The Unraveling Of A Marriage

I had a favorite sweater I loved wearing. It wasn’t too bulky but was still warm and cozy. The only problem was the threads were loosely woven together. It would snag on things, so I had to be ever so careful when I wore it.

I was always mindful of the delicate nature of this sweater so I could protect it, make it last, and enjoy wearing it time and again.

Until one day I was in a hurry. I grabbed some things I needed for a meeting and rushed to my car. I tossed all my stuff over to the passenger seat, including a spiral notebook. A spiral notebook whose metal binding wire had gotten caught on my sleeve. As I pulled my arm toward the steering wheel, the notebook came with it and pulled a huge snag in my sweater.

I unhooked myself and assessed the damage.

What I should have done was taken the sweater off, put something else on, and later taken the time to repair the snag the correct way.

But in the rush of all I had going on, I made the tragic decision to do what seemed easiest in the moment. I snipped the lose threads and hoped for the best.

That tragic decision started an unraveling process that ended the life of that beautiful sweater.

A few days ago, my husband and I got into an argument. In front of the kids. Over something so stupid. Right before we were about to head out the door to go on a date.

In the heat of the argument he announced the date was off. He no longer wanted to go.

And honestly, I no longer wanted to go either.

I wanted to go sit in a coffee shop by myself and make a mental list of all the reasons I was right. All the reasons he was wrong. And justify my perspective.

But it’s at this exact moment of resistance that an unraveling can begin.

Doing what seems easy in the moment often isn’t what’s best for the long term.

I pushed for us to still go on our date. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. There were tears. There were awkward stretches of silence.

But we pushed through the resistance we both felt, and eventually talked.

Talking through the snags. The pulls. The things that threaten to unravel us.

There is a delicate nature to marriage. It’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to take it all for granted and stop being careful. Stop being mindful. Stop being protective.

The unraveling can happen so quickly.
There's a delicate nature to marriage. A healthy relationship begins when we stop taking it for granted. www.lysaterkeurst.com
What’s something you can do today to invest wisely in your marriage? To be mindful of your mate? To protect your relationship?

For me? I have to apologize. The right way. By admitting I was wrong and asking for forgiveness. Repairing the snags the right way… tying a knot and tucking it back into the weave of our relationship fabric.

Isn’t it funny that when we get married it’s called “tying the knot.” For us, this wasn’t just an act at the altar. It’s something we have to do over and over again.

After you leave a comment below… visit my (in)courage guest post called “When I Want to be Mean,” by clicking here.


  1. says

    Lysa, so good and true. The same thing happened to me and my husband right before a date a few months back. We went on the date and it was awful. : ( But also great in that we talked and talked and we were able to pull the snag back in a bit. We recently taught the Love and Respect class by Emerson Eggerich at our church and it was life altering for our marriage! It is now better than it has ever been. Great teachings! So important to continuous work on marriages to avoid unraveling…thanks for posting on it!

  2. Lydia says

    i would want to believe what ever you said in Advice to women to sop praying. my question is how do you pray when you know that your husband is cheating on you. you have tried to pursue peace. please pray for me.

    • lynn says

      As I read some of these posts and from being married for close to 30 years I can tell you that you are not alone. There are many marriages going through the same things and many that I know of have come out stronger in the end. My first advice would be to ask God to make your husband the man of God that he was created to be and to make you the woman that you were created to be. This parayer will ot only change your marriage but will help get both of you back on track with God so that conviction, forgiveness, and love and respect can begin. Second, I recommend reading the story of Gomer in Hosea. Pray for all bad influences to run from your husband and that he will be repulsed by sin. I’m praying for both of you. I spoke to someone not too long ago that went through this 20 years ago and everyday is so thankful that they stayed together but it wasn’t easy for them at the time. Now all 3 of their children are grown and serving the Lord also, and they are enjoying each other more than ever.

  3. Catie says

    I’m not married. I’m not even 20. But I love when you post these things. I love hearing about marriage and oneness with another person. And even though I’m not married, I take so much from your posts about marriage because all of my relationships with people are a type of marriage. A distant one, a happy one, a sad one, an apathetic one. And each one I have to try hard to make it work if I don’t want it to come unraveled. I think I am still too young to understand true sacrifice and all the hardest parts of marriage, but your words are a foretaste of how beautiful struggle can be. Thank you, Lysa!

    • Bev says

      I understand that Sara, who is now resting in the arms of Jesus, has, through her sister, continued the blog. Would you please direct me to that? Her courage and beautiful personality continue to be an inspiration. Her spirit which lives on.
      Thank you.

