The different world we are living in today places more pressure on everyone, and on your marriage. Like a tube of toothpaste, pressure forces what’s really inside to leak out. I hope you and your spouse have joined forces and rallied to meet this stressful time together. Or perhaps lockdown has hurt your marriage in some unexpected ways.
All of us, including you and your spouse, have default ways of handling stress. The more mature and healed we are, the healthier those responses can be. Conversely, stress will often reveal unhealed and immature aspects of our character, unresolved addictions, places where God’s work is incomplete in us.
Perhaps you’ve seen your spouse’s substance abuse, anger, porn use, or gambling addiction either for the first time or in a much larger way than ever. Perhaps your communication and emotional/physical intimacy has broken down even further. More time stuck at home makes your spouse’s prickly characteristics even harder to avoid.
Believe the Truth
It’s been said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” If your spouse is displaying toxic or destructive behavior, ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. This is not the time to pretend that bad behavior is not really that bad.
This does not mean holding a judgmental critical attitude and assuming the worst. And it’s important to have some sense of where your spouse’s heart is in the matter. It makes a difference whether your spouse is acting out of an evil toxic heart, or out of stress, immaturity, or lack of understanding.
It can be hard to hold your own emotions in check at this point, but please do so. Your feelings are important; that’s another post. In believing the truth about your spouse, hold off on anger, criticism, or attempts to control. Observe. And pray to understand God’s perspective.
Forgiveness does not mean excusing bad behavior. It does mean understanding that both you and your spouse married sinners; you both need God’s grace and forgiveness, and each other’s. Believe the truth, but let small things remain small. Don’t look to your spouse to meet all your needs.
If your spouse has been hurtful, it also makes a huge difference if he/she has embraced the fact that you’ve been hurt and is working to change. For example, if your spouse struggles with porn, it’s one thing if they refuse to acknowledge it as a problem; it’s another thing entirely if they are doing the hard and deep work necessary to change from the inside out.
Remember that God offers grace freely. His grace is also usually accompanied by consequences. When trust has been broken grace provides an opportunity to rebuild trust. But grace also does not extend trust again until the behavior has truly changed.
Learn to Feed Yourself
An empty, dry, and hungry soul does not see or think clearly. You’re responsible before God for your own nourishment. Like physical food, you’re not the ultimate Source of your soul food, but you are responsible for knowing when you’re hungry, finding and choosing appropriate nourishment, and taking it into your being.
If your marriage is deeply troubled you will need outside nourishment even more. Hoping for things to be different doesn’t make them so. Take it upon yourself to look for healthy ways to get the nourishment your soul needs.
This may be time in nature, being creative, taking in positive uplifting media, or similar things that help you feel more alive. It must include time with positive people, those who lift you up by being in their presence. In this season of social distancing that may take more effort and intentionality than ever, but it’s absolutely vital.
And of course this will include time with God – personal, heart-level, opening of yourself in His presence, allowing Him to minster to You Himself. Only in this way will your soul have the strength and clarity to know how to respond in your marriage.
Get Some Help
God designed us to grow in community. We need each other! If your marriage is troubled it’s easy to feel alone, but you don’t have to remain that way.
Other couples, other spouses are struggling in similar ways. How have they made it? What are they doing right now? How can you re-set communication when it’s broken down between you? How can you re-build intimacy?
Those are some of the benefits of joining us in our Fully Alive COVID-19 Support Group. Marriages are stressed during this stressful time, and that’s one of the big topics we address in our online community. You need this!
Your Turn: How has this pandemic affected your marriage? How have you and your spouse responded to the increased pressure? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- Stress demonstrates what’s inside you – and your spouse. If you don’t like what you see, if lockdown has hurt your marriage, here are important steps to take. Tweet that.