As I look back on our 32 years of marriage, there are many happy memories. But there are also some tough times we went through when marriage wasn’t anything close to wedded bliss. You can call these rough times “seasons” of a marriage. But whatever you call them, there are certain points that you can feel miserable and upset with each other. You can feel fed up with commitment and its constraints. You may even feel like you want to get out of the marriage. But don’t go by your feelings!

We know marriage isn’t going to be one long, romantic, rose-strewn path. But knowing that marriage is hard at times still doesn’t prepare us to know what to do with those feelings of frustration and pain. The good news is that it’s normal to experience times when you can’t stand the stress and challenges of marriage. Marriage molds two people into one unit. There’s a lot of painful compression that God allows as He makes the two into one.

When you’re in a marriage, but feel like you want out, what will help you outlast that scary season of marital misery? Take a look at the three pivotal checkpoints that will help you go from marital misery to marital mission.

1. Perspective

I’m not talking about being realistic and having the perspective that marriage is hard. I’m talking about getting a perspective of what’s happening. Climb up to a mountain and look down below, and you’ll see the major roads look like tiny squiggly lines. That’s the kind of perspective you need for your marriage.

These tough times are tiny little roads of bitterness, resentment, selfishness or lack of commitment, but they can grow and eat away at the fabric of your marriage. You can’t afford to let these feelings overrun your commitment to love, honor and cherish each other.  You don’t have to deny your feelings, but you do need to put a stop to where they will take you if you let them lead you away from each other.

2. Play Time

Often, when we go through stressful times with career changes, financial concerns, child rearing and health crises, marriage can start to feel like it’s just a big battlefield with one battle after another taking place. It’s time to turn the battlefield into a playground.

Don’t forget to have fun together, even if you have to deliberately schedule time for it. And try to keep a playful attitude with each other as well. When we “play,” we show God we are trusting Him to handle the heavy stuff for us, and we give ourselves permission to delight in His provision and grace. This renews our feelings for each other.

3. Pray Time

Forget formality and church steeples. It’s always a good time to pray when you’re married. Prayer doesn’t have to mean you get solemn and sit down and speak formally to God. Learn to grab your spouse’s hand in a moment of stress and quickly pray, “Father, we invite you into our scene right now. We need you.”

These moments of prayer, repeatedly and honestly spoken, will refresh your marriage and bring God’s power and peace into your problem area.

When marriage feels like misery, it’s time to be honest with yourself, your spouse and God. Admit that it’s hard. Ask for forgiveness and grace from each other. Invite God into your pain and look for His plan for your marriage to emerge.

Determine that whatever feelings arise in your heart during those tough times in marriage, you will not set the course of your marriage by these feelings. Feelings change, but your commitment to each other shouldn’t. You two are more than just married; you’re on a mission to discover the limitless power of God’s love at work in you.

You may also be interested in It Only Gets Better: Why Our Marriage Is Built To Last

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