When Marriage is Hard

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 9, 2012

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When life gets messy, I’m generally more encouraged by catching glimpses of loveliness than I am by sharing war stories. That’s just me. One way this manifests in my life is in the content I produce for this blog. It’s more sunshine and roses around here than not. And that’s how I like it. But sometimes after having written about the lighter side of marriage someone will leave a comment saying something to the effect of, “I wish it were like that for me and my husband.”

Oh, sweet sister, I feel you.

I’ve always felt called to keep the most intimate details of my marriage (good and bad) private, but anyone who’s ever been married for a while knows that you don’t get to your 11th anniversary without hitting a few bumps in the road. Dan and I have spent our fair share of time navigating love’s stormy seas and I’ve hated every last minute of it. There’s just something so isolating and lonely about being out of sync with your partner in love and life.

Over time, though, — thanks to the wise advice of trusted friends, gentle promptings from God, and more experience than I might have preferred — I’ve picked up a few tricks for making it through those times of hardship. I thought I’d share them with you in case one or two of them might help a fellow gal in the midst of trial…

 

  1. Reminisce – Sometimes when Dan and I are struggling, it helps me to remember a time when we were really in sync. I like to think about happy memories and look forward to a better day. I always have to be careful not to give in to despair, though. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never discover that couple again, but that’s just silly. Without fail, that lovesick couple returns and their love is even stronger for having weathered the latest storm together.
  2. Take the Long View – I try to remind myself that this struggle won’t last forever. Every marriage is comprised of a series of peaks and valleys. I find solace in the knowledge that this too shall pass.
  3. Pour Love into Him - Some marital problems come about as a result of outside pressure that one spouse is facing. It’s tempting to volunteer unsolicited advice and correction — especially if you find your husband taking some of his angst out on you. While we should never let ourselves become doormats, a little extra mercy goes a long way during times like these. After the storm has passed you two can sit down and talk it all out. For now, just show him that you love him, believe in him, and are there for him even when he is at his worst.
  4. Stay Humble - If it does feels like your husband is short changing you in the love department it can be easy to fall into a victim mentality and convince yourself that you’re the better spouse. Believe me, I know. No one throws a pity party with as much panache as I do. In most cases, though, it’s just not true. We all have ups and downs and each spouse is called at different times to do the heavy lifting. Think back to a time when you were struggling and your husband carried you. Be grateful that he was there for you during your time of need and remind yourself that we all experience periods of weakness.
  5. Find a Pressure Release Valve – Find someone – be it a spiritual guide, friend, or family member – in whom you can confide. Just one (or maybe two). As tempting as it is to share your heart with every friendly face that crosses your path, only bad things can come from exposing the intimate struggles of your marriage to the world at large. Going through hard times without a compassionate ear and wise guidance isn’t smart, either, though. If you are not able to release a little of the pressure you’re feeling in the company of a trusted friend (someone who has your best interests at heart), it will end up being directed at your husband which probably isn’t what your marriage needs right now.
  6. Take Care of Yourself – Marital struggles can be incredibly stressful. Be sure to take time to pamper yourself a bit. Buy yourself something you’ve been coveting, take a long hot bath, nap, have drinks with your girlfriends, and/or go outside, exercise, and breathe in the fresh air. If you’re not getting the support from your husband that you need right now, make sure that you take care of you.
  7. Pray – When your marriage is on the rocks, it’s easy to become resentful – especially if you feel like you’re an innocent victim. As hard as it may be, be sure to pray for your husband and marriage each and every day. When a person prays for someone who has offended him/her, it guards against resentment because it’s almost impossible to hate someone you’re praying for. And of course, whether or not you’re struggling with resentment, your prayers will go far in helping to heal your union.
  8. Do it for God – Ultimately, every act of wifely love is not just a gesture of kindness toward our husbands, it’s an act of service for God. He is the one who gave us our husbands and tasked us with caring for them. On those days when choosing to love your husband feels nearly impossible, set your eyes firmly on Him who gifted you with your marriage and love your husband for His sake.

