I recently sat down with a couple who had overcome a crisis in their marriage. Their relationship was on a much better path, but the aftermath of their struggles still seemed to be a dark cloud constantly overhead. They were having trouble moving past it. Getting “through” the struggle is one challenge, but something that seems to take couples off guard is how difficult it can be to move past the struggle even after it’s “over.”
Every couple will eventually some level of difficulty (or even a full-fledged crisis) in their marriage. Sometimes the struggle is a result of one or both spouse’s poor choices (infidelity, broken trust, addiction, porn, poor financial choices, etc.), and sometimes the struggles arise apart from either spouse’s control (a death or illness in the family, job loss, etc.). In either case, it takes a great deal of faith, strength and commitment to work through a struggle together, BUT it also takes a lot of effort to successfully move past a struggle even when it’s over. The aftermath can often be just as difficult as the struggle itself.
When you’ve come through a struggle in your marriage, please remember these things as you move forward…
1.You should learn from the struggle, but don’t let it define you.
You are not a victim of this difficulty and you’re certainly not imprisoned by it. It may be part of your story, but you get to determine what part it will play in your future. Allow the situation to make your stronger. Scar tissue is actually stronger than regular skin. This struggle may have created a scar, but it can also make your stronger.
2. Let the struggle make you BETTER, not BITTER.
Every struggle in life and in marriage will make us either better or bitter, but we have to decide which one. Don’t go down the dark path that leads to bitterness. Encourage each other to rise above.
3. Don’t use past mistakes as ammunition in your disagreements.
When one spouse has made some poor choices, there’s a natural tendency for the other spouse to want to punish the other or use the past mistakes as leverage in arguments. Resist the temptation to punish and focus instead on extending grace and offering an opportunity for trust to be rebuilt.
4. Make sure your commitment to your marriage always stronger than your struggles.
Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced. They’re the ones whose commitment to each other always remained stronger than their reasons for calling it quits. Never give up on each other.
5. Create some new dreams for the future.
Maybe you’ve come through a struggle that shattered some of your dreams for the future. Take some time to grieve the loss, but don’t live the rest of your life in grief or thinking you have to settle for an unhappy future. Start creating new dreams together and moving forward towards them. Don’t live your life looking backwards. The past is the past. Your best days are ahead.
Don't give up on your marriage. It is worth the effort and investment. If you feel like your marriage is struggling, or even failing, there is hope. There is healing.