The last few years have been quite a roller coaster for Adam and me. We’ve moved 4 times, quit our jobs, went into marriage ministry full-time, watched our bank account dip below $100, got new jobs, finished the final classes for grad school— the list could go on and on.
Honestly, it’s been difficult to catch our breath. There’s been so much change, confusion, and chaos.
Has life ever felt like this for you? Transitions on top of transitions on top of unmet expectations? How can you handle these seasons with grace and intentionality as a couple?
Embrace transitions as transformational opportunities
Train yourself to think of difficult seasons as opportunities— purposefully designed by God to sanctify you. Not inconvenient obstacles to be powered through or overcome as soon as possible.
Transitions can be difficult, but if you lean into the difficulty and entrust your situation to God, He will use it to transform you. If you’re humble, obedient, willing to seek His guidance and submit to His authority— even when it’s difficult— God will align your heart more and more to His heart. And your outward behavior will begin to reflect Christ.
This directly impacts our marriages as we become more Christ-like spouses.
Here are four ways to actively embrace tough transitions as transformational opportunities:
Trust His plan
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28
This verse doesn’t mean that God will work things together towards our expectations, but rather to His purpose and glory. That’s a much better plan than anything you or I have mapped out. When life feels out of control, God is in control. His love and character do not waver. He is purposeful and cares for you.
Adam and I fought against God’s plan for quite a while and clung tightly to our expectations. We were tense, frustrated, and disconnected— with the Lord and with each other.
We eventually released our unmet expectations and trusted God’s plan instead. When we did, we began to grow— as individuals and as a couple. We weren’t consumed with feelings of discontent anymore. Instead, we were flexible to God’s purpose for our lives.
That shift in our perspective altered our marriage dramatically. We could suddenly be gracious and gentle with one another. We still struggle with our expectations at times, but we continually refocus our hearts on God, seeking His comfort and purpose.
When transitions or unmet expectations happen, trust His plan instead of getting stuck in your plan. Whether it be choosing a different school for your kids, or changing jobs, or moving, or dealing with sickness, or financial stress— the word to come back to is ‘release’.
Take your fears and struggles to the Lord
I love the Psalms— they show us how to talk to God and give us permission to talk to Him openly and transparently. The psalmists show us an array of emotions— joy, anger, despair. They help us see that it’s okay to feel those feelings— God won’t be offended.
I remember one prayer in particular where I just sobbed on the floor of my living room. I told God how angry I was that things weren’t going how I expected. I was in a job that I hated, money was extremely tight, our marriage was full of tension— I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
I remember telling Him that I needed Him to show Himself because I was about ready to give up. I told Him how afraid I was and how I felt that He had abandoned me. I told Him that I felt like I didn’t matter to Him because He was allowing me to be in this position.
And you know what? He met me right there. He met me in my despair. I didn’t have the perfect words to pray— my prayer was messy, but He heard my heart anyway.
God wants you to talk with Him about where your heart is. He wants to wrestle through the tough emotions with you and celebrate in the joy. Know that He is for you and cares about you, your heart, and your situation deeply.
Talk transparently with one another
Talk openly and honestly with one another about your feelings. Talk about where you’re scared, angry, hurt, excited or any other feelings you may be feeling.
Even more important than talking is listening to understand your spouse’s heart. When life feels chaotic, we need to make sure we intentionally connect with one another.
Give yourselves time to unwind— you can’t just plan that from 2:45 to 3:00 in the afternoon, you’ll be completely transparent with one another, fully share our emotions, feel satisfied, check off the box, and move on with your day. Good conversations rarely work like that.
Find someone to watch the kids. Go on a long walk, go to a local park, sit on a picnic blanket— go wherever you’ll both feel comfortable enough to open up and let the conversation flow.
This is an area where Adam and I have to be really intentional. It can be so easy for us to get consumed with work and the daily dealings of life. When we aren’t intentional about connecting, this bubble of tension rises between us and eventually bursts. But when we take the time to go on a walk or sit outside on our porch, we can confront those feelings together and our intimacy grows. We solidify as a team.
When we intentionally work to hear and understand each other’s hearts, intimacy and connection flourish— even during tough transitions.
Pray with each other and for each other
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” — Matthew 18:20
One of the most unifying things we can do as a couple is pray with one another and for one another. Sharing and hearing your spouse’s heart before the Lord is life-giving. This brings grace, love, and gentleness to the forefront of any situation.
This may feel a bit awkward at first, but it will get easier. It doesn’t need to take a ton of time— it can be short and sweet. Just make an effort to start and trust God to handle the rest. Perfection isn’t the goal. The goal is to be together before the Lord.
See your spouse through the eyes of Jesus
It can be so easy in times of uncertainty, transition, and stress to focus on your spouse’s inadequacies. This is exactly what the Enemy wants. If he can keep our focus on the other person’s inadequacies, then he can easily divide us.
Want to fight ferociously against the enemy? Consciously choose to view your spouse through the lens of Jesus.
Notice where your spouse is growing and where they are submitting to the Lord. Tell your spouse that you see them and that you are thankful for them. Remember: marriages thrive where there is a constant overflow of grace.
It’s not about the situations we find ourselves in, but in how we handle them as a team. Times of transition and unmet expectations can be trying and stressful… but they’re also an opportunity to cultivate a deeper, more intimate, more Christ-exalting marriage.
Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?
Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?