This Valentine’s Day, Count Your Conflicts As a Way to Lasting Intimacy
When a crisis hits your home, what do you do to protect your marriage? What do you expect as the outcome?
Surviving a marriage crisis is not only possible, but those difficult times can also be redeemed by God and transformed into experiences that will strengthen your marriage. Although painful, working through a crisis can force you to grow as an individual. Then you will have the maturity to confront and fix other problems in your relationship, perhaps issues you have been “stuck” on for years. The process looks like this:
CRISIS + INSIGHT = PERSONAL GROWTH
PERSONAL GROWTH + CONFLICT RESOLUTION = STRONGER MARRIAGE
Here’s a list of situations that can create a crisis in marriage. Check the ones that you and your spouse have already faced over the course of your marriage.
- Death of a loved one
- Child with a disability
- Caring for an elderly parent
- Natural disaster
- Job stress
- A move
- Sexual difficulties
- Trouble with in-laws
- Loss of a job and/or financial setback
- Physical or mental illnesses
- Spiritual attack
- Beginning college or a graduate program
- Career setback
- New life phase
If you’ve ever faced one of these crises, then you and your spouse are veterans and have already developed some strength and wisdom from experience. In their book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, Greg and Erin Smalley identify thirteen hallmarks of strong couples, on how to endure, to agree on a vision, and to pull together to meet crises successfully, and to come out stronger.
Three of them are highlighted here:
1. Strong couples know crisis is the norm.
Strong couples don’t consider it strange when trials beset them. They know that life contains many places akin to the psalmist’s “valley of the shadow of death.” But they know these dangerous places come between every peak in life. The couple may have strong emotional reactions when the crisis hits, and they may even be caught off guard, but they are not surprised. Even as a single man, the apostle Paul knew this truth. He wrote, “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life” (1 Corinthians 7:28).
Strong couples don’t consider it strange when trials beset them.
2. Strong couples recognize the real enemy.
Your spouse is not the enemy! Satan is the enemy, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Our marriage has a tirelessly engaged enemy who wants to “kill, steal, and destroy” our relationship with God and each other. You must maintain a united front that says, “We’re in this together! We need God and we need each other—desperately.”
3. Strong couples follow a vision.
If your marriage could be stronger, perhaps you need a paradigm shift. Don’t try to seal up holes in a rowboat if what you really need is a sailboat. Don’t work on the relationship you have; instead, build something new, something that thrills you both. Jesus told the Pharisees to put new wine into new wineskins, not old ones—this is the same idea.
Taken from Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley. Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
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