I love to talk about relationships. I always have.
From the early years, when I was a boy-crazy, fluffy-haired, flat-chested, hyperactive, gawky little thing who couldn’t get a second glance from a guy to save my life, to the college years when my friends and I would spend our free moments analyzing relationships, dreams, and priorities… well, I’ve always loved to talk about how humans interact with each other. (Not only romantically, but in any relationship!)
I love writing about relationships, too. And on more than one occasion I’ve thrown relationship tactics out in written format. Usually I do a “1, 2, 3, here’s what you do”-type post — and it may really seem like I know what I’m talking about.
The reality, though? I’m a work in progress. My marriage? It’s a work in progress. I write that advice as a reminder of what will be most beneficial to practice toward my husband, my kids, my extended family.
But most days, I’m a mess. At least when I have the reminders in front of me I’m a mess that has a chance of making the right choice for this moment!
- If you’ve been in a place where you look at your spouse and think, “I love you and you’re my best friend… but I have no idea how to live with you!”, well, I’ve been there.
- If you’ve thought, “This, this, is what marriage is? Are you kidding me?! This is not what I signed up for – I want out!!”, I’ve been there, too.
- If you’ve had a time when you look at someone you’ve loved silly, yet circumstances have intervened and your heart is completely broken — smashed — and you have no idea how you’ll ever recover, I know how you feel there, too.
Guess what? Rumor has it a lot of people who have been married know how you feel.
Because I love talking about relationships so much, I’ve made it a point to ask couples if they’ve felt the hopelessness, loneliness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, the big she-bang of emotions no one mentions on the wedding day… and they have. Pretty much every single one of them (and the ones who haven’t have typically been married for only three minutes).
My tendency in the “down moments” is to walk. Man, oh, man, have there been times when I just want to quit. Life would be much easier if I were the only person I had to please or consider!
Do you know why I don’t? Because I trust it won’t always feel this way. In the midst of the dark moments there are beams of light that break through and remind me of how I felt when we were courting…
I watch our wedding video and see a woman who looks like me (except without wrinkles, lard baby, or gray hair) and… that woman made a promise wearing a white dress one day in front of everyone special to her life, and she meant it. I don’t want to make a liar out of her.
When we’re in the slumps and valleys we need people around us to encourage us to put one foot in front of the other, who will hold us accountable to the promises we’ve made, who’ve been there, done that. We need to steal their faith in love, goodness, and relationship.
If that support comes through articles, silly blog posts, books, counseling, mentors, or good friends… well, take that faith wherever you find it!
Last week my parents celebrated 44 years of marriage. I am witness to the fact it hasn’t always been rosy… but I respect them for choosing each other time and again.
- When they stapled egg cartons to the walls of their one-room home as insulation, they chose for better or for worse.
- When their kids gave them grief and decided they were abused, hated, and tried to pit them against each other, they chose for better or for worse.
- When they didn’t know if their partner would survive medical procedures, they chose for better or for worse.
They stood in front of each other 44 years ago, barely six months after a blind date, and they made a promise to stick around through thick and thin. They meant it. And they never looked back.
I want to have that character, even smack dab in middle of ugly life. I want you to have the faith you can walk through the struggles you see. We’re in this together, don’t you see?
The trick is figuring out how to do it! How do we stay put for better or for worse?
I am haunted by Ann Voskamp’s recommendation for parenting: “Just for today, I will ask for His grace, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, this is my sign to draw very closest to that child.” I know this method works for my kids. I know I need to feel loved the very most at the moment I am most un-lovable.
What would happen if I practiced this action with my spouse? Have you tried it? Does it work?
Tell me your stories of triumph, would you? Let’s steal faith from each other, shall we? I don’t want to live a hopeless life, especially knowing we were created for more.