  4. Carrie says

    My first husband passed away almost 5 years ago so even though I am now a newly wed I can relate to everything you just said…I pray that as my new husband and I continue onward that I will always keep in my mind that we need to keep tying the knot…and that our relationship is worth protecting and keeping safe…thanks for starting me on the right foot today!

  5. Peacefully Waiting says

    Lisa, this message has spoken to me today. I sit here thinking what I have I done or created. I have made a small fire into a huge one that now I am not sure what to do. I would love to say that it is easy as pie to ask my husband to go out with me so we can talk but it’s beyond that at this point. I started to by asking was he cheating and he said “No” very upset at me that I would even ask that question. Not satisfied and feeling that my intuition and gut are speaking to me I asked again in a different way: Are you having and emotional affair, “No, he replied.” So now he said he is tired of the accusations and that he is not going to put up with it. So last night the last thing he said to me was that, “I have not been the perfect or great mom or wife that everyone thinks I am.” That hurt bad! But I have prayed and ask God to show me if my intuitions are right or wrong. I still have not gotten any resolution and we are not speaking to one another.
    Just not any peace at all. We have been married over 20 years and I have tolerated all these years his excuses of “not being able to show love is because he is not that way”. I have ultimately made the decision that this is a false reason. I confronted him and he said, I don’t know what to tell you then because that is just me. I am lost for words and do not know what to think. Anyone out there have any help or suggestions?

    • MeToo says

      I have been married for almost 25 years…we are like brother/sister. My husband hasn’t shown me any affection for years…acts like I have some contageous disease! I have found on his computer’s history porn sites he is visiting…possibly even having chats with these little gals. Pretty devastating but I have no feelings left for him, so in some ways I don’t even care. I think it is easier for him to have a “viritual” relatioship. I have been praying for years for God to soften my husband’s heart and for his salvation. Maybe it’s time for me to leave and enjoy life without this toxic hateful man. God help me…please pray for me.

    • Catie says

      I have some advice but I’m not sure how helpful it will be. The best thing I can offer is for you to read “Real Love in Marriage” by Greg Baer. I read it to write a paper once, and I’ve read it several times since. It’s pretty life-changing.

  6. Evie says

    Well I just made a boo boo too. I so lovingly (probably wasn’t as lovingly as I thought)took supper to my husband and his farming crew out in the field tonight. As I was laying out the food in my trunk for them to serve THEMSELVES, my husband says hurry up, we got to go, dish out the food. I said the first thing that came to my mind, “Yes SIR!” That was the wrong thing especially since my Dad in law was right behind him and there were others close by. Oops. I instantly felt like a heel. I did apologize then, but that doesn’t seem to totally take care of it right away. Marriage is a challenge, that’s for sure.

  7. says

    I read your blog and I love the fact that you are open and honest about your life. If you are in ministry people can have the misconception that somehow your life is perfect. I know the pitfalls and have fallen into many of them. I was married for 23 years and my husband was a pastor when the unthinkable happened. I found myself going through a divorce. But, God in his infinite mercy had compassion on me and did not leave me to find my way through this alone. I am remarried and still doing ministry but in a very different way. Because of what God brought me through, the unraveling, and the wounded and brokeness of my life. He gave me purpose. My calling now is to minister to broken women who just need to hear about God’s grace and His complete healing of our broken lives. Through that process he led me to write a book about the Proverbs 31 women( Making Designing Women Out of Desperate Housewives) I guess that is why I love your ministry, Lysa, because God’s plan is not perfection but a willingness to commit our ways to Him and He will bring success to our marriages and every aspect of our lives.

  8. says

    Very good article I hope that all people whould work more on their marrages. I had to divorce once . my second marrage has lasted 27 years and still going strong.

  9. Anne A. Owino says

    Hi, Lysa, Thanks so much for your openness and the great analogy of a marriage with a delicate sweater. My marriage has suffered a great deal to an extent that my husband can not tolerate a call from me. He literary gets disgusted and retorts very rudely or even refuses to receive the call. I have tried all possible means but they do not seem to work. Kindly help

