The devastating impact of hidden problems when couples pretend they don’t exist…Be careful the elephant in your marriage doesn’t destroy it.


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

We all know that marriage, like life, can be hard sometimes.

Full of problems and situations that crack the status quo and increase stress.

But what about the risks that no one dares to face?

Problems we are afraid to confront?

Realities we would rather not think about and sweep under the carpet?

Hidden in the dark.


Maybe you’re married to an emotionally unstable woman who in her desperation soothes her pain with too much online shopping. You’re afraid of her anger so you don’t address the issue, but silently pay the bills each month, worrying about increasing debt levels you cannot afford.

Perhaps your husband drinks and when inebriated rants and raves at home, creating havoc and fear for you and your kids. You walk on eggshells, afraid of him and afraid to tell anyone. He is fully functioning on the job and serves as a deacon on Sunday mornings and you wonder if anyone would believe you. And you both wear masks. Fear and pain grow year by year yet you don’t utter a word.

Or maybe you or your spouse has been diagnosed with a disease or condition like diabetes or celiac that will drastically alter your lifestyle, calling for major changes in diet to insure continuing good health. This requires you to give up the foods you love, the culinary choices that comfort, but you choose to ignore your doctor’s admonition and the online research your spouse has supplied. Refusing to accept truth, your physical health and the health of your marriage plummets.

And sometimes it’s another part of our wonderfully, fearfully made bodies that is unwell — our brains, and the intricate balance needed for optimum functioning.

Maybe your spouse is bi-polar or suffers with clinical depression or anxiety, but the stigma attached to mental illness makes them avoid discussing the impact that mood swings have on your marriage.

Perhaps they refuse to take prescribed meds. In milder cases, maybe they resist holistic changes that can help manage their imbalance through food eaten or avoided, supplements taken and the amount of exercise and light each day. Bodies get sick and so do brains and it all just is what it is, but maybe they or you don’t fully own that there is therefore now no condemnation or shame.

Or maybe there’s the dark and dirty secret of online pornography addiction. You know it diminishes the oneness in your marriage and affects your sexual intimacy, but you are ashamed and fearful so you look the other way. Or you don’t want to confess your struggle to a trusted brother in Christ. But problems never just go away and our marriages are only as sick as their secrets. And one image, one poor choice at a time, marriages wither away.

Yet you fear rocking the boat perhaps as much as they fear recognizing the problem and you keep your mouth shut, praying all the time and wrongly thinking that you and God can handle it all without your spouse’s cooperation.

But marriage is a three-strand cord and we give problems the boot by facing them head-on together through the power and grace of God.


God is our ever present help in times of trouble.

No matter how ugly, serious and sobering the issues are they must be confronted, not chased away by creating a fantasy existence. Marriages suffer and sometimes end in divorce when spouses refuse to take ownership and responsibility, communicate openly and rationally, and then deal with the issue humbly and bravely.

So let’s take off our running shoes and run to God with our problems.

For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. Psalm 61:3-5

Clinging to our spouse, both of us held by God, we fight the good fight of defending and protecting and growing our marriages one day at a time.


Cutting the chains that keep us captive in our own darkness and fear, boldly walking over to that elephant in the living room.

And saying boo.

For God is bigger than any boogie man or little fox sent to tear apart our union. Our fear is overcome by our faith, with eyes wide open, and by shining His light into the dark recesses where we don’t want to look.

God giving us strength for any challenging journey.

And all of us conquering whatever is coming against our marriage…

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26 thoughts on “The devastating impact of hidden problems when couples pretend they don’t exist…Be careful the elephant in your marriage doesn’t destroy it.

  1. Sheila,
    That three-stranded cord holds marriages together. Yes, there are or can be so many issues that an individual deals with and then when united in marriage, can be times 2. Jesus is right there though waiting for us to reach to Him. Depending upon Him can lift us up to the light and cause a relationship to grow deeper, sometimes caused by those hard things.
    I think of so many marriages I know personally which involve two are unequally yoked. Those have an extremely difficult time getting out of those holes. We who know them can pray. Prayer is the best answer.
    Fine post.
    Visiting from She Lives Free.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • Thanks, Linda, for stopping by. YES our pain can help us press into Christ and know Him in such a powerful strong and sweet way that we never want to let go. And yes…when both partners dont look to God as their Healer and answer things get very dicey. Blessings…

  2. Shelia, this was such a light of encouragement for relationships and marriages!

    “Clinging to our spouse, both of us held by God, we fight the good fight of defending and protecting and growing our marriages one day at a time.” <— Love this!

    Thank you for sharing! Infinite blessings to you, Love!

