Posts tagged marriage
I Sometimes Live in Shadows

My size five and a half feet carry an ocean, a mountain of weight as I stride through the house. Each step is a dump truck stomping downstairs. Each clunk beats out an S.O.S. "Come get me. Show me that this is not how our marriage ends. Show me you love me more than I realize." In our room, I cry.

It's sadness and it's fear. This thundering fear over an argument of wasted chicken thighs. Or maybe it was a discussion over schedules or the dogs? (Does the subject matter ever really matter as much as all of the communication?) We really are okay; my reactions are just off. Do other kids of divorce get this weird, too? This hypersensitive, scared, angry, and we-better-work-this-out-in-ten-minutes-or-we're-done attitude too?

I live my marriage in light of being a child of divorce. Rather, in the darkness of having gone through a divorce. How can I be my best with this insecurity that in the end, may not be victorious? Boy, it's exhausting. If I even think he sees me in any negative way, if he does not remark on my eye makeup, my golden parenting, or some feat I've accomplished, I think perhaps he's had it with my whole personality, that he doesn't love me, and will trade me in my nursing bra for a secretary or colleague. I'm not always like this, but fear, even in small doses, can still be toxic.

If I stay in that place, I sink, and become that poor sad horse in The NeverEnding Story. My marriage view, if even for fifteen minutes, appears as bleak as muddy, dear Artex. I am being dramatic, but at least some of this may have to do with my parents being married five times between the two of them.

I can be freer, not bound by any old hurt. I won't be bound now by history that happened to me decades ago. Maybe it can take a village to support a marriage? It will take care and resolve to comb through my feelings a bit before throwing them haphazardly, or chucking them at my husband. For this, there are options deeper than breaths - journaling, gaining trusted counsel, time in worship, or time in gratitude. My kids will greatly benefit if I can take this time not only for me, but for them, for us, and for the village that lives in these very gates.

Marriage is tough, though. Two people have to sync. We have to decide even when and how we will work things out. Even now, again, we have a resolve waiting to happen. In other words, we messed up. Doors were even slammed. There are two sides, two renditions, and two memories. May we patch our sides together soon. May we honor each other as bride and groom. May all of the other junk drift off.

Women who live in the fruit of community root themselves in truth. We are not sheltered, but known. We take notice when our sister is off. We hold to the truth, remind ourselves again to hold up our mirrors, read the real words, and ask for help. Here are things I know: my husband loves me, it would take something very, very big to wrench us apart, and we have help when we want or need it.

We have this gorgeous marriage certificate, a ketubah, nailed on the wall under an acrylic frame with our witnesses and rabbi's name signed:

They pledge to foster strength and unity.

We have children. We have every tool, but sometimes it is my frightful counsel I call upon. Sometimes, in the too-late hours to have a real quality discussion, I feel hurt and clawed by the divorce claws and all of the shadows of my own upbringing in regards to marriage. Maybe we cannot support our marriage any better than poor Artex could stand with any sort of hope?

I want my children to know that it can be healthy to disagree, even though I am still learning, or even though I need reassurance. I need my husband to dress in fatigues or armor, to throw down some club and say, "Darling, you will always be worth fighting for." If I'm being honest, I want him to put me before his own hurts. I want orchids after any fight, want us to breathlessly recite vows, and hold tight. But I suppose he probably has his own wish list too?

My husband is becoming more keyed-in, though, and more aware of how my background can color my take on a situation. But I still must cling to truth, to the goodness I know from us, and not to the disasters nearly thirty years ago.

My village is largely within these walls, and it is my very thoughts and emotions which can ground me to pursue truth. My marriage shall not be dictated by past hurt, but by the pursuit of two people: our souls, minds, and bodies who choose love, again and again, not confusion or pain.

If I have greater health here, then I can give my children a better sense of the goodness of conflict. May they never fear a marriage relationship. May we all see wholeness here. I will strive to see greater love in our village, in and out of these gates, and all around us.

You hear that, mama? Got that, my dear?

Peace shall dwell here.

Journalist: Melissa Uchiyama

Marriage After Baby

I was almost shaking with excitement. Heart beating, deep breathing, butterflies ready to flutter and soar in the very deepest part of my soul. 

And there, after watching every one of our friends and family walk the way before us, there you stood— steadfast and calm, with your smile bursting from the corners of your lips and that twinkle in your eye that you get right before you do something crazy. 

