How to Protect Your Marriage During Challenging Times
“What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your marriage and how did you do it?” This is the question posed to Keith and me every time we give an interview together (which is rare…not his favorite thing, for sure).
Easy question to answer, right? Well, not for us. It usually causes an uncomfortable laughter because we know what the interviewer is looking for – and we don’t have it to give.
The truth is (and please know that I don’t say this to boast, but rather, for transparency), we’ve never had a challenge in our marriage that has felt… well…that major.
Granted, infertility to many would be considered a major challenge. Going in for five rounds of fertility treatments might seem like a major drag to some. And no, sticking all of those needles in my stomach is not how we originally envisioned our journey to family expansion. But we’ve never spent time dwelling on all of that. We’ve even made a bit of a game out of it that makes us laugh.
When it’s time to give myself hormone injections, my cell phone alarm starts playing Beyonce’s Countdown. Then I quickly lay out all of my needles and Keith and I start singing a song that used to be popular among millennials (it may still be but we’re not too hip on popular trends) and the chorus simply goes, “Shots. Shots. Shots. Shots. Shots. Shots. Everybody!” Now, mind you, the song isn’t talking about the same kind of shots…
We laugh about it. I inject my shots. And the next day, I do it again.
For us, we focus on what is good. We’re filled with gratitude that our insurance covers these procedures and look at our first childless years together -13 to be exact- as an opportunity to grow closer as husband and wife.
And yes, there was that time when we ate chili for an entire month (yep, every day) and did other extreme things (Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, baby!) until we were able to pull ourselves out of a massive debt we’d created.
But just like the fertility issue, that never felt like a real obstacle.
It wasn’t until a similar question was posed during a talk I was giving to a group of financial advisors who recognized strong marriages as something that is a huge benefit in building wealth. As soon as the question was asked in that setting, I had an aha moment. ”We hear a lot that money problems are one of the top reasons for divorce. Can you explain why this adversely impacts some marriages and not others?” a financial advisor in the back of the room asked.
In answering that question, I finally realized why Keith and I have such a hard time answering that “obstacle” question:
Have you ever been on an airplane going through major turbulence? The kind that feels like the plane is dropping several hundred feet at a time? I remember being on this flight, the plane dropping at such steep rates that with each drop, almost every passenger on the flight gasped.
A young man, no older than thirty, sitting next to me was sweating so profusely he could have been mistaken for having just finished a Spinning class. With every drop, you could almost see his heart popping out of chest. I’m telling you, that young man thought he was about to die.
But then I turned around and looked at the flight attendants and it was as if they were on a completely different plane. “Trash anyone?” was their call down the middle of the aisle. ”Can I take that cup from you, sir?” was the flight attendant’s question to a man who was likely clutching his cup for dear life.
These flight attendants were utterly unfazed. Going through the exact same turbulences as the rest of us, and yet, it was as if they were flying through clear sunny skies. There, of course, is a simple reason for that. They knew the odds of a fatality happening on that plane was 1 in 10 million.
This is the difference between the couples that allow finances, infertility and other similar challenges to adversely impact their marriage and the ones that don’t. Those who look ahead to the future, team up and work to overcome life’s challenges -together- are like the flight attendants on that plane. They’re going through the same tumultuous air space as everyone else, but they remain focused on what they know to be true: They will make it through.
Every person on this planet goes through turbulent skies at some point. But if your union has love, respect, faith and trust, you can protect your marriage from the turbulence of life. By coming together and supporting one another, remembering those rocky skies are just for a moment, you can draw closer rather than be pushed apart.
Your love, just like that plane, is far more powerful than any turbulence you might endure.
It may not happen immediately, but eventually the wheels will touch down, passengers on the plane will erupt into applause, the pilot will come on the loudspeaker letting you know you’ve safely arrived, and the flight attendant will continue collecting the trash.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
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