When you spoke those blessed words, “I do,” on that blissful day, I’m sure it seemed like nothing in the world could come between you and your new husband. It was you two against the world, and woe to any who would attempt to thwart your plans – or your love. No matter what came down the line, you would face it together and tough times would only serve to exponentially strengthen your marriage – and no amount of hardship would ever, ever threaten the stability of your relationship.
In our thirteen years of marriage, we have moved nine times – three of those were international moves. We have three children. We’ve had really good financial times…and really hard financial times. Times when our jobs were secure, life was predictable…and times when the job was on the line (at best) and life felt like we were floating in a dingy in the middle of a typhoon with no land in sight.
It would be safe to say our marriage has seen as many seasons of ups and downs. The definition of for better or worse is much clearer now than it was that sunny June day as we became man and wife.
I wish I could tell you that all the hard times, the uncertain times, the pain-filled-I-don’t-know-where-our-next-meal-is-coming-from times served only to strengthen our marriage to be a shining example of what God designed the life of a husband and wife to be. Alas, I cannot tell you that.
What I can tell you are some valuable lessons we have learned in some of the hardest times we have faced in our marriage – or in our lives – that have proven to keep our marriage healthy and strong.
Five Steps To Keep Your Marriage Strong In Times of Stress
1. Pray. Pray together, pray alone. Pray together for strength, wisdom, discernment, and protection over your marriage and family. Pray alone for your own heart, for his heart, for your love, for the situation. During a recent extremely stressful time in our lives I began praying specifically for my husband – and then our children – at night when I got in bed, before I went to sleep. I like using a guide of some kind. Most recently for me it has been the Power of a Praying Wife, and Power of a Praying Parent books. I love having specific things about which to pray, and applicable Scriptures to pray over my husband and children. The peace that those fifteen or twenty minutes in prayer brings, and the improvement in the quality of rest and peace we both enjoy is astonishing. So, when things get tough, get united in prayer. Then support him in prayer on your own, while also praying for your own heart.
2. Stay Intimate. In times of high stress, its easy to withdraw from one another and hole up within ourselves as a means of coping and conserving our mental and emotional energies. In a marriage, however, that is poison. It is so very important in times of high stress to be your husband’s best friend – and vice versa. Its okay to talk with your friends, mom, etc. Just be sure that your husband knows all the same things your friends do. Be willing to open up and be vulnerable with him, sharing with him your feelings, thoughts, worries, etc. Maintaining emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy will go a long way in keeping your marriage rock solid, even in the toughest of times.
3. Get out together. One of the best things we can do for our marriages – particularly if we have children – is to get away together for time to connect, talk, relax with our spouses. Sometimes that is just not practical – especially if money is tight and you don’t have people nearby who can babysit for free. So set aside a night a week for an at home date; at the very least turn the TV off one night a week and talk, pray, laugh.
4. Get out on your own – and let him to do the same. Sometimes we just need to get out by ourselves (or with a girlfriend or two) to push the reset button a little bit. Go out for a nice walk, browse your favorite store, get a cup of coffee with a friend. Something that will recharge your battery and arm you with the strength and energy to give the best to your family when you return. Its amazing how much extra energy even the most routine tasks take when we are walking a road of high stress. Find something that feeds your soul and do it. Then, allow your husband the same luxury – without pouting or making him make up for what he missed out on at home. Maybe he needs to go watch the big game with his buddies, or go out in the woods for an afternoon. Whatever he needs to do to get out and clear his head and refresh, without concern for what state of annoyance his wife will be in when he returns!
5. Have fun! When life gets heavy, money gets tight, the hospital stay is longer than expected, the seriousness pervades everything and life and everything in just.gets.heavy. Find something to do together – as a family, even! – that is fun, that will make you laugh. Go rollerskating, do something crazy or silly. It doesn’t have to cost money. Have a water fight in the park; play Chubby Bunny. Anything. Just have fun, enjoy life, and remember the things that attracted you to one another to begin with.
Life, and marriage, will be full of ups and downs. No doubt in the lifetime of your marriage, you will walk a road that is wrought with stress, uncertainty, and pain. These times don’t have to be the end of our marriages! If we will be intentional about it, our marriages can remain strong – and even grow stronger – during these times.
Has your marriage been through a time of high stress? What things helped keep your marriage strong? Or are you walking a tough road right now? Leave a comment and let us pray for you! You can even just say “me” or “unspoken” if you don’t want to leave details. Let’s lift one another up in love, encouragement and prayer!