“Every marriage has difficult moments. But these experiences of the Cross can make the path of love even stronger.” Pope Francis
I remember my most recent argument with my spouse. Our daughter was going to be late for school. She was doing her homework at the last minute- while she ate breakfast. She had left her school bag in the car. Stephen was trying to line up all the details to get her ready, and I had fallen asleep on the couch after being up in the night with our newborn. I obviously wasn’t much help. We both thought the other person was to blame. To our amazement, he was able to get out the door and she made it on time, only by the mercy of God.
The thing is, marriage is complicated. The summer before our sixth anniversary, my husband and I hit some turbulence in our marriage, which ultimately ended with me going on medication for post-partum depression, as I have already discussed at Catholic Mom. We met with several counselors and marriage specialists, and I learned a lot through the whole experience. If I had to boil it down to a few reminders when marriage hits a rocky road, here’s what I would want to share.
1. Communication- just ask.
Recently I was struggling with the housework. I opened up to my husband about it. The next day, he ordered a steam mop to make cleaning a whole lot better, and to make housework easier for me! He also fixed our vacuum cleaner! These little conversations make such a difference. We have shared so much – including conversion to the Catholic faith- in a short time. You would think I would have learned by now– all I had to do was ask.
2. Do things together, and seek out more things to do together.
We went on a lot of dates this past year. A babysitter came to watch our sweet kiddos once a week. We love to go for walks and go get ice cream together. You can find me and my husband at a coffee shop reading more often than watching a movie at the theaters. Nothing against movies- we love movies. We are just really passionate bookworms! You can often see us with hot mochas steaming in front of us. This is pure bliss, and to share it with each other, I can’t explain how sweet life is. Keep coming up with new things to do together!
3. Laugh together, laugh often.
We watch several of “our shows” on Netflix together. We have a show we both love- it makes us both laugh a whole lot. We laugh together, and I love to see what makes him laugh when I don’t. It is a delight to LOL together…. in person! Don’t put off finding games, shows, trips, or other fun things to go and do, or go and see together. And don’t lose your precious time together to other things- even if Twitter is the bomb-diggity.
4. Pray together.
Keep praying- you will go through tragedy and triumph as a team. You cannot possibly pray together too often. It is invaluable for staying the course in marriage. Humble reliance on God ain’t easy for anyone. Marriage is a team. Oftentimes, it will bring you to your knees in ways you were not expecting or could not have anticipated. Bring your requests to God, and do it together!
5. Lean on each other in hard times, and be the hero.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my spouse say, “I can do it.” Whether it’s a stinky diaper, a trash needing to be taken out, or someone who needs a ride somewhere…. he is always willing to step up. Imagine if we as wives were always willing to step up and say “I’ve got this,” to whatever the present sacrifice may be. How much peace would we find in our homes as a result?
6. Be willing to change yourself, and give up on trying to change your spouse.
I once went through a Bible Study called “Helping Others Change.” It was a valuable book, about planting seeds of prayer that bear fruit despite difficulties surrounding us. A joke in the class that we really need to be more worried about changing ourselves- obviously. The truth is, there is nothing like power to keep things the way they are (I think that’s from a song…. that’s currently stuck in my head). So give up your own demands, look in the mirror, and over time you might see the change you were hoping to see in your life.
7. Listen always.
Sometimes it truly is the tiny details that go awry. You wanted to get some project done, but it is just plain hotter outside than you anticipated, or you get a crick in your neck, and it just really does hurt. There is nothing more profound in marriage than this: pour your heart out to each other. I really mean this. Share. It will make the rest fall into place so naturally. Don’t hold back in bitterness. Explain. And in return, be a good listener. Keep listening to each other- physically and spiritually. Watch– your marriage will grow and flourish.
Seek each other emotionally. Confront the issues. Seek each other spiritually. More importantly, seek Christ first, and all these things will be added unto you. It will make the path of love even stronger. After desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and this sin is anger, resentment, and even sometimes hatred of the people around you, or even people out there.
Remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. When you’re tempted to yell, instead be the bigger man and give a soft answer. Your spouse will look at you curiously, wondering where that kind of peace comes from.
Pray without ceasing, and pray that God’s word would take root in your heart. In so doing, you won’t have any room left for the seeds of resentment, anger, or hatred. You will find peace.
Copyright 2013 Tacy Beck