5 Ways to Love Your Spouse When Life Is Hard

ways-to-love-your-spouse-through-hard-times-pinterest2This post has been brewing in my head and heart for weeks. I’ve been watching my sweet Taylor girl grow thinner and weaker, fighting a battle that she never requested. When your child is dying, and especially during the stages of suffering, grieving becomes the norm. Grief doesn’t wait for the day of death. No, grief begins long, long before then.

I’ll never forget the day that Taylor’s diagnosis of MPS was confirmed. Matt, my husband, is not her biological father and we married when she was 4 years old. The first day 17 years ago when he brought his daughter to the zoo and Taylor and I met them there, he packed her around for hours after she grew tired of walking. Within just a few months, Taylor had initiated his car with her puke and got into every type of mischief possible while with her “Daddy Matt.” When we received the phone call from the doctor’s office confirming the positive result for a terminal diagnosis with a slow neurological degeneration, I had to share the news with my Matthew. One might think that he, as a medical professional, would process this news with familiarity. But his medical knowledge played a different role in his reaction. With certainty, he knew the journey ahead of us. Tears began to stream down his face and after we held each other for awhile, he lie on the bed sobbing, just as I had done the night I faced the same reality. Oh how he grieved the loss of our many hopes and dreams for Taylor.

For 20 years, I’ve been the mama of a special needs child. It would seem that children are brought into the world for us to teach them. But I’ve learned that God’s plan is more of a mutual teaching relationship. Most of the time children teach us far more than we could ever teach them.

Year after year, Matt and I have watched family after family lose their children to disease. It’s heartbreaking to watch your child suffer and die. It’s also heartbreaking how many families are broken apart as a result of the long-term battle with disease. I have continually asked myself,

“What can we do to keep our marriage strong while we walk this journey of suffering?”

It’s only by God’s grace that we haven’t allowed the trial of Taylor’s disease snatch up the love we have for each other.

I’ve been thinking a long time about these 5 ways to love your spouse when life is hard. The marriage altar is a sacred place of promise where we vow for better or worse.  I hope these purposeful suggestions will provide encouragement to you to keep on loving each other, even, and especially, when life is hard.

1. Remind each other of the desire to come out stronger on the other side of the trial.

When I mentioned last week to my husband that I had the desire to write this article, he said that trials can either make us or break us as individuals and they can also make or break our relationships.We must choose to encourage each other through a strength-building season.

2. Determine to forgive quickly and easily.

I know that some couples need to talk about every issue in detail. This is how they work through difficulties. And I get it. But ya’ll, at the Woj house, there is not enough time in the day to talk about every issue in detail. We often have to simply forgive one another and get over it. Period. When I’ve poured over the Bible and what Jesus said about forgiving, I could never find a clause that says something like “Forgive one another after you’ve received full explanation of the feelings involved.”  Or “Forgive one another once all the trials have resolved.” No, the Word simply tells us “Forgive one another.” The quicker you forgive, the stronger you can live.

3. Accept the differences in your individual responses to sorrow and suffering.

People grieve at different times in different ways. We can’t control how we feel about issues, but we can control how we react to those feelings. However, we are all human. If your husband feels angry over unfair circumstances and you don’t, allow him time to process his feelings in place of condemning them. If your wife cries uncontrollably over what you feel is small in the bigger picture of the trial, give her the freedom to grieve in her own way. Recognize that you are two different people travelling a path together.

4. Remember to share both the burdens and the blessings.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to beat discouragement is to encourage someone else. Whenever I can find a glimmer of hope to be thankful for in the midst of our daughter’s terminal  illness, I try to be purposeful to share it with my husband. And whenever I’m caught up in unpaid bills or spending extra time on the phone in order to get Taylor’s necessary supplies, he is great about reminding me of the blessings we have to count. Sharing the burdens AND the blessings makes a marriage stronger.

5. Spend time alone together whenever you can.

I wish I could give you an exact science to this statement. If only the perfect schedule for marriages existed, right? But we all know it doesn’t work that way. Whenever you possibly can, block out the distractions and connect with each other. Have dates. Drink coffee. Sit on the porch swing. Snuggle by the fire. Carve out time for each other between the necessary tasks of managing a difficult time in life. At times, it may be as simple as sharing a piece of chocolate over the kitchen sink or a brief kiss above the chaos.

