Have you ever hit a “rough spot” in your life?
I hate them. Strong word, I know. Mothers have all kinds of places in their lives for rough spots, don’t they? Rough spots can occur anywhere in life, but I especially hate the ones that worm their wicked way into my marriage.
Over twenty-four years of marriage, we’ve hit several rough spots. Usually, we hit them and they’re over. An argument. A disagreement over a matter of little importance. A bad mood. A lack of time for intimacy. A misunderstanding. Financial pressure.
Address them and move on. Done.
Occasionally, though, they last a while. Those are the really hards ones. They can look more like this-
A period of financial stress that lasts for months, even years
Broken trust that cannot simply be “forgotten” but must be forgiven—if healing is to happen
Lack of sexual desire, where one spouse desires more sexual intimacy than the other
Discontentment. (Mix it with the Internet … and you have a marriage-killing cocktail.)
A habit of taking each other for granted
There are others, of course. We all have our weaknesses. Satan knows all too well which emotional “buttons” to push in order to drive a wedge into a marriage. Have you felt him with his hammer and wedge? I have. Sometimes the hammer hits hard—the spot is just beginning to scab over when *bam!* another blow. How do we move forward?
There are a few things you need to know about “healthy” marriages. The reason we call them “healthy” is because they share some common characteristics. Avoiding struggle, however, is not one of them. Struggles come. The question is not “if” they will come; the question is “when.”
Here’s the thing: You have an enemy. You really do. If you’re married, the target on your back just got bigger. If you’re in a Christian marriage, enlarge that target on your back again. Raising children? Up the collateral damage 1000%. The enemy I speak of is not interested in your marriage—not really. He’s interested in your children. That’s right. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If satan can take out your marriage, he’s got a great shot at your kids. And at the end of the day, it’s the next generation that’s going to pay the price. It’s the next generation that we’re fighting to protect.
If you are struggling in marriage right now, here are three things you need to know:
- The covenant of marriage is worth the struggle.
We are living in an era where a covenant is not worth much. However, God sees things differently. He sees the covenant as it was designed to be seen: as eternal. Nothing in this life that’s worth doing is ever easy. Parenting is worth the struggle. Kids are worth it. Your marriage is worth it. No struggle = little value. Period. Marriage in our culture is under attack because it’s God-designed and everything designed by God is on the cultural chopping block under the guise of “tolerance.”
- Healthy marriages struggle.
Yep. You heard me right. There is no marriage on the face of the earth that has not encountered difficulty. Including mine. We see two examples of marriage today: one is the picture-perfect marriage in which two people have children (sometimes a dozen or more) and seem to get through the hard parts without any difficulty. I’d like to suggest that this is simply untrue. All couples struggle. The other kind of marriage is the one that is flat-out awful. These couples make the cover of People Magazine (think Tori Spelling and Dean whats-his-name) for a while, and we’re fascinated—but then they get divorced and another exciting and newsworthy couple takes their place. After all, ordinary marriages are not newsworthy.
- Marriage is not about happiness.
Please understand. I’m not talking to the woman suffering in a truly abusive marriage; I’m talking to the one whose husband is emotionally clueless or who is selfish. I’m talking to the woman whose husband is “boring.” I’m talking to the woman who thinks the grass is greener on the proverbial ‘other side’ or who is discontent because she has an unrealistic picture of what her marriage would look like—if she were married to someone else. I’m talking to the woman who thinks that if she were married to so-and-so, she would be happy. Marriage is not about happiness. It’s about love and commitment. It’s an opportunity to become self-less. It’s a chance to learn what it means to serve another person with your whole heart. Honestly? Sometimes, that’s hard.
Last month, I spoke with a husband whose marriage had recently ended after nearly thirty years. His main regret? That he didn’t “see the signs” and really love his wife earlier. He regretted not nurturing his marriage. He said she regretted it too, but that “too much water” had gone under the bridge of their marriage to save it. This couple has children who are now in their early twenties. By all accounts, they did the “divorce thing” right: they waited until their children were grown.
This man, however, was seeing the truth. Even his adult children were suffering as a result of their parent’s divorce. You see, there is no such thing as a victimless divorce. We are all victims in this culture of divorce. Until we see marriage as the precious covenant relationship that it is, until we decide that marriage is truly worth it, we will continue to see a decline in our culture.
Precious wife, your marriage is worth it. Don’t let the culture lie to you about the preciousness of your marriage. It matters. If you’re struggling in your marriage, take time to work on it. Put other, less important things aside. Get the help you need. Be honest—and real. Chances are good that if you’ll talk about your struggles with another married woman, she will share her struggles with you.
I think when we can begin to be honest about the struggle—and the sanctity—of marriage, we can begin to have an honest conversation about the price we are all paying for our callous attitude toward this most precious of relationships.
A lifetime commitment to another person is never easy, but it’s worth it. Your decision to make your marriage the priority relationship in your home matters. A generation is hanging in the balance. Don’t give your marriage up without a fight. It’s worth it.
Heidi St. John
The Busy Mom