Every marriage goes through ups and downs. That’s precisely why we say “for better or for worse” in our marriage vows. We relish the good days, but what are we supposed to do we do when we feel STUCK in a “for worse” season of marriage?
None of us are immune to hardship in life, but each and every one of us has the power to choose how we react to it. It’s easy to be a good husband or wife when things seem to be going well, but what about when things get hard? How should we handle a cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, financial hardship, job issues, moving, bad decisions, and other crises?
As a married couple, we should be each other’s number one partner, advocate, cheerleader, prayer warrior, and friend. But, when life throws us something that is more than we can bear, we sometimes feel like giving up. We become emotional recluses and shut each other out. We stop talking and simply go through the motions.
WE. CHECK. OUT.
We tell ourselves that our circumstances and our marriage will never get better, and we fail to see the good that is just beyond the trials we are experiencing.
Friends, please don’t get caught in this trap. You and your spouse CAN get through this season, and your marriage will become even stronger and better when you choose to reconnect with your spouse and check back into your marriage…before it’s too late. Here are 5 things to do when you feel stuck in a “for worse” season of marriage:
1. Keep talking to one another.
Daily communication is a must. We can’t expect our relationship to get out of a rut if we don’t tell our spouse how we truly feel and listen when he/she shares his/her feelings as well. We must refuse to shut down…even when every part of us wants to. Instead of retreating to another room in the house, we need to sit down and really talk to one another about everything…daily musings, kids, work, hopes, dreams, fears, frustrations, etc.. We must do this to stay connected, get back on the same page, and build trust.
2. Be the change you’d like to see in your spouse.
It certainly takes two to make a marriage work. But, when a marriage is stuck in a rut, someone has to make the first move towards healing. Instead of just expecting our spouse to change or take the first step in mending our relationship, we need to initiate. If we desire better communication, then we need to initiate conversation. If we want more romance, then we should initiate flirting with our spouse. If we want more date nights, then we should make arrangements for a date night. Our efforts will show our spouse how much we are committed to the marriage and put our marriage on the right track.
It’s important that we do these things out of love and commitment—not expecting our spouse to do something in return. If not, we might fall into a “tit-for-tat trap” that will only leave both of us angry and disappointed. When we reach out to our spouse with unconditional love and a genuine desire to strengthen our marriage, he/she will feel free to open up as well. When BOTH partners approach one another with open hearts, the marriage will begin to heal.
3. Pray for your spouse.
When we are mad at our spouse and frustrated with our marriage, the root emotion we are experiencing is a disappointment. We are disappointed that our marriage isn’t a fairytale. Instead of dwelling on what we don’t like about our spouse or marriage, let’s pray for him/her. Ask God to bless him/her and bring us closer together. We can pray on our own AND together. It’s amazing how God will soften our hearts towards each other when we specifically pray for one another. This is also a wonderful example of unconditional love and humility—two must-have attributes in a strong marriage.
4. Spend more time together.
As I mentioned before, we have the tendency to “check out” when things get uncomfortable or difficult. Instead of finding reasons to be away from our spouse, we need to spend more time together. Put the kids to bed earlier and talk. Go for a nightly walk after dinner. Meet up for lunch regulary during the work week. We have to be intentional and make time for one another if we want to foster a stronger marriage.
If you have kids, be sure to read 4 Reasons Every Couple Needs Time Away from the Kids.
5. Be patient with your spouse.
We don’t get into a marriage rut overnight, so we can’t expect to see a drastic reconnection after one day of trying. It takes baby steps…day after day. The main thing we need to remember is we must refuse to give up on one another. We are choosing to face this “for worse” season TOGETHER…helping each other…leaning on one another…every single day.
In time, we will see and feel the reconnection, but more than anything, God will show us how we are stronger together. He will bless us as we honor our marriage vows, and we will have an amazing testimony of endurance, commitment, and love that will inspire those around us—especially our own family.
Dave and Ashley Willis have built a strong following, reaching millions of married couples through their blogs, books, and videos. Get Dave and Ashley’s most popular resources for couples and groups. Their mission is to create resources focused on building Christ-centered marriages and families. They have four young sons and live near Augusta, Georgia.