When Your Marriage (And Your Faith) Are in Crisis

Amy Lively

by Amy Lively

Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.



After a twenty-year hiatus from my childhood faith, I started following Jesus again after I was married and had a child of my own. Ironically it was my return to faith, not the lack of it, that caused friction between me and my husband. I was zealous for my newfound way of life and while my husband didn’t disagree with my beliefs, he didn’t appreciate my self-righteous lectures and constant critique. We reached a crisis point. Divorce was mentioned.

In desperation, we met with the pastor of the church I’d been attending on my own, where my pastor pointed out how my over-enthusiasm was underwhelming to my husband. Incredible things happened when I started to use my Bible as a mirror to examine my own soul instead of a lens to dissect my marriage.

Faith and Fence-Sitting

This was heavy on my heart when I met my friend Jennifer for coffee, who was facing a crisis of her own. The confident woman I’d once known was gone. She had morphed from “I love life!” to “I don’t even like people.” As our cups cooled, I asked her, “Where’s God in all this?”

“Oh, I’m on the fence about God,” Jennifer shrugged. She wanted to walk with Him, but didn’t quite know how to live that out at home.

A few months later, Jennifer had her “end-of-the-world-as-you-know-it” moment when, as she was elbow-deep in dish suds, her husband walked into the kitchen and confessed he’d been having an affair. She didn’t even wipe her soapy hands as she grabbed her purse and fled the house. His infidelity and betrayal explained her growing self-doubt, negativity, and distrust.

We met in the early mornings to cry and pray and cry some more. She wondered if their three kids would be okay (they were) and if her life would ever be the same (it wasn’t). What about plans for their future and her own hopes and dreams? The coffee was plentiful at 5:00am as we filled her up with hope from Scripture and a single verse to get her through the day. Many days she’d even come back after dinner for a refill enough to last through the night.

An Action Plan for a Time of Crisis

Together they worked on their marriage while individually Jennifer worked on herself—the only thing she could control. Her goal was to hold her head high no matter what happened, so we made a plan. We hung out a lot in the Psalms. Each morning she prayed, “What’s the holy thing to do?” Jennifer’s survival strategy became continual forgiveness, biting back the harsh replies she wanted to give, memorizing Scripture, and intense prayer. She found community at church and comfort in God’s Word. “I saw more and more of God’s faithfulness,” she remembers.

Will God Save?

By the grace of God (and my husband), my marriage survived and later thrived. Jennifer’s did not. Her husband left after two years, and their divorce was finalized two years later. Yet Jennifer can still say, “I’ve been able to see God work in a dark time in my life—work through me, work for me, and be on my side, putting people in front of me, I know He is in control.”

My friend and I had both been on the fence, but in very different ways. I blustered my way to the top rail and crowed like a rooster at everyone I deemed beneath me. Jennifer perched there precariously like a chick unsure of its too-small wings. God knocked us both off the fence, then caught us in His wings.

He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. Psalm 91:4 CSB

And her ex-husband? A few years later he attended a funeral at the church where I worked, and never left. When asked why, he says, “I saw Jennifer and my kids growing and developing spiritually. I was impressed and moved by it, and I want to be part of that.”

It’s not the ending we would have written, but we learned that Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of every story. Sometimes the end of the world as you know it is only the beginning of knowing Jesus.



Amy Lively is the author of Can I Borrow a Cup of Hope? How to Find Faith for Hard Times in 1 Peter and How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird. She and her husband live in Colorado and Florida with their holy dog and unsaintly cat. Download the Psalms Jennifer meditated on at www.amylively.com/psalms or connect with @amylively on Instagram.