How to Stay in Love During Hard Times
Have you ever been in a season where you feel like the "light at the end of the tunnel" will never come and like you and your spouse might be in the dark forever?
There are so many seasons of "waiting" that a couple can go through, but several would include: job changes, infertility, affair recovery, postpartum depression, buying a house, adoption, a diagnosis… the list goes on and on.
My husband and I are rounding the corner out of a long, long season of waiting. In the beginning, we were hopeful for our next steps. But, the longer change took to come, the longer that next step remained a mystery. We have grown weary and heavy-laden with sorrow, anticipation, worry, and very little hope—feeling a little bloody and broken as we fight our way through.
We have both felt like failures that we can’t control our future or keep the other one from feeling pain and discomfort... and it has leaked out into our relationship.
The days turned into weeks, which slowly turned into months and we came so close to giving up confidence that we would ever find ourselves in a better place or “on the other side”.
We found ourselves getting sharper with one another, quick to blame each other for things we could normally quickly dismiss or let go; sex and conversation became a low priority, which caused us to feel even more distant and disconnected. Sooner than we realized, we were both so very lonely; the days felt like years and by the end of each one we would sit on our couch and stare blankly at one another, neither with any emotional or physical energy to give. Both completely crushed.
But then, one day, recently, the light at the end of the tunnel finally came, and we know that we are going to be okay. The waiting is almost over and we feel like we can breathe again. If you and your spouse are in a season of waiting for something big, like, for a new job, for a baby, for a home to call your own, a diagnosis… you’re not alone! Here are 4 simple ways for you to cling to one another and to stay in love while you wait. You can do it! I know you can.
1. Connect Every Single Day
You have to make time for connection. You need your battle partner! During this painful time, it’s been when we have chosen to sit down with our favorite book, 365 Connecting Questions for Couples. In these moments when we have chosen to sit down to be close to one another in any capacity (holding each other on the couch or snuggling up with popcorn and a movie) that we felt less alone. This led us to feel hopeful again. And hope is everything. So, even on the days you don’t feel like it, choose to connect in some way, even if it’s for 5 minutes.
2. Learn to Communicate Your Needs
You have to get bold and confident enough in your grief and sorrow to be able to tell your spouse, “Hey, today is a really hard day for me, I need ________” (help, space, a hug, for you you to take care of dinner, etc). Your spouse is not a mind reader, especially during this season where they have their own emotional stuff happening too. When emotions run high in a home, emotional disconnection is easy so speak up!
3. Give Each Other Space and Grace
Do your best to adjust to one another day by day and allow space for grieving, for feeling sad, and for being scared or uncertain. Those are all okay emotions to have, as long as they don’t take over forever. What I’m saying is, be careful not to consistently try to “fix” each others’ bad moods. Come alongside one another and offer support instead. It’s okay to be sad sometimes, so lend a shoulder until your spouse can work through it to being positive again. After all, isn’t that what you want your spouse to do when you’re struggling, too? Isn’t that what you vowed to do on your wedding day? “I promise to love and support you in our good times and in bad times.”
4. Don’t Give Up
I know that it’s painful, but there is hope and change is coming. That big thing you’re waiting for: I don’t know how far away it is or if it will ever come, but what I do know is that you and your spouse are in this together.
Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on each other. Make the most of little moments together and day by day, step by step, you’ll get through.
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Written by Anna Collins
Anna Collins lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and two children. She is passionate about her marriage, staying at home with her kids, writing, coffee, good conversation, and game night. Her life dream is to someday write a book and see it published.