Holding Tight in the Hard Times

Couple sitting together with their arms around each other, gazing out at beautiful sunset

Marriage crises come in many forms: illness, disability, job loss, financial failures, infidelity, the loss of a child. I use the term crisis to refer to an external force acting on your marriage — it's not conflict between spouses. It is the couple versus anything or anyone else.

When my wife, Erin, and I are confronted with a crisis, we pull together — and we expect to grow from the experience, no matter how arduous. Here are some things strong couples can do when their marriage is attacked by some outside force:

Recognize the real enemy.

The Devil hates your marriage, and he wants to get you fighting your spouse so he can divide and conquer. Your spouse is not the enemy; Satan is the enemy (1 Peter 5:8-9). A couple must maintain a united front that says, "We're in this together! We need God, and we need each other — desperately.”

Keep your hearts open.

There's a myth in our culture that says, "I'm not in love with you, so I'm free to leave you." Love is not the issue — we have access to that in abundance through God. The real issue is a closed or hardened heart. Jesus did not say, "Because you're not in love with her, Moses allowed you to divorce your wives." He said the cause of divorce was "hardness of heart" (Matthew 19:8). The real battle is to keep your heart open and guard against apathy.

Seek help.

Spending time with other couples who believe in and encourage strong marriages will provide support as you walk through a crisis. Counseling, marriage seminars, books, videos and other resources can help, too.

It's not only possible to survive a crisis, but difficult times can also be redeemed by God and transformed into experiences that will help make your marriage stronger.

Adapted from Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, © 2015 by The Wholehearted Marriage, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
This article first appeared in the August/September 2016 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
© 2016 Focus on the Family.

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