Something that has broken my heart and stirred up so much passion in me is for the struggles I have heard couples explain going through during this quarantined season.
I’ve seen messages like, “If I don’t want to kill my spouse after this quarantine, I know I’ve succeeded,” or, “We’re just trying to make it out of this not hating each other.”
Johnny and I have just been like… “Is this supposed to be relatable?!?!?!”
Now, we’ve only been married for just over 5 months, so some might say that “we’re just in the honeymoon phase.”
This phrase sits so wrong with me. It is not Biblical, it is not GOOD, and it is downright not true.
If marriages of the world continue to base their relationship off of needing to feel like they’ve just met the person and don’t know any of their flaws, or they’ll get bored and want to leave, we are only succumbing to a very egocentric and selfish culture and ideology. The reality of my relationship with Johnny is this: in the almost five years that I’ve known him, I have only grown to love, respect, and cherish him and our relationship MORE. In some ways, I have been struggling with this quarantine ending, because I absolutely adore just being me and him.
Now – that is selfish.
I know that.
I am of much better use to the Lord out in the world than I am in my own home 24/7. And, of course, I want His will to be done, which involves the health and flourishing of His people. But because we have both seen this time as one for the Lord – as all seasons are – giving it to Him expectant of His greatness, we’ve only continued to grow in our relationship, to have date nights getting to know each other in even deeper ways, to connect more and more physically and spiritually and emotionally, and to point each other to Christ. I am literally overwhelmed when I think about all that the Lord has done in us in the past five months alone, let alone the past five years.
Get out of quarantine “tolerating” my husband?!?! How about getting out of it crying at the thought of not being able to see his precious smile while I’m working, to hear his soothing voice, to laugh with him, to eat lunch together?
First – if you are struggling in a relationship, perhaps wondering whether it’s a relationship God has called you to, I might ask yourself these questions:
- Am I turned on by/physically attracted to this person? I think this one should go without saying, but I believe it’s incredibly important. God created romantic relationships to be full of physical intimacy and tension – and if you’ve been dating someone and are constantly turned off, I would urge you to ask yourself why you started dating the person in the first place. I believe in dating with the intent/hope to marry – of course, knowing that that may not be the ultimate outcome, but that it is what both people are convinced of is their future at that time. If you don’t think they’re the sexiest thing alive… if their smile doesn’t make your whole body smile… why are you dating them?
- Does this person treat me with respect, dignity, and kindness, and light-heartedness? Does the person you’re dating ever put you down, say cruel things, lie, make you feel bad about yourself, drag you down into their dark place? Do they champion you and want your flourishing? Or are they jealous or unconcerned? Do they go out of their way to love on you? Are they your absolute best friend? Do you make each other laugh?
- Does this person seek meaningful, deep conversation? Do they care to know your hopes and dreams? Do they love God and seek His will? Do they instigate prayer, time in the Word, and pondering? If you are not Christians – are you talking about your beliefs, and are you aligned in them?
Now, if you are married to your person, but maybe struggling with dealing with conflict, unmet expectations, money, or any other host of potential barriers, this next advice is for you.
I know that Johnny and I are in our marriage infancy – but, in our years of dating, we’ve discussed marriage and aligned in it in many important ways that have led to an absolutely beautiful first six months. I’m not saying that WE have done this – not at all. Jesus has shown us the way – we are merely submitting to His leadership.
Does this mean that we haven’t had our individual struggles, that ultimately are a burden to the other, too, as we are one and carry each other’s burdens? Of course not – we have endured trials and tests. But, because we both ultimately want TRUTH to prevail, we remind each other – as Christ reminds us – to seek that Truth together.
So, my best advice, which is I believe is from God?
- Be in the Word together. If you are Christians, it is so important to be partaking in daily bread – prayer, Scripture, communion. It has certainly been a transition to go from doing these things on my own to doing them daily with Johnny – as well as on my own – but it’s been nothing but a GOOD transition. I know how easy it can be after a full day of work, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and other commitments to just want to do nothing, but the true way of life is only from a place of rest in the Holy Spirit, letting Him guide. If we are not daily taking up our cross to follow His eternal plan, rather than our veeeery temporary ones, we are already failing. Find a time that works for you both, and stick to it. Johnny and I have been loving doing morning devotionals and prayer, and an evening time of reading/studying the Word individually, and then sharing with each other and praying about what we learned.
I feel such a conviction to stress the importance of this – not just the WORD, but daily, secondly, moment-by-moment relationship with the Lord. If we are not in sync with Him, that’s when anger, hurtful words, and conflict might arise. These are things that Johnny and I haven’t experienced simply by the grace of God showing us a better way – NOTHING of ourselves, and nothing to boast in. No – we boast only in our futile weakness, in which Christ has made Himself strong in our marriage: A cord of three strands is not easily broken — Ecclesiastes 4:12.
Jesus also empowers us to take the vows we made very seriously. The divorce rate of our globe is painfully high… since I was a little girl, I have never understood it. What is the point of vows if divorce is even a POSSIBILITY?!
Please don’t get me wrong – I understand that there are situations and circumstances so painful; ones I cannot even imagine. I am simply saying that, if you are to choose to make those vows to someone, the call is to have no shred of doubt that God has brought you to it, ordained it, and is empowering those vows.
- Have FUN. You married your best friend, didn’t you?! If most of your time together is serious or moody… I would argue that something’s not right. Of course, there are circumstances, seasons, and conditions – illnesses – that can say otherwise, so this is a general and cautious statement for sure, but… be silly! Date each other! Be yourselves, laugh, make each other laugh, and lots of the time. Don’t take the chores and cleaning and Pinterest-worthy living room so seriously. Cuddle on the couch for half an hour with no plan – Johnny and I always end up just snort-laughing. And kissing.
- Be vulnerable. This one is so important. Johnny and I have established in our relationship an aspect of the utmost vulnerability. In this way, he knows any of my negative thought patterns, the way the devil has tried to tempt me, and just has a clear understanding of what is true in my mind – and I him. This way, there is no room for the devil to come in and try to convince one partner of something untrue; if we ever have a question for each other, we ask, and we pray, knowing that there is always forgiveness and grace that accompanies “working it out.”
My prayer for the relationship God has called you to is that you would hold fast to Him moment by moment, seeking His will and righteousness, and knowing that this earth is not your home. That that amazing grace of God to live this life for Him would be what empowers your marriage.
The Holy Spirit will show you both a new way: one of fun, grace, laughter, truth, perseverance, determination, and joy.