"Last week Sara got so mad she threw her shoe at me. It missed my head by about three inches!" Larry said.
"At the time I thought he deserved it," Sara admitted. "But the fact that I could do that really scares me! I feel as if our marriage is in serious trouble."
While not every couple throws shoes—or anything else—that sense of uncontrollable anger is not uncommon for many Christian couples. Unfortunately, some feel that the heightened level of emotion is the beginning of the end of their relationship.
In my more than 30 years of counseling and married life, I've observed that how couples respond to an event such as Sara's shoe throwing can help them develop resilience, the ability to bounce back or recover quickly from change, misfortune, and unmet expectations.
As we explored their past ten years together, I knew that even though they were now in a difficult season, Larry and Sara had built resilience into their marriage. To build a resilient marriage your commitment to the relationship must be stronger than your history, mood, or situation. Couples who are resilient have these seven qualities in common.
1. Resilient couples don't fall prey to misconceptions about marriage.
One thing that can damage our resilience is the mistaken notion that a good marriage equals a calm and peaceful one. In the ten years Larry and Sara had been married, five jobs, one miscarriage, five harsh financial seasons, four moves, and two adventure-filled boys had taken their toll. Not to mention the fact that they came from two different family styles: Sara's parents were divorced. Her dad had cheated on her mom multiple times, and then abandoned the family when she was ten. Larry, on the other hand, grew up in an intact family—his parents are still together more than 40 years later.1