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Getting Through Hard Times When You & Your Spouse Are Stuck At Home

By Barbara Rainey

Couples today, married or not, have been feeling the fallout from being stuck with one another at home. Relationships often suffer when hard times happen.

How do we give one other space and lots of grace when marriage becomes hard? 

How do we survive sheltering in place with those we love but can’t get away from? 

A friend, who said she’s not a germaphobe, told me this week she asked her husband to please take off his shoes when he came home from the grocery store to avoid tracking in germs. He forgot because it’s not his usual routine and she said she felt angry that he was endangering his family! She knew it was an overreaction on her part but everyone is feeling hyper-sensitive and anxious these days.

We’ve never lived in a time when it wasn’t safe to be with others, even family. And it’s producing stress in our most important relationships. Interestingly, as the virus declines in Asia a corresponding increase in divorce filings has been recorded. Here are a few thoughts on how to avoid that statistic in your marriage.

I was mentored for many years via books and articles by Elisabeth Elliot. One of her constant replies when asked what to do when in difficult times or relationships was, “Do the next right thing.” We all want to know what’s ahead, to have things figured out, to know when this will end, but Elisabeth’s wisdom reminds us of God’s words, “You do not know what tomorrow will bring,”(James 4:14). Because we can’t know the future, do what is needed next today.

Two other well-known quotes have given me comfort and guidance: “Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light,” by Lilias Trotter, and “Faith is the refusal to panic,” by Martin Lloyd-Jones. Both of these pithy truths remind us of the enduring strength of truth, of a covenant, and our marriage promises chosen when we could see clearly.  Remembering your promises, “in better or worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part.” in these hard days will carry you into better days to come.

Two years ago in another time of stress in our marriage, I wrote a prayer. The truth of going to God for His open-handed help in any difficult time in marriage, even this world-wide Coronavirus pandemic, is the best advice of all. 

Lord, I need to borrow from You.

We had another disagreement,

My husband and I.

His officing at home for a year now

has produced more opportunities

to trust You than I expected.

Exposed more of my flaws than I care to see.

My time is not my own,

my house is no longer my daytime or part time sanctuary,

my kitchen island his landing strip

backpack, keys, stacks of files, scattered along its length.

Like when my children

usurped my world, my space, my peace.

I remind myself 

I’d rather have him and his messes