How To Survive a Rough Patch in Marriage

This music video and song are extremely romantic (aka cheesy to those who don’t appreciate these things 😀 ).

Chances are if you stumbled upon this blog post through a google search or something, you have ZERO interest in watching a sweet couple sing about how they’ve made it through hard and troubled times.  Romance and love might be making you feel tearful because you think that you’ve lost those feelings, along with the chance to have a marriage like this.

You’re in a rut, or feeling isolated and lonely or wondering if your husband even loves you anymore.

For wives who are feeling like this… the number one thing to do is admit you both are probably going through a “Rough Patch.”  And I say “both,” because if you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, there’s a good chance he’s feeling those same feelings, too.

Sometimes even just admitting this is enough to help you see it through to the light at the end of the tunnel.  And in most (almost all) marriages, there will be a light!

Image result for light at the end of the tunnel meme

Science has shown that couples who were unhappy to the point of considering divorce, if they stayed and just survived during that rough patch, that 5 years later they were happier, and guess what?  I’m sure they were SO GLAD that they didn’t pull the trigger to end their marriage, because it wasn’t the “end” – it was just a rough patch!

Here is a great excerpt from that study:

Many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals.

Why did these marriages survive where other marriages did not? The marital endurance ethic appears to play a big role.

Many spouses said that their marriages got happier, not because they and their partner resolved problems but because they stubbornly outlasted them.  With time, they told us, many sources of conflict and distress eased. Spouses in this group also generally had a low opinion of the benefits of divorce, as well as friends and family members who supported the importance of staying married.

The key is everyone is going to go through some kind of rough patch in their marriage.  Sometimes even SEVERAL rough patches that they’ll experience just due to circumstances putting way more stress on the husband and wife than they feel like they can handle.

Work schedules conflicting, extremely sick children, parenting issues, weeks of sleep loss due to little children & night-time tantrums, parents passing away and dealing with the grief, etc.  You may be in a period of learning to understand and communicate with each other better, because maybe things have changed some and you both need to learn a different way to connect.  Or you may be learning not to be so sensitive if harm wasn’t meant, and just in general… how to go on when you’re not “feeling” in love sometimes.

We need to come to understand how normal this is, and how successful marriages are made up of partners who learn to manage those rough times where loving feelings and romance is not at the forefront of the marriage.

So #1 – it’s normal and should be put out in the open where you and your husband are able to discuss it or admit that this is a really hard time, but that you are totally committed to the marriage and you’re going to see this through.

Since all marriages seem to go through one or more rough patches, you will probably experience some of these feelings and emotions (or already are), and if no one has prepared you for them, they’ll make you scared that your marriage is over.

It can be over, if you decide to just divorce, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

#2 – Once you’ve been able to come together, maybe over a private dinner or a quiet time where you were able to reflect on how hard it feels and voice these things to your husband, once you’ve at least admitted it to him and yourself that this feels like a “rough patch,” it’s time to decide what you, personally, are going to do about it.

It’s crucial to realize how much power we each have in the way we see things, and in the way we allow ourselves to either dwell on the positives and beauty of our lives, or be overwhelmed in hard times with how much of a struggle it can be.  We all have a choice.  We can either choose to make the best of things and thrive with our husbands going forward (weather out this storm), or we can choose to be overwhelmed by our temporary feelings of struggle and sometimes even despair.

Women’s emotions can feel so insanely real, and yet be so incredibly false.  Whether it’s due to hormones, or sensitivity to certain insecurities, or feeling inadequate, or like we are unappreciated – sometimes a perfect storm can occur to where a wife will start believing these faulty emotions that if listened to, can actually ruin her life!

For me when I’ve experienced this, the best thing is figuring it out with God as to why my emotions are trying to dictate my enjoyment of my kids and my marriage. 

Because that is exactly what it feels like.  Even though I know I can tell my emotions are lying to me, it can still be hard to trust what I know is true.  So part of this deciding what to do, is take a critical look at what is true or false, maybe even writing it down as a reminder if or when those feelings start popping back up again.

Here’s an example:

