Imagine sailing with your spouse on a warm and sunny afternoon when suddenly black clouds race towards your boat. The waves kick up and a rain squall develops and you find yourself in the middle of a dangerous storm. Then, if the storm wasn’t bad enough, you and your spouse start arguing over who was to blame for the storm and what to do about it!
Sound foolish? You’d think that arguing would be the least effective way to fight the storm. Yet many couples – when storms buffet the home in the form of infertility, debt, rebellious teenagers, job loss, in-laws – respond by attacking each other rather than weathering the storm together.
Seasoned sailors expect storms – it’s not if they happen, it’s when. Likewise, we should expect to face trials in marriage. Instead of dividing us, storms should unite us. Here are four steps you can take to face and overcome trials in your marriage.
1. Know That Every Christian Marriage Encounters Trials
When speaking of life’s trials, Peter said, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Why is it we always seem surprised or caught off guard by trials? We say, “Why me? Why now?” Peter states that Christians should expect trials!
For Christian couples, such adversity provides yet another opportunity to experience oneness in marriage. Through trials, God can be moving us toward more intimacy – both with and Him and with each other.
2. Be Quick to Recognize Trials
Many times couples think they have marital problems, but in reality are facing a trial. Trials produce a variety of symptoms and warning signals, such as inability to sleep, depression, argumentativeness, defensiveness, and health problems. They come from a variety of sources, such as people, work situations, sin, relatives, natural disasters, or Satan.
The young and less-experienced couple will tend to be surprised at the great variety of trials that they may face. If you recognize a trial you are facing, make sure your spouse is aware of it and is in agreement with you as to what the trial is.
3. Develop a Strategy Together
By quickly recognizing trials, you can support one another instead of blaming each other or your marriage. Immediately pray and develop a strategy for overcoming the trial. Disagreement concerning the trial can result in a lack of support for one another, making oneness impossible. On the other hand, oneness with each other and God can result if you determine to overcome the trial together.
Praying together is important. Do not underestimate the power of prayer, since prayer usually leads to oneness and agreement on your coping strategy.
4. Respond to the Trial with God’s Perspective
If you determine that you brought the trial into your life through sin, irresponsible behavior, or a bad decision, confess it to God. After your confession, take the appropriate steps to resolve it. Be sure to seek forgiveness from others when appropriate.
If you have not brought the trial into your life, assume it is from God’s loving hand for your benefit and His glory. Begin to apply the perspectives taught in the Scripture concerning trials.
Battle the Storm Together
Experienced sailors prepare for storms. When the storm hits, they execute their plan, focusing only on overcoming the situation. They battle the storm together.
Since most marriages will encounter trials, be prepared. Our natural instinct is to lose hope or blame. Yet if we have renewed our minds with Scripture, we have the choice of responding in faith, choosing to override our human instinct.
Trials are seldom pleasant, but the anguish that comes with them can be mitigated by knowing that God will use them to perfect you. At all costs, do not allow trials to drive you and your spouse apart.
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© Christian Family Life 2003