When Cindy and I (Steve) repeated our wedding vows on March 18, 1972, and we got to the part where we said we would take each other “…in sickness and in health,” neither one of us dreamed our marriage would be tested in that way just two years later. We never dreamed we would hit the hard times that we did.
In April 1974, I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic. This meant that I’d have to deal with this disease daily. I would also have to take multiple insulin shots for the rest of my life. The turmoil my diabetes brought into our marriage nearly destroyed it.
Love Through the Hard Times
We know that hundreds of thousands of husbands and wives live with the difficult challenges of their partners’ illnesses day after day. They do this with no relief in sight. This can put a real strain on the marital relationship. That is because the thought of a “normal” marriage is no longer possible.
Most everyone will encounter some type of crisis, if you’re married any length of time. The challenge is to make it work for you, rather than allowing it to destroy you.
As Dr Gary Smalley said:
“Crisis is a part of married life, no matter how much we wish it weren’t. Such crisis —for example, health problems, financial trials, struggles with a child —can eat away at the foundation of any marriage. Sadly, more and more these days the result is a couple just going through the motions of married life, or even divorce. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.
“While crisis are unavoidable, marital collapse is not. By pulling together and continuing to honor each other —especially by leaning on God for wisdom, comfort, strength, and provision —trials can be endured with the relationship in tact. In fact, the marriage can do more than just survive. It can come out of the experience even more solid, secure, and fulfilling than it was before.”
Support THROUGH the Hard Times
As we look back on everything that has happened because of my diabetes, we can honestly say that what Satan could have used to use to destroy our marriage has actually made our marriage stronger. How so? We determined early on to grab onto the strength God promised He would give to those who asked for it. And with that strength we support each other through each difficulty. We do this somehow, some way with all the determination we can muster!
For those of you who are living with this challenge (or know a couple who is) we want to provide you with some practical advice. It’s something we found in a Focus on the Family magazine a while back. It’s written by Vance Hardisty who wrote the article, “Desert Places.”
Furthermore, in this article, Vance shares his personal testimony of what helped him and his wife deal with his “physical breakdown.”
Here’s a portion of the advice he gives:
If your spouse is in the midst of a trial, cling to God. Then try to understand more of what your partner is feeling. Here are a few things to remember:
- No one, not even you, will fully comprehend what your mate is going through.
- Your spouse may believe his/her time, talents and life are being wasted. They may see no reason, temporal or eternal, for any of the pain.
- God may seem so silent that your spouse will think God has abandoned him/her. He/she may be convinced that this desert [experience] will never end.
Vance then gives seven suggestions for strengthening your spouse “in the midst of it all.”
1. Pray without ceasing. Pray for his/her spiritual, emotional and physical healing. Pray that they will trust God, that your marriage will grow stronger and that your children will learn how to handle tough times by watching you. Surround your mate, his/her work, their friends and everything they do with prayer.
2. Listen with your heart. When he/she rails at God, don’t condemn them. When he/she sounds hopeless, encourage him. When he/she needs a sounding board, work with them to discover what God is doing. Always be available. If he/she needs to talk things through over and over, be patient. Some problems have no solutions. Just be willing to listen.
3. Schedule breaks for yourself. Several times a week, make arrangements to get away from the situation. You don’t have to leave for long, but do something you enjoy, meet with friends, or go somewhere— whatever is necessary to recharge yourself. Breaks will give you the strength and patience you need.
4. Absorb God’s Word. When all is dark, feed on the hope found throughout the Word of God. When you are tempted to doubt, the Holy Spirit will guide you. If you immerse yourself in Scripture, your counsel to your hurting mate will be based on the wisdom of God.
5. Find a confidant. Choose someone spiritually mature who will listen, comfort and counsel you. When my wife met periodically with a woman like this and confided in her, my wife was careful never to betray me. She assured me that she never revealed personal details and never criticized me.
Your spouse knows he/she is hard to live with while in his/her desert place, and you certainly could complain about a wealth of things to your friends. Share your problems in general with a friend or two. Don’t reveal your spouse’s weaknesses in a way that negatively portrays them. By not exposing your spouse, you will build the foundation of his/her trust in God and make your marriage rock solid.
6. Seek professional counseling. There may be situations that require professional intervention. Don’t be afraid to seek qualified help for you or your spouse.
7. Know God’s plan for you is good. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Write out verses like this, and put them on your kitchen cupboards and bathroom mirrors. Saturate your mind with their truth.
To read the article in its entirety, please go to the Focus on the Family – South Africa web site and read, Desert Places.
The Supporting Spouse
In addition, if you are the “supporting spouse” we want you to know that God is honored by your faithfulness through this difficult trial. Please know that you are a testimony of God’s grace to your children, family and friends.
In conclusion, please keep in mind that:
“Love sends a strong, clear message. It says, ‘I’m here for you, you are a major priority, you can count on me. Your happiness and well being are just as important to me as my own.'” (Evelyn and Paul Moschetta)
Also remember, as it relates to this matter, we are told in 1 Corinthians 13:8: “Love never fails.“
Steve and Cindy Wright
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