answer is because He deserves it. He is so worthy of our praise, attention, and devotion. But, this is also self-protective. If you develop absolute trust and dependency on God – if your world should come crashing down, if your marriage does start to unravel, you have One to whom you can turn.
Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When you are close to God through making Him your priority and hope, you can run to Him when life is very hard. You’ll recognize His voice, sense His presence, and He will help you navigate your trouble – in marriage or in any other area.
#2 Respectfulness Essential in Marriage
Romans 12:10 says, Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” But, I love the way that second sentence is written in some Bible translations. In some, it says, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Outdo each other in being the respectful one! (The one way in which competition is ok.)
This is a second principle that is marvelous advice for any relationship. Strive to be the one who is most honoring, most respectful. Ask God for His help. “How can I really show my spouse honor and respect? Fill me with the ability to do this.”
I know there are some marriages where the one you are married to can be downright rude, cutting, critical, demeaning, even abusive. That is so hard, but even there, hard hearts can change, especially if you have your own behavior under control. However, if you are in a marriage where there simply needs to be growth in thoughtfulness and appreciation of the other, it is definitely doable and brings forth a lot of fruit.
In a Good Marriage, Love is an Action
Years ago, a pastor told a story about how tense his marriage had become in the early years. He was working and going to seminary, and as a young couple, he and his wife were repeatedly offending and misunderstanding each other. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to stay married.
One night, she had gone to bed and he was up late trying to get a paper done for his class. She had gone to bed amid tension and fighting. As it grew later and later and he labored away, he suddenly sensed the Holy Spirit say, “Go buy her some flowers.”
“What? No way!” was his first thought. But, as he felt it was God instructing him, he finally got up, reluctantly, and went out to a grocery store open at night, and bought a bouquet.
Once home, he got back to work, but then heard a second instruction. “Write her a note.” “No way,” was again his first thought. Giving in to write her was being humble, risking letting her have the upper hand. But he did it. And afterwards, God spoke one more thing. “Now pray for her.”
The young pastor did it. He set the bouquet in a vase with the note and left it out for her. The next day, when she found these surprises, she was so pleased – and softened by them. In turn, she found some kind things to do for the young pastor. As they continued on this Spirit led path of showing honor even when they didn’t feel like it, they “fell” back in love.
#3 Protect Marriage by Dealing with Anger
The third step or principle has to do with why and how you get angry with your spouse and then what do you do with it. Marriage often gets broken because people get so angry and frustrated with each other. But God can restore your relationship and help you remove the anger that has come between you.
My husband has a mindset about dirty dishes. He never wants to let dishes set in the sink overnight. Even if he is exhausted, he’ll still stop and clean up. What if we were to deal with anger in marriage the same way?
The Bible has a verse about this:
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26 NIV
That is one of the best bits of advice ever. Just like the dirty dishes, deal with each day’s anger and resolve it. Don’t go to bed carrying it, if at all possible. (And I don’t want to be offering simplistic advice. Sometimes, the depth and breadth of anger is so much, it is hard to get out from under it.)
It is unwise to bring up really difficult topics as you are getting ready for bed. Save big discussions for when you are both rested. For more on how to talk through conflict and find mutually workable solutions, here is some help: How to Resolve Conflict in a Relationship | A Biblical Way.
#4 Let God Change Your Heart
God can restore marriage if these principles or steps are part of what you do. The beauty of all these efforts is that often God changes us as much as He changes our spouse in the restoration process. A painful and difficult part of healing a broken relationship is seeing what contribution we may be making to the brokenness.
When I was in the early stages of our marriage, I was truly the nagging wife. (I could have gotten a medal – #1 Nagger!) Out of anxiety to “get things right,” I would insist that we needed to do this and we needed to do that – especially where it concerned our kids. My husband could hardly get through the door without me jumping on him and bombarding him with a to do list.
Our favorite story from this period is when I insisted we needed to buy a new set of pots and pans so that the kids would not get certain metals in their systems. (I had been listening to some worrisome commercials.) For me, the pans needed to be “bought yesterday.”
We did buy new pots. We’ve actually had them almost all the years of our marriage and we both love them. But, I’ll never forget how I was like a “dog with a bone.” My poor badgered husband. The pots were only ONE of my many “must do” projects.
What God Says About Marriage Restoration
However, I began to learn from the wonderful passage Ephesians 5:21-33 that marriage should look like the relationship of Christ with His Church. I heard the two bits of advice in this passage, “wives submit to your husbands,” and “husbands love your wives,” in a particular way:
“Submit to your husband,” came to mean to me, don’t overwhelm him. Let him get through the door and unwind before launching into concerns or demands. And don’t let them be demands. Give him breathing room. Respect him as a man.