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I know that for those of you down in the trenches, you might read these words and think, “It’s just not that easy,” and you’d be right. It’s not as easy as following a little list of tips and waking up to find that everything is rosy.

These crosses of marriage are painful. They make you stretch yourself in ways that you might just as soon have not. The above suggestions won’t take that cross away. For me, they’ve simply helped to make carrying it a little less painful and a little more infused with hope and I share them in the hope that they might do the same for you. But even if they don’t, just remember: for every cross there is a resurrection and yours is coming, my sweet friend, whoever you may be.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Misty October 9, 2012 at 8:39 am

I especially love the suggestion to confide in just a few trusted people about any marital issues. I have learned the hard way that friends and especially family members don’t easily forget the complaints and issues about your husband as you yourself do. Definitely choose to speak with someone who has the same commitment to making marriage work as you do otherwise the advice given may lead you astray.

Great post Hallie and congratulations again on your recent anniversary!
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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 2:38 am

Hi Misty,
I just read you above response…. Boy do have a point!!!
I’m not married to my guy yet, but I refuse to ever speak of him to really anyone… It’s not healthy. But I know that Gods always listening, right?! :-) thanks for sharing….

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Kate October 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

I simply love you, in a Sister in Christ kind of way. The last part brought tears to my eyes. I think number 8 IS that easy.

Thank you. <3

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Alison Solove @ExperimentalWifery October 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm

My husband and I recently went through a rough patch. I was suffering from post-partum depression and he exhausted himself taking care of me and my normal responsibilities in addition to his own. We really benefitted from a Marriage Encounter weekend. Marriage encounter is a great organization that holds regular weekend retreats for couples with solid marriages who want to improve their intimacy and communication.
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Doodle October 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I’m going to be blunt: Lot’s of sex. Lots and lots and lots of sex. Vulnerable sex, not just sex for sex’s sake…eye contact, meaningful kisses, comments like: “These are the reasons I fell in love with you…This is what I love about you now”. There is a kind of communion that can only be achieved when we exit our Ivory Tower, and show him our wounds. Leave behind every Puritanical reservation that has ever been planted in your brain. Buy a good sex manual, and obey the precepts of the church. Love the fact that the art of love is an art! Satan wants to convince you that this inhibition is dirty instead of sublime. What better time to be vulnerable to your spouse, than after doing everything in your power to make him feel loved, desired and dazzled…and don’t forget to bless his forehead, place your head on his chest, and whisper an audible prayer for your marriage to God.

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Mimi October 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Yes, and let’s not forget that the marital act is a Sacramental act that is a conduit of Grace. The more you share the Sacrament, the more Grace in your marriage…God is SO good!

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Anon.. October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm

That’s not always the answer.. at least not for us. :( He hasn’t been with me in over 3 years now. There can be more to marriage then sex. Not saying it’s good or even the same as with but can’t a marriage be more then physical?

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Martha October 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Of course, but it helps. For me, if I go with doodle’s philosophy, with 7 kids and all that entails, ‘sex, sex, and more sex’ just equals exhaustion and leaves me feeling objectified. I don’t know about you ladies, but TIME is a huge factor in sex, and that being a much sought after and precious commodity around here makes quality sex much more important than quantity. That boils it down to a nice Sunday afternoon, maybe more, but that’s my goal. Intimacy does make a difference, although if you pay special attention to each other physically in other ways (lots of hugs, kisses, i-love-yous, hand holding), I don’t think it needs to be that. What about married saints that pledged chastity, like St. Isidore and his wife? I’m sure there are others.

However, I’m wondering if you aren’t together in that way due to reasons rendering it impossible, or something else? If it’s not something else, you might want to look into therapy or something that will help the two of you over your dry spell. Your marriage deserves it!

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Monica October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Looong story short we’re making our way out of the trenches. Yes, it’s hard but I think it would have not gotten to the point it did if I had done some of what you mentioned here. Remember to love your spouse in the little things – don’t take him (or what he does) for granted!!!!

One of the couples on our Retrouvaille weekend said something I’ll never forget. “Pick up your cross so your kids don’t have too.” Yes, marriage is hard at times but think about how much harder it would be for your kids if you didn’t try to make it work. Though the pain & trials we are (hopefully!) being purified.