  10. Jenny W says

    I so want Lydia to see this but dont know how to respond directly to her. But here goes… Lydia, I was completely blindsided 4 years ago when I discovered my husband was having an affair – after that, I tried to be Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, & June Cleaver all rolled into one for an entire year. During that time I had no peace even though my husband had agreed to weekly counseling. I continued to pray despite my unrest. That first year of turmoil ended with me finding out that the affair was still happening. (I look back on my journal now and see how I’d just prayed for peace the day before.) when I found out the 2nd time, right there in front of my husband confessing, God gave me peace. I know this came from staying in prayer that entire year. I made my husband move out- I felt confident, I was done. God gave me the revelation that day that I couldn’t be or do enough- even though I wasn’t perfect by any means in our marriage, it wasn’t my fault that he was having an affair. I quickly got divorce papers drawn up that week, but continued to pray just because he was my children’s father. That separated season lasted for about 6 months. During this time I lost a lot of weight, had continued confidence, and felt good about myself as an almost single woman. I prayed every day for strength to be a single mom and I prayed for my boys’ father that he would continue to be a wonderful dad. All the while I witnessed changes in him. I didn’t want to notice- it even bugged me. It was TOO late! Not now mister. I was done. Almost exactly 6 months later, God changed my heart and I decided to reconcile after seeing a gradual, time-tested, drastic change in my husband. I look back now on that looooong journey and am so thankful for it. God used it to teach me that I don’t have to try to make my life perfect- He’s all I NEED and He will take care of the rest. My husband and I are having our 13th wedding anniversary next week. Amazingly after such a long period when I felt like it defined me, I NEVER think about that heartbreak. And on the rare occasion that I do, I think of the season with thankfulness for what God showed me. Like right now.

    Keep praying- God will do it His way, in His time-and mark my word, you will be thankful. Keep praying. Love you

    • Sandy says

      Great story Jenny. I am grateful for you that you prayed during that time and God showed you a way to forgive, to change your husband’s heart and put you back together. Praise God for what He is able to do that we can’t. My husband and I have been married for 2 yrs now and it has been a very difficult two years. Divorce was imminent for me at one point; he has sexual integrity issues and began an emotional affair 2 months after we were married. i didn’t understand it all in the beginning, but God unfolded my husband’s life gradually for me to see. He lead my husband to a workshop through New Life Ministries for healing last year, and we have been working through these difficult issues together since. My husband is changing before my eyes and God has also been changing me to be the wife he created me to be. My husbands problems go back to childhood. God made a way for me to see the good in my husband before He revealed the bad. Without God and lots of prayer, there is no way we would be together today. There is still a long journey of work ahead of us, but God is leading the way and we are following. The moral of the story is this: Be still…and put your trust in God. God Bless

  11. Karen says

    I am hoping this is the best place for me to find some answers to calming the pain in my heart. I am a daughter of God who is broken and lost after the demise of my marriage of 18 years. This was due to an affair and he still remains with her. I am desperately seeking Christian views from women who have been here. The heaviest burden of my soul is watching my three children conform to life with their “new” Dad who is someone so out of character and juvenille. In addition to this they are constantly around his “friend” and I am so jealous! She is playing house with MY family and it is a pain I cannot even explain. Please direct me to a site, a blog, an article, some advice. God is my strength through all of this and for that I know I am eternally blessed. I just need to know I am not alone in these feelings and the evil they bring. In Christ…please guide me fellow sisters…

    • Sandy says

      Jenny is correct. As difficult as it may seem to wrap your head and your heart around this, you must put your trust in God. The pain of what you see going on with your husband, your children and this “new” person, that is the devil working on your weaknesses. Pray to God to comfort you, cry to God and let Him love you through this, pray for strength to endure and focus on building your “personal” relationship with Jesus Christ during your free time. God can do some awesome work! Pray for Him to change you first! I know that may seem odd, but it does work. I had to do the same thing with similar issues in my marriage and believe me, I couldn’t see any changes I needed to make at first! I didn’t have an affair, my husband did. One of the changes I needed to make from the start was to TRUST GOD FIRST! From there, I began to get a peace about me with everything and believing God would work it all out His way and in His time. He sure has been doing just that! God bless and I will pray for you!

  12. Jenny W says

    I wanted to share a huge thing that helped me and gave me more comfort than any human experience could give me. When I felt alone and in so much pain- pain that I knew none of my friends were going through- I was reminded one day that Jesus suffered every pain that we would ever feel on the cross. He also was tempted in any way that I ever had been. This revelation was such a comfort to me. I cried with Jesus through many days of my separation from my husband and I actually felt him one night wrap his arms around me in my bed when I was crying myself to sleep. He knows and He loves you infinitely more than your husband will ever be capable of.

  13. Maureen says

    Lysa, I wish I would have read Unglued while I was going thru my issues with my marriage. My husband and I are divorced now as of last week. He left after 24 years. He is marrying a woman we both worked with . End result is I had to go through all that to get me here. I am healing but through all this I found your book and it was me. I felt you were talking right to me. I look forward to reading many more of your books .. Thank you for reaching out to me through Unglued….

