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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

For Better or Worse? When Life Sends Its Worst

You don’t happen to know any couples who are stressed out right now, do you?

Whatever challenges the marrieds among us face, and the world’s spewing them out right now like a dropped fire hose, loneliness and isolation are not among them. They’ve got each other, right?

Like me, you probably lie awake at night thinking of single friends who are sick and distanced from loved ones. We feel deeply for those who cannot be present at significant life events: family weddings, births, graduations, even funerals.

But Mike and I are also greatly concerned about the stress that the pandemic (or as one friend reversed it bluntly, this damn panic), is placing on couples. Much of the population is dealing with the frustrations of working from home, if they are fortunate enough to still have jobs, while simultaneously trying to educate their kids.

Others are risking their own health every day as they work the front lines meeting essential needs for medical care, food, shelter, and protection. Multiple news stories have revealed that the divorce rate in Wuhan, China, has spiked as a result of the pressures of the pandemic.

I was encouraged to learn recently of a brand-new book called STAYING POWER: Building a Stronger Marriage When Life Sends Its Worst. Is it really “coincidental” that a resource like this, over a year in the writing, was published at just such a time as this?

Co-authors Carol and Gene Kent and Cindy and Dave Lambert understand stress only too well. The Kents, founders of Speak Up Ministries, have endured the agony of their only son’s life sentence for shooting and killing his wife’s ex-husband, a man against whom there were multiple allegations of abuse.

They write, “From that point forward, we were both aware that we had a choice to make. Would we allow the stress of our son’s incarceration to tear us apart? Or would we stay together – no matter what – and learn how to let this experience make us not weaker but stronger?”

The Lamberts individually and as a couple have struggled with the challenges of infertility, miscarriage, adoption, and serious medical conditions. Dave was hospitalized on fourteen separate occasions during one especially stressful year.

Cindy comments that the stress revealed not only their differing communication styles but also unmet expectations.

“I expected that Dave would have respect for my perspective when it came to medical issues. I expected if either of us was facing a medical crisis, we’d be ‘in it together’ and not disregard the strong feelings of the other.”

Co-authors of STAYING POWER: Dave & Carol Lambert, Carol & Gene Kent

Do you know any couples who endured a life-threatening illness or traumatic situation in their family, whether their own or one of their children, only to have their marriage fail to survive? Is there anything we can do to prevent it?

The co-authors wrote Staying Power to help other couples dealing with difficult life experiences that come from outside a marriage: “The loss of a loved one, an adoption gone awry, a family member’s addiction to drugs or alcohol, infertility, a natural disaster that causes you to lose everything.” (p.16)

When Mike and I became aware of situations like these during our decades in the pastorate, we would invite couples to our home or ask to visit them in theirs to offer help, prayer, and support.

With those options not available currently to any of us, what can we do?

I contacted the publisher of Staying Power to ask if they might be willing to donate a copy to someone reading this post today who knows of a couple whose marriage is strained at the seams (perhaps even their own.) Baker/Revell generously offered five copies!

If you are interested in winning one, please leave a comment below. No need to identify whom you’re concerned about. It’s enough to simply say, “I know someone who could benefit – please enter my name!”

I’ll choose five comments at random the end of this week (well, random other than praying over them), and notify you that you’ve won so you can message me your address. The gift copies will ship directly from the publisher.

Please be sure to enter your email address when you leave your comment so I know whom to contact. And if you don't win one of the giveaway copies, you can purchase your own with Amazon Prime free shipping.

As the authors of Staying Power ask, “Will the next crisis your marriage faces be its final hour – or its finest hour?”

With Carol Kent in January, one of the co-authors of STAYING POWER



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