Have you ever wanted to quit trying in your marriage?
Recently we had another one of those conversations that we’ve had hundreds of times in our marriage and I felt that familiar feeling…can’t believe we are here again…this is just too hard.
I’ve wanted to quit many times. Not quit as in divorce, but quit trying to understand, to be patient, to try harder, to keep growing and changing. I wanted us to resolve this once and for all even if it meant we called a truce and agreed that this was how it had to be.
The conversation that day was about sex.
In the baby and kid season of our marriage my overwhelming need was for sleep. The demands of pregnancy, nursing, sick kids, potty training, allergies, and injuries kept me on the go from the moment my eyes fluttered open till the last little one was finally asleep. And then I still had the kitchen to clean or the laundry to fold or some task that always called to my growing sense of adult responsibility. Much depended on me and it was exhausting.
I remember thinking my life would be easier without it. Have you felt that too?
One day I stood in our adorable sunny yellow bungalow with baby number 4 on my hip, the other three in various places alternately playing and squabbling and creating messes when I experienced a moment of panic.
I realized I had no idea how to balance being a mom, which often made me feel like an empty vending machine, and switch to wife mode when my husband walked in the door. I knew I wasn’t the first woman on the planet to experience that unresolvable tension, but I felt bewildered just the same.
More conversations ensued between us as we worked to figure out how to meet all the unending needs: his, mine, and the kids’.
Teens added an entirely new dimension to our lives.
Late nights and hard conversations with them about boundaries, friendships, boyfriends, girlfriends, school, driving, media, piercings and other dialogues, sometimes lectures, I never had with my parents about issues that didn’t exist in that world long gone. In addition learning disabilities, medical issues, and a prodigal dashed my hopes that parenting the right way would protect us from painful difficulties.
Keeping our marriage healthy in the teen years was far more challenging than I ever imagined. Fatigue was ever present for me but added in this season was fear. Questions loomed: would they survive to adulthood, would they avoid the life-altering temptations, would they make good choices?
Wanting to quit growing and learning in marriage was a constant temptation.
Adding complexity to my soul was the knowledge that God didn’t operate as I always thought. He doesn’t owe me for my attempts to live for Him. He doesn’t overrule the stubborn will of a teen or an adult who refuses Him. He waits and works patiently for purposes I can’t see or know.
Once-and-for-all solutions just don’t exist in marriage or any relationship.
Throwing myself before Him, surrendering my heart and my will to Him – not just in a crisis but in every day challenges and every day normalcy – is the only hope for a marriage that endures to the end.
How to Love Each Other More
Our differences as male and female have continued to create clashes in the ways we approach life. Our preferences in foods, temperatures, activities, interests, pace of life and a hundred other counter balances keep us on the verge of disunity unless we are walking in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
It is He who supplies peace when my fears want to rule.
It is He who gives grace when I want my own way.
It is He who gives strength to keep learning and listening.
It is He who comforts when I am hurt or bewildered again.
It is my decision to nurture a heart that wants to please Him first and foremost.
Only the miraculous work of God’s ever present, Spirit-led whispers can keep my marriage alive and life giving. It is a great joy to be in this place of deep understanding in our marriage. We love each other more than we ever thought possible in the beginning.
Only those who refuse to quit, who stubbornly cling to the hope of redemption in the broken places of marriage, will find and enjoy the beauty of His intentions.
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If you’ve wondered how and why and wanted to quit too, I’d like to invite you to a conversation in Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife, a book comprised of short letters I wrote to share my marriage challenges and findings with my daughters, and you too.
★★★★★ Incredibly beautiful. It’s not often that I rave about a book. But I can’t help raving about Barbara Rainey’s new book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being A Wife. I rave and I gush. It is so incredibly beautiful from the first page to the last. Not only is Barbara a gifted and powerful writer, but you’ll find a sprinkling of gorgeous art throughout her book as well. This insightful – and honest – perspective on marriage will make a lovely present to each of my own daughters. And it’s definitely a book that I will be reading over and over again. ~ Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women
Best-selling author Barbara Rainey knows firsthand the challenges newly married couples face. Dismayed by Hollywood depictions of marriage and the seemingly easy solution of divorce, she sees a desperate need for a voice of experience, a mentor who has been there and understands—and can encourage, coach, and care.
As her daughters began their married lives, Barbara wanted to share with them, and now you, some of the lessons she learned throughout her own marriage as well as those gleaned from years of ministry to couples. In these heartfelt, insightful letters, she answers the tough questions and addresses the realities of marriage. Through personal stories—including her own mistakes—and practical advice, Barbara provides the tools and direction to help you become a godly wife and determine your part in achieving a better marriage.
Barbara Rainey, wife of 42 years. Empty nester to 6 kids and 22 grandkids. Cofounder of FamilyLife. Creator of Ever Thine Home. author & artist. Inspires women to see mundane moments as sacred and meaningful. Still in awe at being loved by God.