    • Thank you, Tai. This post yesterday has gotten the highest number of views of any post since I relaunched my site in November. Praising God for His faithfulness. He wants ALL marriages healthy, strong and fruitful. Please feel free to share with anyone who might benefit. Blessings back to you with hugs and love…

    • Absolutely. What is hidden from the light keeps us bound. That’s why satan uses shame and guilt to make us feel all dirty. But we are all the same, with the same propensity to sin, or not. And as we choose to love in the light of His love, we are free… Thanks, Jenni.

  3. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about marriage with our daughter and her new husband. (They also had premarital counseling and Dave Ramsey’s money course.) His parents had a bumpy marriage and he wants his to be different. I love seeing the younger generation recognizing the elephants they had to live with and determining to change it. Thank you for writing about it, too. Marriage can be beautiful even in the hard times of life. I always say bad marriages usually point back to someone’s selfishness.

    • Selfishness plays a huge role in bad marriages, and in good marriages when the bad times may come. When we put ourselves first and stop serving our mate and strive for our “rights” marriage problems will soon follow. So glad to see that your SIL is making better choices than his parents!! Give him a high five from me 🙂 The fact that they are teachable and have you and your husband as mentors will make such a wonderful difference. May God bless their new union with lifelong happiness and the continued courage to break those generational, dysfunctional curses. Praise God!!

  4. Wonderful words filled with a caring heart, hope and wisdom. It sure isn’t easy going through our trials is it?. It is oh so wonderful that God loves us so much He is always there waiting to draw near to us as we call out and press into Him. Although this latest trial of mine is not dealing with marriage but the loss of my soul mate of 45 years, I can so relate and am so thankful we were Christians for 38 of those years together. No matter what the trial is if we let it drive us to the feet of our savior, He is ever faithful to come to us.

    • No, trials can bring tears, Linda, but these crosses are God’s way of using the bad, the pain, the failures in our lives to eradicate our self-trust and help us more fully rely on Him. And yes, He is always holding us, never leaving, and giving us grace and strength to carry on and be victorious in spite of our pain. Love and hugs to you, my friend.

  5. This is such an important message, Sheila. So much better to face things than pretend they’re not there, which is a form of procrastinating. Typically problems get worse instead of getting better by themselves. I’ve seen in it my life and in the lives of loved ones!

  6. It’s interesting that this is your subject today, Sheila, because I’m in a marriage prayer group and this week we are praying about our “unhealthy alliances.” It is not easy to come against what our spouse clings to or ignores, especially when there are idols and addictions present. But like you’ve said, with the Lord, we can courageously cut the chains that bind us to sin and hurtful habits. I’m grateful that you continue to speak to those who are struggling in these ways, my friend. I know it is making a huge difference!

    • Thanks, Beth. Your encouragement means a lot to me 🙂 Your group sounds very “growing” which is what our Christian life is all about. Walking out of our dungeons and into the Light, embracing and enjoying the abundant life He has for us here.

  7. Oh, you know I so support this! Yes! I can’t even bare to imagine if I hadn’t brought Craig’s porn addiction to light (even though I so messed up in how I initially confronted the problem). I am thankful for His grace, for His willingness to teach me His way, and to sustain me so I wouldn’t give up and run away.

  8. I’m not sure if my other comment posted, so I will try again. 🙂

    I just wanted to tell you that I agree with you. I can’t imagine where my marriage would be if I hadn’t brought Craig’s porn addiction to light. Even though I did not do it in the best way, God was faithful to redeem my actions and let my heart shine through. He then taught me a good way to illuminate issues and made me away of my own. Together, we were able to work through it all. Praise be to God.

    • Together, with Jesus, you work it all through one day at a time. A three strand cord is very tough and God is always for us. {And for some reason your comments went into my spam folder, but going forward you should be “approved.” 🙂 Thanks for taking the time, twice, to comment! xxoo

    • No , Elizabeth, it doesn’t. Neither does wearing masks and pretending it is all ok. But sometimes pain runs so deep that we keep running away from it instead of running towards the One who will give us grace and courage to face it and then grow from it and help others through it. God is so amazingly good and wonderful and He is in the heart healing business even tho it can seem and be so very hard as we walk it out. One day at a time…Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Oh yes, God surely does give us strength for any challenging journey. And this marriage pathway continues to wend onward and forward. The best is yet to be.

    My man and I are kicking each and every speedbump to the side as we keep on moving ahead! Working as a team saves the day. 3 strands are pretty difficult to break …

    {And I so love your new website, Sheila!}

  10. Sheila, you always provide such truth and such encouragement. I really get excited to read your words. I love the idea of coming together with God to confront issues. It is so much productive. I am cheering you wildly from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.