The First Five Years: You Will Struggle, But You Will Survive.

What a crazy month this has been! It was silly of me to think it would even be possible to write 5 posts this month! Trice and I celebrated our anniversary in Chicago, Emerson turned 3, and both my parents and my sister’s family came to visit this month! Back up a little…….. did I just say Emerson turned 3? Yes, I did. My little chunky monkey baby is now a big 3 year old. We had such a fun time celebrating him this month!! 

I'm three!

Nonetheless, I am here today wanting to share my second nugget that I have learned over the last five years! If you are someone who has had a marriage crumble or has been divorced in the past, know that there is no condemnation in this post. My heart hurts with you, and I do not judge you. I pray that God uses these words as an encouragement for you when and if you re-enter a marriage covenant.

#2: You WILL struggle in marriage, but you WILL survive.

Trice and I didn't fight for like the first year of our marriage. We just agreed on everything. I thought everything that Trice did was so cute and vice versa, and we just had a simple little life in our apartment off Jefferson Highway. I remember looking at couples with "issues" and thinking "that will NEVER be us." I remember people saying, "Wait until the newlywed phase wears off," and scoffing. How dare someone tell me what would happen in our marriage? No matter how bad things got, we would always agree and drool over one another and selflessly love one another. CRASHHHHH. That naive thinking came crashing down early on. As much as I tried to will that we would never have rough patches in our marriage, rough patches happened anyway. 

Hard seasons are a guaranteed part of marriage. 

I repeat. Hard seasons are a GUARANTEED part of marriage.

Perhaps you are a newlywed and you are still 100% smitten and could never imagine a hard day with your spouse... I am here to tell you that you WILL eventually have a rough patch in your marriage.

Why am I telling you this? To be a Debbie Downer? To steal your joy that comes along with marriage? No way. I am telling you this because I believe it is more beneficial to be aware of challenges that lie ahead than to live a life of naivety and go into shock when life, or your marriage gets tough. I am telling you this so that instead of fearing that tough times will happen, you will instead be EQUIPPED when the tough times do happen. Like birthing a baby for instance... I would much rather someone tell me that labor is going to hurt and teach me ways to prepare for the challenge rather than for someone to "encourage" me and say it doesn't hurt that bad and then be in the middle of labor and not have any idea how to cope with the pain! I am telling you this to encourage you that although tough times will happen, your marriage was designed to last and persevere.

My dreams of perfect marital bliss came to a screeching halt after our first fight. I thought that the only way to have a truly fulfilled marriage was to have a perfect marriage with no fights. But what a lie! PERFECTION IS NOT THE GOAL. Disagreements are common even in healthy marriages. Just because you and your hubby are One doesn't mean that you automatically think the same way and agree on everything.

Over the last 5 years, Trice and I have had several rough patches. Trice and I have had several fights. Trice and I don't see eye to eye on everything. There are times when he annoys me and I annoy him (gasp!) We have had seasons of doubt where we wonder, "God, are you sure this is the person you meant for me to marry?" But when we made our marriage vows at the altar, God was there. We committed before God to the good and to the bad and to spend the rest of our lives with one another until death do we part. We are stuck like chuck to one another and not throwing in the towel. We have pressed through hard seasons. We are making it! We are HEALTHY and we love one another deeply. Praise God!

We have learned to cherish the seasons where we see eye to eye on everything and fighting is nonexistent. If you are in one of these seasons, good for you! Cherish those times and bask in the amazingness of one another. Enjoy every single second while it lasts! Don't take a single moment for granted because these moments will NOT last forever, as much as you try to will them to.

If, however, you and your hubby are in a rough patch, that's okay. I know there are many people who have come before you who have divorced. I know you have seen broken marriages even within the Church. There are enough people who will tell you that your situation is harder for God to handle or that you are the exception or that if your husband did A, B and C then yeah, maybe you should go ahead and divorce. If that's what you are wanting to hear, that's not going to happen in this post. Today I am going to be the person to say this:

It is NOT doomsday for your marriage.

You WILL get through this season.

You WILL survive.

You are not on the verge of divorce.

Do not give up.

Your marriage is not incapable of being fixed.

Leave those worries behind! Hard seasons are a part of the marriage journey. Nobody ever said two people becoming one was easy, right? Do not fear these difficult times, for these are the times where marriage really has an opportunity to shine. It is through these seasons of persevering that strength is gained, character is built, and love is deepened!

I love what Paul says in Romans 5:3-5:

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will NOT lead to disappointment!"

Don't we want our marriages to be full of strength and character and hope? Persevere through your tough season and watch how God will build you up and bless your marriage! You will not be disappointed :)

Something that we recently found freedom in was bringing our conflicts to outside counsel. I used to think that marriage counseling was for the weak, but now I have learned that even the healthiest of couples has sought outside counsel in hard times. A couple of months ago, Trice and I were REALLY butting heads. Frankly, we were fed up with one another and couldn't come to any place of peace in our marriage. We attended a "Marriage Challenge" at our church, which is basically the opportunity to sit with a more-seasoned married couple and talk through your issues. And let me tell you -- THERE WAS SO MUCH FREEDOM IN THAT! Being able to sit with an older married couple who had FAR more wisdom than we have brought us so much peace and so much revelation about our marriage. Things were brought up that I needed to change and things were brought up that Trice needed to change. There was no "winner" or Mr. Right. The goal was to grow as a couple, learn to persevere, and yield to what God was trying to tell us to change about ourselves, not about each other!

If you have a married couple you trust or a similar program at your church, make it a point to seek that counsel. Or if you have a trusted mentor or someone who you look up to spiritually, ask for advice and wisdom in how to resolve your issues and make it through the tough times. I always bring it to Trice's attention if I am doing this so that it does not feel like I am talking about him behind his back. And he does the same thing with me. My point is, don't live in secrecy about your struggles. Don't pretend that everything is fine on the outside if you and your husband are really struggling. If your child is sick, you would not just sit there and pray that your child's sickness goes away and not do anything to help your child. You would bring your child to the doctor or chiropractor or whip out your Essential Oils or WHATEVER. It is the same thing with your marriage! I am not saying to gossip behind your husband's back with a friend. I am saying seek God and find someone who sees how VALUABLE your marriage is and who will speak life in areas where death is trying to sneak in. Refuse to believe the lie that your marriage is on the brink of divorce and persevere, persevere, persevere. Asking others to come alongside you to encourage you really helps the persevering process.

I want to end with this promise in Psalms. 

Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord."

My prayer is that as you and your hubby face hard seasons, that you will persevere and that God will set you two on solid ground and steady your marriage! And that through that, you will be able to sing a song of thanksgiving and others will come to know Him!!