It took my husband and me approximately 47 minutes to turn on each other when he came home to work. His office had made the decision to have staff work remotely to support a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
I was soon reminded that people respond to worry and stress differently. With scary unknowns swirling through my mind, my approach was to sit back and survey the situation before plotting a course of action. My husband’s approach, however, was quite different. He felt compelled to seize our new normal right now. Within moments of being home, he began making plans to convert our bedroom into his office.
I understood where he was coming from. The prospect of videoconferencing from a home where four young children reside would be daunting for anyone. And the lock on our bedroom door made that space an attractive option. But my own worries about how the next days and weeks would play out caused me to react with anger and accusations.
When worry and stress divide
The next day, after the dust had settled and we’d come up with a mutually agreeable plan (which actually wasn’t that hard), I wondered at how quickly we’d turned against each other. The fuel, like gasoline on a fire, was the anxiety both of us were feeling and trying to process in our own ways. I realized we needed to get on the same page by processing our concerns together.
The Bible has much to say about anxiety, but here are four biblical guidelines for working through worry with your spouse:
Operate as a team
I’ve heard it said many times that your spouse is not your enemy. Not only is this true, but Scripture is clear that your spouse is an asset! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states it this way, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
When worries attack, married couples have a built-in ally. Instead of allowing anxiety to divide you, come together to talk about how you’re feeling and create a plan for moving forward.
When Kevin and I sat down and had a calm conversation about what each of us was feeling, we were able to decide next steps as a team. I was concerned about the new schedule of full-time care of our young children while balancing my freelance work. He was anxious about overseeing teams and accomplishing goals from the home environment — something he had never done before. As we talked about it, we were able to brainstorm action steps that could help us both.
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Give your worry and stress to the Lord
In times of worry and stress, I sometimes expect Kevin to be my rescuer. And while he does many things to serve me and our family, he is not the One who is supposed to absorb and resolve my worry. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast our anxiety on God because He cares for us.
The arrival of the coronavirus has brought up some big fears regarding health, finances and adapting to a new way of life. Most of us — no matter who we are — are experiencing lots of uncertainty right now.
Individually, my husband and I need to take our fears to the Lord instead of expecting each other to relieve them. Of course, we can serve each other in ways that make worry easier to bear, but our first emotional outlet must be our Strong Deliverer.
We can give our concerns to the Lord as individuals and as a couple. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Praying together about specific fears is a powerful way to alleviate worry and stress. Write a list of concerns and pray about them daily as a couple. Be sure to list things you’re thankful for as well. As you lift up your requests and thanksgiving, God will give you His peace and calm your hearts and minds.
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Don’t fret about the future
During the last few weeks, I’ve felt a heaviness descend upon our home as we’ve navigated constant, restricting changes. At times, I’ve been nearly paralyzed by the “what-ifs” of tomorrow.
In Matthew 6:25-26, Jesus offers this encouragement: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Yesterday some friends brought us a birdfeeder that looks like a sweet country church. “We want you to be reminded that Jesus takes care of the birds,” they said. “He’ll care for you, too.” Their gift was a helpful reminder that Kevin and I can choose to have a posture of trust and thanksgiving, rather than one of gloom and doom as we trust Him to provide for our daily needs.
Faith for the future
In this time of unprecedented change, Kevin and I will likely face many worries. The temptation will be to allow anxiety to divide us instead of unite us. But God has given us each other for such a time as this. We have a co-laborer in the trenches — a blessing and luxury not all possess.
As I write these words from the comfortable, tiny office Kevin set up in our bedroom closet (ingenuity at its finest), I am reminded of the opportunity before us — the opportunity to become more united as a couple. The opportunity to give our big worries to a bigger God. And the opportunity to approach an uncertain future hand in hand — trusting in the Lord together.