The wedding bells have stopped ringing and all the guests have gone home. The presents have been unpacked and put away and the honeymoon is done. Now what?
And so begins married life; you’re in for the biggest challenge of your life now — a challenge that will last as long as you live…that’s if you don’t give up.
I’ve had my share of struggles in my marriage, still do. Walking away from marriage when times get tough seems like the only answer some days, but its far from the solution.
Tough times are going hit your new marriage. Guaranteed. It could be emotional, financial, health issues, or just sinful selfishness, but preparation for these situations will help your marriage survive these times.
If you find yourself fighting during the first year of marriage, don’t wait one more second. Make a plan today.
5 tips for newlyweds when times are tough
Talk it out
Communication is an important key in a marriage. Your spouse is your number one confident now. Your BFF comes second and hopefully your spouse is your BFF. Every worry, fear, annoyances, happy, sad, and just plain silly feelings needs to be spoken to your spouse. It needs to be brought in the open. Even if you find yourself attracted to a member of the opposite sex, expose it right away. If your having a tough time at work, talk about it with your spouse.
I’ve put communication as the first thing, because for me speaking my mind is a difficult thing. I’m still not good at and probably never will be. I guess it was a matter of avoiding confrontation. I didn’t want to start a fight
Shedding light on feelings, plans, and thoughts is important. If we keep what’s in our heads from our spouse it hurts both partners. Lack of communication erodes intimacy, which is a key element in a marriage.
Say what you have to say, be honest and most importantly be gentle about it.
I, for one, can be pretty sarcastic and rude, and that’s what leads to the arguments.
You might say “I do speak gently and I get sarcasm and rudeness in return.” Keep speaking gently. Worry more about how you look in the Lord’s eyes. Look to please Him and not your pride in defending yourself. Your spouse is sinner like you and they will fail at times like you.
Stop and listen
You and your spouse are two different people and will not always have the same opinion. When issues arise in the marriage you need not only to be able to communicate your opinion but to listen to your spouse.
Listening takes practice for those of us who aren’t born with the natural gift of listening. Don’t worry, you are not alone. I must have missed the lines when God was handing out communication and listening skills because I’m not good at either. It requires undivided attention with both ears. In heated discussions some techniques are required:
- Allow the other person to speak without interruption. Each person should have a set agreed time to speak.
- Repeat what you’ve heard to make sure the what you’re hearing is what is being said.
- Ask questions to gain perspective, but don’t interrogate.
- Always respond with love. Even if your spouse doesn’t have good listening skills, you need to.
Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12 NLT
We are to forgive because Christ forgave us. He suffered for us so that we can be forgiven.
The “d” word (meaning divorce) needs to be replaced by the “f” word (meaning forgiveness).
This is where it gets difficult. Like I mentioned before your, spouse, is a sinner like you. They will be tempted to do things that aren’t right, and can succumb to those temptation. All offenses need to be forgiven.
This is a tough one with lots of ‘what if’ factors. What if your spouse cheats on you? What if your spouse is addicted to porn or a substance? What if your spouse hits you or mentally abusive (and this can be the man OR the woman)? I don’t have the answers to all these ‘what ifs’, but whatever you do, forgiveness is required. I believe in restoration and that looks different for each situation. There are many different place to go for help if you find yourself in a hard situation. A friend, a pastor, even websites like FocusOnTheFamily.org have counselors ready to help. Don’t ever feel like you have no where to go.
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:25 NLT
Some people see forgiveness is a tool to their own therapy. I don’t see that scripture says that. We don’t forgive for our emotional benefit. It’s for our eternal benefit. It’s about our relationship with God not a way to make us feel better. (Though it usually will make you feel better…eventually).
Work together to Find a solution
In a perfect world the solutions to marital issues would be decided before the marriage.
Ideally, every possible issue should be discussed, from financial to infidelity prior to marriage. Situations like how to deal with a mother-in-law to decision for the kids. How will you as a couple address these issues? But if you didn’t, like me and my husband, that’s OK too.
Issues and tough times need to be sought in scripture and prayed about as a couple. As a couple you need to read God’s word together. It needs to be read prayerfully and studied in unity. I encourage you to seek God’s will in your marriage.
Everything we need to know about living a peaceful, blessed, pure undramatic life is in Scripture.
The first piece of scripture that needs to be read is:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
Do you love your spouse? Then this is how you treat each other.
Now some of you ladies are going find what I’m about to say next hard to swallow. What happens if you can’t agree on a solution?
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:21-22 NLT
There’s that “s” word! That’s right! We have to give our pride the boot ladies. If you’ve never looked into what scripture says about women, there is a lot riding on us. Look at our example of a woman is in Proverbs, throughout the book, and in chapter 31. Do not take the role that God gave us lightly, sisters.
Having said that:
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. Ephesians 5:25-26, 28-29 NLT
It doesn’t say husbands are to “rule with an iron fist” or have a “do what I say cause I’m the man who is always right” attitude. I’ve seen a marriage break down because of that frame of reference. It’s not what God intended for the man’s role in the marriage
Even just abiding by these few short passages can make the world of difference.
Grow in faith together
Growing in faith together is important as a couple. Each spouse has a relationship with Christ but you also need to grow as a couple.
Pray together. Make an effort to do this. I don’t like spouting of Christian clichés but “the family the prays together stays together”. There is truth to that. My grandparents prayed everyday together and they were together for over 60 years.
Read God’s word together. Study it. Challenge each other to memorize it. The Word will bring comfort when tough times come
Worship together. Not just at church, but at home to. Worshiping God isn’t just for Sundays.
Serve together. This could be at home or abroad. Go on a vacation with a purpose to Haiti for your next holiday.
Your faith and trust in God will be the determining factor of survival in tough times
Things to Avoid
Being married takes a lot of work and there are attitudes and bad communication habits that will lead in the breakdown the relationship:
- Attacking the person not the behaviour.
- Rolling eyes, hurtful sarcastic responses. Name calling and putting down each other
- Always having an excuse to not take responsibility for your own actions. Acting like the victim.
- Turning your back on the conversation.
Recognizing bad attitude and communication is important for correction. Choosing to change is necessary as well, nothing will change unless we choose to.
And remove the word “divorce” from your vocabulary.
Work for your marriage, fight for it. It’s worth it.
My name is Heather Bates and I live in rural Alberta Canada. I have a wonderful husband of 20 years and 2 handsome boys ages 8 and 13. I like to crochet, read and do some gaming in my spare time (whenever that is).