Are you feeling like marriage shouldn’t be this hard? It’s not just you. Marriage is hard. It is hard for everyone. But these 8 essential steps can help you get back (and stay) on track today.
Even Hollywood Marriages are Hard
Do you wonder how any Hollywood couples ever make it? The duration of an average Hollywood marriage has a lifespan less than a dog’s. I mean, ten years married in Hollywood seems like fifty in people years.
It takes intentionality even for couples like Tom Hanks and Rita Wison (married 1988) or Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick (married 1997). Sarah Jessica Parker even said in an interview once that they do not discuss their issues with anyone.
I can see, as a celebrity, why they would make that choice since inside sources always seem to be the reason things leak. The truth about it is that you need to choose the right types of people to keep in your marriage and to keep out of your marriage.
Plain and simple. Marriage is hard.
Learning From Every Season of ‘Hard’
Through one failed marriage and now eight years of marriage with Mr. B, I’ve learned a lot about what not to do and some of what to do. Mr. B and I have been through some trying times. It’s not about happily ever after though, despite what all the Disney movies suggest.
It’s such hard work to have a healthy marriage already without the addition of co-parenting with an ex to throw a wrench in things. But that’s what we’ve dealt with.
During the really difficult times, we’ve both wondered what on Earth to do. In the early days especially, there was a huge learning curve when we hit difficult seasons – sometimes over a year. We have come through each one (yes, there has been more than one) with a stronger foundation.
Recommended Post: When Trouble Comes: The Powerful Answer to ‘Where is God?’
Build the Right Kind of Walls in Your Marriage
The story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem can give some practical tips for rebuilding your marriage.
Walls can be good in marriage. We just have to make sure we are building the right ones – to keep the good things in and the bad things out.
[bctt tweet=”Make sure you build the right kind of walls in your marriage. The kind that protect the good things inside and keep the bad things out.” username=”homealamama”]
It begins with Nehemiah as a cupbearer to the King Artaxerxes. He receives word that the walls of Jerusalem have been broken down and the gates burned. What happens next is one man’s journey to repair the city and people whom he loved, and it holds some powerful but practical tips for working through difficult seasons in marriage.
8 Important Steps for Working Through Difficult Seasons of Marriage
Fast and Pray
When Nehemiah received the news about the broken down walls, he “mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). For “some days,” it says he did this.
The first 15 months of our marriage was so hard. We had some external factors that dive bombed on us only a month after we exchange our wedding vows. We had many days of feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty connecting not only to each other but to God.
And that’s the one thing I suggest doing first.
It’s what Nehemiah did first.
[bctt tweet=”Sometimes we feel like prayer is the only thing we can do but prayer is the best thing you can do.” username=”homealamama”]
Sometimes we feel like prayer is the only thing we can do but prayer is the best thing you can do. What better way to come back to feeling balanced and at peace than to go before our “great and awesome God” (v. 5)?
And like Nehemiah, we need to acknowledge God’s greatness, confess our sins (v. 6-7), remember God’s instructions (v.8), and His promises (v. 9).
Spend time fasting and praying for your marriage.
“Be still and know…” (Psalm 46:10)
Shift the Focus Back to Your Marriage
Nehemiah mourned for days (1:4). Whatever your focus has been, turn it back to God first (see #1 above) and then your marriage.
This is a season of shifting priorities – a change in mindset. It will take practice. Knowing that, give each other grace.
When the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad, he asked Nehemiah why. Despite being afraid to answer, Nehemiah is so overwhelmed he responds, “Why should my face not look sad…” (2: 3, emphasis mine).
Before responding to the king, he prays (v. 4).
Nehemiah asked the king for his influence and safe passage as well as the tools/materials he would need to rebuild the walls.
Do not allow pride to get in the way of seeking out the right kind of people to help you. I’ve mentioned before about the Re|Engage ministry and a Christian marriage counselor is an option as well. If you don’t know who to ask or are afraid, check with your church for resources.
Despite what Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have done, they are more an exception and not a rule for the never-talk-to-anyone-about-our-marriage group that keeps a healthy marriage. (And, this is just me speculating here, but odds are they’ve found a great counselor to see).
You are made to be in community. Use it!
Recognize There Is An Enemy
Nehemiah recognized they had an enemy who was wanting to keep the walls of Jerusalem from being rebuilt (2:19).
So do you!
If you don’t acknowledge that you have an enemy who is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), then you have already lost the battle.
Recognize God is On Your Side
There will always be haters! Just embrace it. Nehemiah did. When people mocked and ridiculed them for rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah said, “The God of heaven will give us success.” (2: 20).
You have the “great and awesome God” on your side!
Girl, seek strength and comfort in that. Yes, it always takes hard work. And not just for a day. When you are in a difficult season of marriage, it is going to take some hard sustained work but the benefits are oh-so great!
Making up is really worth it, my friend. And it can be fun, too! Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.
And take time to dedicate your marriage to God (3:1). No, I’m not saying to have a vow renewal (although I’m also not saying not to). That’s up to you. God is on your side and wants your marriage to succeed.
Use your marriage to glorify Him!
Work on Your Own Crap
We see in the story of Nehemiah that so-and-so worked on the wall in front of his own house. The walls got rebuilt because everyone was working the part of the wall within their own space. (3:23, 28 – 30)
Don’t try to fix your husband.
Work on your own crap, girl!
You see that lady in the mirror feeling dejected and wondering how she got to this point? She’s the one you need to work on. (If you have to, go back to #1. Fast and pray and confess your contribution to the issues in your marriage. It’s so hard, I know. But I’m praying for you as I’m typing this!)
Rebuild with the Right People on Your Side
As Nehemiah continued to lead the people of Jerusalem in the reconstruction, families and neighbors stood side-by-side (3:3 – 32). Get your right people by your side as you fight to get your marriage back to healthy.
Always Be Prepared
People worked on the wall while they also had swords at-the-ready. They were prepared for the enemy to attack at a moment’s notice. (4: 1 – 23)
You need to be ready, too. How? Continue to follow these tips.
Most importantly though, don’t lose sight of what Nehemiah did when he heard about the plot of his enemies.
First, he prayed and then, they made preparations to defend themselves as they continued to build the wall.
“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families.” (4:14)
[bctt tweet=”Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families. Nehemiah 4:14 NIV” username=”homealamama”]
Sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back. Or even three or four steps back. But don’t quit. I’d love to say “You’ve got this, girl” but I know it feels so beyond your abilities sometimes. It’s an easier-said-than-done situation, I know.
You don’t have to worry about being perfect or good enough. You don’t have to feel like you’ve got this. God does! Put in the work and lean on Him to fill in the gaps for where you are lacking.