What do you do when marriage is struggling? The truth is that difficult marriage seasons are a normal part of married life. All marriages go through seasons, winter, spring, summer, and fall. Some seasons are easy and fun, other seasons are hard and stressful. Today Teri Lynn Underwood is going to help us see 3 ways hard times in marriage are a blessing God uses to grow your faith and deepen your walk with Him.
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3 Ways Hard Times in Marriage Are a Blessing
A few years ago I heard a couple say, “We’ve been married 50 years but we’ve been happily married 49.” I (Teri Lynne Underwood) remember laughing as I watched them hug each other surrounded by countless friends and family joining in their 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
There’s a hint of truth in the statement though, right?
One of my favorite books on marriage is Gary Thomas’s classic, Sacred Marriage. I read the book when it first released in 2009 and was immediately struck by this question —
What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?
It’s a compelling question, isn’t it? The very notion that our happiness is not a primary consideration in anything flies in the face of everything our culture suggests. But when we look into Scripture, it’s easy to see the fundamental aim of God in our lives is for us to be conformed to the image of Christ. Peter, reiterating the Levitical command, said it plainly,
“For it is written, be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16 NASB)
What does it look like for us to be made holy through our marriages? How does the husband-wife relationship offer us the opportunity to grow in holiness even through hard times in marriage?
Is Your Goal a Happy Marriage or a Holy Marriage?
Marriage isn’t always happy. Even the very best marriages will face hard seasons. But what if the hard times are the very spaces when God is doing the deepest work in our own hearts?
Over the years, I’ve studied and taught and written a lot about marriage. And I’ve lived with someone who is not at all like me for over twenty years. (Here are some of our marriage prayers after twenty years.) All of that has led me to a few important truths about marriage and how God uses it to refine us and move us into deeper intimacy with Him.
There are at least 3 Ways God Works through the Hard Times in Marriage to Grow your Faith.
1. Hard Times Open our Eyes to Our Own Self-centeredness
I know, I don’t like to think of myself as self-centered either. But the truth is, we all are. We see the world through our own view. We can’t help it.
In marriage, as much as we are willing to serve and sacrifice, the truth is, there are times when nothing is more clear than how much we want our own way.
Seeing our self-centered habit is a gift, though. As we become aware of this propensity, God is able to lead us to humility and a greater understanding of our need for Him and His work in us.
How do I get through hard times in my marriage? Embrace God’s light as He uses hard times in marriage to reveal selfishness in my life.
2. Difficult marriage seasons create a deeper desire for God.
I’ve found that the more difficult days in my life, especially in my difficult marriage season, are the days when I realize my desperate need for the Lord. One of the greatest struggles for me personally is that I tend to lean on Scott.
You’re thinking, “That’s great, TL!” But, I’ve learned that my temptation is to place my husband in a higher position than I ought, essentially making my marriage and my husband an idol.
Inevitably when I do this, tension between us results. As it should! But that tension is often my first realization that I need to refocus my first affections on the Lord.
Unrealistic expectations and unintentional idolatry are common challenges in marriage. When marriage is hard, as a result, we can see God’s hand redirecting our attention to Him.
3. Hard seasons peel back the layers of sin in our lives.
Scott and I typically don’t have a lot of conflicts. After 20+ years of marriage, we’ve learned what will trigger a disagreement and ways to circumnavigate potential conflict. But there are times when we don’t agree. It’s during those tense times in our marriage when I’ve been most aware of my own sinfulness.
For example, I can be guilty of keeping score and holding a grudge instead of forgiving and accepting. Working through conflict with Scott has helped me see the sin in my life I might otherwise be able to ignore or excuse.
In these ways, we grow closer to God and grow in our faith through difficult marriage seasons. It is important to stay in Bible Study consistently to be able to hear God’s voice through them all.
Hard Times Will Come in your Marriage
In 2004, Scott was diagnosed with ITP, a life-threatening blood disorder. For seven years his platelet count was so low he was always at risk of a spontaneous brain hemorrhage. I lost track of how many times he was hospitalized between 2004 and 2011. He endured surgeries, chemotherapy, and multiple other treatments in an effort to elevate his platelet count. Nothing worked. He did experience those spontaneous brain hemorrhages and even spent several days on life support following a small nick of his esophagus during a minor procedure.
Sometimes the hard times we face aren’t because of a sin issue or spiritual failing. Sometimes they are just the result of living in a fallen world.
I say that because I hadn’t considered that possibility prior to Scott’s illness. We assumed if we were committed to a godly marriage, it would be relatively easy.
I was wrong.
3 Ways Hard Times in Marriage are a Blessing
Yes, hard times in marriage come, but God uses hard seasons to grow your faith and deepen your walk with Him. So when marriage is hard try to see the blessing of the season as a chance to grow closer to God. It’s important to stay grounded in your marriage in those hard times and in God throughout them.
- Hard seasons in marriage open your eyes to hidden self-centeredness
- Difficult marriage seasons create a deeper desire for God.
- Hard seasons peel back the layers of sin in our lives.
Marriage is hard because we are sinful people who live in a broken world.
Nonetheless, God works through all the brokenness to teach us more about Him. For that truth and the hope it offers, I am deeply thankful. It is critical you learn to be still in hard times to know that God is your strength.
How have hard times in your marriage been the impetus for spiritual awareness and growth in your life?
Teri Lynne Underwood is a wife and mom who loves to write, teach, and speak to women about the Word of God. Her passion is encouraging busy women to embrace Lopsided Living encourager. She is a cheerleader for girl moms and the author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.
If you enjoyed this you should check out these posts:
- How to Submit to Your Husband When You Disagree
- Accept Your Husband to Improve Communication
- 14 Characteristics of a Godly Wife that Can Save Your Marriage