Have you ever considered that tension in your relationship can be a good thing? Often God is introducing areas that need to be improved. He wants you to embrace these marriage struggles. The best way to do this is by asking each other tough questions:
- A husband might say, “Outside of the Lord Himself, do you feel like you are taking second place to anything in my life?”
- A wife might ask, “Do you feel like I respect you?”
Then there are right and wrong ways to respond to these questions:
- Imagine a wife answers that she does not feel that she is the supreme relationship in her husband’s life. He should not try to talk her out of the way she feels or persuade her to see things differently. This will make her feel even more misunderstood.
- Imagine a husband answers that his wife makes him feel disrespected. She should not argue with him and try to convince him he is wrong. This will make him feel even more disrespected.
Instead, each spouse should listen to the other, apologize the right way, and try to make the appropriate changes. When couples ask each other these difficult questions, they should expect some painful discussions. That’s great.
A helpful way to view marriage struggles…
Some years ago I hurt my lower back. It’s a recurring injury that reminds me I’m getting older, so I returned to the chiropractor. If you have ever been to a chiropractor, you know they can be pretty forceful. There’s pushing, twisting, snapping, and popping. Sometimes you’re left feeling sore, but this is supposed to happen. That is how the chiropractor makes adjustments and straightens things out.
What if you went to the chiropractor and all he did was rub your shoulders, pat your back, and tell you everything looked fine? Maybe after that, he sat next to you and asked how your day was going. How would you react? I know how I would react: “This is not why I came here. I know if you are going to help me, you are going to have to apply some pressure and do some pushing and pulling. There is going to be some tension. There will even be a little soreness afterward.”
Likewise, if we are going to embrace our marriage struggles, there will be some discomfort. There is going to be some struggle and frustration. We should not be alarmed, because this is part of the natural healing and strengthening process as God works in our relationships.
What is the alternative to embracing your marriage struggles?
Be lazy. That’s the simple answer. Choose not to:
- Ask each other the tough questions
- Talk about the tough issues
- Take your marriage seriously
- Improve as a husband, a wife, or a Christian
If you avoid discussing your marriage struggles, it’s true that you won’t have any tough issues with which to wrestle. But you will not grow either, and your marriage will not be strengthened. Even if you avoid the difficult discussions and the discomfort that accompanies your marriage struggles now, you will more than likely experience even tougher, more painful situations later.
So I want to encourage you to embrace your marriage struggles because of what they can produce. Romans 5:3–4 says:
We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope.
Glory in the struggles you are having, knowing that they are producing something good as you, your spouse, and your marriage are refined!
Discussion questions for husbands and wives:
- What marriage struggles are “recurring injuries” for your and your spouse? In other words, what problems or conflicts do you continue to experience that need to be embraced so they can be “straightened out”?
- Why should you expect discomfort as you and your spouse discuss your marriage struggles?
- In what ways can this discomfort be beneficial?