When you first said, “I do,” did you have any idea it would be like this?
Are you currently carrying more than you bargained for?
Everyone who marries will eventually encounter a season or two where the weight of the relationship ends up on their shoulders. Spouses get sick, distracted, selfish, or overworked; they pursue further education or start new businesses; they live a lie, or stop believing, they over commit or over spend. Life happens, the weight shifts, and suddenly we find ourselves wondering, “Is this how God meant it to be?”
Sad to say, many Christians today are either getting out or checking out. In other words, they come upon an “unfair” season in marriage and they either walk away from the marriage or they stay, but then totally disengage from the relationship. It’s easy to consider our spouse’s busy-ness as our license to do what we want. And yet the choices we make during this difficult time are critical to the health of our marriage.
Just how do we make the journey lighter amidst a one-sided season in marriage?
Here are a few suggestions…
Drop These Weights
While it’s normal for anger, fear, worry, and self-pity to be present during a one-sided season, it’s important not to carry these with you wherever you go. Consider these as weights that will slow you down and make your journey heavier. Deal with them as they come up and guard your heart with all diligence. We have countless reasons to worry and be afraid and yet we have every reason to trust God. Turn your back on worry and fear by guarding your thoughts and by relying on God’s faithfulness. Make the choice to trust Him. Self pity overtakes us when we look at our own woes through a magnifying glass. Though times get tough, we are still blessed. Count your blessings. Help someone who has less than you. This will enlarge your perspective. And though many spouses have a legitimate reason for anger, if not dealt with, anger will destroy everything in their path. Rather than go through the motions of being the good Christian spouse while anger overtakes your inner life, get real with God. Give Him every detail of every emotion you are feeling. Talk to an honorable friend or a Christian counselor. Understand that there’s a big difference between bashing your spouse and seeking Godly counsel to get through this tough time. Stay connected with your church family. Keep your prayer life alive. One-sided seasons in marriage can be heavy, but they are doable when we refuse to carry anger, fear, worry, and self-pity.
Carry These Differently
Loneliness, disappointment, and imperfection are things we would rather leave by the roadside, but inside each of these burdens is a blessing in disguise. Harness your lonely times and use them to bring focus and purpose to your life by spending time with God. Refuse to squander this time. Nourish your soul instead. Allow your disappointments to re-direct your prayers that you may believe God for better days. When times get tough, imperfections surface. Take your imperfections (and your spouse’s) to the Lord. You’re safest just after you’ve blown it because you have a fresh understanding of your own frailty and of God’s mercy. Use this difficult season to cultivate a deeper walk of faith.
Understand The Weight of Your Words…
Though your one-sided season may make you feel incidental or overlooked, you are still someone of great value. And since you matter, your words matter as well. Your children are listening to what you have to say. Depending on the ages and stages of your kids, you will have to determine the healthiest route to take. If your children are young, you will obviously need to absorb the added stress of your one-sided season (sharing only with your closest friends).
Adolescents will want to know more than they can handle. They will want you to acknowledge that “yes” things are different. Though it may seem they are only interested in knowing the gory details, deep inside they want to know that things are still stable and that you are still honorable. If you have teens, you will find that they know (and understand) more than you think. Pray for divine wisdom in this matter. Forgive yourself when you don’t do it perfectly.
Run from conversations that stir up your anger. Guard your speech and only talk about your situation with friends who walk in the humble fear of the Lord. Rehearsing and revisiting offenses only re-offends the soul and re-injures the relationship. Run from a complaining, grumbling attitude and embrace hopeful expectation instead.
One-sided seasons will come and they will go, but the seeds we sow during the difficult times will directly determine the harvest waiting for us on the other side.
Run from the temptation to find your needs met through friendships of the opposite sex. You are better off going without than risking your life, your marriage, the respect of your children and peers, and your reputation.
Take care of yourself during this time. Be good to yourself. Plant flowers, go out to eat, or read a good book. Give yourself permission to have a little fun. Just be careful not to let permission turn into entitlement.
Don’t allow this lonely season to draw you away from people and church involvement. Stay in the game! But be careful about getting too overcommitted.
Be careful not to think too highly of your ability to withstand temptation during this lonely season. You’re safest when you walk in the fear of the Lord (see Proverbs 19:23, 29:25).
This post has been adapted from “Alone in Marriage: Encouragement for the Times When It’s all Up to You” by Susie Larson. Published by Moody Publishers, 2007.