"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Protecting your marriage in a survival season

Logan and I have definitely had our share of ups and downs in marriage, but we probably struggle the most when I'm pregnant. I'm hormonal, frustrated about what I can't do, and worried about the baby and how everything is going to end up. He worries about the baby and me, is overwhelmed with his extra responsibilities around the house, and um...struggles with anger (he reads these posts before I publish, don't worry!).

And oh yeah - we can't have sex. Really, the whole physical aspect of our relationship while I'm pregnant is tricky because a lot of things can cause contractions. But this post isn't about that. (Whew!)

At the time of this writing, I'm 16 weeks pregnant and can already say (sadly) that our marriage is struggling. We argue more than we usually do and it's very hard for both of us to feel loved by the other.

So what do we do? Assuming I carry this baby to term, we have 5 more months to go. 5 more months of worrying, frustration, lots of doctor visits, no sex (well, longer since it takes me a few weeks to recover from a C-section), and just a drastic lifestyle change from when I'm not pregnant. It's kind of depressing just thinking about it...

Maybe for you, it's not pregnancy. Maybe your spouse tends to have a busy time of year at work, or there's an illness or death in the family, or you just had a new baby. We all have different times that we consider a "survival season."

I know it's SO important to keep our marriage a priority whenever we're in a survival season. Here are a few things I'm trying to remember to do often:

Pray for your spouse. We should do this anyway, but I know Logan needs prayer more than ever right now.
Find other ways to show love. Since Logan and I can't renew our vows physically (*sob*), we need to focus on other ways to show affection. This is when it's good to know your spouse's love languages! (But if you can have sex, by all means, go for it!!)
Go on frequent dates. Again, we should do this anyway, but it's even more important during a stressful time. It's so easy to be focused on the pregnancy (or whatever situation you might be dealing with) and let our date nights slide. No excuses, though! Go catch a movie or grab a bite to eat. One-on-one time is necessary for the health of your marriage and your entire family. 
Work together. Logan has been doing the dishes for the most part since I became pregnant, and I've been handling the laundry for the most part...but there are days where we both appreciate a little help from each other. Sometimes Logan starts a load for me, and if I'm having a good day physically, I try to be more diligent about staying on top of dishes so Logan doesn't have a sink full later. We're a team! 
Go on a marriage retreat. Logan and I went on our first marriage retreat when I was pregnant with Chase, and it was so, so lovely. And I'm so excited to say we're going on another one soon! It always seems to happen at the perfect time, because God knows what we need. When life gets overwhelming, I highly recommend doing whatever you can to get away with just your spouse for a weekend. You can thank me later. 
Take advantage of the Sacraments - especially Reconciliation. Oh, this is a big one for us. I just love being Catholic because we can draw strength and grace from the Sacraments. And since Logan and I both struggle with impatience (and lots of it), making a regular confession is so, so important. It's way too easy to get stuck in a rut. Confessing our sins and receiving absolution brings so much clarity!

So, what else do you suggest during a survival season? Hit me with your suggestions (because we could use them)!

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