But, “husbands love your wives,” came to mean “listen to her,” and “support her emotions.” Don’t, with a superior male air, try to fix everything immediately so that you’re not bothered with it any more. As we both began to understand these things and this Bible passage, our fighting lessened.
Above all, marriage goes so much better when we take Jesus’ words to heart, “First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5 BSB
#5 Restoration Requires Selfless Love
If we’re going to have lasting and beautiful marriages, we need to love each other as Christ loved (and loves) us. He laid down His life, His privileges, everything. The Bible says that “Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing…” Philippians 2:6-7 NIV
Our “flesh” really fights being humble and serving someone else. What we naturally want to do is win, be more important, get our way, etc. But, if we have a humble heart and seek to live out what Jesus said – it is better to give than to receive – we’ll be happier. Greed and grabbing never ultimately satisfy and they sure make for a crummy marriage. The only way to get this giving and yielding heart is to know Jesus and allow Him to create it in us.
The Bible promises that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. If you do not know Jesus yet, you can find help here: Why Did Jesus Die?
And, not only can we have Jesus in our life, but we can be filled with God in yet another way. He comes to us as the Holy Spirit and helps us to love others like Jesus. For more understanding about the Holy Spirit, you can read Who is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?
#6 Share Faith So God Can Restore Marriage
Meghan Villatoro talked about the healing value of her husband’s return to sharing faith with her. That return enabled her to trust again as she saw God’s transformation of his heart.
In the Bible book of Hebrews there is a verse that advises:
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” Hebrews 10:25 NLT.
When we share faith with each other, worship, prayer, and study of scripture, our hearts change. Our attitudes change. We treat each other better. Holy and noble things become our aspirations.
Marriage becomes much better for the couple who is linked together spiritually.
#7 Find the Good and Praise It in Your Spouse
Who are the people we are most apt to find fault with? Yes, it is our family members. We cut strangers a lot more slack. And often, people will, sadly, find in a marriage that their spouse is ready to tell them everything they have done wrong, but forget to say thank you or give praise.
And yet, it’s amazing how people bloom with praise; how they rise to your good words about them and try to do more of what you have complimented.
There’s a method of marriage counseling called “short term counseling.” The idea is to help people quickly begin to resolve their relationship problems without months of their working at it. One concept in this approach is to ask a couple, “What are you doing when you DO get along? Figure that out and do more of it.”
This is not that hard. If you think of moments when you are really getting along, you can highlight that to one another and say, “Let’s do more of that.”
Are you happier and more at peace when you’re doing a particular sport or hobby with each other? Do you get along better if each of you is listening more deeply and responding less rapidly?
The Bible advises, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James 1:19
Above all else, understand that it pleases God if you seek to love, honor, and bless your spouse. It relieves your children of anxiety, if you seek to be the peacemaker.
“if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV
A Final Prayer for Restoring Marriage
In all that has been said above, this also is an important point: If you are in a dangerous situation, with an abusive person, do not remain there. Restoring a marriage cannot happen where there is ongoing, unrepentant violence or abuse. God does not expect you to stay where you are not safe. He will help you recover from what such a situation has done to you, if this is you.
But, if there is hope and a possibility of restoring your marriage or for simply making it stronger and a greater blessing, here is a simple prayer:
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray for the one reading this prayer right now. God bless their marriage, strengthen it, make it full of joy. If there has been pain, struggle, and brokenness, heal that in the name of Jesus. Let them start over. Build love and trust. Father, help them to know that marriage is one of the highest forms of discipleship and through it we witness to the world that deep and abiding love is possible. God bless this reader in every way and give them hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen
How Do I Leave My Worries to God?
Finding Healing After You’ve Been Betrayed
I Feel So Disappointed | How to Overcome Disappointment
Overcoming Rejection with God’s Truth
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Love this! It was great being able to talk with you Pam!
I was so grateful to have you on the podcast and to hear your story, as well as share it. Your persisting prayer and trusting in God is such a tremendous witness that we don’t have to give up when trouble strikes us. God is a miracle making Waymaker. Thank you, my friend.
Meghan learned this lesson at such a young age! I had to learn the same lesson at age 53! Unfortunately, it’s step #6 that allows complete trust to begin again, and unlike Meghan’s husband, mine has not returned to the Lord. We can discuss faith, but after thirteen years of healing, he still questions everything about the Christian faith.
That is hard – that he is still questioning everything. I pray that will change for him so you can be blessed in sharing in that part of your life too. I know so many struggle with creating a truly united marriage. God bless you so much, Linda.
