While engaged, I would have amazing daydreams about my wonderful future life with Aaron. Instead, I ended up with a rude reality. My marriage sucked. It was full of frustration and unmet expectations- arguments and spite. It was the opposite of what I expected. I thought after dating for 4 years and knowing each other practically our whole lives, that we would have a much easier time together. But, boy was I wrong. I distinctly remember thinking I made a mistake and now I'm trapped. I didn't understand why everyone else had this magical marriage and I had a marriage that made me want to run and hide. It was exhausting keeping up the facade that my marriage was rainbows and sunshine.
I prayed and prayed, but it seemed like God had called me to be miserable. I think I was like Naomi when she went back to Bethlehem. I had developed bitterness towards God because I didn't understand how he was being faithful in that moment or should I say season. I wish it was a moment. I couldn't see the blessing that it was until we had come out of it. Starting marriage with such a difficult season gave us a totally different perspective on every tough moment that we had after that. Instead of thinking, it will be like this forever, we now know its a temporary moment that God is using to grow us. There are a few things that helped us through our difficult season.
1. Draw Close to God
The other day, Aaron and I were discussing a story from the bible and looked up to him and said, “Do you remember when I didn’t want to talk about God with you.” Early on in our marriage, I didn’t really talk extensively about God with Aaron. I think I thought he was more “spiritual” than I was so I shied away from it. He was always watching sermons, and I was always watching Netflix. When I got married, I wasn't far from God, but I still needed to draw closer to him. I couldn’t authentically grow closer to Aaron because I wasn’t authentically growing close to God. I had become to comfortable with the culture of Christianity without really pouring into my relationship with God. I needed to make God more of a priority in my life. Once I began doing this, my perspective changed. I had more patience, desired to serve Aaron more, and worked harder on our marriage than I had before. Sometimes, the only way for us to grow is to go through difficult moments in our lives. It's in the difficult moments in our lives, that God breaks us down to build us back up. He breaks our selfishness. He break our pride. He helps us to produce the fruits of the spirit. In these tough moments, he allowed our trust and love for each other to grow so much deeper than if we had only rainbows and sunshine.
2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH OTHER BELIEVERS
Those first few months were brutal. I remember thinking, “It’s going to be like this forever.” or “Why are we the only ones having such difficulty early on.” I couldn’t see an end to my misery. ( Oh how selfish was I!) However, When we started going to a Sunday School class that targeted newly married couples, we saw a huge turning point in our marriage. Until that moment it felt like we were the only ones, but that class normalized a lot of things for us especially conflict. We learned that arguments and fights happen in every marriage. I know we all know that, but it is so difficult to remember that sometimes. To realize that in the same moment you are having your conflict, someone else somewhere is going through a similar experience that you are. Aaron and I realized that other were struggling also, and now we place we could go weekly to be encouraged. The enemy would love for us to be isolated. But, if we find Sunday School classes, small groups, mentors, or just other believers who are married, we have the ability to share about our struggles and encourage each other.
3. Remember that Selfishness is the enemy
Being married has shown me just how much my selfishness and pride comes out on a daily basis. It has also shown me even more of my desperate need for Christ. Selfishness is the Enemy. It will always seeks to win attention, arguments, and anything that it deems as a something to gain. Selfishness is our pride saying "I'm right." It always likes to rear its head in arguments because we are often guarding our heart less from the enemy and more from our spouse. This allows our selfishness to rise up and say things we shouldn't. As I think back on our arguments from our first few months of marriage, I remember all of the silly things that turned into arguments. We would argue over which vegetables to put in and out of the fridge, or how to fold towels. Even how to make up the bed. Silly things that turned into all-out word brawls. Remember "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) When selfishness arises, it is not our spouse we are fighting against but the spirits that seek to destroy our relationship. Remember this when you argue. Instead of speaking harsh words, pray about your selfishness and the selfishness that rises up in your spouse. You can only fight selfishness with spirit not with flesh. Use the verses you have memorized to arm yourself against these attacks.
4.Let it go
Grace is one of the most important things that we had to learn to give each other. Giving each other grace means letting go when your spouse offends you. Truly Letting go. It's not bringing it back up in the next fight. It's not bring it up out of nowhere. It's choosing to fight the urge to give it up instead of willfully shouting it from the rooftops. This one was such a hard one for me. When we first married, we didn’t give each other the grace that we should. For me, I can manipulate people really easily. I would often keep these records of the things he did just to use it at a time that would benefit me. Usually to get him to do something I wanted, or to hurt him. I cringe at this thought, but I think it’s so important to share. I didn’t realize my motivation for keeping records until I truly spent some time with the Lord. Allowing him to work on my heart. One thing that I do when I find something hard to let go of is think of all the ways God has been gracious to me. When I hurt, ignore, unprioritized, and disappoint him, he still gives me grace. How can I not be gracious towards my husband? I'm not saying it's always easy. Sometimes it's really hard when your spouse hurts you. But, when you have reconciled, it is better to invest time in to growing closer together than devising way to push yourselves back apart.
5.TALK, EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE IT
I am an introvert. Well thanks to my husband (Extrovert of the Year), I am an outgoing introvert. I find conversations to be very difficult at times. I was okay talking on dates, but I actually had to talk to someone everyday. Someone who is a morning, noon, night any time of day type of person. It was difficult. Oddly enough, I just didn’t have enough things to really talk about. I generally only wanted to have serious conversation and couldn’t really have small talk etc. Be intentional about talking with each other, and not only about the hard stuff. "Shoot the breeze" as my husband says. Talk about your day or something interesting you read. Watch sermons together and discuss them. The more you talk about God, the more you will see the language that comes out of your mouth change. When you talk about the ones who gives life, you speak more life. Commercial Break: Be discerning about what you share with your family about your spouse. You love him so you can forgive him and let go. Your family doesn't love your spouse like you do, so they may not be able to let go.
6. LAUGH NO MATTER WHAT
My last piece of advice is to laugh. Gosh laughter is so helpful for getting us out of our unpleasant selves and back into joy. My husband and I love to watch fail videos on YouTube. They usually consist of someone doing something unwise that turns out funny. They fill us both with a lot of laughter. Its almost like we laugh away our foolishness and find a way back into God's joy. Laughter is good. Find a regular show or book or video that can make you laugh. Visit this often together, especially when you find it hard to reconnect. Let laughter be a symptom of a joyous spirit removing the harsh thorn from your side and bringing you back into the peace God provides.
Every marriage has tough seasons. You are not alone. Hold onto this. The enemy wills seek to isolate you and make you think that you are, but dear friend you are not. Find other couples that you can share your struggles with. Grieve the idea that you have married your prince charming. Choose to love, honor, and serve him in a way that pleases God. Who needs a prince, when we have a king!
Gracious God, Thank you for our spouses. The men we have chosen to love. Bless them in unimaginable ways. Bless our marriages and give us good communication with each other. Help us to share our struggles with other couples as a way to bless others. Thank you for the struggle. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Ready to Reconnect with your spouse? Check out 10 ways to Reconnect With Your Spouse.