There Will Be Stress
January 28, 2015
Filed In: Marriage
In marriage you share everything, including stress. You won't find that little jewel printed on any brochure and you most likely didn't hear it in your pre-marriage counseling, but it's the truth.
Stress is a natural occurrence in the human experience. We recognize our fear of the unknown and our lack of control over many things in our world and that recognition leads to increased stress levels. We're stressed as we wait for the results of a diagnostic test, we're stressed over uncertainty in our company, and we're stressed about political unrest. We say "let go and let God," but that's a very difficult catchphrase to put into practice.
Perhaps the greatest stress is being nearly helpless in easing the burdens on your spouse's mind. A few weeks ago, Alison took a major test for licensure. It was incredibly expensive (thankfully we didn't have to pay for it) and, honestly, a lot was riding on it. I couldn't help her study, I couldn't be with her for the 8 hour long test, all I could do was support her. I supported her through prayer, through giving her the space and time she needed to study, and by putting on hold all minor activities and decisions until the test was done.
Your role as the primary support structure for your wife is one of the great practical ways that marriage works for the family. Spouses are able to seamlessly transfer responsibilities to one another as needed. When Alison needs to study, I can watch Benedict. When I'm behind on work, Alison can make dinner. When the weather is bad, I can drive Alison to work. When I'm sick, Alison can do the laundry. When Alison is preparing for a major test or certification, I can handle the family's administrative and financial affairs.
Family perfectly makes sense within the context of marriage because we need permanence in our lives. We need margin for grace and mercy. We need communication and connection so deep and so lasting that small quarrels stay small. We need that stability so that when the world around us is up in the air, we can rely on the Church and our wife to be the same.
The benefit of a strong martial relationship is that you'll be able to sense when your wife's stress level is elevated and you'll intuitively know how to proceed. You'll know what conversations and decisions can wait, and you'll know what things to do to help make her day a little bit better, like getting water for her nightstand.
Sharing stress in your marriage is inevitable. Be alert, able, and willing to take on added responsibilities when your wife needs you to.