Some marriages are hard. They take work. They feel lonely. The relational and emotional distance can be difficult to reconcile – usually because one spouse doesn’t want to be close. Sometimes it’s just a season of marriage where busyness and misunderstanding seem to reign. In other marriages the effort needed can span years. 

So how does someone stay strong in a hard marriage? How can they hang on to hope, make healthy choices, and fight for their marriage? 

Here are seven things you can do to stay strong:

1. Find your identity from God

As a man or woman you have to stay grounded in the truths of the Bible and who God says that you are. A hard marriage can make you second guess your value, worth, purpose and identity. Read the Bible daily. Fill your mind with God’s truths. Listen to Christian music that reminds you of who you are in Christ. Below this post we’ve put two music videos to great songs of truth for you to listen to and be reminded where your identity is from.

2. Build a support system that is FOR your marriage

There are plenty of people who would love to take up your cause, carry your pain, and tell you that you need to get out of your marriage. Instead, set up relational boundaries so you aren’t inundated with that kind of counsel. 

Staying strong in a hard marriage means surrounding yourself with godly friends of the same gender who will encourage you to stand strong and fight for your marriage. They can be your prayer support, your confidants, and the wise counsel needed when things get tough. 

3. Be truthful about your hurts

Don’t minimize (or magnify) your pain or sadness. It’s important to be open and honest with your spouse about what you desire from the relationship. Timing and place matter in any significant conversation. 

In addition, begin your statements with “I feel…” as in “I feel distant in our relationship and would like us to go on date nights.” This protects your spouse from feeling blamed so they are more open to dialogue. 

We’ve seen the hurt spouse stuff their feelings until they either erupt in anger or act out in desperation. Others will hint at their pain and hope their spouse picks up on the hint. Neither option brings about the desired results. Be open and honest with your spouse so they know what’s going on in your heart.

4. Be careful with your tongue

When we’re hurt it can be easy to “bleed” to those around us. It feels good to have others commiserate with us, validate us, and carry our pain. 

Staying strong means keeping your covenant to “love, honor and cherish” your spouse. This includes refraining from gossiping about your spouse. It means speaking well of them to your friends, to their friends, to your children and to extended family. 

So how does this work when we encouraged a support system that is for your marriage? Be mindful of what you share. If it is to get wise counsel that will help you navigate a situation or gain perspective, then you are probably fine sharing what happened with a trusted friend. But if that sharing is a gripe session or your friend becomes a “dumping ground” for all the hard things in your marriage, then you need to re-think what you are saying. Remember once something is said you can’t take it back. 

5. Focus on the good and not the bad

If your primary focus is on what is broken and hard in your marriage, pretty soon that’s all you’ll see and think about. In order to stay strong in a hard marriage, you need to look for positive things in your spouse. What are the traits that drew you to them? For what are you grateful? Find at least one thing a day about your spouse that you appreciate. Quietly thank God for the good quality you’ve identified. Then tell your mate what you see in them. 

6. Be willing to get godly counseling

In a hard marriage it can be difficult to know how to navigate painful dynamics. We get so used to functioning in a dysfunctional marriage that neither we, nor our support system, can see the healthy next steps to take. 

Make the decision to seek out godly Christian counseling. Approach your spouse and see if they would be willing to go with you to strengthen your marriage. Even if they choose not to go, you can go alone and learn some valuable skills for staying strong when your marriage is hard.

7. Don’t seek comfort from ungodly or unhealthy places

It’s a natural desire of the flesh to seek comfort when things are hard. Pleasure can be wrapped up in forms of escapism and gratification. Satan loves to prey on us when we are weary and weak. 

Over-eating, pornography, an affair, binge watching shows, gaming–can all be ways of anesthetizing ourselves from our pain.

God hasn’t called you to live in the flesh, but in the Spirit. So stand strong in your relationship in Christ and resist the temptation to seek comfort from anywhere other than Jesus, your spouse, and your support system of friends.

We aren’t minimizing the challenges of a hard marriage. But we ARE magnifying the greatness of God to guide you through it so you can stay strong, be victorious, and even in the difficulty, build your marriage.