I’ve known my husband thirty-three years. We dated on and off four of those years, starting my sophomore year of high school and going into college. We were engaged less than a year. We’ve been married for over twenty-eight. Add in three kids, a zoo of pets, a few major moves, and a son who’s battled cancer twice, we’ve been navigating life together for what feels like a very long time. And most of it’s been rough.  

During those early sporadic dating years, we always at least remained close friends. When we got back together the final time, my husband told me he’d compared everyone he’d ever dated to me, but none of them came close. It was me he’d been looking for the whole time. Me he loved. Me he wanted forever with.

I can hear your collective “awww’s.” Because it sounds sweet and perfect and romantic, right?

Not if you saw the other side of the picture. That would be my side. During the time we were building a relationship, my parent’s relationship was crumbling, half a brick by half a brick. A slow, ugly death that involved countless lies and another woman.

When I met my husband, I had a father. When I married my husband, I did not. Not only did my dad check out on a quarter of a century with my mom, he completely abandoned me after nineteen years of what I thought had been a wonderful childhood.  

To say I was a mess doesn’t begin to describe the aftermath of their divorce. How could someone who says they love you . . . leave you?

On my wedding day, my husband walked down the aisle because he loved me. I walked down the aisle because I was desperate for love.

I’m sure you can see the problem. I couldn’t. And it showed in the same fights we had over and over. Thirteen years and three kids in, I had a choice. Stay with this guy I’d “gotten stuck with” or abandon my family the way my dad did. No, I’d never leave my kids, but without their dad, they wouldn’t be the same. They’d lose the security I’d been so desperate to find.

I stayed because it was the right thing to do. But I wanted more than the mess of a marriage I’d helped make. Something had to change. I needed glue to keep my husband and I together. That glue turned out to be God. He is truly a redeemer.

I began praying for my husband fourteen years ago. I wish I would’ve prayed the other fourteen. The road would’ve looked so different. I would’ve been grateful instead of resentful of the man God gave me.

It took me half my marriage to realize what I’d had all along. I couldn’t get past me. I couldn’t let past frustrations go. I couldn’t “see” my husband for who he really was. My dad kept getting in the way.

Today, my husband is my favorite dinner date. My first-choice movie buddy. My preferred travel companion. My best friend. My refuge. My person. Sitting next to him calms me. Sharing life with him strengthens me.

God did that. From the moment I stopped taking my frustrations out on my husband and started carrying them to God, He began to grow a love between us I never thought I’d have.

Have you found the one whom your soul loves? Do you need to fall in love with your husband all over again? Or for the first time? Have you been married a day? A year? A quarter century? Now is the time to pray. Not sure where to start? Here’s what helps me.

1. Gratitude

Lord, this first prayer isn’t really for my husband, it’s for me. I just want to thank You for giving him to me and me to him. You knew what You were doing all along. His traits that used to drive me crazy are now the strengths that fill in where I struggle. His traits that used to seem like weakness are now the places You’ve allowed me to shine. We complement each other. When I let You be the glue, we’re stronger together than we ever were apart. Thank you for putting my husband in my life.  

2. Protect Our Bond

You gave my husband and I to each other. You blessed our union. I know You want it to work even more than we do. Protect our bond. Keep my husband’s heart and eyes focused on me. Take away temptation. Stop anything thoughts that would lead him away. Put a wall around our relationship that keeps it just the three of us. With You in the middle, we can stand against anything. Thank you for the man You’re molding him to be.

3. Be His Strength

When my husband gets tired and beaten down, will You be his strength? Will you renew his spirit with your own? From the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep, give him what he needs to be the husband, father, employee, and friend You want him to be. If he feels like giving up, show him a reason to keep going. Bless Him every day and remind him he’s never alone.

4. Be His First Love

Jesus, I know that for my husband to love me, he first has to love You. Speak to his heart. Whisper to him in the moments that most matter. Show him he can trust You. Love on him so strongly he never has the need to look for another. Be his everything.

5. Let Him See Me through Your Eyes

Living with me isn’t always fun. Even in the best circumstances, nerves can get rubbed raw. I know I’m not the easiest person to be with. Give my husband Your heart when it comes to me. Let him see me the way you do. When he gets frustrated, saturate him in patience. Show him why I do or say the things I do. And then turn around and do the same for me.  

6. Keep Him Safe

Lord, I finally love this man you’ve given me the way I’m supposed to—with all my heart and soul. I want to do life with him, grow old with him, rock grandchildren with him. Bring him home to me every time he leaves. Walk ahead of him. Keep him safe—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Take care of him.

7. Bless His Job

My husband works hard. The obligations must feel overwhelming. Protect his role as our provider. Our family needs his income and his benefits. And he needs to feel validated at work. Bless both those things. Give him a love for his job that only You can. Or find him a new job exactly where You want him to be. Lord, work is such a huge part of his life. Bless him while he’s there. The good he does carries farther than he’ll ever know. Help him see that he’s making a difference in so many lives.

A final note: This article doesn’t address emotional or physical abuse in a marriage. It’s not meant to. Yes, prayer can change so much. But if you’re in a dangerous situation, please get help to put yourself in a safe place and find professional counseling that deals with these issues. God loves you so much even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, and I’m praying for you.

Lori Freeland is an author, editor, writing coach, wife, mom, and creator of imaginary people—not necessarily in that order. An acquisitions editor for Armonia Publishing, former editor for The Christian Pulse, and regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, she writes fiction and non-fiction in several genres and has presented numerous writing workshops nationwide. When she’s not curled up with her husband drinking too much coffee and worrying about her kids, you can find her blogging at lafreeland.com.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Gus-Moretta