Hi I am happy that I read the 7 spiritual steps to restore a broken marriage. I will apply this on my marriage so that my marriage will have a restoration. We were broken of my husband. Were now broken of 4 months but we are wishing that 1 day we can restore our marriage through to have faith with god. I wish that the attitude of my husband will change into positive attitude. I wish that he will forget of his drunkiness and many bad habits that he I hope he will change for a better so that we will not be quarrel again we will be restore well have peace and love together. Help us to pray to jesus.Thank you godbless.
I am sorry for the heartache in your marriage. You are right that the pathway is by praying and praying to God through Jesus Christ. We human beings can’t force change in our spouses, but by praying, trusting God, and doing the right things ourselves, we have a far better chance of seeing them change too. I hope your husband will change and that you will find the help that you need. Please remember, if the marriage is an abusive, unchanging environment, God does not expect you to remain in that.
You have to strengthen your faith in God, it’s in your Mind, faith and power never is if husband is willing to change, forgive yourself, you are in control of your thoughts your perspective and change happens within you. Then, husband changes. When I change my mind the world change.
Georgia, I love this, “When I change my mind the world changes.” So true. The battlefield is in the mind and has the Lord has influence over our minds we change for the better to be more like Him. God bless you!
Thank you for sharing. It was very helpful to me, especially during this time in my marriage. I love to points you shared. I found it to be very beneficial. I will definately use it to make my marriage better. May God continue to richly bless you as you continue to His work here in His vineyard.
Eunice, I am so grateful that you found the article helpful. God bless you and your marriage and all that you do. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Me and my husband of 6 years separated a little over 3 months ago. Im the one that left because I had things that I couldn’t forgive him for. He left and went into the military just a few months after we got married. That was a decision that he made for himself no matter how I felt about it or how bad I didn’t want him to do it. While he was at basic training I found out that I was pregnant (4 days after he left) and I had a lot of complications. I almost miscarried our child. I called to tell him what was going on and his response was “I don’t care what happens I’m not coming home” I could never forgive him for that. He ended up leaving once he got to AIT and he came home.. but that didn’t matter to me because he put me through all of that for nothing. I was never able to let it go and move on from it so I held on to it until I fell out of love with him. I want more than anything for my marriage to work out, not only for us but for our kids to. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through and all I want is to be happy and in love with my husband and him to love me the same way. While we’ve been separated we have both seen other people and he is still seeing the woman. Seeing him with her crushed my heart into a thousand pieces. I just want God to restore the love that we both had for one another again. I don’t even know where to start to do that.
Josie, I am sorry for the heartbreak and struggle in your marriage. You may not be able to persuade your husband to meet with you and a godly counselor – especially while he is seeing another woman. But see if you can find a good counselor to meet with – even if your husband is not interested, go yourself. Learn about how love is more than feelings. It is an act of the will made possible by God in us. Forgiveness is an act of the will made possible by God in us. Both these things have to be learned and practiced for a marriage to work. The act of humbling ourselves and honoring our mate is a hard thing to learn. And it must go both ways. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Paul is speaking to wives AND husbands in this verse.
Since you came to the website through the broken marriage article, I know you read about Meghan who was separated from her husband for four years and he was with another woman. Meghan kept going. Kept praying. And their marriage was healed. They are both back in the church and that has made all the difference. This won’t be the happy ending that everyone finds – but all things can be possible with God. I will add you to my prayer list. God be with you!
I pray to God to Restore my Marriage, today. Oh Lord sJesus, how us Mercy. Bring my husband back home today. I want us to renew our wedding vows this week. Send the strange woman away in peace, like you asked your servant Abraham to send Hagar away when Sarah his wife bade him do so. What God cannot do, does not exist. Lord if you bring home my husband Chima today, I will work tirelessly in the Marriage and Family ministry. I will testify of the Lord’s goodness in my family, if Jesus grants me this prayer request. Amen.
I join you in prayer for your husband and you. May God help you and direct you and bring healing to your lives.
My husband and I are in need of healing and restoration in our marriage. The enemy is seeking to steal and destroy. I pray also that I will be more attentive to my husband and regain his trust. I can do nothing, but with Christ all things are possible.
Rebuilding trust usually doesn’t happen over night so be patient and be in for the “long haul.” With discipline – doing the right things consistently – you can build back. I pray that you will both feel moved by God to do your part and to work together to regain all that your marriage can be. God bless you both.
My husband and i have been married for 35 years. He has moved out and he now lives with his sister. I havent done the things he is acusing me of. All i want is my husband back home with. Me
Have you tried talking with a counselor, you and your husband? Sometimes, that is very helpful to have someone guide your conversation so that you both can speak and can be helped to really hear each other. I am sorry for your trouble, especially after 35 years together. I pray God will help you find a way to repair your relationship.
