Kate says . . .
The sun is shining outside and I wake up to the man of my dreams. Truly God has transformed him into something so much better than I ever imagined. The beginning years were rough-much more than I ever thought. And yet today, I marvel at how the refining fire has cultivated this beautiful one flesh union. We are in such a good place and I never want to leave. Perhaps I will just stay right here, in bed with this amazing man forever. Then as if a bucket of ice water is tossed on us, life intrudes and survival is our focus. Life just intruded big time!
The reality is that you can have a marriage that is so good and moving forward on your one flesh journey and then boom, like a thief in the night life intrudes and sends you into a tail spin. One of the kids is sick (perhaps right on you), you or your spouse is diagnosed with a serious health issue, a huge unexpected bill arrives, your basement floods, your dear friend’s marriage is in crisis and they need your help, you car breaks down for good, extended family are having a crisis, ministry or job is taking all of your free time or all of your kids have sports and extracurricular activities on the same nights! Emotions are high and all over the map, you are tired and edgy. There is simply not enough time in the day. It is tough.
If I convey nothing else today, I want you to know that Brad and I are normal. We are just like you. We make mistakes at times. Though we have an amazing marriage, that has taken lots of refinement, life intrudes on us just as it does on you.
So what do we do in our marriage when life intrudes or throws us a curveball?
Talk to each other
You have heard it millions of times. Communication is the key. It is said often, because it is truth. Keep talking to one another when life throws you a curveball. Talk about logistics so they you both are on the same page, but also talk about emotions and feelings.
A couple of years ago, my hubby started asking me a simple question often. “What can I do to help you today?” You don’t know how good it feels that he stops and actively considers how he can help me. He is not a mind reader, so he asks. There isn’t always something for him to do, but I appreciate that he asks. When there is something, I tell him and allow him to carry some of my burden. Wives our husbands want to help carry our burden, that is how God designed them. So let them.
As my dear friend Shannon Ethridge says, “The best way to get your emotional needs met is to be vulnerable and ASK for what you need.”
In high stress situations, it is best to be prepared to extend grace to your spouse. Seek to understand where they are coming from. It is particularly hard when you are both stressed with the curve ball you are currently dealing with. However, if you both are seeking to extend grace through the trying time that will be a mutual blessing. When Brad is on overload for whatever reason, I try to look for ways to help him that will bless him. Things that will take a little off his plate and allow him a little more time with our family. Little things and lots of grace. Makes a huge difference.
Give the gift of “NO”
Oh how we love Tim Hawkins. If you haven’t heard his bit about giving your kids the gift of “no” you really ought to. This same principle applies in our lives elsewhere. Be willing to say no to the demands put on your life. Whether it is saying no to family, friends, sports, activities, volunteering you need to think of your spouse and family first. There are life intrusions that are a choice. Having a family member in the hospital and having to run your kids to every sport they want to do are not the same kind of “life intrusion.” Protect your marriage fiercely and say no to a few things!
Sex! Plain and Simple!
You knew it was coming, because the reality is that sex connects us and bonds us to our spouse. What do we need when life intrudes and we are in survival mode, but usually don’t make time for? Yup, sex. It has benefits that we cannot fully understand with our finite human minds. Here is a challenge, how about we just trust that God will use that connection for good. Making time for sex, when life is rough is such a good thing.
We will all have these times in our marriage, but how we choose to approach them will greatly affect whether we are just surviving or allowing God to help us thrive.
I know we all have been in this place, so share things that you have done when life is stressful to keep your marriage journey moving forward. I’d love to hear your thoughts.