Monday, November 5, 2012

Marriage Monday: In Sickness and in Health

Marriage is such a wonderful gift, but it is also a gift that takes a lot of work.  Michael and I have been blessed to be able to walk this life of marriage together for a little over 6 years now.  Over these six years we have experienced different seasons.  This current season has been one where we have experienced just a small taste of the commitment we made to each other when we vowed to love each other, “in sickness and in health.”  This is a season that neither of us would have chosen at this time in our lives, but here it is.  So, we have a choice, we have a choice to decide what we will do with it.  Will we allow it to refine our love and commitment to each other or will we allow it to divide us?   I believe God desires to use these times to refine our marriage and deepen our love.  This takes work, very intentional work on our part.    

We have definitely learned a lot and will continue to learn for the rest of our lives about what it means to be joined together as “one flesh” (Matt. 19:6).  Marriage is a journey; it’s this amazing gift God gives us which really shows us the reality of our own selfish hearts and offers us the opportunity to grow, mature, and become less in and of ourselves.  Yep, marriage is a refinement process; it’s challenging, it’s beautiful, it’s redemptive and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

This season has been a crazy couple of years together.  The miscarriage and longing to be parents, the pacemaker and the complications that came with that, and now my adrenal/thyroid glands which are not up to par.  Needless to say, it has been a lot.

Situations like these cause stress, don’t they?  Stress on a marriage can cause problems. So what do we do?  How do we grow as a couple and allow these times to build our love—instead of divide?  In no way am I an expert nor would I ever claim to be (Lord knows, I am still learning).  I am just a regular gal, who is walking with Jesus through life and trying to learn something along the way.  But below I have shared a couple of the lessons I have learned.  Maybe you’ll be blessed, encouraged, or challenged in your own marriage/relationships through my experience.   That’s my prayer.

Lesson #1: Find an outlet.

We do not readily do this.  Why?  Well, I think in part it is due to the mentality of our culture.  We hear things like, “Be strong!” and “Hang in there!” when we should be given the permission to fall apart if need be.  Friends, it is vital we talk about our feelings, and is important we find someone who knows how to really listen to a person in crisis.  

Listening is an art and only some really know how to listen.  Find a person who knows how, whether that be a friend, a support group, or a counselor.  You have feelings.  They need to get out.  They need to be heard.  It is wonderful to talk to your spouse about how you feel, you should be doing this throughout, but often times they cannot fully understand or it can be overwhelming for them.  I was so very blessed to be able to talk through my own feelings with friends who had either learned the art of true listening or who had experienced something similar to myself and had a level of understanding. 

Lesson#2: Ask for help.

You will also often find when you are sick that you need help with the everyday things of life.  Ask for help!  You would be amazed at how willing people are to help.  Most people just do not know how to help.  So go head and ask; do not be afraid to tell people what you need.  Be specific.  Do not try to do it all on your own.  This will help alleviate stress.  This was probably one of the most helpful lessons we learned.  I know it is difficult to ask for help because either we want to feel like we can do it all or we do not want to feel like a burden to others.  Friends, you cannot and you do not have to do it all alone, nor do you need to feel like a burden.  God made us for community and within those communities we should help each other. 

Now I did not mention the most important lesson we have learned, communication.  It's key, without a doubt. But I am a little tired of writing and I think you may be tired of reading so maybe I will write another blog about it sometime :).

In reflecting on both of these lessons learned I think both of them challenge us to put aside our pride.  Don’t you?  There is no shame in admitting we need help and cannot do things on our own.  No one is perfect.  No marriage is perfect.  No two people are perfect.  You are not perfect.  Your life is not perfect.  It was not meant to be.  So STOP trying to live like it should be.  It is just not going to happen. We are all on a journey and on this journey God desires to refine us.  Marriage is just one way He refines us.  These challenging times don’t have to be tools of division but can be tools of grace used to strengthen your love and commitment for each other.  But you have to make the choice what you will do “in sickness and in health.”

How have you walked through crises in your life?  Have you found them to strengthen your marriage or divide?  What practical advice can you give?

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