Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.
Bankruptcy, chronic illness, adultery, poor communication and other trials have destroyed many marriages. But other marriages have weathered similar storms and emerged intact. What helps carry one marriage through seemingly impossible circumstances while others crash on the rocks? Do you have what is necessary to see your marriage through hard times? Is love really something you have to “go through” with someone?
Marriage is more than an act of love—it is an act of will. And in times of trial, it may take all the strength you have to fight for your marriage. But while few marriages emerge totally unscarred by tempests, many do emerge stronger—and smarter—from the lessons learned from conflict.
Disappointment in a marriage is incredibly painful—our partner is often the one we expect to lean on during hard times. So when our partner fails us, the emotional fallout is all the more damaging.
Trials may batter your marriage and test your resolve. If you are committed to seeing your marriage through tough times, you will need to summon all your strength. Below are some ways to help you weather crises in your relationship:
- Stockpile forgiveness—You will both need it throughout the course of your marriage.
- Don’t let bitterness erode your marriage—Deal with issues when they first arise.
- Strengthen your defenses—Develop personal character, patience and understanding.
- Avoid sinkholes—Debt, addiction and infidelity all bring strain to a relationship.
- Don’t dig up old debris—Trust is not quickly rebuilt, but constantly digging up past wounds traps both you and your partner in old wreckage and diminishes your present happiness.
- Call upon forces greater than yourself—People in life-threatening crises are not shy about asking for help, whether from a higher power, a support group or a trusted friend—people in marital crises shouldn’t be shy about calling upon these same sources of strength.
- Don’t be a casualty—If your spouse is abusive, seek help immediately.
- Take ownership for your actions—Acknowledge that your words and conduct can wound your spouse.
- Count your blessings—During times of conflict, it can be hard to remember what is good about your relationship; reminding yourself of your partner’s positive traits and the good times you have shared can help you keep a balanced perspective.
- Remember habits are hard to unlearn—Change is possible, but most bad habits and attitudes take time to “unlearn”—understand that a relapse is possible.
- Be emotionally resilient—Don’t let petty frustrations wear you out.
- Don’t expect miracles from a mortal—Even the best men and women will fail each other; ask yourself if your frustrations are based on realistic expectations—if not, be prepared to release your partner from this unfair burden.
- Build on a good foundation—Relationships founded on common values and mutual respect have the best chance of surviving hardships; it is never too late to fortify the base of your relationship.