I remember our wedding day so clearly, we spoke with great confidence, from the depths of our souls,
“To have you and to hold you from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part…..”
We went into marriage without naivety but with great hopefulness. Strong foundations are what build strong marriages.
Last month we celebrated thirteen years of marriage. We have walked through richer and journeyed through poorer. We have walked through some years of health and too many years of sickness. How does a marriage last through trials and darkness? How did we survive three years of crippling anxiety and depression? How do we survive the seasons of physical pain, mental shakiness, discombobulated conversations, weakness, lack of physical abilities, emotional instability and so much more that comes with a neurological disease?
Here are seven ways our marriage has thrived through the chaos of life and yours can too:
1)Commitment. A deep rooted decision to stick together no matter what circumstances we face. A commitment to choose to love in spite of the deep trials at hand. We are co-heirs with Christ together. Heirs together of the grace of life. TO-GETHER (Romans 8:17, 1 Peter 3:7) Commitment is a beautiful cord of three strands interwoven; Jesus, husband and wife. Not easily broken. (Ecc. 4:12) We are commited to make friendship and keep common interests. Commited to love.
2) Grace. Freely we have been given grace, freely we can give it. Receive God’s grace and you will be able to give it freely. My Jason has been more gracious to me than anyone in the world. His grace, just like the Father’s grace makes me want to be gracious, loving and kind. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:1-4)
3) Hope. Hold onto hope. Choose your thoughts carefully. Every thought will effect your entire body and those around you. Science is catching up with the bible and is proving these truths. Guard your thought life well. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” (Phil. 4:9) We must be wise and prepare for our future but we must not assume the worst possible outcome for our disease. As a caregiver, you must keep hope for your loved one. Bring light to the dark times. Truth. Only through God’s truth can we truly know hope.
4) Listen. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.” (James 1: 19) Your loved one needs to process what he/she is going through. They need a listening ear. It helps to communicate what we are feeling emotionally or physically so we don’t feel it alone. Disease can make us feel alone. We need to be reminded that we are not alone. If you don’t know how to process your own feelings about your loved ones pain, please seek a counselor for yourself and your loved one. This is vital and can be the saving of your marriage. If your loved one is really stuggling with the processing part of illness, please get them to a professional counselor who can walk this with them.
5) Laugh. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up bones.” (Prov. 17:22) We need laughter. If you are sucked dry of fun and smiles then pick a movie that makes you laugh. Pull up YouTube videos that tickle your belly with laughter. Have fun with your spouse! “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.“(Prov. 15:30) “The cheerful heart has a continual feast.” (Prov. 15:15b) Do something fun that will pull you out of the rut. Laughter is like a rope that ties you closer and heals the spirit.
6) Health. Your spouse needs you to choose to be healthy with him/her. She should be eating healthy to feel better and with you, lovingly choosing a healthier lifestyle with her, she will succeed. Without you walking the health journey she is much more likely to fail. Her diet and exercise is vital. If she is to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally she needs to eat well and exercise her body.
7) Spiritual. Grow closer to God. He draws near to those who draw near to Him. He loves you and desires a relationship with you and your spouse. Together, with Him, you will thrive. Believe in healing but believe more in the God who heals. His plans are for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28) Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
We are praying for you dear friends. Jesus came that we may have life and that more abundantly. (John 10:10) Your marriage can thrive in the midst of this crazy life. You are not enemies. You ought to be each others advocate. If the foundation of your marriage was not strong, you can rebuild today. Brick by brick you can rebuild your marriage. It is worth the work. You are worth it.
Joy to you and yours today.