I have heard several times in marriage that when one is down, the other is up. When one is weak, the other is strong. Well that is true for the most part, it is not always. There are many exceptions to that rule but if you don’t know that, you may be setting your unrealistic expectations for your marriage.
Our personal obstacle is Mental Illness. This is definitely one of the ‘exceptions’ to that rule. My husband has thankfully been able to make some amazing strides into a much healthier place, I can truly say I have a new husband from all the work he has done. But mental illness will always be there to some degree, and I would be naive and ignorant to assume we will never have bad days again, I can just be thankful that we have learned several ways to handle it we didn’t have before.
In the past, it didn’t always mean that if I was down, that my husband would be in a good enough head space to pick me back up. I know that doesn’t sound fair, and sometimes it’s not. But life, and marriage doesn’t always come with complete fairness.
Yes sometimes it doesn’t feel great, but what I have learned is to understand what we are dealing with and working within those boundaries for success. I have made a safe parameter for us that allows our marriage to thrive despite something that could tear it apart. I have changed my mentality to work with our obstacles rather than sulk about it not being ‘normal.’ If I allowed myself to be setting my expectations compared to a marriage not battling our obstacles then yes it would be unfair, frustrating and unequal. But as I personalize our situation, taking into account the obstacles we face, it allows the love to be seen. It allows me to feel supported, cared for, loved by my husband who may not be always in the best head space to show that by the worlds standards.
I have come across several friends over the past months who are the ‘spouse/supporter’ of someone who is struggling. It has been really interesting sharing the struggles that come alongside of that. It is something only people dealing with that situation can understand, and it is very hard to talk with people who have never dealt with it before because they look at it from a very logical standpoint, when you are dealing with a very illogical and unpredictable situation.
It has also shown me that there is a missing link in system where there is not a lot of support for the ‘other person’ in the equation, aka the one not struggling but is still very affected by it. Whether it is a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, family member or close friend… we are just winging it half the time, going off of advice from people who don’t know the whole story, trying to be the voice of reason in a confusing situation ourselves. It is definitely something to highlight that there are other people affected other than the person who is struggling.
I am writing this post to highlight that not all the expectations of marriage or relationships are what they seem. Sometimes you get handed a circumstance you never expected you would have to deal with in your life, but I encourage you to find the beauty in it, because it IS there. Under the mess, there is a blessing, and trust me when I say that God made no mistake when he put you two together. Find that reason because it is always more encouraging and empowering then you could have ever imagined.
Bring it to the Light
I want to encourage anyone who is in a position of supporting someone struggling, to reach out and talk to someone-anyone your comfortable with- and bring it to the light. That is of utmost importance, don’t keep it in the dark. That is where satan gains footholds, where you suffer alone and don’t ever believe the lie that you are better off keeping it yourself. We are designed to walk this life with others, and sometimes that means reaching out when you need a shoulder to lean on when life gets heavy.
Take care of yourself
You cannot be supportive or take care of anyone if you are drained yourself. It may feel backwards to focus on your needs, but its crucial. Don’t neglect yourself because you will be useless to anyone in your life if you become too overwhelmed to function.
Try and Be A Safe Place
This is one of the hardest things to do, because sometimes you just want to scream and shake them into snapping out of it. But that is that exact thing they struggle to do. This one takes patience and practice, both things I would say I lack. But if time and time again they see you being their safe place, they will eventually learn to trust that. And by you doing that, you are being an example of what that looks like and can show them how it looks and when they are in a better place, they will be able to be that person for you.
Surround Yourself with Support
The point of this post is that sometimes like in our case in the past, your spouse isn’t able to be there if you are struggling with something yourself. Surround yourself and set up safe places for you, support groups for you. I had some AMAZING people who held me through some dark times and allowed me to process and deal with my own issues when he couldn’t. God was so good in that, and now we are in a place where my husband can that person again, so like I said God is so good.
Life, and relationships come with all unexpected curve balls, and if you find yourself in a position where you are dealing with something that may not seem ‘normal’ to the worlds standards of what that relationship should look like, its okay. Don’t compare, don’t assume others have it all together (because the usually don’t) and don’t ever believe the lie that you cannot handle it, because we serve a powerful God that can handle anything and he WILL give you the strength if you open your heart to him.