In sickness and in health.

28 Jan

When you read the title of this post, I’m sure you immediately thought of wedding vows.  And that’s good, because that’s where I’m going with this.

However, I don’t think the phrase “in sickness and in health” carries the proper weight it should in marriage because it’s real meaning is missed by most of us.

I don’t believe it’s a matter of physical sickness and health.  When a spouse comes down with a cold, sure it can cause the house a little friction while one person is under the weather and the other might have to pick up some slack, but it very rarely causes bursts of feelings to not love your spouse anymore or want out of the marriage.  The same goes for major illness like cancer.  I feel I can say with much confidence (even though I don’t have a firm “statistic”) that if we were to poll all the divorce lawyers in the world, they would not tell us that even 10% of divorces are because one spouse came down with a major illness.  I’m not saying it NEVER happens.  For all that’s worth, I’m sure somewhere along the way, someone has gotten divorced over every possible “factor” that we could think up simply because that’s how little we think of marriage and how easy divorce has become.

At any rate, I think our wedding vows, which are meant to last forever, include the phrase “in sickness and in health” to refer to our spiritual health.

There are all kinds of reasons why we become spiritually sick – and the divorce courts are FILLED with those reasons!!

Let me give you a few examples.  And while you’re reading…. it might be good to think about if your spouse falls into any of these areas, or even yourself.

– An addiction (gambling, pornography, alcohol)

– Unforgiveness or bitterness (either of their spouse, or of someone else in their life)

– They have a messy friendship with someone that runs on negativity and gossip.  This always spills over into every area of life and brings about more gossip, turmoil, dysfunction and conflict in all areas of life.

– Irresponsibility. Often times, one spouse in the middle of the tough years of raising little kids, will get a chance to go out and have fun a few times close together, and they get addicted quickly to the freedom.  They then begin to be gone from home often and lose their call to responsibility in the stage of life they are in as a spouse and a parent.

– Solitude. They may have no spiritual friends or outlets.

– An affair (physical or emotional)

– Pride. They may feel like they are so much better than their spouse, and begin to look down their nose at the other person.  (This happens OFTEN with women. And the more they think they sin “less” often or less severely than their husband, the more spiritually sick they become themselves.)

– Greed.  This can play out in materialism, being a workaholic, or selfishness with time.

– Being unsaved.  You can’t be anymore spiritually sick than if you don’t have a relationship with the Savior.

So what do you do when your spouse is spiritually sick?

You spiritually pick them up, carry them to alter, get on your knees, and GIVE them to the Lord.  No matter what you do, you cannot heal your spiritually sick spouse.  Mostly because, and this is important, You CANNOT play the Holy Spirit in your spouse’s life! The more you try to, the more you hinder the Holy Spirit from working.

There is no promise or guarantee that the moment you pray for your spouse, they are going to get spiritually well.  If the Lord chooses to delay His answer, MORE THAN LIKELY – it’s because He is CHOOSING TO REFINE YOUR CHARACTER!!!

Trials in our lives (and the spiritual sickness of our spouse is a HUGE trial) are meant to develop perseverance. (Romans 5:3-4)  God is refining our character and growing our faith.  Just when you feel like you can’t pray one more time, or go on one more day, or forgive one more thing, you’re moved to dig deeper in yourself and trust God in a way you’ve never had to before. That strengthens us. It might be preparing you for something later in life where you’ll need more faith, or it might be so you can witness and share with someone else who needs the counsel of someone who has been there.  Let me make one thing REALLY clear! GOD WASTES NOTHING! Our seasons of waiting, praying, crying, begging, being broken before the Lord, and trusting are ALL FOR OUR GOOD! We need to stop being the victim of our spouse’s spiritual sickness and start being the healthy one!!

I’m not suggesting that is easy.  Growing in our faith is never easy.  But as I’ve said before, when sin entered the world, easy left. The easy part is having a Savior who took the punishment for our sins and reconciled us to the Father.  When we get to heaven, it’ll be freedom and ease like our minds can’t even fathom.  Until then, it’s time to accept that it’s never going to be easy or fair.

Practical Application –

Recognize if the problems that arise in my marriage are because “I’m” spiritually sick.  If so, pray for healing.

Recognize if the problems that arise in my marriage are because my spouse is spiritually sick.  If so, stop playing the victim. Start holding up my end of the vow “in sickness and in health” and take them to the Father for healing.  As well as, search my heart for the growing pains of being strengthened in my faith and thank God for preparing me for what is coming next and for making me healthy enough in the moment to rejoice and pray.

And ONE LAST practical application that is REALLY REALLY REALLY important.  If you missed EVERYTHING I just wrote, and you skimmed to the bottom and you read NOTHING else today that will help your own marriage…. please don’t miss this.

