Before “This is Us,” there was a movie called “The Story of Us.” I saw it in college and it was one of those movies that really stuck with me. It was this tumultuous story of a marriage on the brink of divorce. They sent their kids off to summer camp, and decided to physically move away from the marriage that they had been emotionally moving away from for years.
I remember sitting in the theater watching this movie with my mentor. I was a single college student and she was a married mother of two. It was hard to watch this journey that felt so real, but it led to a deep conversation.
We sat in the theater surrounded by the lingering smell of buttered popcorn, and felt all the feels so deeply. This movie reminded me of the importance of sticking it out. As we walked out of the theater, I was more determined than ever to find and fight for a forever kind of love.
Fast forward a few (plus a few) years, and I’m living my “dream.”
I have a hubby who fights the ups and downs with, and for me, and sometimes against me. That is why I am writing this today.
We all have to determine that our marriages are worth fighting for. A marriage that endures the test of time goes through the fire and finds that the refining process brings a deeper love than we ever could have imagined.
Why Fight for Your Marriage?
Does it sound too simple if I say that we fight for our marriages because we took an oath, before God, saying that we would?
We said “I do,” for better or worse until death do us part. So, we have to fight for the promise we made. Maybe we each need to go back and read through our wedding vows daily, and that would help us remember what we committed to.
True love consists of fighting to be the person you promised your spouse that you would be, and choosing them daily.
True love led Jesus to lay everything down. He became completely submissive to death on a cross. Our calling as Christians is to do the same thing.
The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us what love truly is and what it isn’t.
I have been known to want everything to be fair and keep track of the times I felt wronged in my marriage. My husband is so kind to me, and I know he wants the best for me. However, we are human and there are times when we put each other’s needs last. It is my tendency to keep track of these things and make sure that I get what I am owed and appropriate kudos.
However, in God’s kind voice, He often reminds me that love keeps no record of wrong, and I am reminded that I don’t want my selfishness and “wrongs” recorded.
I serve and love my husband because I love Jesus and my love flows from that. If I spend all of my time looking to meet my own needs, then I am missing the entire point.
Take a few minutes today and read through 1 Corinthians 13. Read it by yourself and then read it together. Spend some time talking about it and commit to honor the Lord and your vows daily.
5 Ways to Fight for Your Marriage
If we are committing all of ourselves into our marriages, then using all 5 of our senses will help us stay on track.
1| Taste and see the path that lead you to one another
Psalm 34:8 reminds us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Isn’t that a “word picture” of the early days of dating?
Can you remember thinking everything about your significant other was perfect? All of those sweet idiosyncrasies that you wanted to know everything about. Learning their favorite foods, colors, sports, classes in high school, and every other detail about them was a challenge and a joy.
Go back and do that again. See which favorites have changed and which have stayed the same. Taste the goodness of your relationship and choose to remember how you got here.
2| Touch Heaven by praying for each other
There are times when things become a little stale and the needs of daily life just take over. The schedule rules the relationship and it gets stuck in a rut, know what I mean?
That is when we can forget to pray for and lift each other up. In the busiest seasons, prayers knit our marriages together so that we can stay strong, even when it gets hard.
James 5:16 reminds us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Having a marriage that is healed and has great power is the goal. We have to keep our focus on Christ and pray for each other and then we can watch God work in and through our lives.
If we want strong healthy marriages, we need to continue to pray for each other and believe in each other.
God promises that He will work through those prayers, and promises to each other. Then, we can be confident in His power. When we keep coming back to the fact that prayer is the foundation, then we can have an amazing marriage.
Touch heaven in prayer, but don’t forget to touch each other too. Keeping the lovin’ in the marriage keeps it united together as you ask God to help you with the rest. Stay connected as much as you can so that you have a bond that no one else can break.
3| Look at your spouse with fairness, love, and honesty
When I was engaged, I received some advice that I would now like to pass along. They told me to never expect anything from my husband that I wouldn’t do for him.
Sounds easy, right? Or not.
Treating someone with fairness, love, and honesty is great when they give it back, but it is such a challenge when they don’t. When we truly look at each other to see the best, then grace can abound and love can continue to grow.
Before I got married, I had read a lot of books, and talked to my mentors. I had confidence that I was going to be the perfect wife.
Well, it only took about two months of marriage for me to see that I was failing at my goal of perfection. I felt like I was constantly apologizing, losing my temper, and just being rude. I wanted my way and had a hard time compromising.
The Lord gently reminded me that this is the definition of iron sharpening iron (Psalm 27:17).
I hate thinking about all of the times in my marriage where my selfish side came out! However, when I take those moments and let my behavior be sharpened by my marriage and God’s love, then our marriage grows. As long as we continue to “sharpen” each other with prayer, love, forgiveness, and grace (and not cut each other), then our marriage will continue to thrive.
4| Listen to your partner
Let’s be honest, so much of the conflict in marriage comes from miscommunication. When we truly listen to each other, we can hear the heart and the intention behind what the other one is saying.
