This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.

One of the most dangerous myths in our culture is that if a marriage is truly "meant to be," it will be easy. We picture it having the feel-good romance of a Nicholas Sparks' novel combined with a Disney Fairy Tale soundtrack. When our own marriage doesn't line up with the Fairy Tale, we're tempted to lose hope, give up or assume we must have married the "wrong person."

Here's the truth about marriage...It's going to be hard some days! That's the bad news, but thankfully, there's good news too. On those days when your marriage is feeling difficult, remember that struggles in marriage are an opportunity to work together and grow together; not a reason to give up.

When your spouse (or your marriage) is facing any kind of struggle or hardship, here are five important ways to support each other.

1. Give encouragement; not just advice

When your marriage is facing any kind of struggle, remember that your spouse will probably need your encouragement and support much more than your advice. Don't just try to just "fix" the problem. Start by building a foundation of commitment and support for each other, then the solutions will usually start to present themselves. Be a good listener.

2. Face EVERY challenge together

Once you are married, there is no longer "his" problems and "her" problems. Every struggle is one you should face as a team. There may be circumstances where one spouse has to deal with more of the issue (struggles at work, etc.), but try to find ways to lighten each others' loads and confront challenges as a unified partnership.

3. Pray with and for each other

In Shaunti Feldhahn's brilliant new book, "_The Good News about Marriage,_" she shared some compelling research on the factors that could prevent divorce. Couples who consistently prayed together were significantly less likely to divorce than couples who rarely or never prayed together. Prayer isn't just good divorce-prevention; it's also an intimate way to reconnect with your spouse and with your Creator.

4. Be considerate of your spouse's feelings (even more than usual)

When facing a struggle, it's even more important than usual to be very considerate, thoughtful and respectful towards your spouse. When emotions are fatigued and feeling are frayed, be extra sensitive towards one another. Be patient with each other. Consider your spouse's feeling in every decision you make and every word you speak.

5. Don't give up on each other!

Any struggle in marriage is something you'll get through if you have faith, face it together and refuse to give up on each other! Persevering through the struggles can bring you closer together than you were before.

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