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old {and young} wives’ tales: dealing with trials in marriage

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I am happy to have my blogging buddy Sarah today. Sarah is probably the most-frequent guest blogger I’ve had, and I just love her writing! She used to live in Houston and moved away about the time we got here- that makes me sad! 
Sarah is writing today on how hard circumstances affect our marriages, and ways to work through them.

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Married life.

The moment those vows are spoken and the rings are placed on fingers, your life changes forever.  You live in a whirlwind of excitement a while before the new reality sets in.  At some point, everyday life happens as you work together with your spouse.  Through the daily ups and downs, you journey to the rhythms of this new life you share.

For many couples, part of this journey includes children whether through natural means or adoption.  This married life you’ve been orchestrating for yourself takes on a new rhythm with the addition of children.  The melody you’ve become accustomed to changes with the introduction of these precious babes.  The journey continues but the rhythm changes, and you become accustomed to that.  If you’re lucky, you and your spouse are still in tune with one another and each other’s needs and you carry on along this journey in relative harmony.

Of course, life as we know has interruptions, breaks, pauses, unexpected changes of pace.  Some are good and some aren’t.  Then there are some which throw your rhythm off completely and you struggle to pick up where you left off.  Sometimes it’s too hard to find that last beat you left off on.  You can’t just jump in and pick up where you left off.  Nor can you jump in and maintain the flow of the rhythm you knew so well.

This happened in our family with the introduction of a special needs child in 2006.  We knew nothing about what it was like to have a special needs child, much less how we were expected to jump in with both feet knowing what to do with her.  She has multiple special needs and is medically fragile to boot.  We have journeyed together on this road marked with suffering – one consisting of so much which is unknown, so much which will never be known, heartache, loss, grief, sorrow, anxiety, illness, and even coming to a place in 2010 where we thought we would lose her altogether.

The events of what is our ”normal” rhythm of life are difficult.  The statistics do not shine favorably upon married couples with a special needs child.  It is hard work maintaining a family under the circumstances we live in.  We have another daughter as well – a couple years older than the one who completely rocked our world of its axis.  Married life is hard for anyone, but throw in difficult family circumstances and it’s so much harder!  I am not suggesting we have it worse than anyone else.  Not at all.  After years of processing life in these circumstances, I just know now how much effort it takes to try to keep it all together!

I am still learning this.  But what I have learned is this.  If you are married and you are living in circumstances which are beyond your control, beyond what you expected, beyond what you feel you can handle – just know that you are not alone.  Lean on people who are in similar situations.  Help can come from the unlikeliest of places.  Sadly, we don’t know anyone with our exact circumstances, so it’s that much harder, but we have a core group of people we know we can lean on.  We know who we can ask for prayer from – and receive it.  We know who will jump in and assist if we need it.  We know the love that other people have for us and the empathy the feel for what we are going through.

You have each other.  You are not alone.  In times of great difficulty, you and your spouse have each other. Do not destroy that one significant bond which God has given to you for this exact purpose.  We are meant to uphold each other.  We are meant to lift each other up.  We are meant to be there for each other when it feels we have no one else.  Do not give up on this bond.  Turn to each other instead of away from each other.  These situations in life challenge us and the enemy wants to use them as opportunities to tear us down and to tear us apart.  Do not give him that victory.

It’s been a long road, but my husband and I are still learning all of this.  It is very difficult to get good quality “couple time”.  We can’t just call up a babysitter for them to watch the girls.  We have home nursing, but there are sometimes scheduling difficulties.  We have another child we need to raise and be there for.  Sometimes it is like our relationship takes a back seat to everything else that seems important.
But your married relationship is just as important, if not more so.  If your relationship dies, think of the ways in which your family will suffer.  Work hard.  If it’s not working, then work harder!  Your marriage and your family are worth it!

Make time.  My husband and I just had a rare lunch date.  We have a nurse.  Our older daughter is at school.  Opportunity.  Take advantage of those moments when you can because you never know when the next one will come up.
Pray.

Lean on God.  He is our rock, our strength, our refuge, our shelter in times of need.  He did not put us in our circumstances because He felt like we could not handle them.  He didn’t place us where we are because He wanted to see us suffer.  He didn’t give us a daughter with special needs just so He could watch us fail.  No. He entrusted her to us.  She is His child.  He gave us this precious gift because He felt like we could handle it.  He gave us this precious daughter of His as a loan for what will likely be a short time because she has a purpose in her life.  He gave her to us to teach us.  When it’s seeming like things are impossible, God wants us to lean in closer to Him and rely on Him to get us through the difficulties.
Never forget that He is God and with Him all things are possible.  Have faith.  Believe.  Trust that God will provide for you in all of your circumstances.  Even in your marriage, in times of great trial which could so easily lead you down a path of destruction.

God has a plan for you, your spouse, your family.
Trust in Him that He knows what He is doing!
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Thanks Sarah! Ben and I also had to learn to work through having a child born with a health problem. I know now that our marriage could have gone either way- we could have become better or worse. Praise God, that trial brought us closer together and we were able to lean on one another during the hardest time in our lives. 
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