Surviving a Crisis – MM #289

Surviving a Crisis - Pixabay backgroundCrisis is a part of married life, no matter how much we wish it weren’t. And when a husband and wife have been together [for a long time] it’s inevitable that they’ve had their share of tough times. 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 they may 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 —and especially leaning on God for wisdom comfort, strength, and provision —trials can be endured with the relationship intact. In fact, the marriage can do more than just survive. It can come out of the experience ever more solid, and secure than it was before. (Gary Smalley)

Surviving a Crisis

The Bible tells us that God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). And for that reason, we should ALL expect the “storms” of life to hit our marriages. So how do we prepare for a crisis so the foundation of our marriage doesn’t weaken and crumble?

Please prayerfully read a portion of what Donald R. Harvey has to say on this issue in an article titled, Bonds of Steel: Strengthening Your Marriage to Survive Anything. It’s an article, which was featured several years ago in Marriage Partnership Magazine. This article is now housed on the Today’s Christian Woman web site. If you go there, you can read this article in its entirety, along with other helpful articles such as this, which we encourage you to visit.

When Crisis Strikes

But for now, here’s a portion of what Donald Harvey writes on the issue of surviving a crisis:

“Every couple face things they’d prefer to avoid —job losses, severe illnesses, financial reversals, deaths of close family members and many other such events. These storms of life place immense stress on us. And they also test our marriages.

“When crisis strikes, some couples not only weather the storm, they emerge stronger and more united than before. Others struggle through the pain. And some marriages are destroyed by the crisis. So what makes the difference?

“It mostly comes down to what spouses do during the crisis itself. Do they give comfort and support to each other? Or do they withdraw emotionally or cast blame? Do they allow friends or family members to extend support? Or do they isolate themselves from outside help? Do they cling to a spiritual life? Or do they rely, instead, on “their own understanding” and abandon their faith?

“How you react during a crisis is important for the survival of your marriage. But the real battle is won or lost before the crisis occurs.

Donald R. Harvey goes on, further in the article, to say that marriage that survive share at least three characteristics. He goes on to share them:

“First, the couples are committed to marriage as a sacred institution.

Their commitment brings stability and provides staying power even during the most severe setbacks. Every marriage needs this resilience. But true survival requires more than simply bedrock commitment to an institution. If this is the only characteristic working in a marriage’s favor, the relationship can easily become lifeless and devoid of emotion.

“Second, survivors are committed to marriage as a relationship.

I have friends whose daughter was severely depressed, even suicidal. ‘We felt so helpless,’ John told me. ‘When things were at their darkest, my wife Pam and I found ourselves holding each other tight. Through tears, I told her things may get a lot worse for us. But we’ll survive even if it does.’ John was telling Pam he loved her, no matter what might happen. He was committed to more than the institution of marriage. He was committed to his wife Pam.

“For more than 20 years, John and Pam practiced being sensitive to one another’s needs. They had guarded their relationship against time pressures and striving for material success. And they had practiced mutuality —giving and receiving in roughly equal measure over the years. They shared a goal of looking for and doing whatever was in the best interest of their relationship, even if it meant sacrificing some personal comfort. John and Pam survived the pain of their daughter’s depression. And their marriage was made even stronger because of it.

And then lastly:

“The third characteristic that enables couples to weather the big storms of life: vital faith and commitment to God.

Vital faith appreciates ‘the big picture.’ Life doesn’t operate according to our agenda. Pain comes to everyone. And we learn some of the greatest truths from things we wouldn’t choose for ourselves. God uses personal experiences to develop our ability to deal with the crises of life. By learning to trust him in the little storms, we’re prepared to trust him in the big ones.

“Married Christians have to guard against ‘Teflon mentality.’ This is an expectation that pain, stress, and hardship can’t really touch us but will magically slide off. It’s true that Christians aren’t of the world. But we’re definitely in it. We do feel pain and stress. But we don’t have to be overwhelmed by them.”

The truth of what Donald Harvey wrote is profound. Please prayerfully consider what he wrote, plus what we offer below.

