Thursday, February 16, 2006

If the Romance Wasn't There on 2/14...

Around Valentine’s Day, I read a number of great articles here , encouraging romance in our marriages. I even wrote one myself. (Encouraging, at least…I’m not claiming it’s great!)

But my heart goes out to those for whom Valentine’s Day was not a joyful celebration. I have stood in your shoes. For any who are struggling in their marriages, I have a few words of hope and help to share. (Please feel free to share this with anyone whom you think it might encourage!)

First, if Jesus is not a third party in your marriage, you should invite him to be. God designed marriage in the first place. He wants to bless all marriages and heal unhealthy ones. You don’t have to suffer alone—just tell him you need his help and ask him for his presence in your life and in your marriage.

Next, the best thing you can do for your marriage is to let go of all expectations of your spouse. Many will testify that this step transformed their marriages. See this post. This book is a case study and a practical--also humorous--help.

The turning point in our marriage occurred when I finally told God that I would give up my expectations and focus on being who I ought to be, even if my husband never changed. Something happened in both of us after that. I gave up trying to get the things I’d been wanting from him. He sensed a lifting of the weight of my expectations, which freed him to try meeting my needs in the ways he saw fit. We each sought counsel and healing prayer as well. This was the beginning of a new path—a path which brought us to increasingly healthier and happier places, and now, in our 20th year of marriage, we experience a love and an understanding that we would NEVER have thought possible in Year 9 (the nadir of our relationship!).

Which leads to my last point: Recognize that there will be stressful seasons in any marriage. For us, it was after that third child was born that our problems escalated, and in my limited experience, that seems to be a tough transition for many couples. Financial stresses are the number one reasons couples fight, and that was one of our difficulties as well.

Our advice: Ride it out! Don’t start thinking divorce just because you’re in a difficult season--seasons change. The kids do get older and as they do, things get easier. Money may make life easier, but it isn’t joy, happiness or purpose in life--you can have those while living in poverty! Odds are that the money thing will get better eventually, if you work on it together. But be gracious in stress. Don’t blame your spouse—partner with him/her, and get through it together. It may be a cliché, but it’s especially true in marriage that if trials don’t make you bitter, they’ll make you better—they force you to grow and change together. And that’s a good thing.

We’re fond of saying to each other, “This too shall pass.” Give God and each other and time a chance, and someday, you’ll be so glad you did!!

4 comments:

Lydia said...

Good post--I think you're right about the third child. It really does seem like the dynamics in the home change around that time. Interesting to think about. :)

Paula said...

Wow, incredible post! My blog is focused on Christ centered marriage, so I just had to follow the link from Choosing Home to your site. I totally aree with everything in your post. Thanks so much for sharing the truth in love. May God bless you and your marriage. I'm out of town celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary and attending a marriage conference sponsored by our church based on the book His Needs/Her Needs, it's a great book. If you haven't read it, google it and check it out. I'm sneaking in some blogging while hubby rests in bed this morning.

Keep blogging for Jesus and marriage!

molly said...

GREAT post!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Jeannie,

What a wonderful post. As a child of divorced parents, who were both children of divorced parents, I have seen first hand the havoc divorce can wreak on a childs life. I have strong opinions about when divorce is appropriate (very rarely). But I would have to start my own blog to cover all my feelings on the matter... Thankfully I was able to see my older sister and her husband ride out some troubled times prior to my own marriage. Nothing was actually resolved in my sisters marriage until well after my own wedding day, but just seeing them stick it out "for worse" was such a blessing to me. I wish more people would realize that love, well romance, is cyclical. I think that it is such a shocker to so many when they realize that they are not always going to be "happy" or that their spouse can't always meet their needs. The thing is, when "it" comes around again, it is even more rewarding.

Gabi