A Covid Marriage: Hanging On For Dear Life

It’s pretty natural for me to rationalize bad behavior; I perfected this craft in my 20’s. A lost temper, a little white lie, an extra drink, a third cookie, a nap. Wait, I never napped in my 20’s, but there may be a few more I’ve erased from memory. In my first marriage, I rationalized my angst over my flawed spouse, allowing daily negative thoughts about him and our relationship and what I truly deserved to rule my selfish mind. These are powerful thoughts indeed.

Thank God I’ve grown to wield supernatural powers of mind-control. I have acquired the widely available power of God’s Holy Spirit who can truly overcome any problem or evil thought. My main challenge now is to remember to tap into those powers and have the willingness to step aside with my willful desire to be right.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, not only are people spiking their afternoon lemonade, across the country divorce rates are spiking. And you can see why! Just pick a reason. Cupboard doors left open, toilets left unflushed, nasal clearing noises, wooden spoons in the dishwasher (God Forbid), and has he always hummed while he urinates? These are the things that bugged us before lockdown and now they’re magnified. Plus we have developed all kinds of new reasons to be stressed — joblessness and sickness and true cause for deep anguish.

In February, I was thrust into the strange world of self-employment and I’ve been hustling all year, kickstarting new initiatives, consulting and interviewing for jobs. Thanks to too-much-unstructured-time on my hands, I’m being dragged regularly into frustration, self-pity and the nit-pick-pool of pet peeves and I really need someone to blame who’s close enough 
to yell at.

The facts are, people are suffering and our marriage is the safest place to unload our tension. 

Or is it?

Let me encourage you today to decide that none of this is forever, and our marriages are worth letting go of the things that frustrate us. We all have thoughts about how screwed up our lives are these days and we start to think our situation is extra-bad. I sometimes try to piece together the facts to defend my situation and prove that this stinks and it must be “your fault.” Strutting down that path often results in pointing the Words Weapon at the strongest person I know and the person I should honor the most. Bad move. Then I spend hours trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube.

Today the world is in a strange place — where the truly best solution is to take our angst and face outward and try try try to find a way to help someone else. Call up the power of God to help kill the voices of frustration and fear and find new energy to serve. He’ll show up like M’Baku and his army if you ask Him.

Tim and Kathy Keller talk about how our woundedness blinds us to our selfishness; these days it seems we are more wounded in more ways. In their book they call us to tap into:

“… Spirit-generated selflessness – not thinking less of yourself or more of yourself but thinking of yourself less. It means taking your mind off yourself and realizing that in Christ your needs are going to be met and are, in fact, being met so that you don’t look at your spouse as your savior. People with a deep grasp of the gospel can turn around and admit that their selfishness is the problem and that they’re gong to work on it. And when they do that, they will often discover an immediate sense of liberation, of waking up from a troubling dream. “ 

Letting your spouse off the hook of perfection is the best way to start strutting down a path of appreciation and gentleness. But it also deepens your bond to endure and power-through during these tough times. I pray for your marriages today; that we may all see past the shambles of this season and open up some extra room in the bunker for that one you’ve promised to love no matter what. 

As Jennie Allen says, we have the choice to think a different thought. It’s that simple, and hard, and powerful.

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