That one moment will forever stand out in my mind. 

The very moment that defined our wedding day. It wasn’t the kiss, or even the “I do”: it was you and I, our eyes locked together, and every promise, every trust and every hope in the very breath held within our lungs at that moment. 

Fast forward to today and I sit here next to you, us each in our pajamas, eating late night snacks in bed while you watch British comedy shows on your phone and I write. 

There aren’t always butterflies, and time has certainly changed both of us. But I still believe in the man who stood at the end of the walkway, steadfast and calm with a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eye. 

I’ve watched you grow into a father, watched you learn to find your way more as a man, to balance the weight of the responsibilities with your big dreamer heart. I’ve watched you celebrate the majesty of the wild, backwoods country and take on a love for ancient things, untouched by the complications of modern humanity. 

You know me in a way that is beyond frustrating at times. You push and challenge me to grow deeper when I would rather stay comfortable. Yet your patience is truly unending and you know how to reassure my heart, with a gentle sway to the music in our kitchen, while the baby sleeps and the dishes fill the sink and the ever growing pile of “to-dos” sit on the counter waiting for us to return. 

Daily life of a young married couple with a toddler is hard some times. The days are full and the nights lack sleep. Living out these daily vows can easily become nice ideals rather than steadfast pillars. 

I know I need to be more patient, more encouraging, more kind some days. I know I need to remember that you always my partner, even when I can’t see you because our days fill with various commitment that keep us moving but often apart. 

I know that little gestures of love, thoughtfulness and appreciation go a long way, but if we are being truthful, some days I am just tired.

Some days the hustle of a mother leaves me too empty to pour the lavish affection of a wife upon her husband. Some days all you get is a thrown together midnight quesadilla or a quickly sent, mid-day text of “I love you” to remind us both of “I love you” when the journey is long.

Some days I am swarmed by the grasp of chubby toddler hands and when evening comes I unconsciously wiggle free of my lover’s tender embrace, completly touched out. Needing space, needing to breathe. 

Yet it was the beat of our hearts and the breath of our lungs between each word that wove each vow into the pledging symphony that brought our marriage and our family into being. A sacred promise to stay side-by-side in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, in good times and bad. 

Yes, in that moment, breath was pledged to a choice. 

Out of all this world, you have been chosen for me. Out of all the hustle, the daily tasks, the long nights, full days, teething toddlers, burnt meals, impatient words and life’s concerns, I still choose you. 

Love is a choice: a daily choice in every moment, in every breath, in every space of my heart. 

I choose you. 

Dear husband: You are chosen, you are wanted, you are needed in every breath of my womanhood, my mothering, my career, and my dreams. I need you and you need me; a partnership based on teamwork, mutual respect and an undying love for the wildness and majesty that is this journey called life. 

“I promise to love you without reservation, 

comfort you in times of distress, 

encourage you to achieve higher goals, 

laugh with you and cry with you, 

grow with you in mind and spirit, 

always be open and honest with you, 

and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.”

-excerpt from the vows of our wedding day, May 11, 2013

Written by- Tara

The Wholehearted Marriage-

Fully engaging your most important relationship.

This is a very important part of it. It’s not just, “I’m seeing you in front of me”, it’s ‘I see into you. I see you.’
— -Norm Spellman, Avatar

I remember when my husband and I could finally see each other again. 

Our son was over a year old. The first twelve months of parenthood had been an arduous journey through sleepless nights, postpartum depression, heavy work schedules and did I mention, sleepless nights? My husband and I lived in survival mode during that long season. We were aware of—and very thankful for—each other’s presence but we were losing sight of true intimacy. During that first year, we barely had the mental energy to get through each week, much less have romantic date nights and long talks by the fireplace. And, believe it or not, we don’t consider it all bad. Hard, yes. But not something we would completely remove from the story of our life. We learned how to work separately, yet together. We learned the art of tag-teaming. We learned to truly cherish stolen moments with one another. 

So, when our son finally, finally, finally began sleeping through the night, we had a few hours at the end of every day to remember how to breathe together again. One night I suddenly realized that we had this set time for ‘just us’  I cried. Relieving tears of happiness lined my eyes as I told my husband how thankful I was to get back my time with him. I could see him again. 

