i've heard it said that the three little words every woman wants to hear are "i love you". i beg to differ. i think they are more often "i am sorry". you're probably laughing but you know i'm right! those are closely followed by the coveted "you were right"! as much as we want to hear them they are also hard to say. especially that last one. marriage is hard. i was a part of a discussion recently about this very topic, whether or not marriage should be hard. as i listened silently (and kept my opinions on the matter to myself, for a change) there were several women commenting that marriage shouldn't be hard and theirs isn't. what i was thinking (but didn't say) was that they just haven't been married long enough to hit a rough patch. at some point, your marriage will be work. it's just a matter of when. as we've navigated the hardest season yet in our marriage, i've hesitated time and time again whether or not to share openly about it. it is so hard to know what the line is between transparent and oversharing. that boundary is thin and gray. to top it off, people want to hear a success story, after it's finished. they don't really want to hear the messy, in-process stuff that may or may not work out as planned. they want to hear the fairy tale ending. i admit i've fallen into that mindset. i'll tell this story once it's completed and all is well again. however, what if someone else hearing it now, in the midst of the struggle, and it encourages them that they are not alone in their own struggle? what if our vulnerability and weakness strengthens another? all of this rambling to say: we've been on a hard road. we are working on it and it is getting better but it is still really hard. we have been on what feels like an uphill battle for several years. we are fighting to save our marriage in the midst of trying to raise five kids and have jobs and all the other every day things that don't take a vacation just because you're having problems. we spent a period of time in the last year separated. while we have (thankfully) mostly overcome the big issues that led to that, all the little details are still being ironed out. the biggest of which (in my mind at least) is finding a way to regain the intimacy we've lost. we have been best friends since our very first date. that sounds cheesy but it's true. we have always, no matter what, wanted each other's company more than anyone else's. while those things are still true, we are dealing with the after effects of having lost that deeper connection for a time. we spent many days and nights drowning under the weight of things left unsaid. now that they are being said, we have to learn how to keep being best friends. sometimes i sit on the couch and i feel like we are miles apart. i would guess he feels the same way at times. i say all of this to be honest but also to share what steps we are taking to get better. hoping that maybe someone else who is in the same battle will gain encouragement and hope from it. our story is not over, but the happy ending is in sight. here's how we're trying to make that happen.
~we've instituted a weekly date night. this is a huge sacrifice for us, both time wise and financially (do you know how much a babysitter costs for this many kids??). but we are being intentional to spend at least two hours, every week, alone and out of our house. it's refreshing. after 13 years together i don't know what took us so long.
~we are both getting wise council in many different areas. friends who are trusted, spiritual counsel, etc. there is nothing more valuable than people in your life who will lovingly tell you what you need to hear even if you don't want to hear it. we are blessed to have many people who care deeply for us.
~we are learning to love one another unconditionally and to let go of our expectations. a big part of that is letting go of the past. we have failed one another in so many ways. but at the end of the day, we are each other's biggest fan :)
~we decided on the day we married that divorce was never an option for us and we've stuck to it. even when we were separated we went in to it knowing it was temporary and with a concrete plan in place as to what we were using that time for. we're in this for the long haul.
~lastly, i have to get over myself. i really do. a wise person once told me "you can be right or you can be happy. your choice" (thanks mom :)
this is by no means comprehensive, meant to "counsel" anyone else's marriage, or a claim of knowing anything at all. it's just a glimpse of our journey, a public declaration of our belief that we will be ok and a desire to be real, even when it's messy.