One day this particular rough season of marriage will end. The hard time, no matter what it is, will be over and a new season will begin.

Growing old together would be a dream come true at that point.

Dream on, but love well in the present.

Preaching to myself,

Rachel

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19 Comments

  1. Trish Reyna says:

    I am praying for you and your family. I lost my brother 2 weeks ago to stomach cancer. I pray my parents can make it through this terrible time together. Hardest part in our lives for sure. May God put his healing hands on your sweet baby girl.

  2. Thank you for being so open, honest & obedient! Your ministry is such a blessing. May God continue to bless you in all that you do.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your suffering. Having two little boys of my own, I can’t imagine the pain. But I pray the Lord carries you through! May He carry you when you can barely drag your feet and may He love you into His embrace! Stay strong, dear Rachel!

    PromisesAtDawn.com

  4. Diana Green says:

    Rachel, thanks for such a wonderful reminder. My daughter has Cystic Fibrosis and she had a double lung transplant 4 years ago. She is now going through Chronic rejection but she is a fighter! We have been told recently that she is in Stage 5 Kidney failure because of the anti rejection meds. She just started dialysis 3 times a week at out patient dialysis center. Currently, she will go through testing to see if she qualifies to be put on the Kidney Transplant list. It’s been very hard for my husband and I to make the time for each other. We know we need to but between work, and health issues and taking care of my parents, well we are both exhausted. I love this post and I will share it with him.

    Thanks again, have a wonderful Thanksgiving,

  5. Dittany Dylan says:

    Your courage is awesome xx The stresses in life are epic at times and the storms threaten to tear love and relationships apart. I surrender to Gods Love (lying on my back on a sheepskin rug, with my eyes closed) When I am refreshed I can forgive, see clearer, see the blessings that have weathered the storm .. and proceed on the journey. Illness makes the joys sweet and heavy like jewels .. and the sorrows .. a surrender to God. Love to you Rachel and family xxx

  6. Bravo is the only word I can manage. Bravo!

  7. Susan Elizabeth Henson says:

    Thank you so much for this blessing!!! I shared it so others will be blesses too 🙂

  8. Wow! This is so timely. My father passed away earlier this year and now it seems my husband’s step-father won’t be with us much longer either. It’s been a hard year. This is such an encouraging post. Thank you so much.

    God bless you. Praying for your family and your sweet girl Taylor! <3

  9. Malingose says:

    Thank you Rachel for encouraging us.

  10. Wow you really blessed me with this article. My husband lost his job last year and it’s been tough to say the least, but everything you said here is so true, I’m not fully there yet but I’m getting there though His grace. I pray for God’s continued blessings on your life.

  11. Thank you Rachel for sharing. I always look forward to your post, so inspiring and very encouraging. It’s really hard to stay connected and show love during a hard season, thanks for reminding me that it is possible. May God continue to bless your ministry and strengthen your family as well as you walk through this season.

  12. Sending prayers for your little girl Taylor, from India. Thank you for sharing your life with us and for the words of encouragement as we continue our journey with our families.

    Love

    Cheryll

  13. Chrissi Cowles says:

    Thank you, Rachel. Your timing is perfect. My husband and I had a major financial set back today that rocked us to the core. I am so glad for this reminder to keep looking for the positive both in each other and life overall. Thank you for your ministry of encouragement. Praying for you and your hubby as you carry-on.

  14. Such beautiful encouragement, Rachel! Oh, how extremely difficult it is to stay strong in marriage through the journey of disability, loss, and suffering, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Prayers continue for you, sweet Taylor, and your lovely family. Hugs, friend!

  15. Sharon Mair says:

    Rachel
    Your words always come at gods timing – blessing to you always

  16. The new look is beautiful! Thank you for always encouraging us here at your writing home.

  17. Catherine says:

    Such beautiful encouragement, Rachel. Thank you and may God continue to show His favor upon you and your family. <3 Sending you my love.

    1. Elizabeth says:

      Thank you for these heartfelt words . My son lost his second child to heaven and his marriage dissolved due to their inability to come together and heal in their grief. Fast forward 2.5 years later and they are now both starting to date again, and trying move forward with their lives. I am sharing your thoughtful message with them both as they explore new parternerships. Understanding how to forge a new relationship, a stronger and better potential marriage, in the wake of grief and tradegy is a difficult journey. It requires so much prayer, courage and faith that God is guiding the jouney.

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