Storms come. We all know this basic truth. We don’t know when or how destructive they will be, but a quick look around tells us it’s just a matter of time. If we’re smart we prepare the best we can. Canned goods, plenty of water, candles, lighters, extra blankets, some cash tucked away, just in case. We’re careful to remember the dog food and diapers. And oh yeah, a can opener is a good idea. But some storms are freaks of nature. They blindside us when we least expect it, causing destruction and confusion all around. No amount of planning could have prepared us for what happened.
Sometimes the storms that affect our lives are actual storms, but often they’re a whole different monster entirely. An unexpected diagnosis, death in the family, parenting struggles, job loss. When these storms happen, especially in the midst of a marriage, they have the potential to change everything. Our judgment becomes clouded and we begin to look for someone to blame. Sometimes, we blame our spouses, even though they are no more at fault than we are.*
Jonathan and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past week.
You: My goodness! Seventeen years? But you look so young! You two were just babies!
Me: Oh stop! You’re so sweet 😉
As I was saying, we have known some storms in our 17 years together. Most just happened: the Health ones marred by fear and scars, the Loss ones riddled with grief and emptiness, the Financial ones that seemed like they would never end, and the Tender ones we’re still not really ready to talk about. But through it all we have been together. How?
It’s not a secret really. It was a choice.
We realized early on there are really only two ways to face life as a married couple: side-by-side or head-to-head. We could link arms and face it all together, or spend all our time battling one another and never addressing what was happening around us. We discovered first hand that Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 is true: Two are better than one because when one falls the other can help lift him up. It didn’t take long to realize that in a marriage, you take turns being the strong one. And that’s okay. Being there for one another, holding each other up, crying together when it’s hard, and laughing like crazy together when it’s good: these are the things that actually make a marriage strong and vibrant.
The Bible is full of encouragement to do life together. Genesis 2:23-24 tells us that in marriage we become one flesh. Ephesians 5:29 goes on to say, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” When I remember that the struggles I’m facing are also weighing down the man I love, it becomes easier to stand together instead of giving up. I want to help take that burden off, especially because I know he wants to do the same for me. Having him at my side is encouraging. I feel safer because we are together.
Take heart, my friend. Whether for you this is a season of storms or one of preparing for coming storms, do it together! Remember how much you love this man. Be on the same team. Tell him the dreams you have for him and this life that you share. Remind him that even if you’re both in a hole you’re going to work together to get out. When he’s the weak one be strong for him. Let him be strong for you. Most of all, pray for him. Stormie O’Martian’s book, Power of a Praying Wife is a great place to start. It’s not always easy to be a team, but it is so very worth it.
*I realize completely that some storms in life we absolutely bring on ourselves. In a marriage this causes the sky to fall on our spouse too. Whichever the case may be — whether these issues are self-inflicted or are no fault of our own — please, please get the help you need. There is no shame at all in seeking help from others. In fact, God directs us to walk with the wise and to seek their counsel. Reach out to your pastor or another believer you trust to help you find the counselor or therapist you need, whether for yourself individually or the two of you together. There is hope for peace and restoration. Let someone guide you in those steps.