A Marriage Tune Up
The thing that concerns me most for infertile couples is their marriage. The grief, constant waiting, and never-ending longing for a child can wedge a big gap between a husband and wife. My question for you today is this: are you fighting for your marriage?
When you made a covenant to love each other “until death do you part”, you made that with the Lord and with your spouse. You were both good-willed people. You loved and respected each other. You had dreams and passions that you set out to pursue arm-in-arm.
Life happens, trials come, and it can either strengthen or weaken your marriage. Infertility can be an extremely difficult trial. It means that something is wrong with one or both of you. Your physical flaws come to the forefront and that longing for children is now confirmed as unfulfilled.
How are you going to handle that? Are you going to focus on the flaws that you or your spouse feel like you have because you’ve gained the title “infertile”? Are you going to allow yourself to feel shameful and like a failure? Or, are you going to choose to see each other as the beautiful person you married, remembering all the reasons you fell in love with one another in the first place, and keep running the race of life arm in arm? I pray you choose the latter.
If you’re willing to fight for your marriage, what are you prepared to do for that? Here are some tips to get you started:
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it many times again. Communication is so very important to get you through this. If you choose to fight infertility on your own strength and by yourself, you could hinder and even lose your marriage. You are meant to be vulnerable with one another. You’re meant to serve your spouse. You aren’t respecting and trusting him or her if you’re not willing to open up and share how you’re handling and processing this trial. This is definitely one that you need to do together.
Share with him or her when you’re struggling. What triggered it? What aspects are you struggling with? What avenues do you want to pursue? Is your spouse in agreeance?
2) Pray Together
There is power in prayer and there’s a special bond of unity when a husband and wife seek God’s counsel together. By choosing to lay yourselves down and claim your dependency on the Lord, it reminds you of who’s really in charge. It helps you to know that God has a plan in this and that He will direct your steps. You can give the weight of the infertility to Jesus, and ask Him what He requires of you today and in this season. You may not get the answer you want, or it may not happen right away, but if you put God in the center of the decisions, He’ll provide the peace, wisdom, and hope you need to keep going.
3) Seek Counsel
If your spouse and you feel like it’s too much for you both, or even just one of you, seek counsel. It could be a professional counselor, or it could be a wise couple that you respect and look up to. Pray about it with them, talk about your ideas and see if they feel it would be a good fit for you. Ask them to keep your marriage accountable; to check in with you every once and a while to make sure the two of you are on the right track and there’s nothing furrowing underneath the surface. If you choose this though, you need to be open with them. Hiding how you’re really doing will be pointless. If you can’t share comfortably with that couple, seek professional help. They have mad skills at working the gunk out of you.
4) Apply Resources
There’s a ton of great resources for marriage, but there’s two that I would highly recommend. It’s been amazing for Michael and I, and a bunch of other couples we know as well.
The first one is “Love and Respect”. If you have Right Now Media, you can find it for free on there. They have a book explaining their concepts, but I feel the video series is excellent! They also have the DVDs that you can purchase online.
The concepts are very practical. Women were made to naturally love and men were made to naturally respect. It can be difficult for men to love the way a woman feels she needs to be, and it can be difficult for a woman to respect a man the way he needs to be.
Dr. Emerson Eggerich and his wife Sarah break down the concepts both practically and spiritually to know how to apply this to your marriage. Michael and I have gone through this series twice over the years. We always take something from it to hit the refresh button and strengthen our marriage.
The second resource that I recommend is called “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This resource helps you to understand the different ways your spouse and you give and receive love. There are five components: gifts, physical touch, quality time, acts of service, and words of affirmation. He breaks down each one and explains how to minister to your spouse with these “languages” in mind.
It is good to apply all of them when serving your spouse, but there’s one or two that you should spend some extra attention on in order to love them well.
5) Find Something to Work Towards Together
This is a personal one, so it might not be the same for you. But I find that when Michael and I are working towards something together, it unites us that much more. Whether it be working at paying off our mortgage, finding creative ways to bless others, or working out together, it is invigorating. It gives us a goal to strive towards and keeps us working together. This helps the communication flow as well because we have something to talk about that we both enjoy, which helps when we have to have the hard conversations as well. A balance of good and tough conversations is helpful.
By applying these recommendations, your marriage will start to strengthen again. Don’t hold tightly to the label “infertile”. That’s exactly what the enemy would love for you to do. Hold tightly to who God created you to be and the fact that there is purpose in this. Whether a child is to come into your family or not.
There are many needs around this world that need our attention. We need to be where God wants us to be. If we work with our spouse hand-in-hand in what the Lord desires from us at this point in time, we will feel the reward and joy of the present time, knowing that He’s working the future out for us.
Keep focused on the Lord and your marriage. Those are the most important investments to make. Then seek His counsel and that of wise people in your life, and apply what He tells you to do. Don’t run ahead. Keep in step with Him and your spouse.