  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like my husband doesn’t love me anymore.
  • TRUTH – My husband loves us so much that he would die for me and our kids.  He may not know how to respond to hearing we don’t feel loved, so I should let him know (within reason) if it’s something he can do or if I simply want to spend some time alone together just enjoying each other’s presence.
  • TRUTH – When you start feeling like your husband doesn’t love you anymore, you may actually be projecting your own feelings onto him!  You may feel like you’re falling out of love in this rough patch, or because your marriage’s romance has been placed on the back burner for too long.  If that’s the case, initiate some romance.  But realize if it’s actually your feelings that need to be whipped into shape, and decide to stick with him until the romantic feelings come back again.
  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like if there’s no romantic love right now with him showing it to me everyday, then I have no purpose in this marriage (or in life!).
  • TRUTH – Everyone has to find their own purpose in life, and sometimes it may seem small, but is actually very powerful – like being a stay at home mom.  It’s hard to see how much you’re doing right now, but God’s Word promises us that what we sow faithfully, that we later will reap blessings from it!  Your purpose right now may be the quiet, unseen work of sowing seeds into your husband’s and kids’ hearts (and surviving this rough patch in your marriage).  Of course you can’t see what it will look like when it’s reaping time, because it hasn’t happened yet!  Sowing and reaping are never in the same season!  So continue your work in your marriage and raising your kids, resting on God’s promises that you will reap what you sow.  Trust in Him that staying married is better than divorcing in a rough patch.
  • TRUTH – Romance ebbs and flows in a long marriage relationship, and it’s supposed to be that way. If it’s not appearing very much right now, try not to worry.  Just put some effort in (a date night here or there, some long talks or watching a movie together at home cuddled up), and give it time and know it will probably return after this rough patch.
  • FALSE FEELING – If I fight with him enough, he’ll “get it” that I’m not happy and he’ll finally understand how to make me happy.
  • TRUTH – Fighting with him when you’ve realized you are both in a rough patch is not a good idea.  Emotions are or may be out of whack due to the rough patch itself.  And keep in mind, he’s probably experiencing the same set of stressors that you are, albeit maybe in different ways. Fighting and having intense emotions during this time will only prolong the rough patch or make it even more miserable for you both.
  • TRUTH – Fighting and acting highly emotional will never help a man to “just get it,” or understand how to make you happy.  If anything, it shows him you are giving in to emotions not based on truth and allowing your unhappiness to rule your entire life and being (and his by default).  This will make him possibly lose respect for you overtime.
  • TRUTH – Prolonged fighting like this in some strange hope that it will help save your marriage, will do the opposite overtime.  It will kill it, because there’s no “fixing” false feelings through crazy dramatic fights.


The Problem with False Feelings… It Puts Your Husband in a No-Win Situation

I’ve actually found that if I react in one of these inappropriate false feelings and allow the negative emotions to just dictate how I experience our life together, my husband is in a no-win situation.  But when women believe their false feelings like this, what else are we doing to our husbands but putting them into no-win situations?

If I overreact to something (be too sensitive), or assign blame to something he did by accident or without thinking (jump to conclusions), then my overreaction negatively affects our relationshipWe then have to deal with my over-reaction in addition to addressing whatever happened in the first place.  Hopefully you can see that allowing false feelings to override truth just compounds your problems!

False Feelings if not stopped lead to –> Arguments or Fights Based on Falsehoods –> Increases emotions and feelings of powerlessness and desperateness –> Your Husband Then Has to deal with your false feelings, along with the arguments or fights, along with rough patch stress and separate (logical) problems that need to be worked out as well

Clearly, if we cut it off at the beginning where we fish out what are false feelings and the Truth, then we can go straight to dealing with any logical problems that may be contributing to the rough patch emotions. 

So how do you get around this?  Remain calm and work on trying not to be overly sensitive, especially once you’ve identified that this may be a “rough patch” where your emotions are out of whack anyway due to surrounding stress from life.  I’ve found that I don’t think as clearly when feeling those feelings and am more apt to take things personally when I shouldn’t.

And… this a big one… Usually the root of the false feelings and emotions is some kind of nasty discontentment, as much as I hate to admit that.  My all time favorite verse is when Paul is talking about how he figured out how to be content in any and every circumstance – and coming from Paul and what he went through, that statement from him is just amazing!  I want so much to be like him in that.  But honestly, if you’re feeling like your husband doesn’t love you, and yet everything logically shows that he does, then there may be something else lurking in your heart that speaks of discontentment with your life that needs to be confronted.

When we learn how to be truly content, it’s because we are accepting of our husbands and of where we are right now – where God has us – and are ok with that.  When we trust that His timing is just right, and that we need to be exactly where we are right now for a purpose, it becomes a lot easier to see those False Feelings for what they are.

And then we need to decide to hold on to those Truths, and make it through that rough patch.

Now go back and listen to that music video at the top, and remember that rough patches are only temporary, whereas a love like that (that survives during those hard times) is timeless.


20 thoughts on “How To Survive a Rough Patch in Marriage

  1. Well done Stephanie! Wonderfully written from the heart with great advice for all married couples.

    Thanks for sharing this. 🙂 Sharing this on my Spiritual Leaders of the Family Facebook page. God bless!

  2. Good post! My wife of 28 years and I can attest to the rewards of sticking it out through the tough patches. And boy did we have a few.

    I would strongly recommend to you and your readers:

    Passionate Marriage: Sex, Love, and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships By David Schnarch, Ph. D

    Among the most valuable research he presents is that conflict is not only inevitable, but it is vital to successful relationships. Most of this conflict is caused by discontent, as you point out. Schnarch describes these as periods of personal growth in you or your spouse that are upsetting the status quo and forcing growth/change in the relationship.

