4 Ways to Invest in Your Marriage When You’re Exhausted

April Motl

Crosswalk.com Contributor
Published May 16, 2024
4 Ways to Invest in Your Marriage When You’re Exhausted

Some articles estimate that a middle-class American works more than a Medieval peasant. While my brain stretches to imagine how that is possible when one had to scrub clothes against a washboard or prepare dinner by first taking the life of an animal rather than defrosting something, there are some historians out there with striking evidence. Whether or not we modern people have added more to our workload or not, it is safe to say most of us are indeed exhausted.

The sad reality is that most of us get exhausted while trying to care for our families, yet tiredness is a bit of a danger in and of itself for family life. Exhaustion can be especially concerning for marriages. When we are tired, we are more likely to snap with impatience. When I'm completely spent, I fail to see opportunities to encourage my husband—or worse yet, I fail to see how my exhaustion-fueled negativity is burdensome.

There are seasons of life when you are juggling babies, graduate studies, and late-night second jobs. Then there are the kids' music and sports practices, elderly parents who need care and tending, demanding careers, and never-ending yard work, fix-it repairs, or house chores that need doing. There truly is no end to the work and care required of us. And somehow, while we are doing our best to take care of everyone, the care of our marriages can slip away from us.

While it is easy to fall into this trap, it doesn't have to be the final word for our marriages! Here are some investments you can make in your marriage when the money is tight, the time is gone, and your energy is low:

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/diego_cervo

Husand and wife washing dishes

1. Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is free; it only takes a moment to say "thank you" even when you are worn out! You might not have the money for a date night out or the time to reconnect the way you both want to, but you can always express gratitude for something about your spouse. If you are passing like ships in the night with your schedules, text each other or leave a handwritten note. Try not to let a day slip by where you don't express gratitude to your mate.

Another beautiful fruit of gratitude is how it eases tension. When we are stretched beyond belief, I often feel the disappointment of all the ways I'm not measuring up. I'm missing deadlines because I'm juggling too much all the while dinner is late, it's no one's favorite, and the laundry is backed up again. When I feel all those pressures and all that not-measuring-up-ness, if my husband expresses gratitude for my hard work, all that tension of what I'm not accomplishing melts away for a bit. And a moment of conversation that could have landed us with defensiveness, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings ended up constructive and perhaps even drawing us together because it started off with gratitude.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.1 Thessalonians 1:2 NASB

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/interstid
Husband and wife praying

2. Prayer

When schedules are intense, and we miss having time with one another, prayer has been of special value in our marriage. Praying for one another has been a glue that has kept our hearts entwined. Knowing my man is praying for me makes me feel differently about our life together and about him. Emotional distance coupled with tiredness often makes room for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. But when we tell each other how we've prayed for the other or ask how the other is doing with something we've been praying for, it rekindles that sense of being a team, that sense of unity and sharing life that can get trampled under the demands of a heavy schedule.

While keeping each other close through praying for one another has a special way of maintaining unity, praying together in person is even better! We've gone through seasons where we were able to connect by praying together each day and seasons where we didn't get more than a few words folded into grace at the dinner table. It's our goal to pray together in person each day. And having that goal is a safeguard for our marriage. Whether or not you are able to pray with your spouse every day, be sure not to let a day go by without praying for your mate.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 NASB

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/katleho Seisa
Married couple hugging forgiveness

3. Forgiveness

Keeping your heart clean of bitterness is one of the best investments in your marriage that you can make!

Recently, in the Bible Study Fellowship group my son and I are a part of, we studied the crucifixion. It was such a blessing to share this study together. One of the things I told him was that if Satan can't get you tripped up with your own sin, then he will try to tangle you up in the sin others do to you. And sometimes it doesn't matter if it's a "little" sin like someone looked at you wrong and said something unkind or a truly egregious, harmful act. Between the efforts of the enemy and our own nature, we can get deeply tangled up and hurt by others' sins. We talked about how Christ's death was enough to pay for our sins, but also all the sins of everyone else. Christ's death on the cross was so graphic and (in child terms) ugly that now there's no sin too big or ugly (or even against us) that Jesus didn't pay for. That doesn't mean we are automatically reconciled to everyone who has hurt us. It just means we don't need to live in that pain they caused us. We can place it under the cross, next to all our sins, and move forward in hope, freedom, and grace. That's where sin belongs - under the shed blood of Jesus. He did all that for us so we could live beyond the shackles of sin.

In family life, grace needs to flow in and out, sort of like breathing. We bump into each other in all sorts of ways, and grace and forgiveness are tools the Christian family has at their disposal. We need to use that gift Jesus died to give us! We need to take that grace deep into our hearts and also readily give it as well.

When schedules are packed, money is tight, and that sense of connectivity between you and your spouse is thin, safeguard your marriage by regularly checking in with your heart to ensure it is clear of unforgiveness. Ask God to help you forgive your mate just as He forgave you. Ask the Lord to help you see your spouse as He sees them. When I practice checking my heart for lingering unforgiveness and then repent of it, the joy in my family life is always fuller!

But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASB

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/gorodenkoff

Husband comforting crying wife

4. Blessing

In the Bible, blessings are serious and precious. Jewish culture imparts blessings differently than we do in the Western world. While a blessing means to "speak well of" someone, it also means to speak good of that person. Both modes of blessing are powerful gifts for our marriages.

If your spouse can rest assured that you won't disparage them in public because they have heard you speak graciously about them, it will sow trust and closeness into your relationship. If your spouse holds their breath, wondering what negative thing you are saying about them to friends or family, it will erode the unity between you. Speak well of your spouse when you speak of them to others. It doesn't cost a cent, and it doesn't take any more time to do!

Speaking blessings over your spouse is another powerful gift you can invest in your marriage. Some years back, our family (amid a very overfilled schedule and family stresses) started observing Shabbat dinner. One of the elements of the Shabbat dinner is to pray blessings over each family member. I didn't expect it, but there has been so much fruit from that one thing - blessings prayed over each one at the table. Our prayers have power, and hearing your spouse pray blessings over you changes things in your relationship.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25 ESV

Years ago, when my husband and I were both in seminary, he had a professor of family ministry who said the secret to a happy marriage boiled down to one simple equation: time + fun = falling (or staying) in love. When we hit a season of life where there was no extra in the budget for fun, no time in the schedule to connect, and we were surrounded by demands that couldn't be removed from the to-do list, we waited on the Lord to carry us into the next season. In the meantime, we practiced these four things in our relationship, and God did carry us through to a season of refreshment, connection, and joy. If connection feels impossible, take it to our Lord, who specializes in the impossible. He can bring you and your marriage through the seasons of life.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/elenaleonova

April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April at MotlMinistries.com and on Amazon.

Originally published Tuesday, 21 May 2024.