Don't Run from the Storms In Your Marriage
- Monday, May 15, 2006
"April showers bring May flowers." According to the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, this phrase means "some unpleasant occurrences bring about better things." This is a good outlook for any aspect of life, especially marriage.
There are times when my husband and I argue, and boy, does it seem like a downpour! But after the cooling off period, tenderness and love blooms. Arguments can lead to a new understanding of each other’s feelings. When we get past the harsh words we didn’t mean to say and wade through the misunderstandings to get to the root of the problem at hand, the conflict often reveals deep insight into your spouse’s heart and mind – a consequential flower.
May flowers may not seem worth the trouble of the April showers. You might feel that you want to skip that part and just enjoy the sun and beauty around you now without having to wait for the rain to pass. But skipping the rain makes the flowers seem dull. With only sunshine and no rain, the flowers dry up and burn.
Weathering the Storm
Yet how do we keep from drowning in the rainstorms of marriage? The storm threatens to pull you under, but you have to keep treading water. If God is in the center of your marriage, eventually the waters will recede and produce fruit. Looking forward to that fruit can help us persevere when the storm is darkest.
As difficult as the trials may be in your marriage, without rain, your relationship will wither away like sun-cooked flowers. Your marriage is not meant to be a static, never-changing situation. Instead, marriage is one of God's primary ways of drawing you and your spouse closer to Him. The rain (or sometimes fire) is God’s way of refining each of you so that you more accurately reflect His image and answer His high call to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). The apostle Peter speaks of the value of trials in refining us:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9, emphasis added)
Marriage in particular is an opportunity to draw us closer to God, because He frequently uses those closest to us to refine us. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."(Proverbs 27:17-17) In the midst of our troubles, we can also take comfort in knowing that strife, conflict, and trials played key roles in Christ's love for His Bride - the Church - so it is okay if our marriages are not always easy and carefree.
Our trials don’t just produce spiritual fruit -- hard times are what help draw you together and cement your love and commitment to each other. How many times have you seen a family, a sports team, or a married couple overcome odds to come out on the other end with an even greater level of intimacy? The victories over life's challenges weave the special love story between you and your spouse that, years from now, will hopefully have you looking back with joy at the journey you've traveled together. We all wish to live on Easy Street, but without conflict or hardship your marriage would fail to flower into its full potential:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-12, emphasis added)
The Challenges Unique to Your Marriage
It's helpful to remember that flowers vary in their needs, just like us. Some flowers need a lot of rain and a little sun, others need the opposite. Some flowers need shade while others flourish in direct light. Other plants prefer fluorescent lighting. Make a point to know what your spouse needs.
As crazy as it sounds, some people actually crave conflict and don’t even realize it. Is your spouse drowning you with arguments? Maybe he or she is lacking the attention they desire and are compensating by thinking that negative attention is better than none at all. Does your spouse seem withdrawn? Lure them out with more "sunshine" by going the extra mile to be sweet and compassionate – slip a note into their purse or pants pocket, or bring home a bouquet of roses. It doesn’t take much effort to make your spouse’s day.
What is the rain in your marriage today? Financial problems? Insecurity? A lack of trust for each other? Do you doubt your spouse’s love for you? Are you jealous of your spouse’s friends or coworkers? Maybe it’s something small, like an argument over how to redecorate the bathroom. Maybe it’s a difference of opinion about issues in your church. Perhaps your spouse wants to purchase something that you feel is unnecessary, or maybe you want to take that vacation but your spouse insists you can’t afford it. Or maybe you’re just feeling burned out and overwhelmed and are taking our your frustrations out on each other.
Whatever your storm may be, work through it with faith that God will get you through to the other side; where the grass grows green and the flowers bloom in full. Don’t give up! Compromise and learn from the fights and the hard times. After the storm comes the rainbow, and after the rain comes life anew.
Betsy St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her husband, Brandon. They recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary. Betsy has an associate's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. You can contact her at Betsystamant@yahoo.com.
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