If You are in Crisis

To help you survive and to be on the “winning” side of the battles you’re encountering, please take advantage of what we offer here on the Marriage Missions web site. Below are a few additional articles you can prayerfully glean through. Please look to see if God has something there that you can use and/or adapt for your situation, as God shows you:


A MARRIAGE IN CRISIS: Doing What It Takes to Save It



There are a lot more if you look through the topics we have listed for your convenience. We have additional articles, testimonies, blogs, and videos posted on this web site. Plus, there are Facebook postings and Twitters you can take advantage of. We also give a number of Recommended Resources. And most importantly, there is the Prayer Wall on the Home Page. It is available to post marriage prayer requests, or your prayers to God concerning your marriage. Please know that God cares and so do we.

Cindy and Steve Wright

Print Post

Filed under: Marriage Messages

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


6 responses to “Surviving a Crisis – MM #289

  1. (USA) I have been trying to find topics on marriage crisis, when illness hits your life to know I’m not by myself in this. My husband has to be at home and take care of me, which every now and then he complains, because stress gets to him when we lack in areas causing him where he can’t go and support his family the way he wants to. So I just try to tell him we will be ok, God is going to take care of us. He see and knows all, but I feel what’s the use of trying when he gets frustrated? I can only say so much to show I’m not worried so why should he be? I’m the one that has the condition, not him. Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel because marriage is supposed to be through sickness and in death do we part but sometimes I don’t feel it.

    1. (USA) We have tried counseling. Our pastor tells us the same thing over and over. They say, “she can’t help it; she’s like this. You have to love her and pray for her as you both pray for one another.” He carries me but how can he carry me when he’s not strong himself in dealing with addictions, which lure him away from home when under pressure? His deliverance is getting better but he still leaves me at home by myself knowing the drs. tell him I can’t be alone, but he does it anyway when he wants to run from life. So this is where it bothers me the most.

      1. Stacy, again… I’m so sorry. I mean that with all sincerity. Some people don’t deal with pressure as maturely as they should. If your husband has dealt (and is dealing) with addictions, he obviously finds unhealthy ways to escape, rather than gritting through them. It’s amazing that when we make the vow, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health… till death do us part” that we’re surprised when the “for worse” or the “in sickness” happens. Sadly, many spouses look to find a way to get out of it, even in short escapes… sometimes longer.

        I’ve been there. I remember several times thinking, “I didn’t marry this… I shouldn’t have to deal with this.” But that was my selfism speaking — not marriage partnership. I made a vow and yes, I did “marry” into the possibility of the “worse” happening sometimes. I just didn’t fully realize it at the time. The Lord has since showed me that it is what it is… Steve didn’t marry knowing he would bring this into our marriage either. But the true test of our character –who we are deep inside, comes out when adversity hits us. Adversity hits EVERY marriage. It just comes in different packages. What I’ve learned is that when the “worse” hits, because we’re married, both Steve and I, in essence, pledged to try to make this “sickness” thing work as best as we can.

        Stacy, if your husband isn’t doing what he should be doing, if you are finding yourself struggling alone when it seems you shouldn’t, all you can do is the best you can. Pray that he wakes up and changes in a positive way, and that somehow, you will be able to handle whatever comes your way as it happens. Perhaps someday, he will wake up and change. That happens sometimes. But until and unless that happens, all you can do is the best you can –to do this illness thing as upright as you can. “Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright.” (Psalm 112:4) I pray the Lord meets your needs.

    2. Hi Stacy, If you look in the “Mental and Physical Health” topic you will see a number of articles that address the issue you mention. First off, let me tell you that I’m so sorry that you find yourself in such a “condition” that your health takes extra care, to make it through a day. My heart goes out to you and to your husband. I’ve been on both ends of the health issue, where I’ve battled serious health issues (although thankfully, they didn’t stay permanently, even though at the times, I didn’t know that would be true) and I’m also the one who has a spouse who has serious health issues. As a matter of fact, he’s home from work today because he had a VERY rough night last night because of his Diabetes. It was an all night thing. And of course, when he is having a difficult time, so am I. I got even less sleep than he did and it’s been difficult.

      As you read through the topic on physical health issues, I hope that you sense that when one spouse hurts in some way, the other is affected, as well. Of course, the spouse who is ill has it worse because of both the physical and emotional strain of it all. After-all, who wants to be sick and cause such an upset, on top of it all? But please know that the other spouse is affected too. Sometimes the other spouse doesn’t respond as sensitively as we think he or she should… but that doesn’t negate the fact that his or her world changes with the illness too. I’ve come to realize this through time and experience and the Lord showing me both sides.

