By: Ashley Durand
Everyone said marriage would be hard.
But our first year of marriage wasn’t hard in predictable ways.
Sure, there were little adjustments here and there, tiny conflicts like agreeing on how much to budget for groceries or what time to go to bed. But we had a lot of fun together, laughed constantly, and loved each other more every day. We led small group and kids club at church, and felt God’s hand of blessing. Our relationship was easy and full of unity. We rarely argued.
However, within that first year, we had a miscarriage. A few months later I got appendicitis and had emergency surgery. Then the doctors discovered a tumor in my abdomen which had the potential to cause infertility or to be cancerous (it turned out to be neither, praise Jesus). But the worries of “what if” were heavy during that season. In addition, my husband had two career changes and wrestled with God about his calling and purpose.
We each dealt with the hardships in different ways, which was both good and hard.
These difficult things could have pulled us apart. But through it all, two things cemented us closer and made our marriage stronger.
- Our Faith. As Hebrews 6:19-20a says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner has entered on our behalf.”Even with the circumstances of life swirling around us like mighty storm winds, the truth of the Lord’s goodness gave us hope beyond the present. We knew that if Jesus cared about our eternal destiny, He certainly cared about our current situation, too.But I began to question God’s purposes, and His promises seemed but a small flickering candle threatening to be engulfed by the darkness. My husband’s strong faith and trust in God put enough oxygen back in my flickering flame to light it ablaze once more.
His spiritual leadership during that tumultuous time also raised my level of respect and admiration for him. His gentle care for me showed me what the love of Jesus really looks like. And as we prayed together and held onto God’s Word when everything else seemed unsure, our hearts were knit together in new and stronger ways.
- Date Night. Every week, we took (and still take) intentional time to have fun together, talk to each other about something other than work, budgets, or schedules, and invest in our marriage. Without that time, we could have easily lost sight of our friendship or forgotten to romance each other.On date night, we ask each other fun questions, read a chapter of a marriage book, refuse to watch TV, and find an activity to do. Sometimes we get really dressed up and go out for a fancy dinner. Other times we don workout clothes and go for a hike or bike ride. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to create an opportunity to bond.
These hours spent together have made our relationship strong to weather the storms, helping us find joy in each other when life is hard.
Because we believe so deeply in the value of date night, we created a blog, “Dating After I Do,” which is chalk full of ideas for other married couples. Focus on the Family has been leading in this space for years, and I would encourage you to check out the ministry’s website for guidance and direction.
If you want to come out on the other side of hard times with a stronger marriage like we did, I highly suggest digging deep into your faith, and investing in your spouse. Trust me, you won’t regret it! Life is hard, but marriage doesn’t have to be.
Ashley Durand is a publicist for Focus on the Family.