Is it possible to stay married during crisis? I don’t just believe it is–I know it is. We’ve been through marriage trials and back. These five tips can help you stay married when hard times hit.
Will and I have not had a perfect marriage.
In fact, that’s one reason why we’ve not written about marriage extensively on this blog–although our entire site is built around building the home and family.
We’ve been through many ups and downs over the past 18 years and were even on the brink of divorce after a crisis we endured in 2009 and again in 2019 after being separated for 6 months.
But praise God–we’ve made it, and we’ve seen the Lord do phenomenal things in our marriage.
We know if he can redeem so many broken things in our relationship, he may heal yours, too. It is possible to stay married during crisis!
(Note: In this post, I am not tackling things like abuse because women should seek immediate help in that circumstance. God is more concerned about you and your safety than you trying to make an abusive relationship work at the risk of your life or health. If your marriage is facing this type of crisis, skip straight to #5 and seek a licensed professional counselor.)
Over the course of our marriage, there are five areas that have proven extremely beneficial in how to stay married during crisis. These are five areas we go back to again and again. We hope they will be helpful to you as well!
How to Stay Married During Crisis
1. Talk to your pastor or a trusted friend
We are incredibly grateful that God has surrounded us with trusted mentors and pastors over the years.
Will’s mentor is a former pastor of ours, and we are good friends with the lead pastor of the church we attend.
When we are having a hard time, we don’t hesitate to request to meet with one of these individuals.
Will usually meets with them alone, or we meet with them together. They speak truth into our lives, lead us to Scripture, pray with and for us, and will hold us accountable.
I talk to my female mentor about our marriage as well. The neat thing is that her personality is very similar to Will’s, so sometimes she can help me see things that will help that I cannot see by myself!
I know that many women have experienced spiritual abuse or been dismissed at the hands of pastors, so if a pastor or other church leader is ignoring the issue you are facing, please step away and do not speak with that individual again. Find someone safe who will listen to you and take the situation seriously.
Many women have been told to just pray harder or be more submissive to win their husbands over, but that often just continues to enable the behavior.
A pastor or trusted friend may be a good place to start if they have a healthy view of marriage and relationships, but many pastors are not trained or equipped to handle deeper, more serious issues that will require a trained licensed professional counselor (more on that later).
2. Take a marriage class, attend a conference, or read resources
Even before we went through marriage crisis, this is something we tried to do every year.
We have always attended churches that offered some kind of marriage ministry. We have taken at least one marriage class every year we’ve been together.
Some of our favorite and most helpful resources have been:
- The Great Sex Rescue
- The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex
- The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex
- She Deserves Better
- Boundaries in Marriage
- The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work
- Created of Connection
I believe one reason we were able to stay married during crisis was because of all we had learned through these resources before, during, and now after our marriage trials.
3. Reconnect emotionally, physically, and spiritually
(Note: Again, if you do not feel safe or emotionally connected in your marriage, sex is not where healing should start. This is a very nuanced area and should be approached with solid, healthy counsel.)
There are several levels of intimacy in marriage, and none of them are mutually exclusive of the other. If there is not emotional intimacy, there is going to be little to no physically intimacy, etc.
If you are in a healthy place or working toward reconnection, sexually intimate with your spouse can bring you closer together, but it is not something that should be forced or coerced. We have seen this in our own marriage, but I have to feel safe and connected. Physical intimacy can help create that, but it usually doesn’t start there.
See some of the resources I mentioned above good reading on this topic. There are a lot of toxic marriage books out there that teach things about sex that are not healthy or biblical. Many of them were given to us when when we first got married, so we had to work to undo a lot of bad teaching in this area (typically as a result of purity culture).
4. Decorate your home with reminders of your marriage commitment
This may seem simple, but visual reminders are good for me. They don’t fix the problem, but once we were able to work through some of the bigger issues, these visual reminders help me at times.
We have decorated our home with Scripture throughout. I believe we have a verse displayed in every single room!
We have made a special point to make our bedroom decor a reminder of our marriage commitment.
We have a “We Still Do” throw pillow on our bed, “We Still Do” picture frame on my nightstand, and a “We Still Do” sign on our wall. (You can see these pictured in this post!)
We got all these from Etsy, and they serve as a reminder that we do still do–even when the going gets tough!!
5. Go to counseling
Last and certainly not least…actually one of the most important…is to seek a trained licensed professional counselor. Never be ashamed about getting professional help.
We have seen several counselors during the course of our marriage, and we will see them again in a heartbeat.
This past summer we went through a hard time and went to several sessions with a licensed Christian counselor. It really helped us work through things, and I’m not sure we would be in the good place we are now if we had not had that extra help.
Yes, counseling can be expensive, but a good counselor is worth the investment. Some counselors do offer discounts and sliding scales based on income level. Some churches will also help out with the expense of marriage counseling. It never hurts to ask!
I would seek out a counselor who is both a Christian and professionally trained. There are definitely “biblical counselors” who are not licensed and can do more harm than good. (Believe me, I’ve been there.) If you find a counselor isn’t a good fit, don’t be afraid to find another one.
(Note: Again, I want to reiterate that if a marriage is abusive or there are other major issues that threaten someone, please seek immediate help.)