How To Keep Your Marriage From Falling Apart When Life Sucks

Allison Moore

My world was coming apart at the seams.

We went from “Ken and Barbie” status to marriage counseling. I tried focusing on how good it was that we acknowledged needing help and got here, but mostly I was mortified that someone might see us.

The Problem

We loved “us,” but after two children, one with multiple disabilities, we were running on empty and had no idea how to fit marriage into our lives anymore. He needed me and I needed him, but neither of us had anything left to give. We thought it was a season, but as the weeks turned into years and our daughter’s “difficulties” became “diagnoses” we realized it was just a new normal.

It didn’t take long before our marriage was neglected and felt more like a burden than a blessing. My husband was no longer someone I loved doing life with, but someone I resented because he couldn’t rescue me from the pains that were overtaking our life. I couldn’t possibly focus on a marriage when our child with special needs monopolized my time. Our life was swallowed up in doctor visits, therapies, and hospital stays, so how could we fight for our marriage when we were already fighting just to breathe?

Our marriage was becoming the collateral damage of a stressful life.

We adored each other and that hadn’t changed, but our lives were different now and our marriage had to adapt as well. The counselor showed us how our problems weren’t exactly marriage problems at all, but rather God calling us to look past the pain we experienced into something more beautiful He was doing.

The Promise

God’s promises don’t change with our circumstances. Even when things seem grim, He is still a good God who gives good gifts and has good plans for our lives (James 1:17; Ephesians 3:20).  Great marriages don’t magically happen, but we’d all agree that we’ve seen some of the best forged under extreme conditions. Pain and tragedy can pull us apart or it can fuse our hearts together.

We can know we don’t struggle alone; others have gone through great difficulties and found victory and blessing in marriage. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Mark 10:9).

The Plan: 6 Steps to Safeguard Your Marriage During Tough Times

1. Pray.

1 John 5:14-15 says whatever we ask in His name we will receive. Asking God for a healthy marriage is definitely in line with His good plans for us. When we don’t know how to keep our marriage healthy, ask the one who does.

If you don’t know how to pray for your spouse, The Power of a Praying Wife or The Power of a Praying Husband gives a great guideline with actual prayers to say when you don’t know where to start.

2. Speak your spouse’s love language.

If you don’t know what it is, take the short quiz here or read the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Especially when we’re limited on time and energy, why not start showing love in the way they best receive it?

3. Choose to believe the best.

When troubles arise, it’s a battle of the mind to avoid anger and resentment.  When things are good we’re quick to assume the best, but when they’re bad we often assume the worst. Quiet the voices in your head that magnify your spouse’s weaknesses and choose to focus on the strengths.

4. Give your spouse space and freedom to grieve.

Tragedies need to be processed and dealt with, but everyone does so on their own timeline, in their own way. We can lovingly nudge each other toward healing, but we cannot demand it happen at once. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, says, “Love is patient, love is kind…” Dear friends, this is the time to put those words into action while not leaving them in their pain. Don’t be afraid to get help from a professional when the season doesn’t end.

5. Connect in a community.

Ask the Lord for the strength to not forsake the fellowship with God and others (Hebrews 10:25). Share your pain with friends. Don’t isolate your whole family because community seems to take too much effort.

Do you need to seek outside help like admitting your struggle with friends, talking to someone on the Care Team at church, or seek professional counseling? We weren’t created to do life alone. Find another couple whose marriage you both admire and spend time with them.  

6. Stay plugged into God’s power.

If you’ve neglected the powerhouse that is our God in your struggle and marriage, Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore is a great short devotional to get you back on track. Find daily devotionals through the Bible here (where you can sign up for text or email reminders), or look for NewSpring reading plans on the Youversion Bible app.

It’s not how we fall, but how we get up that counts in the end. “Happily ever after” is possible for all of us, regardless of our circumstances.

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