Aug 012017 3 Responses

4 Valleys Every Marriage Will Face

Marriage is full of mountain tops. Some of the greatest days of our lives are found in the context of being in a relationship with the one we love. Nearly all of my favorite days have been with Jenny–our wedding day, when our kids were born, the boat ride in Kaui, the car ride around Kapalua, the hike to Iceberg Lake, golf and dinner at Pebble Beach, and sunset at Lake Moraine.

In a marriage, the good times should be cultivated and appreciated. We should be overwhelmed with gratitude for the good days.

But not every day will be spent on the mountain top. Every marriage can be assured of difficult moments. There will be times of great grief, sorrow, frustration, and disillusionment.

4 Valleys of Marriage

1. The weariness of the child-bearing years. For many couples, the first real test of their relationship is the childbearing years. While some choose not to have children, most husbands and wives do desire offspring. These can be trying years. Few things are as emotionally taxing as trying to get pregnant and not being able to. Few things are as physically exhausting as bearing a child and enduring the sleepless nights of those first few years. While these can be rewarding times, husbands and wives should expect these to also be trying times. They may not feel as emotionally close to one another. It takes time and effort to learn how to support one another.

2. The blandness of the 7-year itch. Legend says it happens in 7 years, but forget the number. Whether it’s at year 7 or 10 or 17, every couple will go through a season (and probably multiple seasons) in which the familiarity of one another will create a blandness. This doesn’t mean your love is dying or it’s time for a new marriage. It simply means you have reached a level of stagnation and you need to grow and learn more about one another. While these moments frighten some couples, they are actually moments of great potential. If partners use the blandness as a challenge to reconnect, they will likely develop a deeper connection with one another. (See: How to Combat the 7-Year Itch)

3. The battle of raising teenagers. Having kids is difficult, but raising teenagers is often the greatest struggle a couple will face. We should never underestimate the emotional toll of raising teenagers. While an exciting time, it’s also one full of grief as we mourn the passing of the childbearing years. It’s a time of fear for we know they are soon to leave the house. It’s also a time of uncertainty because so much of our identity is wrapped around being parents and our roles are soon to change. For most marriages, the late junior high and early high school years are the toughest times in the relationship.

4. The reality of loss. Some couples skip this valley for a long time while others experience it far too early, but every couple is certain to endure seasons of great sorrow. Miscarriage, the death of a parent, or the rebellion of a child are pains we desire to avoid. But life hurts. We are certain to experience loss. In moments of grief, our partners can be the source of our greatest support, but we should also expect that grief will take a toll on our relationships. Sometimes, the first real sorrow a couple faces is their own mortality–the aging of their own bodies. No matter the source, grief is a guaranteed valley we must be prepared to navigate.

Endure the Dark Days

While every marriage can expect moments in the valley, we can’t deal with them passively. We must intentionally confront the tough times so that they are simply seasons of life. We must ensure that those seasons don’t become the defining aspects of our relationship.

Here are three don’ts when it comes to valleys in a marriage:

1. Don’t get stuck. While we all must endure these moments, we can’t get stuck. We must process through the emotions and experiences learning and growing as we go. Tough times don’t kill relationships, but getting stuck in unhealthy patterns during those seasons can end any relationship.

2. Don’t give up. Too often, couples divorce during very predictable times. They don’t realize they are experiencing a normal valley in their marriage and instead assume something is horribly wrong with them. Keep fighting for your marriage. (See: Two Times Never to Divorce)

3. Don’t hesitate to get help. Just because tough times are expected doesn’t mean we can naturally navigate them by ourselves. Nearly every couple will experience moments in which they need to seek professional counseling. It’s better to call a little too quickly than a second too late.

Even the best of marriages will experience many highs and lows. While we should do everything we can to maximize the mountain tops and minimize the valleys, we cannot bypass every sorrow. Expecting them, in part, can empower us to endure.

What’s another valley many couples face?


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