In Canada, January is one of the coldest months of the year. We get massive snowstorms and the temperature can drop to -40 degrees (which is the same in Fahrenheit and in Celsius) or even colder if you go up to the far north. While some people marvel at all of the things we do to survive the cold, for us, it’s just part of winter. We have to make sure we’re prepared for this season, but we also do so knowing that these cold days will pass and that spring and a beautiful summer are not that far off.
What’s true in Canada is true in marriage. When you get married, you need to know that every couple faces difficult seasons. But in the same way we can do simple things to prepare for the extreme cold, we need to know the challenges in marriage and how to overcome them. Here are 5 ways to overcome challenges in marriage.
1. Have the right tools.
Part of getting set for winter means dusting off our winter gear; from mittens and boots to shovels and winter tires, we need to make sure we have the right tools on hand to face the cold and snow. In a similar manner, healthy spouses have specific tools at hand for whatever struggles might come along. These tools include good communications skills so we can express our needs and hurts, a humble attitude that quickly asks for forgiveness, and a willingness to forgive when we are asked. Having these tools sharpened and readily at hand will make it much easier to face any marital struggle.
2. Stay connected.
Cars in Canada come with block heaters, a small warming element we plug in on cold days and nights that warms the oil pan. This makes it easier to start our vehicles on the really cold days. Likewise, our marriages require us to make a consistent effort to stay connected to our wives. We need to sit with them, talking and listening to them regularly, even at the end of a busy day. We need to make time with them a priority, going out on regular dates. Investing in our marriages like this will mean we’re better connected whenever marital challenges come along.
3. Be ready to do the hard work.
I know that in the winter, there are days I’m going to have to go outside and shovel a lot of heavy, wet snow off my driveway. I might even have to do it multiple times on the same day. We also need to be ready to put in the work required to weather the storms of a marriage. This can include everything from facing the baggage we all bring into a marriage to the miscommunications, disagreements, and other hurts we cause one another. Facing these together can be hard, but when we accept the fact that certain seasons of marriage require more effort than others, we are better prepared for whatever challenges our marriages will face.Recognize the community around you, and be quick to ask for (and accept) their help.
4. Build a community around you.
When we get a significant dump of snow, it’s common to see neighbors out with shovels and snow blowers helping to clear one another’s driveways and sidewalks or helping push a car that’s gotten stuck in a snowdrift. Looking out for one another is even more important in our marriages. We need to identify which other people in our lives are there to support us through our most difficult times. This might be a mentor couple, a neighbor couple who can babysit when we need a night away, or a pastor or therapist who can offer marriage counseling. Know that you don’t need to face challenges on your own. Recognize the community around you, and be quick to ask for (and accept) their help.
5. Snuggle up together.
Sometimes when the storm rages, there isn’t anything to do but hunker down and wait the cold and snow out. Out come the blankets, a warm fire, and an evening of snuggling. When the struggle is such that we have no words to speak and no idea what else to do, simply stopping and holding each other can be the best thing to do. By making a deliberate choice to reach out for one another in the midst of a struggle, you are reminding one another that you’re in whatever you’re going through for the long haul.
Sound off: Share some other challenges in marriage and how to overcome them.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What do you need from me on a bad day?”