Marriage in a Pressure Cooker

Couple Facing ApartMarriage is under assault. And as in any conflict, knowing where your enemy will attack dramatically increases your chance of successfully withstanding that assault.

Yes, the institution of marriage is being challenged, but that’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about YOUR marriage. And most of the “enemies” your marriage faces are very close to home. It’s possible to be so concerned with assaults from “out there” that we overlook the very real things that can weaken our marriage from the inside.

Check these seven points of vulnerability, and see how your marriage scores:

  1. Greener Pastures. At some point something or someone “outside” will seem attractive. And if you’re not careful, seeds of doubt about your own marriage can creep into your thoughts. “What if?” becomes “why not?” (You don’t want to go there!)
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5 Things I Know For Sure

Confident WomanSome days are definitely better than others. Some days it seems everything goes wrong: perhaps the washing machine doesn’t work, a forgotten item shows up on your bank statement, and your spouse is sick.  A person’s emotions can get more than a little upset!

I don’t believe God intends for every one of our days to be easy. We would have no incentive to grow and mature if that were the case. He uses the difficult times to work transformation in us that nothing else can accomplish. He’s much more interested in our character than our comfort! He hurts when we hurt, but His purpose is much bigger than what we often see.

When things are frustrating, painful, difficult, or confusing, it helps to have some things settled – some things you know for sure. It gives you a place to go back to if you feel you’re getting lost. And that’s especially valuable on bad days – or weeks, or longer.

Here are a few things I have settled for good, things I know for sure:

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It’s Never Only Medical

Doctor Discussing CareI said to a patient in my office just yesterday, “If we put stress, time, and money aside, the best chance for you to get pregnant would be IVF with ICSI.” And then we talked through the stress, time, and money that actually ARE involved. She made the decision to proceed with a different treatment that was less intense – and less expensive, even though it would give her a lower chance of getting pregnant. (For those who don’t recognize the lingo, IVF with ICSI is a very high-tech option for conceiving in many cases of infertility.)

When can you ever put stress, time, and money aside? Medical care does not exist in a vacuum. There are times when a serious illness demands something be done right now – sometimes something intense and expensive. But there are many more situations where there are choices involved. And I believe those choices are available much more often than most people realize.

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5 Tips for Getting Past the Drama

Drama MasksIn my office today sat a couple planning the next steps in their journey to try to have a child. Couples dealing with infertility are already on somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster. On top of all this the additional stress of the Christmas holiday season is sometimes just too much.

But for this couple it wasn’t the physical or emotional pressure of infertility, or the extra travel or financial “stuff” over the Christmas holiday season, or the somewhat depressing weather that was getting them down: it was the family drama they had just been through. Why does it seem the holidays so often bring that drama to a boiling point?

I doubt this couple are the only ones who have just experienced some fatiguing family drama.

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Intimacy is about YOU TWO, Not Performance

Couple Looking in Each Others EyesI often have to remind couples of this truth as I am helping them through the journey of infertility.

By the time they come to see me most of these couples are frustrated, disappointed, anxious, and tired. Tired of counting cycle days, tired of watching the calendar, tired of hoping again every month only to be let down once more.

And tired of always having to perform in the bedroom.

If you haven’t experienced that pressure it may be hard to understand how difficult it can be to have sex on demand. Sex becomes an act on a stage. Trying to create life becomes a chore. Feelings of shame or blame flow between partners. Much of the joy and spontaneity is often lost.

And of course that’s not what sex is about. Or at least shouldn’t be about.

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