The first six months of dating my future husband flew by in a rush of emotion. We were falling in love, and it felt like a potent cocktail of adrenaline and serotonin flooding my brain. I couldn’t sleep and barely ate because this man was so yummy, and he actually thought I was, too! We met the friends, we met the families and we evaluated one another and searched diligently for red flags, but to our mutual delight, it seemed like this relationship might be the one.
We started pre-marital counseling and then BAM! Out of the blue, we hit a relationship rough patch – a big bump in the road.
Rough Patch in a Relationship or Simple Misunderstanding?
It was a misunderstanding that blew up and almost took out our fledgling relationship. I was a single and divorced mother of two little ones dating a pastor. It was a somewhat unconventional choice for a minister of God, but because of the circumstances (my ex-husband ran off with another married woman in a public debacle), I had the full support of my church community and their blessing. But one day, my darling intended realized he had understood a different timeline of my past than reality. He was off by about a year.
Now, I had been completely upfront and the entire community had walked through the painful circumstances with me, but somehow, he erroneously thought I had been divorced for more time than I actually had. When he realized his numbers were off, he panicked and thought I misled him. We argued, tears were shed and, ultimately, we both had to make a choice about whether to continue with our relationship.
Is Your Love Worth Fighting For?
A friend sat down with my future husband and asked him some tough questions about this rough patch in our relationship. What was it about this misunderstanding that so upset him? Was it the fear of marrying someone with a past failed relationship? Was he afraid of getting duped? Did the perceived change in dates really make a difference in our relationship?
I also had to determine if I could trust someone who didn’t believe the best about me and thought I was trying to mislead him. These were important clarifications we had to make to move forward. Understanding what’s behind the roadblocks and leaning into the fears are crucial steps that must be taken to determine if this is a relationship worth doing the work for.
Finding A Mentor
Once we both calmed down, the two of us sat down with a counselor and hashed out the misunderstanding. Then, we realized we had some work to do in learning how to mediate conflict and find resolution if we were to move forward in any relationship. I wasn’t a great communicator, and my future husband was an over-communicator, leaving little room for a non-talkative person to articulate. It was an eye-opening moment where we both acknowledged our individual brokenness and determined that we wanted to be together and were willing to do the hard work.
But we also knew we needed assistance. We simply didn’t have the communication tools in our wheelhouse to navigate the trials and circumstances of life that would inevitably come. We committed to regular meetings with a counselor, and ten years later, still meet with a trusted mentor twice a month. It’s been a critical investment in our marriage and along with our faith, a high priority in our lives.
The Glue Of Adversity
We often forget that love is a choice. You will have to choose one another in the painful times. Love, like any intentional choice, is not easy, and real love might be one of the hardest things in the world we choose to do. Many of us are so deceived about what love actually entails that we get it wrong before we even begin. We believe love is a feeling. We think sex is love. We think our happiness comes from love, and we mistake infatuation for love. Love is none of these things.
The Bible is clear. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13)
When we go through trials together, we begin to write a shared story. Think of a scary time in your life when you joined together with another person to overcome an obstacle. This experience bonds you together because you faced the difficulty side by side and encouraged one another to keep going. It’s the same thing with a rough patch in a relationship. If you can stop turning against each other and remember that you’re on the same team, the glue of adversity will make your relationship that much stronger. Bumps in the road don’t have to tear you part if you can slow down, grab your partner’s hand and overcome them together.
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