If you’ve been following my blog for the past six months, you know that my husband and I have been in a hard season.
It’s not so much because of something between the two of us, but rather an external circumstance that has wreaked havoc in our lives.
I wish I could say it was only the pandemic wreaking havoc, but the external circumstance in our situation is much more personal. It has consumed our lives in almost every negative way possible.
Needless to say, we are living proof right now that most healthy marriages have hard seasons. We are in a hard season. In an effort to cling to some optimism in this moment, I want to offer up some hope to those of you who also may be in a hard season.
Please note I am not talking about abusive marriages or ones where there has been persistent deep dysfunction that requires much more than “tips” to survive. I am talking about marriages that are otherwise fairly healthy.
4 Tips on Navigating a Hard Season in Your Healthy Marriage
1. Let go of pointless arguments
The stress that our hard season is exerting on us is quite immense. The circumstances causing the stress aren’t going away anytime soon. Because of that variable, I started to notice that any discussions my husband and I were having about it did nothing but cause more stress.
Plus, many of the arguments we were having about fairly inconsequential topics unrelated to the huge stressor also weren’t gaining us any ground. Or any peace.
So I’m trying to head off such arguments before they start. I’m trying to resist the urge to engage in pointless arguments. I don’t always succeed in this, but I’m learning for my own sanity and the comfort of peace to not be so quick to get caught up in dialogue that only fuels the stress rather than mitigates it.
Take a breath. Then take another. Look at the benefit of de-escalation, rather than proving your point. I think when at least one of you does this, it can inspire the other to follow suit.
2. Increase your self care
Interestingly, this is a tip that is totally individual. I know some people think I should be singing the praises of “couple care” during hard seasons. I’m not opposed to couple care—if you can swing it in the hard season, then by all means, pour extra nurturing into your relationship.
But for some couples, the hard seasons bring to light that a husband and wife process stress differently. And their responsibilities in the hard season may be unique, too, not to mention multiplying. That’s the case with us. He has added responsibilities because of the circumstances that are different from the added responsibilities on my plate. We both have extra details we have to manage on any given day.
All the added responsibilities for both of us have significantly limited our opportunity to be alone with each other and nurture our relationship.
So I have become keenly aware of my own self care. And let me tell you, a lot of my self care would seem quite insignificant or unnoticeable in many circles. Today I took a 20-minute nap. The other day I spent some time quietly in my room stretching and reflecting. Each night I’ve been going to sleep to the sound of the ocean on a relaxation app on my phone. I splurged on some nice lotion with a scent I love.
Go on a walk. Journal. Read a few pages in a book you’ve been wanting to start. Try a new recipe. Meet a friend for coffee.
When you are in a hard season in your marriage, a little self care can make the days more bearable.
3. Lean in to God
Hard seasons in marriage can cause us to retreat from God. We just don’t get why He is allowing this to happen. We just don’t think we deserve this kind of long-suffering. It’s not surprising we want to pull away.
I certainly have pulled away on and off again in this hard season my husband and I are in right now.
I have found, though, that when I eventually circle back to God, I always find Him patiently and lovingly waiting. And the more I simply say to Him I’m sad and I’m discouraged, the more He meets me in that place of disappointment.
It’s not even that the sadness goes away. Often it doesn’t. But there is some comfort in knowing the more I seek Him, the more I gain a long view on my current situation. I have faith that this hard season won’t last, even if I don’t know exactly how long it will last. Leaning in to God helps me get my bearings in that regard.
4. Be intentional in kindness
I could have also labeled this “be grateful,” but that can garner an eyeroll real quick if people are weary of hearing gratefulness as a panacea for all that ails us. (Even though there is oodles to be said in favor of gratefulness).
So instead, I think a good step can be specific kindness. A friend of mine was having a hard work day, so I bought her some cinnamon rolls. I have sent a few cards to friends “for no reason at all” but to say hello and that I love them.
Of course, your specific acts of kindness should include your spouse as well. I don’t normally make my husband’s lunch that he takes to work, but on some particularly taxing days, I have made his lunch for him.
In this hard season in our marriage, the kindness I give outwardly helps ease the heaviness and despair I’m feeling inwardly.
If you have been in a hard season in the past or you are in one now, what other tips would you offer on how to navigate?
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.