Let’s face it, every couple is going to face hard times in their life together. How we choose to cope through those hard times will greatly impact the strength of our marriage and the bond we have with our spouse.
My husband and I have endured many seasons of hardship throughout our 16 years together — long term unemployment, chronic illness, and a legal scare that shook us to the core, just to name a few. Occasionally, we’ll reflect back upon those hard times and discuss what we thought we did right for our marriage when the tension in the air was thick.
Without hesitation, we both always mention the word respect. Here’s the R-E-S-P-E-C-T formula that has worked very well for us.
R – React with Love
No matter what the issue that we’re discussing or how stressed we feel, we always make it a point to react with love.
When the company my husband worked for finally shut down and he was laid off, he knew the next best option for our family at that point and time was to move across country. This would mean asking me to leave the state I’d spent 18 years of my life in and relocate 2200 miles away from my parents and my brothers.
I could have reacted with harsh words, a fight, or ultimatums. I didn’t. I chose to show respect to my husband and the difficult decision he was making. I trusted that he had our best interest at heart and as the leader of our home had spent time seeking God in prayer.
I wholeheartedly supported and embraced the move and continued treating him with love throughout our transition.
E – Employ Your Faith
No matter how strong we are in our faith, hard times weaken us spiritually because of the very destructive nature of fear.
My husband and I have had to be intentional about employing our faith time and time again to be sure we weren’t allowing fear to destroy our marriage. When our financial circumstances were at their worst during a 3-year season of unemployment, fear was right there looming.
We kicked fear to the curb by making sure we were regularly attending church together, praying together, reading God’s Word, and encouraging each other with His promises. I even started attending a Bible study women’s group at our church, which grew my faith by leaps and bounds.
Because our faith was solid, fear was not in the way of our ability to show respect toward each other.
S – Strengthen Your Bond
Spending quality time together having fun, being intimate, and engaging in conversation went a long way in strengthening our relationship and love for one another.
We were so intentional about this during the storms of life that we even scheduled time together to connect each day after our kids were tucked in for the night. This special time together was always free from the disruptions of technology.
It was time we used however we felt we needed to as a couple. Sometimes we just talked. Other times we’d get intimate. On Saturday nights we’d agree to a glass of wine and stream a movie from Netflix neither of us had seen.
When our marital bond is strong, respect flows much more naturally.
P – Pray Together and for Each Other
There’s such power in prayer! My husband and I have faced some scary situations so beyond our control we could do nothing else but pray — and trust God would come through for us.
Whenever we were feeling weak (and we did feel weak a lot during these hard seasons), we’d grab hands and pray together. We prayed for each other, too.
During my husband’s unemployment, I prayed about the different aspects of his journey that troubled him most, as well as for the future job I knew God had planned for him. I didn’t stop there, though. I recognized some negative feelings building up in my heart and so I prayed for God to remove my unhealthy thoughts and replace them with loving ones.
E – Empty Those Hard Feelings
It’s so unhealthy to hold our feelings in, but sometimes letting them out can be destructive. So the key here was finding healthy and productive ways to talk about how we were feeling. This is, in part, why I started blogging.
Clearing the negative thoughts and emotions goes a long way in taming our tongue when we’re around our spouse. Talking to a trusted friend or a pastor is great. Journaling is another awesome way to release those feelings.
We did talk to each other, too, but we were sure to choose our words carefully and with love.
C – Consider Your Spouse’s Needs and Desires
Everyone copes with stress and hardship differently. My husband is very quiet and doesn’t talk much about the situation unless he has a plan to overcome it. If he’s not talking, he doesn’t want me prodding him with questions he doesn’t have the answers to. His desire is to get physically intimate instead.
When I’m stressed out, I need to talk. Getting intimate isn’t on my list of desires during hard times. I can’t even get in the mood with all that negativity going on in my head. The control freak in me can’t relax unless I know there’s a plan we can start working on to resolve the problem we’re facing.
My husband and I have learned these different needs and desires over the years and we’ve also learned how to compromise so we both get what we need.
T – Trust Your Spouse
This speaks more to the wife trusting the leadership of her husband when life feels like it’s falling apart. It’s easy to trust your spouse when things are going well. It’s a lot harder to do when you’re facing a giant obstacle.
With more than a decade of life-altering crises, I learned early on in our relationship the importance of trusting my husband. His faith in God is rock solid and I know he would never jump without first getting God’s approval.
It may look like the choices being made are foolish, but with God on our side, anything is possible.
Are you in a difficult season of life that’s causing tension in your marriage? Which aspect of the R-E-S-P-E-C-T formula do you think would be most helpful in your situation?
Guest Post Author:
Rosann is wife to the man of her dreams and stay-at-home mom to two delightful little girls. Her heart’s greatest passions are loving her family well, writing, and pretty much anything dark chocolate peanut butter. Her writing inspiration comes from a strong desire to glorify God while sharing the heart of her journey through a life of faith. She is the author of eBooks, UnEmployed Faith and Refuel Your Inner SuperMom, and has contributed to a handful of other group book projects.