I think in the 18+ months that we grappled with our new roles as mom and dad we lost sight of that ‘oneness’ we had as newlyweds. It had been almost three years of marriage before we added a baby to our lives and, needless to say, it was a big adjustment. We’re still fighting our way towards that deep relationship God intends for a husband and wife. It’s not that our son ruined our marriage (quite the contrary!), it’s that we’d never been tested like that before. We’d never been pushed to the brink of insanity because of sleep deprivation. We’d never seen me under the heavy weight of wild postpartum hormones. We’d never held a 8lb 3oz human that rightfully demanded our all. 

Let me be clear, we’re not so ignorant as to think that being new, exhausted parents is the hardest test our marriage will experience. Who knows what the future will hold…more babies? Losing a job? An incurable sickness? I can’t say. All I know is that, after my relationship with Jesus Christ, Jonathan is my most important relationship. God, in His lovingly crafted plans, has woven the finite threads of our lives together. Some days, we unravel. Some days we’re a knotted up, frayed-edged mess. But, in my soul, I know we’re bound so close that I can’t tell where he ends and I begin. Our hearts bow in thankfulness at this gift. Two lives blending in this way; a firm and binding tether to grasp when our footing slips.

Yes, some days he shuts down or I lash out. I could write pages about the many causes for it, but really it’s us allowing the everyday stress of life to cloud our immediate vision. That’s when we lose sight of one another. That’s when we feel alone and afraid. But that’s also when the fight to find one anther becomes vitally important. 

So, our world has changed. We’ve found ourselves trekking up the long trail of parenthood together and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever known. We’ve learned to adjust our footing. We may stumble in fear. We may cling to each other one moment and push each other away the next. But we’re learning—through the grace of God— how strong we are together. We’re learning to hold hands in the dark and breathe in the view when the sun rises.  And my oh my, the glory-view from here. It causes our souls to reverberate in this golden harmony of intimacy. I can hear the song now. 

I see you, my love.

Written by,

Breanne

10 Ways to Build a Better Relationship
Notes to myself on how to sweeten my marriage during this season:    

Notes to myself on how to sweeten my marriage during this season:

 

1. Don't Hide

I've learned to lay bare the dialogue that breaths beneath the surface of the half-truths that I tell. Whether I think I'm being self-sacrificing (by not bothering him with my murky feelings), merely polite, or simply too weary to take the time, I only do him a disservice when I hide. Because how will he know who I am at the end of all of this glorious madness...if I don't let him into the secret places now?! And, part of that challenge is reciprocal...it's hearing his inner dialogue too. And, that can be paralyzing if I'm unprepared; threatened by his candor, frightened by his humanity. A sinking person clinging to a sinking person...well, it's easy to succumb to despair. But, with practice, it has only proven to be healing. Giving an ear to all of the self-talk he'll illuminate has been my bridge across the waters of his own self-doubt; to be heard above the churning below. It is in these moments I'm able to break through and affirm him...with my whole soul. 

Oh, love...I'll give you my honesty in return. I won't shy away from your candor; recoil at your honesty. I'll reach for those admissions: touch them and know them and feel them shake me to my core as well. I'm learning to quell my desire to fix, cover up, and soothe. I know now that I need just to relate. Here is where we find ourselves standing together...the ground more steady and sure than it felt to us before. 

2. Gifts of Time

Lately, we've both taken to giving gifts of time; to breath, to seek solitude (even 10 sacred minutes), or to steal away for some respite. And while on the giving end, though I'm just aching to steal my own time, I practice giving grace. Because I'll need it when he gets home. When I see his resolve start to erode, his patience start to melt...instead of sighing and playing the martyr, I respect his cues. Because I desperately want him to read mine with as much respect. Becoming well-versed in his vocabulary of needs has only deepened my understanding and empathy, because it's not so easy to dismiss his stress or his fears when I know the very heartbeat of each one. 

