We’ve all seen the damage trials can cause in a marriage, whether from a distance or firsthand. Many times when a couple hits hard times, it wreaks havoc in their relationship and leaves lasting wounds. But trials also have the ability to make a marriage stronger and more loving than ever. We have known married couples that came through some serious struggles with an attitude of thankfulness and a renewed sense of commitment on the other side. So what’s the difference? And how can you make sure your marriage will weather the storm—not crumble under the weight of pain, problems, and tragedy?
We always say it’s not a matter of if your marriage will face pressure; it’s just a question of when. If you want to safeguard your marriage against the storms of life, you need the third kind of love from Philippians 2:12-13 that we discuss in our book, 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love: persevering love. This is the kind of love that triumphs over trials and grows stronger when you are most vulnerable. It holds on through the toughest circumstances and is completely unconditional. Persevering love bonds husbands and wives into lifelong friends.
How can you prepare your marriage for the trials that will come? You need to find ways to cultivate persevering love. We’d like to explore five different ways you can work on this cultivation with your spouse.
Staying connected is a vital part of fortifying your marriage. These days we have so many different ways to connect when we can’t be physically present—use them to foster better connection with your spouse. Send a text in the middle of your day to remind your spouse you love them, or take time during your lunch break to email them. This will give you a sense of unity—you are there for each other no matter what the day brings!
Make your relationship a safe place. When you are hurting or struggling, is your marriage a place you can turn to express yourself and truly feel heard? Is it for your spouse? Your main source of support in life should come from the one who committed to being by your side forever. Whether it’s providing a listening ear, advice, or just the comfort of your presence, you are the one person your spouse should always be able to count on for a safe place from the troubles of life.
Keep communicating. Trials can often drive a wedge between a husband and wife, making it tough to communicate. They can isolate us in our own thoughts, invite denial or the belief that we can handle it alone, or leave us feeling like no one understands. There are three critical questions that can help you communicate more openly with your spouse when you face times of trial and pain: What’s the problem? What do we need from each other? What kind of outside help do we need?
Rest in the truth that there is a purpose for your trials. If it were up to us, we would not choose trials! Having minimal problems in life would be a great feeling, wouldn’t it? Yet we believe that God has allowed us to navigate through the storms we have faced together in order to teach us persevering love and to prepare our hearts to endure problems together, stronger than ever. We believe God’s purpose in trials is to build our endurance and character. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, because we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.”
Tackle trouble together. It’s easy to love your spouse in the good times, but it’s just as important to love them in the bad. You may wonder if your spouse would hang in there with you during times of unbearable stress or walk away. Maybe you also wonder if you have what it takes to hold on through the toughest storms. Now is the time to decide together that no matter what problems life throws your way, you will tackle them together and remain a team. Being devoted to sticking by your spouse no matter what gives you a sense of assurance that you will never walk through trials alone.
Now that we’ve looked at different ways to work on persevering love, take steps together to put them into action. Commit to communicating, creating a safe place and choosing to see the greater purpose in trials. We pray yours becomes the kind of love that weathers the storms and lasts a lifetime!