“For Richer or Poorer”
Do we really mean this when we say our marriage vows? Or do we think we are in the poorest stage we are ever going to be and surely it will get better?
Are we even willing to say “for poorer” nowadays or do we just want “richer”? A friend wrote a blog post not too long ago about attending a wedding where the bride would not say, “For poorer,” during the wedding ceremony and it really got me thinking about my own choices.
I remember when I first realized I loved my now husband. We were separated by an ocean and I remember missing his laugh, which annoyed me. I didn’t want to miss it because it forced me to work through other issues before I could admit my love. The main thing I had to work through was my selfishness.
You see, I was a recent graduate, and thankfully, due to scholarships, parental help, and working, I was able to graduate debt free. I had saved up enough money to live overseas and had some extra in case of an emergency. However, the guy I was “not” dating (even though God kept throwing him into my life) had quite a bit of money invested. For me as a new college grad, it was a substantial amount.
Do I love him for who he is or his money?
I wanted to know that I loved him for him and not for his money, so I prayed about it and asked God for clarity.
The answer to my prayer came a few weeks later when he called with the sad news that the stock market had tanked and so had his stocks. And that’s when I knew I really loved him! It didn’t matter that those “riches” had faded away, I loved him anyway!
Fast forward to our 12th Year of Marriage
During our eleventh and twelfth years of marriage, my husband and I endured the hardest years we have ever had to face as a couple. A nightmare situation became our biggest blessing. For a year and a half, we relied on our emergency fund and blessings from our family and church family instead of an income, so we could take care of my husband’s grandparents and then so my husband could find a new job. It pushed us to trust God in many ways we never imagined, and brought us closer in many ways.
I finally confessed
During times of hardship, we can often become discouraged and second-guess what we believe God has called us to do. We knew God had called us to take care of his grandparents…personally, I just thought it would be for a shorter period of time.
Anyway, it was during one of these moments when my husband was feeling discouraged, that I finally confessed to him the prayer I had prayed so long ago. He couldn’t believed that I had actually rejoiced when the stock market crashed and his money was gone! He wished I had prayed for something else, but I am so thankful for that prayer and told him he should be too. Because not only did it show me my heart, it prepared me for times like this, when money would be scarce. It prepared me for when our love for God and each other–no matter the circumstances–would get us through the difficulties. Going through a valley like this actually made us stronger in our faith and determination to keep our marriage strong.
That’s not to say we didn’t have difficult moments in our marriage during this time…that’s for another post. But we knew for sure that being in a “poorer” stage of our marriage was not going to destroy us!
Tips for Holding on During Hard Times
Here are a few things I learned during that eighteen months:
1. Continue to keep God first and your husband second!
When times get tough, it’s easy to focus on what you are going through and feel like no one else understands. But God is right there with you. Do your best to keep God at the forefront of your life. The Lord understands what you are going through more than you do. He sees how these trials will build you up, even if you feel you are losing all your strength. The Lord will provide exactly what you need when you need it. It may not look like what you think you need but he will carry you through.
Your husband needs his helpmate now more than ever. Do whatever needs to be done to keep the lines of communication open and be the helpmate God created you to be. Even if it means reaching out and seeking help for your marriage. Do it! Being without a job or feeling like he is not providing for his family the way he should strikes at the core of a man. Satan will twist this and will use it against your husband, if you don’t stand up for your husband and remind him that he is doing exactly what he needs to be doing. (Now, I admit there were times I struggled with this, but that’s where my next point comes into play.)
2. Pray together whenever you can. Even when you don’t want to pray anymore, continue to pray.
We prayed about what to do…find a job or take care of grandparents. Taking care of grandparents was the answer, so we were obedient to that. Since we took it to God first and received the answer, we were able to hold on to that answer even when we were exhausted, it all seemed so overwhelming, and we were ready to move on. Obedience isn’t just for when things are easy but for when Satan is trying to destroy you too.
There were days we did not get to see each other because our schedules were so different. I know many thought that because my husband didn’t have a job, we got to spend a lot of time together as a family. But the opposite was actually true. We were both stretched thin and exhausted. I felt like a single parent of four small children. He was up till all hours of the night caring for his grandmother.
3. Remember feelings really don’t matter, the truth does.
When we become tired, overwhelmed, and stressed, our feelings become heightened. Satan is ready and willing to make the case for us as to why our spouse is not making the grade. Satan will push the line as far as you will let him, so don’t. Don’t let your feelings overwhelm you. Instead, remind yourself that both of you are going through this trial together. You may express your emotions around it differently but in front of God and man, you made a covenant to hold on to each other “for richer or poorer.”
This is your time to take on the challenge wholeheartedly and with God by your side cheering you on every step of the way.
4. Trials make us Richer
So in the end, God didn’t miraculously replenish our bank account, but he gave us something much more valuable. And he will do the same for you! He will give you spiritual blessings that you can’t even conceive.
There were many Scriptures I clung to during this time. One of them was…
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
– Job, talking to the Lord, Job 42:5
This verse was so powerful to me. Here was Job, who was supposedly the most righteous man on Earth. This is the man God pointed to and said, “Have you considered my servant Job?” God knew of Job’s faithfulness. But it was through an immense trial that Job’s eyes finally became open to God’s faithfulness and almightiness. God held him close during his trial. One of the most fantastic things to come out of Job’s trial was that before he had only heard of the Lord, but now Job saw the Lord!
Prayer over you!
Lord, you are the giver of wonderful gifts. The gift of marriage is beautiful but challenging all the same. It’s been said that marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy but holy. When we are in the midst of deep struggles whether financially, emotionally, spiritually, or physically, we see that happiness can soon fade but holiness can be heightened.
For all those going through struggles right now, we hold them up to you. Please give them the strength and the courage they need to be obedient to you throughout each step of their trial. Bring husbands and wives together and help them hold on to each other no matter what comes their way. We praise you that Jesus has walked the difficulties of this life so that we have a Savior who can empathize with our trials and sufferings. It is in Jesus’ name that we praise you and that we boldly say this prayer – Amen!
Have you been through financial hardships in your marriage?
What advice would you add?