By Cindy Ruble
The international school our children attended in Malaysia had a yearly motto, a value they wanted to instill in each student that year. One year, the motto was “Do hard things.”
I’ve thought about that motto many times through the years as I find it to be an essential part of living a good and healthy life. It is also essential part of living life in the footsteps of Christ. There is no doubt that the pandemic has made life harder. It has made marriages harder.
In Asia, we have lived under many lockdowns, a 10km maximum travel distance and social distancing regulations that have resulted in increasing strain on marriages, as couples, some living in extended family environments, have struggled to learn how to live together 24/7, how to work, and at the same time, supervise their school age children in their on-line learning.
This extra strain and struggle has brought many relationships to the breaking point. I have been called in several times to help struggling couples and as I listen deeply to their struggles and ask questions to help them see steps they can take to move forward in healthy ways together, I often find myself saying, what you have decided to do is not easy, but it will help you move forward in the positive direction you have said you want to go.
Out of respect for confidentiality and privacy, I am not mentioning names or putting faces to their stories, for their stories and their struggles are their own. However, their stories are possess a universal quality. We all understand the pain of broken relationship and the fear that our relationship might not make it through.
Do hard things because your marriage is worth it. In a marriage, Do hard things generally means working on yourself, working on your mindset and your own improvement, working on what is in your power to change because you are the only person you can change. In most sessions, I have conducted, I generally ask the husbands and wives individually to tell me three things he or she can do before we meet again to move in the direction of the healthy marriage they want.
To date, I have not had anyone who did the things they chose to do say that it did not help. The impact I see is incremental, not magical. We get to healthy relationships, one step at a time, one act at a time. Angry? Pause and breathe before responding so you don’t just react. Will that be easy in the moment? No, but do it anyway, because you will walk away calmer. You will feel better about yourself. You will feel less reactive. And eventually, your partner may notice. When I was in seminary, my spirituality professor asked us, “Who do you want to be and how are you going to get there?” The answer was to be in the form of a 10-page paper.
That required serious reflection and a plan. Impact comes from actions taken. What are three things you can do starting today to make your relationships better? Do hard things, knowing that you will come out of it a healthier person and a better partner, and you might even see the impact spread to your partner.
Cindy and Eddy Ruble are Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel serving in Malaysia. Cindy works as an Advocate for Women and Children. She has spent many years working to aid and empower the survivors of human trafficking, from rescue to casework to repatriation. Eddy is CBF’s International Disaster Response Coordinator. Building on experience gained from responding to the Asian tsunami in 2004, he continued working in disaster relief, responding to ensuing earthquakes, typhoons and floods in other regions of Asia. You can support their work here.