Marriage advice for the couple who is drifting apart

I sat on the edge of my son’s hospital bed, trying desperately to soothe him. He moaned and cried through tightly shut lips, and we couldn’t figure out if he was in pain or scared or simply delirious from the anesthesia. He had been crying for nearly an hour—ever since he had awoken from his tonsillectomy—and I worried that all this crying would only aggravate his sore throat. My husband leaned over and whispered something in his ear. Slowly, the crying subsided into little hiccups and sniffles, and I offered a prayer of thanks for my husband’s reassuring presence.

Although the Lord had provided me with the strength to maintain a calm facade, my emotions were in upheaval. It’s agony for a mother to watch her child suffer, not knowing what’s wrong or how to fix it. My husband felt concern also, but he is a master at exuding strength under fire. What my son needed at that moment was not his mother’s anxious flutterings, but his father’s strong, steady comfort.

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No human father is without their flaws, but in their prayerful efforts to train godly children, they give us glimpses of our Heavenly Father. God is a reassuring presence, a strong refuge, a good listener, and a sure guide.

My husband’s only concern in those difficult hours was to comfort our little son, but I too was encouraged by the power of a father’s presence. God’s wisdom in creating a two-parent family was playing out right before my eyes.

God’s establishment of marriage and family was like all things in His creation—intrinsically good and perfect. The Lord, in His wisdom, knew that a family needed the complementing differences of men and women. Men and women each bring something of great value to their partnership, filling what the other often lacks.

Often those differences, so complementary at times, also cause a good deal of trouble. Our culture loves to hate on fathers and families, so it is up to you and me to counter the culture, starting in our own homes.

Remember, you are part of a team

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. (Ecclesiastes 4.9-10)

Dr. Dobson once wrote a book called, “Parenting isn’t for Cowards,” and the title really says it all. Parenting is hard under the best of circumstances and single-parenting is down-right exhausting. If you are fortunate enough to be raising a child with a spouse, be thankful, and remember you are on a team. I can’t tell you how many times I was ready to blow a fuse with one of our children and my husband stepped into the fray like a relief pitcher. I know I’ve done the same for him. We support each other through it all.

When you get tired, remember, you are part of a team. Work with your spouse to train your children instead of working against them. If you disagree with something your spouse does, discuss it away from prying little ears. Be a united front when it comes to training. You can openly discuss (and even disagree) on other issues so they can see how to work out differences, but don’t argue about your children in front of your children. Children recognize the different approaches between mom and dad and will attempt to use them to their advantage. Be a team your children want to be a part of, rather than one they want to undermine.

Establish God as Team Captain

Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecclesiastes 4.9-12, ESV)

My father read this passage from Ecclesiastes at our wedding and it has resurfaced in my heart more often than all the other beautiful words spoken that day. Statistically speaking, the first two careers my husband had should have destroyed our marriage. At the beginning of his previous career, we were told there was a fifty to sixty percent divorce rate, and the near-death incident he was in five years ago doubled the odds against us. But with God as the captain of our team, we have remained a thriving, functional unit. God is greater than the odds and greater than us. Even in the strongest storms, He can pull us through it together. Don’t exclude God from your marriage; make Him the center. God is greater than the odds and greater than us.

Honor your teammate

In a sports team, tripping your teammates mid-play or trash talking them in public only makes your team look like an easy target. A good opponent will crush that team by exploiting the differences. Satan is like a strong opposing team, and he viciously employs the “divide-and-conquer” strategy.

Honor your teammate by showing both love and respect.

Speak respectfully about your spouse to every person in your life; you never know when those words will make their way back to your spouse in some way. Instead of harping on their errors, focus on their excellence. This one thing can dramatically affect how you treat your spouse both in public and private.

Don’t save your affection for special days, shower your spouse with affection every day. Never say goodbye without saying “I love you.” Every day you’re together, show love through some type of physical touch, even if it’s just a long good morning hug and a gentle goodnight kiss.

Above all, pray for daily for your spouse. God can work things through our spouse that we can’t do on our own.

Instead of seeing differences as a liability, try looking at them as an asset. The Lord has the power to make two imperfect people into a perfectly suited team.

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Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com


 

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