God created marriage to make us holy… not just happy.

(Monica)

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BMM October 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Thank you, thank you sweet Hallie!

Amen to all of this.

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E. October 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Dear Hallie! You really helped me with this post! :) I’m for three weeks totally down-hearted, cause my husband works too much, we can not communicate enough, just the administrative things, he’s always tired. And I was not really understanding. But now I’m know what I have to do! I forgot to pray for him, and for us! Thank to remind me! E.

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Stacy October 14, 2012 at 9:43 am

Oh how I love this post! We have only been married 6 months today, so I feel really silly even sharing this (as if I know anything about marriage lol) but one rule I’ve made for myself is that I can’t talk to anyone else about an issue I’m having with my husband until I’ve talked to him about it first. I used to do that and it just doesn’t seem fair. So far (again, only 6 months!) it has been handled when I brought it up to him and I haven’t even needed to seek that outside person. It seems like, before, I was frustrated and wanted to go to someone who would be ‘on my side’, but if I didn’t share it with him, how could I expect it to be worked on? It’s definitely been helpful for us. Thank you for this post and for so many wonderful tips!
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Heather October 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I love it – “Pick up your cross so that your children don’t have to” and “God gave us marriage to make us holy, not happy.”

So wonderful and true. We’ve been through it for a year now and my brother is annoyed with me because he can tell that I’m struggling but I won’t confide in him. I have a dear friend and the LORD that I talk to every day. My brother loves me and would hold a grudge against my husband for the rest of our lives and it’s not necessary or wanted.

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Krizia October 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Thank you so much for this humbly, honestly, and wittily written post! I’ve been married 4 months and my husband and I have already had our rocky days; I’m sure there will be more. It’s encouraging to be reminded how to love with a gracious and open heart!

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Anthony measures January 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I am FR Augustine measures OSB, a Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey, York, U.K.,, living in our sub monastery at bamber bridge near Preston in lancashire. My typing is dreadful as you may have guessed so I am controlling this by speech.
The topic of marriage loneliness went straight to my heart, though of course I have never experienced it. However, I have had 40 years of pastoral experience and have tried to help married people who have come to me for assistance. Usually, this has occurred too late and too much damage has been done. I have tried, usually with little success, to pick up the pieces, though Humpty Dumpty has already fallen off the wall!
I think your advice in these five points is very good, and I cannot think of any way to improve on what you say. The importance of prayer is the most important point that you make, because it is clearly the most powerful one , because you are asking God to take command. If I can be of any further help, please e-mail me. Let me just say that I have greatly enjoyed your book on sex style and substance, and in addition the book by Dan on the importance of Joy. Love and prayers to you and all yours from FR Augustine at the email address above.

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Anthony measures January 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I don’t know what I am. meant to do now. I have already submitted might message in the previous box entry, but maybe I need to fill this one out too.

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Anthony measures January 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I don’t know what to do. I had made all the comments I want to do for now, and don’t know how to stop this going on.

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Mary Colletti March 9, 2014 at 6:32 am

I wish I had these tips do during my long and difficult marriage. My husband and I did love each other deeply, but we were so different. I am tempted to list his faults while reticent to list mine. It is almost 5 years since he went home to Lord and I still can’t believe how much I miss him. I am very lonely and after this period of time I’m starting to consider pursuing a path of a second marriage. I don’t know at my age, 66, and my physical ailments would make me a viable candidate as a new wife, but I have come to realize that there are men my age and older who are Catholic, widows, and also looking to remarry. And of course this scares me to death, but I am very lonely. And in a four-year period, I lost my husband and two of my children. I have one left and thankfully she is close by and and here for me. If you can pray for me that I can find someone to love and be loved, and to pray for, and finish out my years on this earth with, I would so appreciate it. Thank you. Mary

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Nicole May 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Ah, I so needed to read this today (well, reread it. I remembered it was here and specifically came to find it). Such good (though sometimes difficult to employ) advice. Thanks, Hallie!

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