Have you ever noticed that certain areas of life go through cycles or seasons? There are seasons in your life as a parent, seasons in your friendships, and most definitely seasons in your marriage. When I see another marriage crumble, I sometimes wonder if they gave up in the midst of a marriage winter, unaware that spring was just around the corner!
All sorts of things in your marriage go through stages of growth and change: your level of empathy for one another, your ability to communicate well, your shared interests and, without a doubt, your sex life. Countless couples can attest to thinking certain areas of their marriage were straight-up dead, only to be pleasantly shocked by a burst of growth in their next marriage “spring.” But how do you survive until then? Here are 5 ways to survive the winter season of marriage.
Remember the joys of last spring.
So your husband is a terrible communicator and that frustrates you. But he may also be a wonderful, faithful provider. Or maybe things are rough right now, but a few months ago they were so good. While you wait for the area of your marriage that’s off to come together, or to get past a tough spell, make sure you spend as much time dwelling on what’s right as on what’s wrong. It will help you to maintain perspective.
Pray about the season you’re in, then talk.
Taking the time to pray about an area of your marriage that seems off-track allows God to show you important things about your part in it, and may reveal whether your heart is in the right place. Once you have a little clarity about what’s out of balance, talk to your husband about it. No passive-aggressive manipulation, no sarcasm—just share your heart. He’s not a psychic and he may have no idea what’s burdening you.
Don’t just gripe about the weather in your marriage—look for an umbrella.
Ask yourself what matters more: outlining how we fell into this ditch or developing a plan for getting out of it? We’re going with option B. Instead of wasting time playing the blame game and trying to be right, be a grown up and just fix it. Take care to avoid all five of these bad communication habits while working out your solutions.
Speaking of solutions…
Anyone can point out a problem, but it takes a different level of commitment to be proactive about solutions. If your sex life is in the doldrums, be bold enough to do some research on what could be killing your libido (or his) and what might be done about it. Talk to your doctor, too! If it’s your financial life that’s off course and causing relationship strain, do some heavy lifting: crunch the numbers and find out about remedies like refinancing or restructuring your budget. If you’ve completely forgotten how to talk to one another, a great marriage retreat or some sessions with a qualified marriage counselor might be helpful. Approach it with a team mentality and a desire to win—together.
Hang tough in your marriage—spring will come back around.
We know, we know. Easier said than done, right? But lots of marriage struggles are just something you must pass through, and circumstances alone will cause them to resolve in time. Pastor and author Rick Warren once noted that life is almost always running on multiple “tracks.” It’s rarely all good and it’s rarely all bad. We each live in a constant state of having things to work on and things to celebrate. Just do it one day at a time and hope for the best!
Which season of marriage do you feel like you’re in these days: a challenging winter, a restful spring, a fun summer, or a fall of transitions? Tell us how you stay committed during the tough seasons.
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.