Role of Suffering in Marriage

Life is full of agony and suffering. Everywhere we look our family, friends, and even ourselves are suffering. All suffering is difficult but marital suffering can be especially challenging.

Because of Adam and Eve’s original sin, we live in an imperfect world. Because of this imperfect world, the relationship between husband and wife is not perfect, IT IS HARD.

Couples who suffer in their marriage often think, “maybe we were not meant to be” or “marriage would not be so difficult with the ‘right’ person”. The good news is that we suffer in our marriage not for those reasons but because of the presence of original sin. It is original sin that makes us broken and as a result this brokenness contributes to our suffering. Only with the help of God’s grace can we successfully navigate marriage, especially the difficult parts of marriage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that the union between husband and wife has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. (CCC 1606) The Catechism also states that to heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. (CCC 1608).

  • See the full CCC references 1606-1608 at the end of this post.

Being a Servant Spouse means accepting that marriage includes suffering. Having God as the third person in our marriage allows us to endure marital suffering because we know that God will use our suffering for good. We also choose to know that God will never refuse the grace necessary to save our marriage.  Allowing God’s grace to help us suffer well for the sake of our marriage is one way we can help our spouse get into heaven (the primary goal of a Servant Spouse) all the while growing in holiness ourselves.

Suffering can play a positive role in our marriage when we accept that God can use our suffering to make our marriage better.  Our marital suffering can be small things that come and go or they can be large and lengthy.  Being prepared for marital suffering and anchoring ourselves in the understanding of how suffering can ultimately strengthen our marriage can help us weather the suffering that comes our way.

Scripture talks of suffering and God’s grace to endure suffering often. Below I have listed several scripture verses that helped me endure the 10 years of severe marital crisis and how I used those verses to see my marriage differently. My prayer is that these scripture verses can help you in your marriage when you might be struggling.

Romans 12:12  Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.

  • Stay devoted to prayer for your marriage and persevere in hope.  God is with you and will deliver you from your suffering.

Romans 5: 2-4  through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

  • Be glad in our marital suffering for this suffering produces endurance, which produces character and ultimately hope

Romans 8:17-19  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.  I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;

  • We suffer in our marriage so we (both spouses) can be glorified with God.  The sufferings in our marriage are nothing compared to the glory of eternal life that we will share, together, with Christ.

Philippians 1:29  For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well.

  • Our Christian marriage comes with crosses.  These crosses are a privilege granted to us, as spouses, so we can be married Christian witness to others.

Philippians 3:10-11  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

  • Becoming like Christ in his death, means giving of our life for our spouse.  Giving of our life will result in suffering.  Christ gave his life and suffered for us and ultimately He returned to the glory of heaven.  Our suffering will be followed by glory only God can provide, whether on this earth or in heaven.

Colossians 1:24  I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

  • We choose to rejoice in our marital sufferings because we know that these sufferings are joined with Christ’s sufferings.  We participate in his sacrifice for us.

2 Timothy 1:8  Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

  • We can only endure our marital sufferings if we rely on God’s power.  God’s supernatural assistance or grace is what allows us to persevere even we believe it is not possible to go on.

2 Timothy 4:5  As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of the evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

  • Our ministry is our marriage.  Don’t feel bad if you cannot give in other ways outside of your home, especially if it allows you to focus on your marriage.  Your marriage comes first.

1 Peter 3:8-9  Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing.  It is for this that you were called – that you might inherit a blessing.

  • When we have been wronged by our spouse, as hard as it may be, we are to repay with a blessing; for our eternal blessing will be tied to the blessings we bestow on our spouse.

1 Peter 4: 11-13  Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.  To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

  • Being a Servant Spouse means relying on the strength of God, strength beyond our understanding.  Serving our spouse in humility, when we would rather flee or return harm to our spouse, is glorifying God in our marriage.  We should not be surprised that we suffer in our marriage because we are sharing in Christ’s suffering.

1 Peter 4:19  Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

  • When we suffer, even at the hand of our spouse, we should do so while continuing to do good for our spouse.


Catechism of the Catholic Church References:

CCC 1606

Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

CCC 1607

According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations; their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.

CCC 1608

Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them “in the beginning.”

Jesus-on-Cross-PictureColossians 1:24  I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.



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One thought on “Role of Suffering in Marriage

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