There have been so many times that my hubby and I have tried to communicate with each other, and not only do we have to compete with all of the noise in our house, but we have to compete with the phone in front of their face.
To truly communicate well with one another, we have to put our phones down and quiet the noise to give each other the attention we deserve.
Also, If the noise in your house gets to be too much, keep scrolling down for tips on intentionally and effectively finding time to communicate with each other.
Keep leaning in and listening to each other– your marriage will be blessed by it!
5| Smell what someone else is cooking: Get marriage mentors and/or counseling
Ok, I am aware that this is a bit of a stretch with the last of the 5 senses, but asking for help when you need it is one of the best things you can do.
Find a marriage that you respect, and ask them to mentor you. Ask your church if they have marriage counseling, or if they can direct you to a great Christian marriage and family therapist. Do what you need to do to get your marriage healthy.
Then, do the work.
Don’t just look at other couples and try to look like them on social media. Ask how they got to have a healthy marriage, and then work for it. Listen to the counselor’s advice and work on being the healthiest marriage on the block.
It takes hard work and sometimes takes rehashing the hard times, but if we truly commit to seeing ourselves through the hard times, we will reap what we sow.
One of my favorite resources that mentored us is a book by Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.
The book shows such an incredible way to look at marriage. The goal is not all about me, but growing in Christ together.
Seasons of marriage can be hard. There will always be things that test your marriage and you have to work together to get through it. This is hard to do when you are focusing all of your attention to keep your head above water either financially, emotionally, physically, etc. but you can do it with a little bit of planning and continuing to fight for your marriage.
Surviving Pandemic Marriage Stress
For many different reasons, this current season of living out your marriage during a pandemic hasn’t been an easy one on any couples that I have talked to.
There’s no playbook (that I know of) on helping your marriage survive a pandemic. There are a few things that I have learned that helped us. Maybe they can help you too.
The ins and outs of a marriage can feel like a rollercoaster. Some days those ups and downs are exhilarating and sometimes they’re nauseating.
Let’s face it, marriage can be hard in normal circumstances, but then you throw in a pandemic and that roller coaster can feel like a downward dive that won’t end. When you’re struggling through hybrid schedules and constant zoom meetings. Then the walls feel like they’re closing in on you because there’s so much “togetherness.”
The togetherness is amazing. Until it isn’t.
My hubby and I did the divide-and-conquer thing the best we could, until we couldn’t. We put all of our energy and attention into making sure that the kids were thriving that our marriage began to just…sputter along.
We knew we had to do something, but didn’t quite know how to meet everyone’s needs at the same time as investing in our marriage. We were getting crabby and agitated and knew we had to do something intentional. I think that is the key word for any period of time, especially the tumultuous seasons.
How to be intentional during the pandemic and beyond:
It is so important to take time out of each day for each other. We have 6 high needs kids, and they are constantly trying to get our attention. If we let them, they take over and we end the day barely talking to each other.
So, in the name of intentionality, we try to start the day going over the plan and focus on one day at a time. Here are 3 easy ways to implement this:
- Have a consistent time each morning to make a plan.
- Set a timer and let your kids know that Mom and Dad are talking and will continue until the timer stops.
- Remind each other how much you love each other and how much you appreciate being on the same team.
How to Fight for Your Marriage Alone
There will be times when this feels like you are going at it alone. The goal is to be together, and being the only one fighting for it feels more than discouraging.
Never forget that you are not alone. The Holy Spirit is your helper and will lead you through this. Stick with it and keep loving like Jesus.
It will not be easy.
Let your friends and family know that you need them. Now is the time that you need your tribe more than ever before. Their prayers are your biggest support. Let people know that you need them lifting you up in prayer. Even if you can’t share with them all of the details, let them know what you can, and let God do the rest.
Continuing to Fight for your Marriage While Separated
There are seasons where separation is recommended. The purpose is to separate in order to work on yourself. Seek counseling and get to a place where you can move to a healthy place in your mind and your heart.
The goal is reconciliation, but talk to the professionals about this and make sure that you follow their lead.
We Are Praying for You as You Fight for Your Marriage
And will you pray for us and our marriages, too?
Thinking back to “The Story of Us.” The couple was separated, and spent most of the summer apart, but the ending brings me to tears every time.
Michelle Pfieffer gives an incredible monologue at the end of the movie. She’s crying as she rambles through her thought process of how she wants to stay together. It is the entire reason to watch this movie.
“There’s a history here and histories don’t happen overnight. In Mesopotamia and other ancient lands there are cities built upon other cities, but I don’t want to build another city. I like this city…
(Knowing things about each other) is a dance you perfect over time, and it’s hard, but there’s more good than bad…”
This is so relatable, and I hope it reminds you to keep building your history together. Keep fighting and keep praying. Use your 5 senses and grow your marriage for God’s glory and watch the way He changes your life.
Your marriage will thank you.