All marriages go through periods where things just aren’t as they should be. The stress and pace of life cause tension in the best marriages. Even good marriages suffer at times.
My wife, Cheryl, and I have had several of those times, usually due to external pressures we didn’t cause or invite. It could be my work — or hers — or family situations. Things aren’t falling apart; we aren’t questioning our commitment to each other. But we both know our marriage isn’t working as well as it should be. We’re experiencing more miscommunication, reacting with more tension toward each other, or just not connecting as well as we usually do.
Those times are usually seasonal–and they happen in almost every marriage. That appears especially true in the earlier years of the marriage, but we shouldn’t be surprised if they happen later in a marriage either. When major changes in life occur, such as children moving out of the house, the loss of a job, or other serious trauma, marriages can struggle for a time. That’s normal.
Keep in mind, I’m not talking about times of abuse, neglect, affairs, or other severe marriage issues. If any of those more serious issues are occurring, get help immediately. I’m speaking of times when the marriage just isn’t as much fun anymore. It isn’t that you don’t love each other, or even that you want out of your marriage, but you’re just not on the same page as much as you should be. The key in those times isn’t to panic, but to intentionally work to restore total health to your marriage.
Here are seven suggestions for surviving these seasons:
1. Communicate. Keep talking to each other and to God, even when it’s awkward to do so. Admit where you are in the marriage. Again, this may hurt for a time, but it’s better to be honest than to allow the marriage to fall apart or slip further from health.
2. Stay close. Keep doing things together. Sleep in the same bed. Find times to do special activities. Have regular date nights. Talk. This will help protect your heart from wandering.
3. Discipline yourself. There will be times when you’re tempted to say the wrong things or treat your spouse unkindly. You’ll require discipline to do and say the right thing, but it will help protect the marriage.
4. Get help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even the best marriages need some at times. This may be counseling, meeting with Christian friends you trust, or doing a Bible study together. But it’s important you invite someone to speak into your life.
5. Learn. My wife, Cheryl, and I have learned that during especially stressful periods, we have to be more intentional with our marriage. You may need to learn how to communicate better, how to handle conflict, or how to dream together again. This is a great season to do some of those things.
6. Be patient. You’ll want immediate change, but relationships don’t work that way. Chances are it will take longer than you expect or want it to take. Be patient.
7. Hang on. Renew your commitment to the marriage and each other. If you continue to work on your marriage, this won’t last forever. Be committed enough to stick with it until this season passes. Every marriage can be restored and improved with two parties working together.
Used with permission of Ron Edmondson. For more blog posts like this, check out Ron’s website, http://www.ronedmondson.com/