When The Bough Breaks

Can You Love Your Husband When Life Gets Hard?

by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba 

In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 4 Seasons of Marriage, he describes marriage as seasons; winter, spring, summer, and fall. As a marriage counselor, he says most of the couples who go to see him are in the winter stage of marriage; coldness, harshness, and bitterness. These couples have little to talk about. They talk only about logistics. They lead separate lives all while living in the same home. They blame each other. There’s no compromise. However, Chapman points out that, the issue in their marriage is not due to the circumstances they face – but rather how these couples choose to respond together – in their circumstances, which leads to coldness, harshness, and bitterness.

1 Corinthians 1:25 “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (NIV)

Believe it or not, me and Omar lived in a perpetual winter stage for many years. Everything turned into a huge argument. When we faced mounting issues, such as bills, we blamed each other for our problems.

I did not go back to work after we had our son, Jaden. Although we were not Christians at that time, I can’t explain it, but I did not believe I was supposed to go back to work. I felt I needed to be home with Jaden. Granted, we had no way of paying all of our bills with one income, but I still felt I was doing the right thing. This was a MAJOR issue in our marriage. Omar was resentful. He blamed me for the financial struggles we began to face.

Well, I simply blamed him too! I told him if he didn’t like our situation then go get a better job!

This doesn’t sound like we were in the summer stage of marriage; happiness, satisfaction, accomplishment, and connection.

This was a problem in our marriage that we did not know how to resolve without harsh treatment toward one another.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

A New Season

Meet George and Helen from The 4 Season’s of Marriage; George and Helen have been married eighteen years. They have a very unhappy marriage. George says if he were not a Christian he would give up. He feels that Helen does not love, like, or respect him. She just tolerates him, he says. Helen says their marriage is not fun. George has been without a job for a year and has no direction. It’s been that way the past fourteen years since he finished graduate school. They have children to raise and it’s extremely frustrating.

Of all the stories from The 4 Season’s of Marriage, I chose George and Helen because their circumstance resonated with me.

As I mentioned, I did not go back to work after I had our son Jaden, and it caused a problem in our marriage. We were not Christians then – but we gave our hearts to Jesus Christ soon after. Our reaction to our financial circumstances prior to serving Jesus Christ was bad. We treated each other poorly. However, the way we dealt with each other changed once we allowed Jesus Christ to be the center of our lives.

George and Helen are Christians, but even as Christians, we can still respond unloving when we face problems. We must intentionally come together as husband and wife, seek God, pray, trust, and wait for His answers. When we seek God together, we strengthen our marriage and our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” (NIV)

In the thirteen years since Jaden was born, we had three more children, and our financial life has been a true faith walk with Jesus Christ.

A year after we asked Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, we found out we were expecting our fourth child. This was a huge surprise to us. We were not excited at all with this news. We were in the process of losing our home and had $30 to our name. The night we found out we were expecting another child we had cheese sandwiches for dinner because that’s all we had in the house to eat – yet me and Omar went to bed that evening praising God.

We eventually lost our home after years of trying to work with our lender. Devastated only partly explains the emotions we felt.

The memories.

The hopes.

The dreams.

Gone.

Our prayers to keep our home went unanswered. The only option we had at that moment was to move in with my parents – in another state. It was a sudden move. We left our friends, and the life we had, and moved across the country with a few belongings and all the money we had (which wasn’t a lot), but we decided to praised God for the next chapter in our lives.

A few weeks of living in our new city, we were starting to get settled. One evening on our way to church our minivan stopped driving. We knew it was bad.

We took it in the next day. The transmission went out. It would cost us $2700 to replace! We were so upset. The shock of losing our home and leaving our life behind in another state was still fresh in our minds. We decided to enjoy this new start. How could we once again be facing another financial issue? We were barely hanging on to the little money we had moved with. We were in the process of trying to find a job. We took care of our minivan with regular maintenance  because we knew we couldn’t afford to buy another one.

We could not believe it!

Here we were in a new city with a new beginning, yet the same problems followed us.

However, we decided to praise God together for the good we took away from the situation.

On The Road To Recovery…We Think?

Things were finally looking up for us! Omar was doing contract work with the city and about to start getting extra income from his contract work. The extra income was exactly what we needed to really move ahead.

The very weekend he was expected to receive the extra income, we were out-of-town when our minivan broke down.

It did not look good.

The engine blew out, and it would cost $7000 to replace. We didn’t have $7000!

We had to rent a car back home and get our minivan towed back home. We got a second opinion on the minivan with the same prognosis – a new engine. We had no choice but to finance another (used) minivan. The dealer took our other minivan as a trade in, but since it was not paid off, this resulted in a higher monthly payment, and an unexpected down payment. (There went our extra income).

We were obviously very upset.

Our children had been with us while we were out-of-town so we decided to make it a teaching moment. Although we were upset, we praised God as a family for the good we took away from the situation.

Now We Were On The Right Path…We Thought?!

Okay – finally! Six-months later, we paid off a lot of bills. We were finally going to enjoy that extra income. Me and Omar kept writing out our plans on how we were going to save our money for the future.

The very weekend we were to expect the extra income, the contractor Omar was working for called to tell him they had to terminate his contract immediately. They too suffered a great financial hardship. We were now expecting our fifth child, and just like that – we were once again down to nothing!

We could not believe it!

This was ten years of one financial situation after the other. Ten years as followers of Jesus Christ. Ten years of faithfully going to church. Ten years of faithfully tithing to our church. Ten years of praying, fasting, and leading other people to Jesus Christ. Ten years of reading the Bible to our children, and teaching them how to live in obedience to God. Ten years of praying and crying to God asking Him to protect our income.

How do you trust God when it’s one issue after the other?

How do you have faith when you have no idea if your family will end up homeless?

What do you do when you have no idea how you’re going to feed your children?

How do you tenderly love your husband during hard times?

How do you keep your marriage strong when you feel like it’s one blow after the other?

To be Continued…

-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba