Hard Times and Hidden Opportunities

Conceptual illustration of a sad woman tentatively standing in a doorway. On the floor is a door opening up into the room, and a man peers upward.
Mikela Prevost

Hard times come in marriage, don't they? You may have found yourself stewing about your husband bringing home an unexpected guest for dinner (yes, this was our first fight as newlyweds), or you may have experienced a significant loss. You may be disappointed in your husband because he doesn't listen as intently as he used to; maybe when you kiss you don't feel anything close to electric. Be careful to guard your heart or you may start thinking, This isn't working. Marriage is just too hard.

Remember: Your husband doesn't have it easy, either. You may snap at him for no reason, or you may be too busy for romance. Maybe he's afraid to mention a certain subject because of the wrath it will incur, or maybe he simply misses the light-hearted girl he married.

There's a memorable line in the baseball movie A League of Their Own, where the coach says, "The hard . . . is what makes it great." When you go through a hard time in your marriage, why not view it as an opportunity for greatness? Strong character can be formed under fire (Romans 5:3-4).

The following three approaches have helped me through difficult times in my married life:

Be grateful. When you're thankful, you are following God's will for your life. So spend a few minutes in prayer. Thank God for your man and for specific blessings in your marriage. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Be gracious. When your husband is getting under your skin, remember that he's not living with Miss Congeniality every day of the year, either. Offer your husband the same grace you want to receive from him. Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." And cut yourself some slack. You're not called to do life perfectly, so focus on growing and learning from your mistakes.

Be good. Choose to meet hardships in your life with goodness. If your husband says something that hurts you, don't use your words as weapons of retaliation. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

As you embrace the hard times and commit to learning from them, God can build a rock-solid marriage that's capable of weathering the storms ahead. 

Arlene Pellicane is the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.

Do you know of a marriage in crisis? Learn more about Focus on the Family’s marriage intensives by visiting HopeRestored.com.

This article first appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine.
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Copyright © 2014 by Arlene Pellicane. Used by permission.

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