Tommy and I clashed a lot as newlyweds.
Which just broke my heart because while I expected disagreements after the wedding (because we were mentored to expect imperfection) I thought the resolution would be quick, sweet and calm.
But resolving issues was anything but fast or smooth. He was detached and angry. I was furious, frustrated, weepy, bewildered, heartbroken.
And maybe I would have been less sorrowful if the disagreements happened once in a while and lasted a short amount of time.
But we disagreed a lot (because we are strong-willed) and the quarrels stuck around for days. We had days upon days of silence, not talking to each other at all.
We talked with our mentors, but our discussions did not yield immediate changes.
Note to the new bride: just because you know what to do does not mean you will do it immediately. It takes time to change the thinking behind a habit, and for the Holy Ghost to penetrate our hard shells. Give your man and yourself a little time. Keep talking about it, having standards and a goal to work towards. But give grace – lots of grace. And hold on to Jesus more than you hold on to hope for change)
With all the drama and storms in our young marriage, it wasn’t long before I wanted a break from it all.
Taking a break from marriage
Recently a young wife wrote to me, asking if it was okay to take a break from marriage.
“…ever felt like you just need a break from marriage? Like your overall marriage life is just a burden you can’t bear. I am not talking divorce, just what to do when you need a break from the pressures that come with being married. How do you escape in a healthy way to get your heart and mind right, and how would you communicate that to your husband without sounding dramatic?”
If you have been married longer than a day, you might had moments when the strains and stretches of becoming one-flesh became unbearable.
So let us take a deep-dive on this question – is it okay to take a break from marriage?
My short answer is no. You don’t take a break from marriage; not if you want to create a strong marriage.
Instead of “taking a break from marriage”, you must change your thinking to “self-care”. Self-care involves curving out alone-time to think, calm down, refuel and talk to God.
From hindsight, I felt I needed a break when we had extended issues, when I felt like I was losing myself and when marriage became too complicated and (I thought) my husband was not putting in enough effort.
Nonetheless, what I needed, and eventually learned to do, was to take my brokenness and disappointment to God.
I mean that in the literal sense; talking it out in prayer, amidst tears, reading my Bible, journaling, allowing the Spirit of God to work on my attitudes and change my own heart.
It turned out that “taking my issues to God” was not a one-time thing, but a constant personal habit and discipline I had to cultivate.
I would learn that a great marriage is not something you create on the side. You can’t pick and choose; it is not “I’ll have a burger, hold the fries” type of thing.
It’s all or nothing. A beautiful marriage comes from building a strong relationship with God. A good marriage is part and parcel of our walk and life in God.
As a new bride, and as my desperation grew, God began to show me that the answers I sought were to be found in relationship in Him.
Looking back, I am grateful that God does not supply immediate answers to our problems because the delay forces us to dig deeper.
If God had answered my prayers the first time I prayed, it would have been the last time I sought God with the same hunger and intensity.
But delayed response caused me to hunger for the answers and God took the time to teach me that what I needed was more of Him, not more of my husband.
From knowledge to wisdom
So as I began to seek God, He started to give me wisdom (not just head knowledge) on how to approach our issues.
For example, walking out of the house right after a disagreement without telling my husband where I was going was not exactly mature or working towards rebuilding the rift.
While the act itself was good (we both needed time think and cool down), how I did it was wrong (walking out in a huff, without saying a word). A better way was to tell my husband “I need to go for a walk, I need time to think”.
That way my husband was more understanding, less hurt and we could continue working together, instead adding more gas to the fire.
And because God had humbled me and helped me, I could receive His comfort and wisdom and conviction when I went for that walk.
The difference between “taking a break from marriage” and “self-care” is the approach.
The former is about reacting. It is fueled by feelings of despair, self-pity, pride, selfishness, retaliation and all things flesh.
The latter is a more mature approach which shows value for the relationship and personal change.
You’ll probably still be as angry, confused, overwhelmed but instead of cutting off your relationship (taking a break), you take the higher road and choose to respond, as opposed to react.
You hold your mouth, dig inward and take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, which includes some “me-time” to think and pray.
When you feel like you need to take a break from marriage, I beg you, don’t.
There are no “breaks” in marriage; we are always pulling towards each other, not away from one another.
Instead of nurturing separatism, ask God to show you how to cultivate togetherness and unity even in tumultuous times.
You need “me-time” and so does your marriage. But personal time is not the same as separation from your husband.
If you are stressed out, crushed and longing for a break from the man you vowed your life to, chances are you need to to take better care of yourself.
The early months can be all about “twinning” but at some point, you have to cultivate a life of your own.
Be a healthy, whole woman who brings health and wholeness into her marriage, and stop expecting her marriage to bring health and happiness to her.
A few ideas for self-care routines;
– Spend time with God every day.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11
– Have godly girlfriends.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another Hebrews 10:24 – 25a
– Cultivate a hobby
Pursue a personal hobby that does not necessarily involve your husband (but which does not take away from your marriage)
– Develop servants attitude and a corresponding servant’s self-care routine
– In my book Blues to Blues, I talk about how to work together as a couple in the moments you feel like your husband dropped the ball. I share from my own experience and show you how to pursue a great union in the middle of storms and questions. You can purchase my book here.
Your turn: Have you had instances when you wanted to take a break from marriage? How did you work through it? Let’s talk in Comments. (If you are an email subscriber, click over to the blog to add your thoughts!)
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