      I’ve learned that when I’ve battled with health issues and surgeries, I need to try to be as sensitive as I can to my husband –not to dismiss that he has needs, and that he has feelings about it all that bump at him and knock him off-guard, plus the extra load that he has to carry because I can’t (and the fact that sometimes I’m not as kind as I should be when the illness is knocking me for a loop, as well). It’s a strain on him too, in a different way, but just as impactful to him as my strain is to me. And then when I’m the one who needs to step up because of his illnesses (his being a Type 1 Diabetic, which brings with it all kinds of scenarios) and surgeries and such, I feel the strain in a totally different way.

      I want you to know that I’m not complaining, because I deeply love my husband and caring for him is all a part of our marriage, at times. But I still have feelings and things to do that are “complicated” when his issues arise. He has learned to try to be sensitive to all this, as well. We didn’t always do it as “nicely” and politely as we do now, and sometimes we still don’t, but we’re trying. We’re both growing and learning.

      The turning point though, was when I finally “got it” as far as how all of this affects my husband –whether he was the one with physical issues or he was the one trying to tend to my needs on top of other things going on, that needed attention. God helped me to soften my approach and not to concentrate so much on how I felt, but to see beyond my own needs to his. Even though sometimes all I could offer was a “Thank you” and a kiss and a promise to pray for him, it went a long way to helping him release the pressure he was feeling. When he realized that I recognized the strain this was on him, he seemed to be able to handle things better. And visa versa is true. This morning he came up to me and put his arms around me and told me how sorry he was for how the evening went with his Diabetes issues. Just his saying that, helped me. I then was able to respond back, “I know you wouldn’t have chosen for things to go the way they did… I’m so sorry that you have to suffer through these types of events sometimes.” It was healing for both of us.

      Stacy, I’m not saying that you and your husband will go through the same scenario, as far as the hugging and apologizing and the softer approach to all that goes on in your situation (although I hope you do), but hopefully, what I’m saying will help you to process through this a bit differently. Yes, it’s horrible that you have to physically suffer as you do, but yes, your husband has frustrations and his life is affected too. He sounds like someone who is wired to try to take financial care of his family and is releasing steam when he complains. I’m sorry. I wish neither one of you had to go through this. But you do. So all we can do in our human frailty is to do the best we can, and try to help one another as best we can, giving each other grace and space when needed –whether we are the patient or the care-giver. Both positions have their own difficulties. You may think to yourself, “I wish we could switch so he knows what it’s like to be on this end of things” …but that isn’t possible. Instead, it works best to try to be as sensitive as you can and make the situation work as best as possible. “Throwing in the towel” only complicates matters all the more.

      I realize that you need to let steam off, as well. I hope that by just writing what you did helps in some way. I pray the Lord embraces you in His love and care and strengthens you and your husband to “fight the good fight” whether in sickness or in health. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)

      1. (USA) Thank you as the Holy Spirit uses to cover all bases what I am dealing with and my husband as well. Now I know there are others out there that are dealing with issues as well, and men leaving their wives in the fire as well when pressure hits. Instead of standing there and fighting, some run…which tears at the family, kids, and marriage. One day we all be restored back as a whole family.

  2. (USA) Thanks so much Cindy for posting this. I have struggled for many years with being “abandoned” physically and mentally by my husband whenever I get sick. Most of the time it is short term, but at a time when I “need” his support and care the most, he disappears, often physically, and refuses to even recognize my illness, expecting me to carry on as usual. We just went through a time the past few weeks, and now that I’m recovering, he’s back to interacting, like I was never even ill! It’s just as if it never happened. Needless to say, this has been very distressing to me. I have hidden health issues from him, just to avoid rejection and feeling like I’m to blame for getting sick.

    I’m going to print and reread your post, because I feel the key is how I respond to his rejection of me during illness. His reactions have been a consistent pattern throughout our 20+ years of marriage, and as we are aging, I realize the potential for more health issues to occur. I also know that our emotional and physical well being are closely linked, and I would like to learn a healthier way of responding to his behavior when I become ill.