If your friend is spiritually sick or has a spiritually sick spouse – and you see it, help them see it.  If you are thinking your friend would be better off without their spouse or should get a divorce, (unless they are being abused) you are NOT really their friend and should NOT be giving them any counsel.  End the relationship unless you can be FOR their marriage!


22 Responses to “In sickness and in health.”

  1. makemypathstraight January 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    This is phenomenal post! 🙂 Thank you for speaking the truth… I can relate to so much of this.

    • Kayla Gulick January 28, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      You’re welcome! Thanks for the supportive comment. It’s awesome to have a community online to grow and share with : )

  2. RaZella January 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Wow. Powerful, deep, and very encouraging. Thank you.

  3. Merrie Beth February 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    I have a friend I’m working with who just finally had her “aha” moment after I sent her this post. So thank you!

    • Kayla Gulick February 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      Oh Merrie Beth – THANK YOU for telling me that! Praise God for using my battles for His glory! It’s really incredible to know that God’s wastes nothing! Even our failures!

  4. David J. February 10, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    This is so good. In my 29-year marriage, we were both sick, especially the last 15 years or so. My sickness included pornography; her sickness included sexual refusal. There were plenty of times that I did not love her in her sickness (and vice versa). At one of our lowest points, I violated the “sickness and health” part of our vows by stating that it seemed clear that we were headed for a divorce once the kids were all out of the house (which, at that point, would have been 7 years down the road). Unfortunately, that statement prompted her to go ahead and file for divorce right then! Later, after we had agreed to try to reconcile and had been working on that for 18 months or so, two counselors and I concluded that the reconciliation efforts had become a one-way street. Our solution was an ultimatum seeking movement on three specific issues, all of which were aspects of her overall respect for me (or, actually, her contempt for me). Failure or refusal to make some improvement in those three areas would trigger a temporary separation when our house sold (it was already on the market for financial reasons). After several months of no real change, I let her know that I planned to move forward with the separation (our house still hadn’t sold). In retrospect, I should have seen her response coming, and you’ve probably guessed it — she filed for divorce again, this time with no openness to attempted reconciliation.

    “Just when you feel like you can’t pray one more time, or go on one more day, or forgive one more thing, you’re moved to dig deeper in yourself and trust God in a way you’ve never had to before.”

    This part of your post really resonated with me because, ironically, immediately before I found out that she had filed for divorce that second time, our marriage counselor challenged me to deny myself, take up the cross, abandon the idea of a separation, and just keep trying even if she never moved toward me. I thought and prayed about it, and ultimately told him I would do that. Unbeknownst to me, she had already filed and had already told our kids. I came back from an out of town business trip and received a call from my daughter letting slip that another divorce was in process.

    While I know that she is responsible for her decision to divorce over my objection and without a biblical basis, I also regret that my own failure to live up to my part of the “sickness and health” vow played a role in the ultimate sin of the divorce.

    A long way of saying that you’re right and that I hope others will see your post and be convicted before it’s too late in their marriages.

    • Kayla Gulick February 10, 2013 at 7:11 am #

      Thank you David!

      It’s REALLY hard to love someone when they’re sick. If it was easy, we wouldn’ thave to make a vow to do it. No one goes around saying “I make a vow to eat food every day.” Our growling tummies reminds us, it’s pleasuable for us, and we easily indulge!

      But loving someone who seems unloveable or who is even very intentionally about not loving us or hurting us, not that is seriously hard work that we can’t do without the Holy spirit. But when we keep our end of the deal up, the Holy Spirit moves through us in a way that defeats sickness.

      I’m sorry for your divorce. I pray God will help you heal.
      Thanks again for sharing!

  5. JD July 16, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Great post! I’m dealing with a marriage crisis and sometimes the last thing I want to do is continue loving my husband. So many well meaning Christians are so easy to say “you have grounds for divorce” but that just doesn’t sit well with me. This is really encouraging. Thank you!

    • Kayla Gulick July 16, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      You’re very welcome friend. It’s a good reminder for us all. We all face struggles/crisis dying to ourselves and fulfilling our greatest roles in marriage.

  6. Terrence nel June 2, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    My wife has already filed divorce papers and I am about to sign them (against my will). I have abused alcohol for 13 years and were not present in her and my children’s life. I can fully understand why she wants to divorce me.

    I was spiritually sick and I believe I was also physically sick. I am forwarding or printing this post and giving it to her to read, praying that she will, but maybe the pain is already too much to bear. I will try nonetheless. She prayed for 13 years and the Lord did not answer her prayers.

