When we just got married, we had one of the biggest tests to our marriage a week after our wedding. Our lives together as husband and wife started with a lovely wedding in London, UK. My husband left me in London to return to the US 4 days after our wedding and by Saturday (1 week after the wedding), he was back at work. Upon returning to work the Saturday after our wedding, his employer terminated his employment. I joined him in the US a week after he lost his job with only a few hundred dollars to my name. I was also unable to work because I did not have the legal status to do so.
My husband's unemployment lasted for 9 months and I was not able to gain any employment even after I was legally able to work. During this trying time, we argued a lot, even over ridiculously mundane things. We blamed each other for things that we had no control over and there were many times I considered having my parents send me a one way ticket to England. It was physically, emotionally and mentally unbearable and there were times that I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown.
Things did not change for a long time, bills were unpaid, car note unpaid, we struggled to pay our rent and to have food on the table. It was hell on earth! With all these going on, we prayed together, we went to church together but we still argued and blamed each other. We really did not realize how badly we made life difficult for each other. The financial issue was one thing, but our response to it was another. Our responses to those challenges made it even worse for us as a couple and as individuals.
Truthfully, the only thing we got right was our very strong prayer life. I do not know if we could have made it through and out of the valley together if was not for our unwavering commitment to praying together. Outside of praying together, we were an emotional mess! I wish someone could have told us that we were focusing on the wrong things and that we should not attack each other.
We have had many more valley moments since then and we have learned to work together, rather than attack each other.
Couples, when things get difficult, especially with finances, loss of job, house or car. When you are behind on payments, business is tanking or suffering from life altering illnesses etc., the easiest person to fight is your spouse. Do not fall into the trap!! The enemy’s plan is to divide and conquer. Don’t isolate yourself and bash your best and number 1 support system. Work together, pray together, and use this time to grow together. Grapes need to go through some pressing to extract the juice. When you drink and taste a good wine, remember that the process to get there was difficult for the grape.
Here are some helpful tools that have worked for us, try it and see if it works for you:
· Take time out if you need it.
· When you are angry, do not speak out what you are
thinking. It should probably stay in your head and not come out of your mouth.
· Write letters first if you need to, but make sure you leave it
for a day and come back to it before giving it to your spouse or partner.
· Your spouse is not the problem, the PROBLEM is the
PROBLEM! Do not lose focus!
· Take a break; I am a big supporter of changing the
environment. Go and visit a friend for the weekend or for a
· Cuddle, yes, cuddle a lot. Your spouse will appreciate that
you are on this boat with them and nothing expresses that
like physical touch.
· Difficult times are vulnerable times. Do not abandon your
sex life. Sex builds intimacy and intimacy makes for a
healthy sex life. Once your sex life tanks, the engine that
makes the relationship run will also start having difficulty
and will leave you vulnerable.
· Affirm each other; tell them you are grateful for whatever
they do. For example, say thanks for taking care of the kids,
thanks for paying our phone bills, thanks for taking out the
trash, thanks for cooking dinner, thanks… express gratitude, because unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude.
· Pray about the issues together. Lift your financial, health
and/or business issues to God as often as you can, together!
· Get some perspective! Yep, you can walk, talk, breathe, you
are not on your death bed, and you can see with your eyes
and hear with your ears. You are blessed! Things could be
worse and there are many people in worse situations.
When it is all said and done, it is not what you accumulate
or achieve that matters. Having your spouse next to you,
loving you to the end is what counts.
· Lastly, have faith, believe. Encourage yourself and each
other. Talk about difficult times in the past and how you
overcame them together. Remind yourself of God’s
Sorrow may last for a night (and it might be a long night) but JOY comes in the morning. Your joy is on its way and when it comes, wouldn't it be nice to have your spouse next to you to celebrate? If yes, go and make repairs, apologize, forgive and follow the steps as laid out above.