The Radical Wife Issue 8: "Seven Reasons My Marriage Failed, Part 2"
Guest Article by Jen Oliver
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Radical (răd′ĭ-kəl): “One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions.” 

Sometimes the best advice is gained from those who have walked through the hard times first hand. I asked my good friend, Jen Oliver, to reflect on what contributed to her marriage’s demise and the things that she came back with sounded very familiar! In fact, I would even say they marry perfectly with the principles taught in God’s Radical Plan for Wives. Find out how to get this valuable resource by scrolling down.

This is Part 2 of the article Jen delivered last week. To access Part 1, click here! Seven Reason My Marriage Failed, Part 1 
From our hearts to yours, we hope you are moved and inspired by her words and experiences. 

Seven Reasons My Marriage Failed

Guest Article
Written By Jen Oliver

(Part 2)

5. We never believed it could happen to us.
“Divorce is catching.” I know this sounds bizarre, but I first heard this term from a novel I read recently. The couple in the story was afraid of spending time with their dear friends who had decided to divorce. They were afraid to "catch" divorce as though it was like a flu bug. It makes a bit of sense to me now. Over recent years, my husband and I witnessed the demise of marriages among our siblings, best friends, and couples from church. Gradually, divorce became more palpable and perhaps a bit more acceptable to us.
For the majority of our marriage, we did not believe in divorce and never uttered the words; to us, divorce was simply not an option. I would say we practiced strong marriage skills by going on date nights, working on communication, and more. Nearly anyone who knew us inevitably received a portion of marital advice from us. We believed in marriage and were constantly standing up for it, not just our own, but the marriages around us. It’s hard to believe now that we were the couple that many would call for prayer and advice!
Looking back, I would admit that we were often judgmental when people did walk away from their marriages. Having struggled severely through years seven and eight, we decided to persevere through it, so we felt we could speak to marital strife with grounds to state boldly why it was so important to stay the course and work through problems. It's funny how you begin to change your tune when the situations around you deteriorate. 
As those closest to us began to have struggles, this became a springboard for contention between my husband and I. We would start out discussing the other couple and their issues and what we could do for them or tell them, but invariably, it would morph into taking sides. We would comment on a specific behavior within that couple’s marriage that really became veiled criticism of each other. Some of our bigger "give-the-devil-a-foothold" moments stemmed from well-meaning discussions of another couple’s marital woes. “Wisdom” would have had us praying together for the other couple, and “maturity” would have prompted us to look at our own shortcomings mirrored in other troubled marriages. We should have viewed those marriages without judgment, with dogged self-examination. That would have been incredibly powerful!
6. We didn’t claim our own baggage.
It’s true that baggage circles until you claim it. My advice? If the baggage is heavy, get help! So often a damaged marriage consists of two individuals burdened by heavy baggage. Even though this is incredibly common, it is not a reason for divorce in my mind. This is where vows like, “in sickness and in health” serve their purpose. If the partners in the marriage never work at recognizing and claiming their OWN baggage, then it is often a contributing factor to the "nothing has changed, nothing will ever change" aspect of a difficult marriage.
Year eight of our marriage was a near-separation scenario. We were advised to work on our contributing “baggage” and not bury it so that those issues would never rear their ugly heads again. But they did, because we spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to get the other person to be better or different, instead of working on our own deficiencies. Hindsight really is 20/20. Now that we are apart, my vision is much clearer about how I was very occupied with being my husband’s Holy Spirit instead of listening to my own! Now I can only focus on improving myself with the Holy Spirit's help.
It is entirely possible that things would have been different today if we had both been truly open to changing and growing ourselves as fiercely during our marriage as we are now that we’re separated.

Nothing endears us more to each other than when we can look at our own faults and OWN them. That is really the first step to asking the Lord to help you change your personal weaknesses into marital strengths. Do you avail yourself to mentors, pastors, counselors, and therapists who can impartially walk you through your struggles? I can’t underscore this enough, because an outside resource is not only knowledgeable, but they are not influenced by the same tangle of emotions and past history that you are. They can help you to see things from another perspective, and perhaps guide you in a direction you didn’t know possible. Please don’t make excuses to keep you from going, like fear, money reasons, the time commitment, having to go alone, etc. It’s worth every minute and penny you spend.

7. We stopped being each other’s best friend. 
I see many marriages where the couple is in love, but there is also a best friendship that exists between them. It’s awesome to observe couples who laugh and genuinely enjoy each other and would choose one another to spend time with whenever possible. Our marriage definitely had seasons of that, but I wouldn't say it was an organic part of our relationship during the last few years. 
My husband and I got to the point of not liking each other. We only chose to be with each other because that is what is expected of a married couple. But, if you honestly asked either of us if we liked being around each other and desired the other as a companion, the answer was “no.”  We got very good at acting married and in love. Don't get me wrong, we had many seasons where that was indeed authentic and real, but there was a lot of time, especially in the last year or so, where we simply tolerated each other. If given the choice, we would have preferred being with others or simply alone.
In retrospect, I could have prayed more to enjoy and focus on what I admired about my husband. I would have fixated on his strengths and fed them. Isn’t that what we do with our best friend? Remember, the monster you feed is the one that grows. The one you starve will diminish. Starve the critical spirit, and feed the grateful part of you. 
Let me leave with you this last concluding thought.
It is easier to work on your marriage, than deal with a divorce and the pain that ensues. I assure you this is true. If you have children as I do, the work involved in maintaining a good marriage is miniscule compared to the effort of managing the aftermath. There is an inevitable juggling of personal pain, along with the burdens that saddle your children for a lifetime. Don’t wait, don’t procrastinate, and don’t hesitate. The risk is too great.
Stop complaining. Stop nagging. Start looking at yourself—do an excruciating self-analysis and go to work. You have a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Holy One who is on your side. He is an ardent fan of your successful marriage. Do NOT grow weary in doing good…it’s worth it; trust me.
We are called to relate to each other and encourage one another. As iron sharpens iron, right? Perhaps your first step is sending this to your spouse, a friend in need of this article, or emailing me. I can be reached by e-mail at I would love nothing more than to talk with you and encourage you. Thank you for allowing me to speak into your life!

Thank you for join us in this series. I know it's a difficult topic, but knowledge, proaction, and resolve is powerful in maintaining a successful marriage. Please share these articles with others you know who might benefit from this information. If you have questions or comments about the things you have read, please e-mail either myself (Jennifer Edwards) at, or you can contact Jen Oliver directly at

Yes. Your marriage is worth working for!

Learn about how to have a healthy marriage by investing in God's Radical Plan for Wives, the book by Gil & Dana Stieglitz, and the companion Bible study by Jennifer Edwards to help you understand and apply God's purposes for marriage. Very hands-on, very focused on your specific marriage.  You can buy them at: 
If you belong to a group and are interested in having me come to speak on marriage, parenting, or other issues women face, I provide workshops and talks that work through these principles, as well as many others.

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