My hubby and I were both sitting on the stairs, where we had collapsed after the marathon bedtime rituals, scrolling through our Facebook feeds. And there it was . . . another announcement. But this one was not an engagement or a new baby, it was a divorce.
I belong to Generation Y.
For us, romance was defined by the movie The Princess Bride and communication by rotary phones. And then everything changed: enter computers, the internet, and car phones. Then came cell phones and AOL Messenger. Then Facebook. And text messages. (Why would people want to type short notes to each other when they could just call, we wondered!)
By now, many in our age group have hit that marriage slump where, despite the smiling faces in profile pictures, cute quirks have become annoying habits—or worse, unendurable issues.
Ugly things that were hidden have come up to the surface. And we have either dealt with our differences or they have festered and grown into something that feels insurmountable. Sometimes it feels like “wuv, twue wuv” has betrayed us.
So this goes out to you, Generation Y. Just a few marriage reminders for any of you who are still married, but not waking up next to each other with that selfie-pic smile.
Let’s get back to some marriage basics . . . because not everything we learned in the ’80s should be forgotten.
1. Comparison is the Thief of Joy
We are happy for all of those people who post, “Love you more every day, honey,” and, “You are the perfect match for me,” sentiments, but it can also be stressful if that’s not how we are feeling. We need realtime couple friends who share their everyday-life struggles with us, and who might even fight in front of us once in a while. Without a community of people we can be real with, we get stuck in a fantasy world—comparing our all-too-real problems with a snapshot of everyone else’s happy relationships.
2. Wait it Out
Sometimes outside stress can make even the smallest internal stress feel too great to handle. Tack on some extra schooling, a second job, money struggles, or a big move to your life, and BOOM. Suddenly the hairline fracture in your relationship becomes a fault line, and everything feels shaky. But while a big stressor shows you where your weak points are, remember that you won’t always feel that fragile. Once that “Big Thing” passes, stability often returns—and with it, the chance to repair the vulnerable spots in your marriage.
3. Get Help
We lucked out big-time when my husband went to seminary. We gained access to professors, counselors, personality tests, friends, and seminars all designed to help us grow as people and as a married couple. Counseling was one of the best things we discovered in seminary. Outside eyes and ears have a way of giving that breath-of-fresh-air perspective and reassurance we all need. It’s worth it to find a good counselor!
4. Get Away
Remember how much time you spent together when you were dating? If you are anything like us, soccer games, homework, work deadlines, and laundry have taken the place of most of those intimacy-boosters we used to take for granted. When babysitters are scarce or schedules don’t allow for date nights, we have tried lunch or breakfast dates, or designated game nights after the kids are in bed. And about once a year, we try to escape overnight for a night or a weekend. The time to spend on just us is worth it every time—no matter how many things we have to cross off the calendar.
5. There’s a Plan
In the words of Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, “What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? What if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?” The redemptive God we serve has a habit of using everything to draw us closer to His heart. Maybe marriage is no different! Perhaps He has a plan to use all of the hardships, conflicts, apologies, mess-ups, and mix-ups for His glory. (Of course, there are times when abuse calls us to step away from the marriage—and there is no shame in that.)
But ultimately, as we and everything around us changes, we discover that our hope for a stable marriage doesn’t come from our spouse or from our human effort. The only “twue wuv” that will never betray us is Jesus’ love—the steadiest and most steadfast foundation for our wobbly marriages.
Marriage takes work. Thankfully, there’s an app that can help! Lasting—the nation’s #1 relationship counseling app—provides accessible sessions designed to help you build a healthy marriage. Download and take Lasting’s free Relationship Health Assessment.
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