We’ve all been there – tension is high and patience is slow. When the temptation to give up and is greater than the desire to stay and fight for your marriage. Challenging times are fair game for EVERY family. And what you do in the face of these tough times makes all the difference.
To fight means to strive or contend for victory, in battle or in single combat; to attempt to defeat, subdue, or destroy an enemy, either by blows or weapons.
When a boxer gets in the ring, he’s not there to lose. He’s going for blood to win the fight!
I personally didn’t get into too many fights when I was a younger, but I was in enough to learn a few tricks. And the first thing girls did, is take out our earrings and pull our hair back. No one wants to get an earring ripped out or loose a chunk of hair!
Why am I talking about all this fighting? Because we have a very real opponent in this ring called LIFE, who’s already throwing punches. And we need to be ready to hit back and not get sucker punched.
Right now families are under a sneak attack. Meanwhile we’re so busy with life that we don’t see the enemy’s strike coming right at us.
We live in a world that’s becoming increasingly antagonistic toward families. One that’s dulling what it means to be committed to someone else for a lifetime. I remember 20 years ago being the odd one in any group because my parents were still married. Now, it’s much worse.
Stay in the Ring & Fight for Your Family!
The world around us is yelling at us to give up. It says when our teenager starts acting out, “It’s just a phase… She’ll grow out of it… It’s what all teenagers go through.”
It says when our spouse becomes physically and emotionally detached, “he’s not worthy to have you anymore… There’s someone else out there who will really love you… She can’t expect you to wait forever for her to change.”
And chances are some of these comments might even come from people in your own inner circle trying to offer “well-meaning” advice.
There’s nothing keeping us in the ring anymore. But let me urge you not to throw in the towel. Whether your marriage and family life is strong or weak and barely hanging on; we need to know we’re standing in a real ring.
We’re fighting a real opponent who’s swinging whether we fight back or not.
My husband and I have seen so many couples that we looked up to in the “marriage department” end up divorced. You know those couples you admired when you first got married? It shows how vulnerable all are.
But I’ve realized we’re only weak in the areas we neglect. Just like a boxer must continuously train for his fight, we must do the same. And it’s never too late.
In fact, we’ve also seen couples who were divorced for years, only to be reunited in marriage once again. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done through the grace and the love of God.
Remember Your Original Vision
What do you want for your marriage? A spouse who’s your best friend? A spouse who works to make your life better, easier, and happier? One who understands you, or at least tries to?
What kind of relationship do you want with your children? Children who respect you? Children who ask your advice and guidance before their friends or their i-pad? Children who are kind and have a positive vision for their future beyond the school years in front of them?
If we search our hearts we’ll find those visions we once had for our family. The ones we had when we said, “I do,” and when we held our newborns for the first time.
We naively think we get to experience those visions and desires simply because we want them. Maybe that was true in times passed, but not now.
Today, we have to get dirty and take out our earrings and fight for our marriage and for our kids.
Good things don’t “just happen.” And neither do bad things. We’re either fighting or throwing in the towel.
4 strategies for winning the fight for your family.
Strategy #1: Hit’em with the jab of sacrifice.
As with any fight, you don’t win with the knockout punch at the end. You win with the many well placed jabs at the start of the fight – wearing down your opponent. And this jab is the most damaging. In order to win the fight for your family, you first must be willing to sacrifice yourself.
When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I started my crazy teenage years. I was skipping school, getting into trouble when I was at school, and was no longer respecting my mom’s authority in the house. I’m not proud of that fact, but it was true.
All my life, I was a military brat and moved all over the world. My dad was a high ranking officer in the Navy and served most of his days out to sea on the aircraft carriers he was in charge of leading. He had a great career and an even more promising one ahead of him, but when he heard of the trouble I was in he decided he need to make a change.
He transferred to a position that allowed him to work on the base full-time. He wanted to be home to take an active role in raising us. And watching over me. And this is a sacrifice you don’t often see dads making in our society.
My mom also chose to remain a stay-at-home mom so she could be home when my sister and brother got home from school. She tried her best to be present and involved in our lives. I thank God for my unselfish parents who worked hard to give us the best life.
Strategy #2: Become Slippery to the Haters
Taking off your earrings isn’t the only thing girls did before a fight; they also got their Vaseline! Slathering it on your face keeps fingernails from scratching your face.
When you step out to do anything out of the ordinary there will be haters and online trolls lining up to say something. We’ve got to be willing to do anything and everything to keep our families thriving and strong. And people (even your extended family, friends, co-workers …) won’t always get it. And may even try to talk you out of your plan.
That’s because people don’t like different. People don’t like radical. But let me say, radical change is necessary in the times we live in.
Maybe radical for you is choosing to forgo your quiet comfort in order to be the fun house where your kids’ friends can come hang out instead of your kids going out all the time. Or maybe it’s deciding to homeschool your children as you’re led by God.
What ever you do, let those criticisms, comments, and opinions slip off like nails on a slippery face.
Strategy #3: Pray
Prayer is like oxygen blowing on a flame. It fuels the fire on the inside to do whatever it takes and not take on a passive stance like so many today.
Prayer heals the hurt, exchanges hope for disappointment, and lessens the blow of offense. It’s the daily power that keeps you in the fight.
It keeps your heart and eyes from being deceived into believing that your spouse and children are the enemy. Prayer keeps your weapon locked and loaded on the real enemy – Satan.
Having a regular quiet time allows you the time to be still and pray. Learn how to jumpstart your own quiet time in my blog post: How to jumpstart a life-transforming quiet time routine.
Strategy #4: Become what you desire
Remember earlier when I asked you what kind of marriage and family life you want? But there was a question I didn’t ask. What kind of spouse/parent are you willing to become? If we want our spouse to be kinder and more gentle with us, are we providing the model for that desired behavior?
If we want our children to be more respectful, are we providing the model of a respectful person? If we want a more fun family life, are we becoming a more relaxed and fun person?
We need to become skilled in becoming what we desire in other people. It’s easy to look at what others aren’t doing right, and forget about our own faults.
Whether your family is happy and strong or struggling; use these strategies to get in the fight. Don’t give up on your family, and NEVER be passive. There’s always a level higher than where you are. You just have to reach up and grab it. And throw a few jabs along the way!
Leave a comment and share where you are and what strategies you’ve used in difficult times. We all need support and encouragement from others!