3. Meet Each Other Just Where You Are

One of the richest ways we've woven love into our marriage during this season is by meeting each other just where we are. If we're feeling swallowed up in sadness...the other has practiced the response to crawl into that space with them. Press your skin to their skin and feel their breath. Know them in their deepest pain. Listen to their worst self-talk, so that you can advocate; to hold the mirror that does not distort how lovely they are. I found I was only covering the pain with an ugly tarp when I pulled my husband up from the depths with a jerk and a tug, "Come on. We've only got today before you go back to work...let's make today lovely." I lost the ability to see him...to see the mapping of thought and process and consideration that innervates just under the skin of what I see from the outside. I'm a consummate optimist but my husband is not. And what I can self-will, he cannot. No remedies or quick fixes will do. So, as I've practiced entering his world, I only find that his soul is more tender and loving than I knew before. The gift is truly mine in waiting for his own timing to process grief...because he has always emerged grateful + humble when unhurried. 

4. Join Him in What Feeds His Soul

Share your energy with what lights his interest ablaze. Seeing his soul engaged this way...for me...has been something truly holy. It's meeting him in new ways; and acknowledging that he is more than the routines of tantrum-tolerating, toddler-wrestling, diaper-changing, bed-cleaning, and dish-washing. I also see this as a way to have a healthy emotional life apart from being a father or a mother. 

5. Notice him

Practice seeing him...pointing out what moves him, what you find so entrancing. Remind him. That he's still wildly interesting...that you're still madly in love with him (sometimes I just need to remind myself because I can get so caught up in all of the tasks of mothering)...that he's likely going through a rough transition just as I am. There are so many facets to him...but it's easy to forget to seek him. Ask him the hard questions. Dive deep and risk the discomfort. I've found that sometimes you have to let the storm shake you...because it will naturally sift you of that defeating self-talk...and ultimately bond you one to another.

6. Foster intimacy

Seek it out. Weave it into your love-communication. Not just sexual intimacy, but the deeper gift of emotional intimacy. Tell him your stories. Your wild dreams. The things that move you so. 

Like small, seemingly inconsequential stories. Yesterday, I watched a man walk beside my house. He gingerly stepped off of the sidewalk, bordering the road and his car door. I was distinctly aware of the matching couch cushions piled two by two on each leather bucket seat. His car was in loving condition; worn but radiant...the hubcaps glistening in the sunshine, the tires neatly painted white in an arch around the center.  He lowered himself with effort onto his cushions, as I imagined a grunt escaping from his chest. He was unaware of my gaze...as he reached for the cushions beside him and patted them lightly. Then, as if in a loving benediction or ceremonial pause, he then looked to the right and back...placing his hands on the wheel and drive carefully away. I had these small tears collecting in my periphery...as it dawned on me that the elder-care center is just a block or so away. 

7. Stop Your Chores & Just Be

Get lost in each other. Reminisce. Laugh until your soul catches fire. I am too often preoccupied with tasks. And, granted...so is he. But, he has this way about him that I so wish I could implant within myself. His arms always find me...while at the sink or the table or swaying with Fern on my hip. His eyes follow me...and I love how he 'sees' me when I'm lost in laughter fits while playing with my son. He doesn't care as much about the crumbs at the foot of the highchair...or the leftovers still sitting out on the counter...or the train track assembled as a hazardous maze near the front door. And, for that...I love him. Because he can be still in these moments of perilous parenthood...and simply want me. To miss me. To find me. 

8. Hibernate just *a bit* 

Some days you need only to be refueled by each other...not by a social engagement. I mean...he's ten times more social than I am...but even he knows that at times, we need stillness and rest within just each other's arms. Even if it's been days since we've left the house and our emotions are running wild. Build a fire, curl into one another, or read aloud as if there is a magic way to slow down the day with your words. 

9. Linger

Find each other in all the old familiar ways. The ways that made you spark and dance. Relive the firsts and reimagine their glimmering newness. Create new words for what he means to you now. Kiss lightly and follow it with the prose of a wordless sigh. Let him feel you soften in his arms. Linger just a bit longer and turn his attentions. Let him rest in the comfort of you. And, love. Love the way you used to love...the way that swept you underneath the waves of wild abandon. Getting lost in only the span of one minute can direct the tide of an entire evening. That is the magic within deep love.

10. Don't Fake it!

Not any of it. If you can't be in the moment, then step away. Fall into his arms and throw your arms out in weakness. Lean into need. We're so enamored with independence these days...it's like a mantra that we believe we must embody in every moment. We're walled-in; a nervous and jittery fight or flight sequence. But, need is so healing. To be met in our need is transformative. It softens us through. And, in a world that can be so jagged and sharp...we need each other deeply.

 

Written by, Heather Gemmer