My husband has a gambling addiction and a narcissistic personality where he believes he is never wrong. I finally voiced my opinion of everything and ruined my marriage. I pray that my husband heart can love me again and that our marriage can be restored. I pray that he lets go of his addiction and return to the marriage.
If your husband will humble himself and change, completely abandoning gambling and honoring you, then I also pray for the marriage to be restored. Of course, you work on any shortcomings you have with the help of God. But, for you to return to the same suffering makes no sense. Healing and growth must be the conditions for continuing. Ask God for help and if your husband is willing to receive counseling and work for change, I pray you will find a good, godly counselor who will help you both. Every blessing in Christ.
What about if he loves you but says, “love isn’t enough”? How do you get through having a whole part of you gone ?
Kelly, I am so sorry because I can hear the loss and pain you have experienced. It is important to realize that love is not just feelings that come and go. Real love is deep commitment to another human being. It is an act of the will. As an old friend of mine used to say about her marriage, “I have to get up and decide every day to love him.” It is a decision as much as anything.
As far as surviving loss and the breakup of a relationship, it takes time. You need to truly lean into God and into some trustworthy helpers – maybe a counselor or pastor or just dear friends who will listen without trying to adjust your emotions for you. Keep on with your work, hobbies, and friendships. Keep on with your life in a church if you have that – or find one. God bless you.
Lord I pray that my marriage to Anita will be restored for 5 years or more it has been a rollercoaster I love her dearly I am Anita 5 th husband Anita my 2 nd wife still I love her Anita wants divorce Lord heal her heart soften it restore and bring us to gather in Jesus precious name
Robert, I pray with you that God will help you.
Inspired by reading about restoring a marriage.
God bless you, Monika
Lord I pray that my marriage to my husand can be saved. We have both made mistakes. I want to save our marriage and he want a divorce. Please change his mind and heart to see that our marriage is worth saving.
I join you in the prayer for God to help you both. Keep praying. Sometimes healing takes a long while. God bless you.
Yahweh My God, I pray that you restore my marriage to John we have been together 20 years he was my best friend, there was adultery on his end he was never happy although I tried. He struggled with his faith he came from a broken home just as I did. He could be abusive but also very loving protective kind and generous sweet and misunderstood. I pray that God changes his heart softens it and helps him to not believe all of the thoughts in his head that he is not good enough that he needs approval from this world,I Pray God takes away all the evil thoughts he has a struggles with lust jealousy envy greed, and I pray that God takes anything that is contributing to the marriage problems out of him and I. God the Most High I ask that you send the strange woman away and take away my husband’s wandering eye and help him to be devoted to you! I pray God to you to help me to be a better wife not to nag my husband not to lecture him but to be a comfort to him and for you to show me the way and what to do. I pray for there to be no more fighting no more distance between us for closeness and for me to serve you for eternity! I love you God and your son The Messiah Yeshua and I pray this in his name! Have mercy and restore our marriage! I call upon this in your name hallelujah!
Maria, I pray with you that every petition you have offered up to God will be answered and you will have your marriage and peace restored.
Lord, I pray that my wife love me like she used to. Recently we started to feel disconnected and I accused her of something that was not true. Now she is barely talking to me. We have been married for almost 9 years but together for 19 years. We have a six year old daughter that we were very lucky to have. I pray that my wife can forgive me and continue to love each other like we once did.
Jorge, I am so deeply sorry you and your wife are struggling in your relationship. You mention accusing her of “something that was not true.” Can you say that to her, “I know what I said was not true.” And, humbly, ask her for her forgiveness for that? I am sure she has also hurt you. These conflicts are never one-sided. But, if you start the “ball rolling,” by saying, “Please forgive me,” hopefully she will try to reach out for you too.
It sometimes is helpful to find a pastor or a Christian counselor who can help you talk to each other without fighting. The fact that you have a 6 year old daughter makes it very worth trying to rebuild your marriage. God bless you both. I pray that you will mend the broken places and have a stronger marriage than ever.
Please pray for restoration of our marriage. I was neglectful and hurtful toward my husband and backslidden from the Lord. God called me back and convicted me, but my husband says it’s too late. He no longer has feelings for me. He says only God can fix us. I am praying and asking the Lord for a miracle. We have been married 27 years. We have six children.
TK, you have so much invested in this relationship – 27 years and 6 children. I pray that you will continue renewing your relationship with God and continue trying to restore your husband’s trust. He’s wrong, of course, that only God can fix it. God must be at the heart of the restoration of your marriage, but both of you must repent of the things you did wrong and both of you must reach for the other. I hope your husband’s heart will soften and he will make an effort. Meantime, you keep up being kind, being prayerful, treating your husband with the respect he’s longed for. And I hope you’ll both experience a miracle and a marriage that’s better than ever. Thanks for writing. God bless you both!