Hello there and thanks for reading the first blog post on Married Couples.
During the Rosedale Couples Retreat held in March at Hershey, there were two panels -- one for women and one for men. The panel members responded to various questions sent in by you. We are going to provide the biblical answer to each of those questions here in this blog. We are going to strive to post on the first Friday of each month, addressing each question separately. Please feel free to ask questions and post them in the comments section.
Question #1: Is it normal to not feel loving toward your spouse? Especially if you have been fighting a lot and there have been some big changes in your life.
Yes, it's normal, especially during change in your life.
Big changes equal big stress.
It is perfectly normal to feel distance and have increased conflict during times of stress. The entire family is interconnected, a stressful change facing one family member affects everyone else. When a stressor hits you or your spouse, every family member is impacted. Each will deal with three things simultaneously:
1. their own emotional turmoil,
2. the problem itself, and
3. the continued obligation to satisfy the emotional needs of the rest of the family.
Everyone is different. Some family members will bear the stress of change more than others. The person most affected by the stress may tend to withdraw from the family as they process this new change and try to determine the best outcome. While attempting to solve or accept the change, the individual is processing the emotions of the 5 stages of change (i.e. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance) Every change in our life causes us to go through the five stages of change. As we emotionally process through these stages we can't stop being a husband or wife, father or mother, productive worker, etc. However our ability to serve the needs of others in that role are diminished by the overbearing stress we are processing. So expect that you or your spouse will not be themselves. And this is normal.
This question reminds me of Moses and the Israelites before crossing the Red Sea. Can you imagine the stress Moses felt when he was leading the Israelites out of Egypt? He had Pharaoh’s army bearing down on him with nowhere to go. All the while the Israelites were complaining about how Moses led them there to die and that they would have been better off had they stayed in Israel.
When I am under an immense burden of stress, I remember two things:
First and foremost, God is there. He is with me in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23). He carries a rod and staff as symbol of his authority. Everything is under His authority (Mt 28:18) and He is always working behind the scenes to do good on our behalf (Rom 8:28) and comfort us (Deut 31:8-9). We have only to call upon His name and He will be there for us (Ps 138:3).
Second, I am reminded that when I am stressed out and let the flesh take over in my stress I will hurt those around me. Seeking shelter from our Lord Jesus Christ helps me to better deal with my stress and be a better man for others. He will light the way (Ps 119:105) to solve the problem and if things are not readily apparent I just need to be still (Ps 46:10) and wait for an answer. I have nothing to worry about if I submit my stress unto the Lord.
Everyone handles stress and change differently. I am an introvert and I process things internally, whereas my wife is an extrovert and has to talk through every nook and cranny of an issue. I asked Cheri how she deals with me when I'm in one of my "stressed out" moods. It took a few years for her to figure me out, but she knows now that I need my space. She knows that by engaging with me while I am stressed will only make things worse. She does her best to minimize negative interactions and maximize positive ones. When she sees I'm upset she may decide to make my favorite dinner, tell me to watch TV and relax, and suggest that we spend time with Jesus through prayer because that always lifts my spirits. She avoids direct confrontation about the issue until I am in a better place. When I smell her amazing lasagna baking, spend time regenerating my Spirit, and distract my mind, it helps me to discuss the issue with my wife with renewed energy. We discuss, and then pray together to have God calm me and show us the next steps we need to take.
That closeness we had before the change is then restored, and usually because we are more unified in how we handle trials, we are even closer than before!