Could you and your spouse be in the "marriage danger zone" and not even know it?
"Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you." 1 Peter 4:12 (NLT)
A couple years ago my wife, Stephana, and I were at a marriage retreat. We were asked to participate in an exercise where we rated the state of our marriage. After revealing our answers to one another, the difference was shocking.
We were miles apart and didn’t even know it.
That little exercise quickly revealed we were in what I call the "marriage danger zone." It was dangerous because at least one of us was ignorant about how the other person was feeling, how they perceived our marriage and whether or not their needs were being met in our marriage.
The worst part was we’d been there before.
There have been many times when things seemed to be going great for one of us, then a conversation revealed the other was completely dissatisfied, frustrated or hurt. To the spouse who thought everything was going great, it came as a complete shock, and left us wondering, Where did this come from?
On our wedding day, most of us say "I do" or utter heartfelt vows along the lines of, "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health …"
We think we’ll never forget those words.
Yet it seems we do. Somehow, we forget we made that promise. We forget that challenges are inevitable — especially when the "worse," "poor" and "sickness" parts of marriage head our way.
Based on our wedding vows and the percentage of married couples who divorce, it seems like we would expect challenges in our marriages. That’s why we vow to our spouses we will be there and will still love them when — not if — these challenges arise. Yet we also know it’s much easier said than done.
As Stephana and I have learned, a lasting and truly fulfilling marriage only happens through persevering. Indeed, marriage is hard and takes work, but great rewards often come as a result.
As our key verse reminds us, we shouldn’t be surprised when we face challenges, as if it were something strange.
One of the biggest challenges in our marriage came during the times we were homeless. Yes, I said "times" with an "s" at the end, as it happened twice.
We went from two regular incomes with some pretty good benefits and financial perks to two very inconsistent incomes with no benefits and zero financial perks. And we had no idea when it would end. Yes, it was a huge obstacle and one that has destroyed many marriages. But our marriage came out stronger in the end.
Difficulties in marriage are hardly positive experiences at the time, yet the Bible paints a beautiful picture of them. The reason is simply because struggles, trials and hard work are part of the development process God uses to get the most out of us and the best for us.
These difficulties are necessary in God’s way of doing things. This includes our marriages as well. As we experience and embrace this, we can approach challenges in our marriages from a completely different viewpoint.
I don’t know what obstacles your marriage may be facing today, but I do know you can overcome them together. What you are facing is intended to strengthen you and your marriage, not destroy it. If you have faced trials before, be encouraged by our story, and get ready to tell your story of overcoming marriage obstacles.
It may be the story that saves another marriage similar to ours and yours. They, too, could be miles apart and not even know it.
Dear God, thank You for how You are working in my marriage, even through trials. I ask for Your help to persevere and see how trials in my life can be used for good. Empower me to choose joy even in the midst of trials because something amazing will be produced. Help me to hold on, not give up and allow You to complete Your work in me through them. Thanks, God, for Your grace, which allows me to persevere during the tough times of marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (NIV)
Romans 15:5-6, "Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice." (HCSB)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think of a time when you faced a trial with a positive attitude and a time when you didn’t. How does your attitude make a difference?