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Marriage 911 08/29/17

Marriage Trouble Can Make Your Relationship Stronger

Mature couple

"If it's not one thing, it's another."

Such was the sage counsel of my father when I shared with him some of the struggles I faced. Whether facing a marital issue or problem with my house or work, he offered support, empathy, and understanding.

Indeed, it is true. "If it's not one thing, it's another."

What he should have added, however, was that adversity could actually be used to bring my wife and I closer together. Adversity could also be used to draw me closer to God and reliance upon Him. Adversity is not pleasurable at the time, but it can grow us.

To get help for your marriage from Dr. Hawkins and his qualified staff, please visit The Marriage Recovery Center website or call 206-219-0145.

Sadly, many couples handle stress poorly, causing distance to grow between them, and failing to use the experiences to better themselves and their relationship.

"Conflict pushes us further away from each other," a woman told me recently. "I can't stand to be around my husband when things are not going well with his work or around the house with our kids. If he is under stress, watch out."

"What happens?" I asked.

"He doesn't handle stress well," she said. "He takes everything personally. He also expects everything to go smoothly, and of course, it never does. Something is always breaking down around the house, the kids act up, and something needs to be fixed. He doesn't handle any of that well and he makes it hard on himself, me, and our kids."

She paused.

"I try to look on the bright side or see what lesson is in the challenging situation. He doesn't seem to do that. He becomes angry or more irritable."

"That's too bad," I said. "Adversity is, after all, part of life. Scripture tells us we will all face trials and those trials can make us stronger."

"I know that," she said. "How do I get that across to him?"

Here are a few ideas I shared with her that may help you as well:

1. Share how you expect to face challenges.

Attitude regarding adversity is everything. If you expect to be overwhelmed when trouble happens, you probably will be. If, however, you face adversity like my father, you will be more apt to take trouble in stride. Discuss together how you would like to handle the challenges that are sure to come your way.

2. Be candid about how you see your spouse handling challenges now.

Offer feedback to each other. It is likely that you have blind spots—we all do—and feedback is critical for our growth. Share how you currently handle adversity and perhaps offer suggestions on how to handle situations more effectively.

3. Agree to face adversity together, growing through the experience.

It is said that trouble shared cuts a problem in half. While the challenge remains, support whittles it down a bit. "If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your faith" (Proverbs 24:10). Agree to share problems together.  

4. Agree to support each other in adversity, but don't enable immature behavior.

Being gentle, offer feedback to your mate about how you see him/her handling trouble. Make it clear how it impacts you when facing challenges and what you'd like different. Be specific in your feedback, being clear about the impact of their behavior on you and the family, setting appropriate boundaries.

5. Discuss the lessons to be learned from each challenging situation.

Take a step back after a problem arises and reflect. How could you have handled the situation more effectively? Why was the situation as troubling as it was? Dig deep to understand what happened and why it had the impact that it did. What lessons could be learned from the situation?

Do you react poorly to stress? How would you like to handle things more effectively? What would you like different from your mate?

Share your feedback below or contact Dr. Hawkins and his team directly and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.marriagerecoverycenter.com.You'll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, our special Marriage Intensives, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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