When I look back on our eight years of marriage, I see lots of good times, adventures and memories. But I also see trials and struggles and rough patches. No marriage is without its struggles, whether you are going through something individually or facing a trial as a couple. When I look at those harder times in our lives, I realize that those are the things that have brought us closer and defined us as a couple. The reason the difficult phases of our life have brought us closer is because we have been intentional with our relationship during that time and determined not to let them drive us apart.
There are so many little moments I can recall that put us through the ringer. Our first pregnancy ending in a miscarriage, our second baby being born early and spending the first three weeks of her life in the NICU, and my struggle with post-partum depressing and anxiety, just to name a few. I wish I could tell you that we took all of these trials in stride and used them to build up our marriage. But the truth is, although we came out of a lot of things stronger than ever, like our time in the NICU, initially, a lot of our struggles have put a strain on our relationship and required us to recommit to each other and work hard to become the strong team that we were before we let our struggles come between us.
The good thing is that through all of these hard times that we’ve faced together as a couple, we’ve learned things to help us face our next trials better! The next time you find yourselves facing an obstacle that you have to work together to overcome, sit down together and consciously apply these tips. They’re simple enough that you can still focus completely on the task at hand, but by applying them as you work together to overcome your challenge, you’ll come out the other side stronger than before.
Tips to Help You Get Through Hard Times in Your Marriage
Remember that you are a team
If you only take one thing from this post, I want it to be this tip! Whatever you’re facing, remember that you are in it together. Take time to talk about your end goal, get on the same page, and make plans to face your problem as a team. Through everything, remember that it’s you against the problem, not the two of you against each other.
Support your spouse
Not every obstacle that comes your way will directly affect you as a couple. Although my struggle with post-partum depression did affect our marriage, it was ultimately my trial to overcome. When your spouse is going through something, you’re going through it indirectly. Do what you can to help your spouse through their trial. Ask them what you can do to help, be there to listen, take their side, and lovingly offer suggestions when needed.
Take time to connect daily
One of the hard times that brought us closer together as a couple, was the three weeks that we spent dividing our time between our toddler at home and our baby in the hospital. I can honestly say that finding time to connect every single day, despite our chaotic schedules, made the biggest difference in how we handled that hard time together. In that situation, we really didn’t have hours to spend together every day, so we took advantage of the time we had to leave our baby’s nursery to eat dinner, and spent that connecting with each other, technology and kid free.
This is a tip that should apply to your marriage in every situation, but it’s especially important during the hard times. Figure out a connecting ritual that works with whatever you are going through together and keep it up daily until you’ve conquered your obstacle and can resume your life and routines as a couple as usual.
Talk about how you are really feeling
I know a lot of people, myself included, who hold back on sharing their true feelings with their spouse, especially when they are going through a hard time together. It can be difficult to express exactly how you are feeling or open up and share those deeper emotions. In some situations, sharing your thoughts has the potential to hurt your spouse and make the problem worse. I would suggest setting up a daily or weekly companion inventory, outlined in this post here, and create a space where you each feel safe to share without judgement.
Make date night a priority
Now more than ever, stepping away from your responsibilities and troubles each week and taking time to connect and have fun as a couple, is extra important! The day after my miscarriage, Joe stayed home from work to support me and we made a point to get out of the house together and go on a date. I can remember clearly the time we spent at Olive Garden, laughing and making plans for our future, to replace the plans we’d been making when there was a baby on the way. We even made time for date night in those three weeks that we spent in the NICU, taking advantage of the great nurses who were caring for our baby and family members who were loving on our toddler at home. They weren’t long dates, but they were dates and they relieved stress and brought us closer together. Find a way to make date night happen, regardless of what you’re going through together. If you need ideas for your current stage in life, check out my date night e-book with over 300 date night ideas for every budget and situation in life.
I hope that these tips help you conquer your next obstacle as a couple, whether it seems big or small! I know how hard it can be during those times when life is throwing things at you and you are really struggling. But I also know how empowering it is to be on the other side of that trial and look back and see how you worked together, the things you learned and the ways that those challenges made you a better couple!
P.S. I collaborated with Sadie Banks to put together this awesome post over on her site that I feel like works really well with this topic. Even if infertility isn’t part of your story, go read this post because it can apply to a lot of different waiting periods and trials you go through together. Click here to read 10 Tips for Strengthening Your Marriage During Your Infertility Journey.
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography