Let’s be honest for a minute, at some point in your marriage you are going to hit a hard season. It could be caused by a busy schedule, a child is born, difficulty getting pregnant, some kind of sickness, debt or bills, health of in-laws, drama with some kind of family member or friend, loss of job, the list is endless.
But how do you know if it is a hard season and not something else?
Here are some things that are true of a hard season: lack of intimacy and sex, lack of communication, long silences between you and your spouse, constant arguing, a lot of misunderstandings or miscommunications, or just the feeling that you are ships passing through the night.
The reality is, at some point you will feel like this, you may even feel like it right now. So what do you do?
Here are 7 ways to not only survive a hard season, but to come out of it stronger:
- Identify why you are in this season. Both spouses know when they are in this season. Men would like to ignore it, bulldoze through it or just fix it to move forward. Sometimes you need to spend more time talking about something to fix it, sometimes it is so obvious that you can quickly fix it and move on.
- Talk through what got you to this season. Don’t just identify that life is hard, that your marriage is in a tough spot. Identify how you got there. Is it overscheduling? Do you need to cut back at work? Do you need to pick up the pace on date night? Do you need to communicate more? Do you need to have more sex in your marriage?
- Apologize for any sin on your part. Make things right. If you are in a hard season as a couple, both of you sinned. Almost every problem in marriage has sin from both spouses, don’t just point fingers at the other. Own your sin, apologize and make it right.
- Figure out the weaknesses in your marriage that need to become strengths. You may have gotten to a hard season because you aren’t organized, don’t have a plan to get out of debt or you aren’t doing well to get everything done at work so you are overworking. Find a couple, find a person who is can help. Someone who is smarter than you at your weakness and ask for help. I think when we look for coaches, we often look for someone who can help us with everything, that is foolish. If it is finances, get with someone who has no debt and is doing great with their finances and say, “help me.”
- Get rid of what got you to this place. Recently, Katie and I walked through a hard season that came from adding kids to our family, my job expanding and getting busier and I was saying yes to too many things. We pulled back on some activities as a family, made some changes to how we do our schedule and cut some things out. This is hard, but you have to let go of or change what got you to this season. You may need to not sign up for an activity, back out of the PTA or say no to a promotion at work. Why? Your marriage needs you to.
- Outlast the season. If you are in a hard season that simply means you are married. Too many couples look at a hard season and want to throw in the towel, don’t. Your marriage means too much, the ripple affects to how your marriage goes are enormous. Don’t believe me? Talk to a friend who grew up in a broken home and ask them how that has impacted their life. Fight for your marriage.
- Plan to not repeat this season. No one plans to have a tough season in marriage, but it happens. It often happens because we lose our bearings, we let sin enter our hearts or we don’t have a plan to protect our marriage. Have a plan to protect your marriage: how will you stay out of debt? How will you protect a weekly date night? How will you keep communication and sex a priority in your marriage? If you don’t talk through this step, you will end up repeating a hard season and they are much harder the second time around because you will feel even more defeated and helpless than you already do.