    For example, if one spouse decides they are unsatisfied with their current financial status, they will react out of frustration, and probably begin to make (or at least demand) changes to improve things. This forces the other out of the “status quo” comfort zone, with options to step up and join their spouse, to throw impediments in the way, or perhaps to claim injury and file for divorce. However, if the two can accept each others’ growth, they arrive at the other side stronger and more deeply committed as a couple.

    It’s a heavy (i.e. clinical) book but very well-worth the investment in time. As he puts it, “But passionate marriage requires that you become an adult.” Not everyone is ready to hear that, but those who will are rewarded with the outcome.

    Grace and peace,

  3. Thank you SO much Don!! Yes, you are exactly right when you say that it’s a necessary thing! My dad talked about suffering and problems a lot when I was growing up, and he always tried to teach me that they were necessary to growing stronger and more mature in life. Very very necessary.

    And… regarding love as you just pointed out, he *did* say that real love can’t even begin until those romantic feelings (the infatuation phase) wear off and you *choose* to love anyway. To me, back then when I didn’t understand anything about anything lol, that all sounded really romantic. Now I understand more of what he meant about struggles being suffering! It really does sometimes feel painful and like something you wouldn’t want to go through.

  4. “Among the most valuable research he presents is that conflict is not only inevitable, but it is vital to successful relationships. Most of this conflict is caused by discontent, as you point out. Schnarch describes these as periods of personal growth in you or your spouse that are upsetting the status quo and forcing growth/change in the relationship.”

    That book sounds SOOOOO good, Don, thank you again… so much for taking the time to write out this comment. I will for sure read it now because you suggested it.

    And that is so true! He’s right that conflict and times where romance disappears is “vital” to successful marriages, because of the very growth that it causes. How beautiful in a way.

  5. Wow, great post! This should be required reading for new wives. It’s amazing how ridicoulously real emotions can seem, yet they are so false. This is why it is so important to be led by the Spirit and not our emotions. It’s too bad so many churches confuse emotions with the Holy Spirit.
    Thank you for writing this out so well!

  6. Thank you Words of Gold 🙂 so glad you liked it. Yes, that is so true about needing to be led by the Spirit, and you are *spot on* that churches confuse women’s emotions with the Holy Spirit. How sad but so true!

  7. remaining in … staying … leaning into the pain and storm rather than fighting it. sometimes it’s over quickly, sometimes it lasts a season, and sometimes it lasts a lifetime. however our circumstances play out, and whatever they are at any given moment, God’s Word gives clear instruction … and hope. there is always hope in God even when it doesn’t seem like there is.

  8. Something else I didn’t think of but I know definitely helps marriages remain strong in a rough patch (and that I know you’ll agree with 😀 ) is to keep on having sex as much as you can. The intimacy just reinforces those bonds and affection and love during a hard time, and (we’ve found at least in our marriage) greatly shortens the timeframe of any rough patches.

  9. yes. absolutely. with grace and thoughtfulness and sometimes creativity.

    circumstances will play a part – tag-teaming it in NICU or PICU … caring for an elderly parent … recovering from injury … loss of job or career … addition of a family member … etc.

    spend as much time reading your bible and in prayer as possible. do the best you can with what you’ve got.

    when dealing with a conflict between the two of you that has caused resentment or pain or accusation, etc, Romans 12 gives a lot of great advice and wisdom:

    Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

    9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

    17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  10. Wow, Ame!!!! This itself could be a post on this topic.

    We’ve done the NICU thing with our oldest, and you’re right, that circumstance wasn’t the most conducive to sex (was more traumatic if anything, considering it was our first baby).

    And we’ve done the injured/loss of job thing back last year. I remember feeling so worried about how my husband would feel not being able to go to his normal shift and being sent to this place where other wives warned me he may lose his motivation altogether… “the land of no return.” But even with him being injured, he still wanted sex LOL. We just had to be a lot more creative, which was fun and bonding during those months.

    And those verses are so powerful for dealing with very bad times where spouses hurt each other with words or actions. Definitely if a woman is living with someone non-repentant. I have to be careful (personally) that if I dwell on verses like this, not to gain a martyr’s perspective for myself, because then it makes me too sensitive to even normal interactions with him.

  11. Excellent and encouraging! Almost 22 years of marriage and we’ve through a few rough patches. Yes, stick it out TOGETHER. Commit it to God (again). You will grow as individuals, as a couple, teaching your kids to have faith in God and in His plan for marriage, and whether you are aware of it or not–your long-suffering is ministering to someone (perhaps many) within your sphere of influence.

  12. Pingback: Why do Women Incite Others to Emote? | Σ Frame

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