    I have realised in the last month that the Lord is working with me and I pray that the Lord will continue carrying me during this process until I am fully healed.

    To be honest, I came across this site while I was busy looking for the easiest and most painless way to end my life. I believe God gave me this to save not only my marriage, but also my life. Admitting this can have dire consequences as she would be able to use this piece in court. I truly pray that my wife will take this and make it her own.

    Please pray for me while I am on this journey and also that my wife will forgive me my sins and bring us back together.

    Thank you very much for this post.

    • Kayla Gulick June 2, 2015 at 8:31 am #

      I pray your wife will read these words and God will move in her heart to hang on and rebuild.

      I’m so thankful the spirit led you to words that would encourage your heart and see the value in your life. God is not done working in and through you. Your testimony is powerful!

      Hang in there friend!!

  7. April C. June 26, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Oh my goodness. I am SO glad that God let me to this post; I needed to read it. It never occurred to me to interpret the vow ‘in sickness and in health’ in this way. I’ve been doing so much praying and crying my eyes out in the past week. My husband of only 7 months is holding grudges and harboring unforgiveness in his heart. He has hardened his heart against God & myself…and is in the process of filing for divorce. Being the Christian [with the utmost respect for God’s Word] that I’ve always known him to be, it’s a complete shock for him to tell me that he’s done fighting, I’m not worth fighting for anymore, my absence will bring him peace of mind, etc. I had a sense that I was dealing with something spiritual, but this post confirmed my suspicions. He and I are both spiritually sick in one way or another, but throwing in the towel on our marriage was never an option for me. It’s to the point now where I actually feel silly for continuing to pray so much for him and our marriage, while he’s sleeping in another room/ keeps telling me that I’m beating a dead horse. I feel silly for wearing my ring and telling him that I’m not going to sign the divorce papers, while his ring is buried in the drawer on the nightstand and he’s been in contact with a lawyer. I’m not exactly sure what I should do, or if I’m correct in praying so hard for someone who’s mind is completely made up.

    • Kayla Gulick June 26, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

      Don’t give up. Keep praying. Push into God even harder the more it feels like you should give up.

  8. Shweta July 2, 2015 at 1:51 am #

    “Trials in our lives (and the spiritual sickness of our spouse is a HUGE trial) are meant to develop perseverance. (Romans 5:3-4) God is refining our character and growing our faith. Just when you feel like you can’t pray one more time, or go on one more day, or forgive one more thing, you’re moved to dig deeper in yourself and trust God in a way you’ve never had to before. That strengthens us. It might be preparing you for something later in life where you’ll need more faith, or it might be so you can witness and share with someone else who needs the counsel of someone who has been there”

    I want you to know that your words above have given me so much hope. Though I am not married yet but I hope to marry him one day soon. Your words have made me realise that all the lessons I am learning are all part of god’s bigger plan. Thank you so much. Your experience was to give people like me some relief. Thank you again.

    • Kayla Gulick July 2, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      Thank you for sharing! Your timing is an encouragement to me as well!

  9. Cindy Havens August 8, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    WOW! Married 20 years with ups and down. 18 months ago i found about about his emotional affair he said he would stop but did not… the past 5 years he left twice only to come back i prayed so hard for God to give him back and he did. My husband agreed to counseling but i was so afraid he would leave again i did not purse it BAM that is when his texting affair started….i filed for divorce only to start counseling myself and how amazing God has turned my life around. we are still not together and he wants a divorce but i am holding on to God’s will this is not an easy path but i have grown so much in his love see without love with have nothing!

    • Kayla Gulick August 8, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

      Im so sorry for what you guys are going through. Marriage is so hard and Satan wants nothing more than to destroy it. He deceives even those who love the Lord and confuses the mind into a place of uncertainty and doubt. It’s easy to become emotionally and spiritually sick once that happens.

      Keep praying hard for your husband. God loves restoration and forgiveness.

      • Cindy Havens August 9, 2016 at 10:12 am #

        .you said it best Satan wants nothing more than to destroy.

        If i could give advise to a wondering soul seek God in every way, every decision look for his guiding hand trust in God remember we r here to do his will.

  10. Scott May 5, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Your post here is simply beautiful. I’m living through a season for 8 years now, and in the last 2 (since a divorce fascination took over) my spiritually sick bride has fallen into everything on your list. I’m honored God chose me for her and to bear up under all the betrayal for His glory and for her ultimate restoration and sanity. Your words here are beyond encouraging! The affinity and fellowship we all have in the lord is a testimony to His loving kindness and it truly being everlasting. Lord help me see the peace, wisdom, and need to interact w my bride as you would, to know how to, not just guess and pray I’m not getting in the way. Our poor kids!!!


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