I appreciate this question, though I will admit that I felt inadequate in answering it, but then I realized that though things are not perfect and they never will be, after almost 20 years of marriage my husband and I are happily married and may indeed have a thing or two to share. Also, I realized that many of our marriages are at risk because of the challenges we face with our kids. Some studies indicate that the rate of divorce can be as high as 80%. This alone is good reason to get personal in hopes to help others who may be struggling.
Before I share what’s working for us, I wanted to share something that I learned from my pastor about marriages facing crisis. I was moved by this teaching and it’s given me a healthy perspective that I now apply to my own marriage.
My pastor explained that when marriages face crisis, whether it be due to an illness, job loss or any other painful experience, we must first understand that this shared experience of pain can do two things in a marriage, it can unite us or it can divide us.
To investigate this further, my pastor met with married couples in our church who have faced extreme challenges in their marriage and learned from them how the pain of their circumstances pushed them apart. I think this is so important to consider since many of us have faced this same disruption in our own marriage.
First, pain can threaten our safety. As a result, we may blame each other.
Pain can disrupt our life. As a result we may respond by withdrawing from the marriage, becoming no help to our spouse and our marriage goes on the back burner.
Pain hurts. So we hurt one another.
Pain makes us turns inward. So we no longer connect to those around us, instead we shut down.
Pain brings unmet expectations. As a result, we face disappointment.
Pain makes us judgmental because we expect others to respond the same way we do.
Pain makes us vulnerable. So we lash out with anger to one another or become overly sensitive.
Pain is hard to live with. So we leave the marriage to escape the pain.
And the list goes on...
So can you relate to any of these experiences above? I know I can!
Next, my pastor reminded us that we all deal with pain in our own way, so we need to offer grace to one another. Just as we ourselves are capable of behaving badly because we’re hurting, we have to keep in mind that our spouse is hurting too. Pain is the problem, not our spouse. If we start with that, we can create a foundation for our marriage that will allow us to unite instead of separate.
Check back with my next post when I go a little deeper and share with you a hard lesson I learned in my own marriage, then on Friday I’ll share what’s working in my marriage today. I hope it will be encouraging to you if you’re currently hurting in your marriage. Remember, you’re spouse is not the problem, pain is.