  14. says

    I loved this analogy. Marriages, just like sweaters, can unravel if proper care isn’t taken. I’ve been married for 37 years, and there have been many instances in our relationship when it started raveling around the edges. We could have let it keep deteriorating, but we chose not to. I won’t tell anyone that it was always easy, but it was definitely worth the effort. Our children are raised now, and we’re both glad that we weathered the blasts and stayed together. It’s so comfortable being married to my best friend, especially now that life is much simpler and less chaotic.

  15. Tammy says

    What does a girl do when her husband of 11 years doesn’t so much as buy a card for her birthday? Seriously…I cannot figure out what I am lacking in the wife area. I work out, I get my hair done (I model some for goodness sakes), I read my Bible and lead Bible studies, I cook, I clean, do the laundry, get involved with his farm (even went to cow breeding school), live on the same road as all my in-laws, had and raise his son, and yes have “relations”. But yet I get more complaints than compliments. “You need to do this differently. Why don’t you do more for me in the bedroom, you’re boring. Putting on a few pounds aren’t you? You’re not doing this and that right with our son……….and so on” Today is my birthday and I do not get so much as a card. My Sunday school teacher bought me lunch.

    I know I should appreciate all that I have, but sometimes I am so crushed I can’t see the light.


    • TN Lizzie says


      I can’t “fix” your DH, but you can teach your son to celebrate. Take your son to Hallmark, and y’all look at cards together. Hand him a card – one that you would mail to him, if you were buying cards. Ask him to find a silly card that he’d like to mail to you. Y’all find one for your parents, for his teacher, for the nice lady standing behind the counter scratching her head at the two of you! :o)

      Then, take him to the grocery and let him pick a cake mix and frosting. What does he think is your favorite? Go home and make it. Hang balloons and a crazy sign.

      I bought a cheap, spring-tension curtain rod. I tied lengths of colored, curly ribbon. On birthday mornings, it is fun to find that thing hanging in a doorway so that you have to walk through the ribbons. (Reminds me – I need to make one for oldest girl – going off to college this fall!)

      If you celebrate yourself on the 4th of each month, I’m 2 months late or 2 days early – HaPpY BiRtHdAy to you!!!!! Your DH obviously does not “get” that you need that. Why not ask him if you could have $20 in an envelope – to go buy yourself a manicure from him, or a bunch of flowers, or an evening at a movie, or Lysa’s book, or… Hmm, does he have any suggestions what he would get for you, if he was getting something? ;o)

      Seriously… his failure to meet your expectations says more about him than about you.

      Here’s a link for you: http://www.shopbetterlifebags.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&filter_name=prayer cards&product_id=76
      (Her price includes personalization with your husband’s name in place of “Ricky” from the samples.)


  16. MM says

    I have to admit, I am on the other side of all the arguments from you ladies…my marriage started to unravel and we didn’t stop and try to protect it. I became so tired of him not being the man I needed that I had an affair…I finally realized one day that the other man wasn’t any better to me than my husband. I sat in my car one day with my bible and just started to cry. I felt so defeated by the world. I began to pray, for help and strength at first and then for forgiveness…I ended the affair a little more than a year ago, and it sometimes hurts, but my marriage is back on track, and we have a better relationship than ever before. God is the center of our relationship and He is teaching us to love each other first. I have even seen changes in my husband that I never thought I would see! God is so good and I am so thankful He forgives! Life is hard, but with God we can make it! God Bless!

  17. Lisa says

    Thanks for writing the words Lysa. This will help many women. My marriage did unravel, completely. I have been divorced now for 6 1/2 years due to my mistakes similiar to the things you talked about wanting to do to “retaliate” after an argument with your husband. I mostly did this in my marriage and lost a husband. I hope young women reading this will understand how important it is not just to see your side of things as the only right way. Pray to God to give you strength and patience and continue that relationship with the man you fell in love with by making the right choices of standing by his side, talking to him, praying with him and always loving, not hating. God bless all married women struggling. I have been there and looking back it shouldn’t be a struggle..the hard times in a marriage should be looked at as opportunities for growth in your marriage. It is so hard to do, but in the end it is worth it.

  18. May says

    I was at a Woman Of Grace Conference this past weekend and I learned a lot, one of them being…When we become God’s child our lives here on this earth should point others to God, after all, the story really isn’t about us, it’s about Him. Our union with our husband is an object lesson of the union of christ an the Church. I think we waste so much time trying to stand up for ourselves that we fail to see the bigger picture! Think of it this way.. if you don’t get to be the good picture of marriage here on this earth, don’t worry about it, in the end you will be able to fully experience perfect marriage of Christ and the Church.