Holding On

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Faith, Marriage & Family | 2 comments

Holding On

Lately, every time I get together with a girlfriend, I find myself answering some variation of this question…

“What toll have all of your stressful life circumstances taken on your marriage?”

In all honesty I can answer that our difficulties have brought us closer together and strengthened our marriage. Have there been fights? Yes. Has it sometimes seemed impossible to find any resolution to our conflicts? Yes. Have there been times that the strain on our marriage seemed unbearable? Yes. But somewhere along the way we stopped fighting with and pointing the finger at each other and instead starting leaning on and trusting each other.

Part of this process was a deliberate decision. We got married, there’s paperwork, the whole deal is sealed with two little princesses. My husband totally gets commitment. Me? I’ve come a long way… at the beginning of our marriage I thought every fight meant “the end,” but Husband taught me that ups and downs are normal in a marriage and we’d get through it all together. I learned this secret to a lasting marriage over the years:

Just hold on.

I remember hearing about a study on married couples that found couples on the brink of divorce, when surveyed five years later, almost universally reported being very happily married. Things change. I realize it’s not the most romantic notion, but I think some seasons of a lifetime spent with another person hinge on just holding on through the rough spots.

The rest of the process has just been supernatural, divine intervention. We’ve been through some crazy, over the top, test-your-marriage-vows-and-all-that-is-holy kinda trials. I do not think my marriage could have made it through, at least not with any inkling of joy left in it, without prayer. Do you know what it’s like when two stressed, overwhelmed, angry, beaten up people try to communicate? Even a conversation about the weather can quickly go south, never mind an attempt to resolve a relational issue.

Over the years I’ve prayed a lot. Out of sheer desperation, when I couldn’t take one more fight over something ridiculous, I started dumping all of my hurts and frustrations on God instead of Husband. And in the process, completely on accident, I discovered an even bigger secret to a successful marriage:

Pray for your spouse.

Here’s what happened. At first, I started every prayer about Husband and our marriage as an all out bitch fest. I really gave God a piece of my mind about all this. Held nothing back. Even cussed. Then God changed my heart. He very gently showed me where I was wrong, ways I contributed to the problems. Then slowly, gently, without shaming me for the complaining and cussing, He showed me Husband’s heart all full of hurts and hopes and goodness …that softened me and gave me a new way to communicate with Husband that didn’t put him on the defensive. Husband and I got to start talking about the weather again without fighting. Some of the more serious, relational conversations never even happened because, without me even saying a word to Husband, he started acting differently too… I know that was God answering my prayers and adjusting Husband’s heart.

Although the stress is still piled on top of us and it weighs heavily, I don’t feel it undermining the strength of our marriage anymore. It’s no longer impossible to have hard conversations, but I try to remember to pray first. Many times, the praying alone is enough to bring resolution… I discover that I was wrong, not Husband, or that Husband was wrong but it wasn’t such a big deal after all, or that God makes the adjustment in Husband before I can say anything. In the instances that a confrontation is necessary, God gives me words that are easier to hear than my own would ever be. Sometimes I completely forget the value of praying first and just let loose with whatever is on my mind and there’s a fight… but this seems to be so much more easily covered and forgiven now, on both sides, since so many deeper hurts have been healed.

It’s really a lie when we believe our spouse is the source of our problems and discontent (barring abusive or dangerous situations, of course). The source of our problems and discontent is usually within ourselves. One of the most beautiful parts of marriage is the “iron sharpening iron” aspect. Instead of a lifelong curse, with God’s help, even the most broken marriages can become the blessing that helps bring healing and growth, the love that is fully anchored in trust and friendship. Trudging through the muddy mess of life, holding my best friend’s hand, trusting him completely, seeing God alive in our marriage after our trial by fire experiences means so much more to me than any “perfect” marriage ever could.

 

2 Comments

  1. Great blog, CeeCee! I love it and agree wholeheartedly, even after nearly 44 years of marriage. You gotta hang on, pray, laugh a lot, pray, date, pray, cry, pray, vacation, pray — you get the point. It all makes life and marriage better when God is in the middle of everything you do.

    Keep up the good words. I know this will help a lot of couples, young and old. Everything is better with faith!

    Love to you and yours.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, M.C.! 44 years is a long time! I still remember some of your marriage advice from my bridal shower :). Love you too!

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