Can we have a very real, very raw talk about marriage?
It’s beautiful. It’s the warm and fuzzies. It’s the rainbow after the storm.
But you know what else?
It can sometimes be the storm itself.
Come on now. Don’t judge me. I’m just speaking the truth ladies, and I KNOW that you feel me.
If marriage were easy peasy, we wouldn’t have a divorce rate topping 50% …. even within the church.
Yes. Even the church.
Marriage is hard. And honestly? Those premarital courses don't actually prepare you for LIVING through the challenges.
Am I right?
My premarital counselling was good. Don’t get me wrong.
It BANG on identified what areas we would struggle with.
But truthfully … it kinda lacked on the follow through. Or guiding us in growing through our challenges.
It accurately called out that we would struggle with my in-laws (shocker) and our sex life (yes, I said it. I typed it. I re-read it. And I’m sticking to it).
I love that in the Christian community we are encouraged to do this counselling.
But what about 1-2-5-10-15 years later when the storm comes????
I have felt significantly underprepared to deal with the storms mama. Even with the forewarning.
And guess what? I did the small groups (in fact, I lead them). I did the women’s ministry weekends. I did the special worship nights. I do the daily devotionals.
But when the storms came? As they swirl around me as I write this?
Not for the first time, my marriage is under fire. Except this time? It’s not with your 5-year old’s nerf guns.
The enemy is sending missiles y’all.
Betrayal. Lies. Hurts. On both sides.
So what is an upstanding Christian woman to do?
Here’s my thoughts - both as an exercise in retrospection and what I hope will ultimately be the lifeboat on my relationship.
Storm Proofing Your Marriage
1. Seek God Together - this can be easy in the newlywed phase before kids and life blow up on you and competing schedules pull you in different directions. But it’s so crucial to intentionally make space for this ESPECIALLY in the busy seasons. Come together. Pray together. Serve together.
2. Fight Fair - a marriage is not the place to be “right”. It’s the place to be one. That’s not to say you will always see things the same or have the same opinion - but it is to say that you will strive to fight fair. What does that look like? It means fighting for resolution rather than personal victory. It means not trying to “win” against your spouse, but rather aim to WORK with your spouse to gain victory over the issue at hand - not over each other. Be quick to listen, slow to speak.
3. Create Fun - you know those fun things you did together before you were married? The stuff that actually helped you fall in love with one another? Don’t put them aside! Laugh together. Date each other. Make memories together.
4. Have Sex - Yes, I said the “s” word again. Sex was designed for marriage - and it’s just as critical of a lynchpin in your relationship as communication and trust. Don’t neglect this vital aspect of togetherness and intimacy. Even when you don't feel like it sometimes, make sex a regular part of your expression with one another.
5. Get Help Before The Storm - Honestly, I wish we had taken our forewarning of issues and committed to proactively work on them before they could have some of the devastating effects they had. If you KNOW a thief is coming, you will proactively protect your house - not wait until he gains entry. Take the same approach with your marriage friends.
So some of you may be thinking - but Carla, it’s too late. The storm is here. On my doorstep. Ripping the roof off.
I feel you babe. I’m exposed to the elements myself right now.
But there is still hope.
Storm Recovery in Marriage
1. Decide That There is No other Option - The moment you leave the door to separation open, you make it likely you will ultimately use that door to destroy your marriage. Now hear me, this is not to say that you should stay in an abusive relationship. Run for the hills then friend. But the majority of marriages end due to “irreconcilable differences”. Don't allow irreconcilable to be an option for you.
2. Decide to Forgive - Easier said than done 1000%. But a heart hardened in unforgiveness can never give - or receive - the soft beauty of love. Ask God to help you to forgive and to help you see your spouse through HIS eyes and heart.
3. Decide to Put in The Work - Whether that’s counselling, changing some of your language and mindsets, releasing resentments, rebuilding trust - recovery takes work. And here’s the thing - you don't have to wait (and shouldn't wait) for your spouse to put in the work. Roll up your sleeves and do your part and see how the ship might start to get right.
Marriage is daunting. Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is work.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know WHO holds the future.
In the midst of your storm, don’t forget who God is, beauty. God calms the storm!
He is with you.
Regardless of the outcome.
Hold on to Hope. Hold on to Him.