My husband and I are building a house.
Scratch that—my husband and I are thinking about building a house. We haven’t yet hired a contractor, dug any dirt, or even closed our loan on the lot. That will come soon.
First, we need to agree on a stinking floor plan.
“I think the girls should go upstairs,” I tell my husband. “It would be more private for them and for us. Then they’d have a place to hang out with friends.”
“Okay,” he says. “That’s one option.”
“And I like this plan right here—see how my office could be on the main floor, and yours could be downstairs away from all the family activity? We’d just have to get a quote on finishing the basement.”
“I don’t need a finished basement,” he says.
“Yes, you do. The whole point of building a new house was to make room for our offices. We work from home, remember?”
“Yeah, but I can just set up a desk on the concrete floor. Or go to Starbucks.”
“Seriously? If you’re going to work from Starbucks then we can give up building and live in a tent.”
“I like camping.”
“You realize I want to strangle you right now, right?”
“Oh wifey,” my husband pats my arm. “I love you.”
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook a crazy wife an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)
If my husband and I can make it past the threshold of our new home still holding hands, it will be by the grace of God alone. Whether you’re building a house, starting a new job, pursuing a degree or planning a wedding—the list of life’s stressors is long and wide—there are some principles from Scripture that can help us all keep the peace during times of marital madness. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Remember your friendship. You signed up to do life alongside your spouse, in good times and in bad, and through it all you are on the same team. You are for each other, not against. This does not necessarily mean you’ll see every detail through the same lens, of course. Spouses are two different people (i.e., sinners!) with different ways of processing choices and emotions. Yet different does not necessarily mean wrong. Give your spouse room to be who he is—and remember he’s your friend, not your enemy.
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:3, NLT)
Resist the urge to control your spouse. Wives are especially prone to controlling the details, even if it means snatching them out of our spouse’s hands. It’s part of our post-Eden curse, this “desire to control your husband” (Genesis 3:16, NLT). The best way to resist this pride is to pray. Ask God to take over and redeem any mistakes either spouse might make in the midst of a stressful project or season. Pray for a supernatural degree of trust in God’s sovereignty and timing and in His ability to create beauty from ashes. As a dear friend often reminds me, “Would you rather be right or happily married?” Choose the married part—every time.
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)
Laugh. Oh my goodness, remember laughter? That’s the thing where your belly shakes and your voice cracks open with joy. Maybe you haven’t experienced it in a while. But we married folks would do well to take ourselves a little less seriously sometimes. Often our mishaps are the stuff fond memories are made of (eventually). If possible, take a break and do something fun together. Laughter is good medicine for a stressed-out soul.
“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21)
Remember this is a season. It will pass. So ask yourself, whenever you’re tempted to snap—is hurtful behavior in the moment worth harming our relationship long-term? Learn when to talk and when to be silent. Communicate needs and expectations, but give each other space when tempers take over.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Count your blessings. Finally, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). When we choose to focus on what’s going well in our lives, irritations blur in the background and become far less threatening. So let’s make it a habit to count our blessings, and we just might discover the good still outweighs the bad.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)
Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” and “Generous Love: Discover the Joy of Living ‘Others First’. Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.