This post is by Deb Alexander.
As I write these words, much of our country finds itself under stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past 55 days, my husband and I have only ventured out to pick up groceries or to go for a walk. We are both working from home now, and we will be for the near future. We are empty-nesters, and we love being together, so this is not a hardship for us. I am grateful for that.
I hope that this at-home season is peaceful for you, too, friend. But I would imagine that for many of you, it is not. If you are a woman who is in a marriage that is broken, for any reason, these words are for you. Please lean in. I want to encourage you.
Here is what I am picturing. Instead of leaving for work each morning, you carry your laptop and your coffee to the kitchen table, which has become your new office. Perhaps your husband’s new office is directly across the table from you. What now, friend? How are you supposed to navigate this season of intense proximity, when, due to the tension in your marriage, it hurts to even be in the same room together? I have three suggestions for you.
First, I want you to breathe. Right now, as you are reading my words, relax your shoulders and draw a deep breath in.
Hold it; don’t exhale quite yet.
Now, exhale. Breathe out all of that air, slowly, until you MUST breathe in again.
Set a timer on your phone to practice breathing. (I know, that sounds funny, doesn’t it? But this kind of intentional breathing DOES take practice!) Do this a few times a day…maybe mid-morning, after lunch, and before you go to sleep.
I also want you to breathe before you speak. Think of it as a pause. During times of stress, it is so easy - and so tempting - to give in to the instinct to speak sharply or unkindly to your husband. Try to pause first, to take a minute to inhale, before you respond to him. Your response will be more likely to be seasoned with grace and not angst.
So, breathing intentionally - at regular intervals throughout the day, and before you speak - is my first suggestion. My second one is to pray. Specifically, I want you to pray for your husband and also for your marriage during this season. Each day, set aside some time for focused prayer for restoration. My favorite verse from Scripture to pray over a marriage that is broken is this one, based on Ephesians 3: Lord, your Word says that you are able to do immeasurably more than all that I ask or imagine. I ask you to restore my marriage for your glory. Amen. (v. 20-21)
You are breathing intentionally, and you are praying purposefully. My final suggestion is to get outside, every single day. Sit on your front step. Lay in the grass in your backyard. Go for a walk. Fresh air is healing. Sunshine is restorative. If it’s raining, open your front door and watch the rain fall for a few minutes. When you walk back into your home, you are likely to feel more peaceful and less stressed, and your calm demeanor will spill out and fill your home.
There is a beautiful verse in Romans 15 that speaks of “endurance through hope.” Isn’t that phrase lovely? As believers, we can endure hard things through hope. This verse continues with an explanation of where that hope comes from: God’s Word. Perhaps, as you inhale, you can remember that short phrase, “endurance through hope.” Maybe you can ask the Lord for help to endure through the hope of His word while you are cooking dinner. And when you walk outside, you could pay attention to how creation displays endurance. Spring flowers push through winter-hardened soil. Trees remain standing despite gusty winds. Evidence of endurance surrounds us. And the Lord sustains us.
Here is my prayer for you during this season: “Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice” (Romans 15: 5-6).
Deb Alexander has been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 30 years. They have two children - a daughter who is married to her own college sweetheart, and a son. Deb was born and raised in New England, and she and her family have called Central Illinois home for over 20 years. She is a writer and a tutor who loves birds, books, long walks on the trail near her home, and family dinners. Deb would love to connect with you on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/
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