Friday, August 15, 2014

Give It All You've Got--On Marriage

I've been so tangled up in my emotions as a Mom, and taken aback by the process of motherhood, that I guess I got paralyzed. It hasn't been a whole summer writing break, but over a good month. For whatever reason, I find myself locked and blocked so to speak when it comes to writing sometimes. Especially when emotions and confusion runs so deep, it's hard to function. But I'm actually not writing a post about motherhood. I'm writing one on that other deep relationship we have: marriage.

My husband and I just booked our first trip together in 4 years. He has been in need of a vacation more than I have, but he handles it with such grace, geez, how does he do that? I've been going bonkers wanting a vacation and I am not in the daily bump-N-grind rhythms like he is. Big props to him for that.

We will be heading to Colorado in early September! He's also in the process of job hunting and most of the jobs that he is looking at are out of state--not in Minnesota. Who knows what that means for us, but for now, back to this trip.

If you've been around here for a good length of time, you have probably read my blog posts on marriage. I've written about 7 or so on the subject. My husband and I had about a 6-7 year period of torture. And I do not use that word lightly. We are on the other side of it now, which is strange to even say out loud.

This will be the first trip in geez, I don't know how long, maybe almost 10 years, where we will be looking one another in the eyes, and saying I LOVE YOU. Did you know there was a 5 year period or so when I didn't say I LOVE YOU at all to my husband? And it's only been recently that we have looked one another in the EYES. Yes, you're hearing me right.

When so much pain and hurt have taken hold, without reconciliation, this is the state you are left with. This is no marriage at all. DEALING with your junk, hurt and pain is the best, wait, only way to go. Without the investment in that route, then you're just waking up and going through the motions. It takes GUTS to dig deeper than you can imagine to SHOW UP and fight. Fight in a good way. Marriage requires going places within yourself that you didn't think existed. It's the only way to truly love someone. Because I am a christian I  have relied on the God and His power to help me dig deep within myself (and a lot of therapy), and then to extend love to a man that hasn't deserved it more times than I can count. But you know what? There is no time to keep track or record of wrongs, because guess what? I haven't deserved it EITHER.

Looking within to discover what you can do internally to better yourself and then offering that up to your partner is GOLD. Humility is GOLD. If we are prideful, we are still hurting. If we are stubborn, and keeping track of wrongs, then we still have hurt to deal with.

Hurt and pain (and unresolved issues) bring out bitterness, unforgiveness, stubbornness, contempt, rudeness, coldness. 
Things that are not of God.
Healing and digging deep introspectively (resolving issues) bring about forgiveness, softness, compassion, gentleness, empathy. These are all things from God.

We made these choices to be with this person for the rest of our lives. And yes, sometimes, ok, maybe a lot we wonder, why?! What were we thinking!!! But they are here now and we are together now, so it's my responsibility to look within and pull out of me what I never thought capable of, and show up. And let me tell you, my man has hurt me almost beyond repair. The only way it IS repaired is by the GRACE OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD.

Jesus was the least fake person on earth. He dealt with things, He was real. Geez, I don't think He EVER made small talk! He always got right down to the heart of matters and what was important. He was REAL. And we need to be to if we want our marriages to be good and healthy. It takes BOTH partners to do their part. 

NO, you can't do your partners work for them. I use to think I could do my husbands work for him--told him the books he should read, told him the friends he should have, suggested this and that to him. Told him he should act this way not THAT way. And on and on. All that did was drive a bigger wedge between him and I. So I let him be him--and that was NOT easy. But I trusted he could work himself out. And eventually he did and he has. And I let me be me. And by both of us going our "separate" ways for a while, it helped in coming together to show up for our marriage. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally people), to get to the place we are today. We have knocked down the walls that prevented us from saying, "I love you", we  have knocked down the walls that kept us from looking one another in the eye. And it was an uphill battle all the way. Do you understand what an uphill battle is like?

Whatever you might be going through in your marriage or where ever you are both currently at. Whether you're struggling with a mental illness in the marriage (we did), or you feel you are completely opposites, or you have nothing in common. The list goes on. There are a lot of people unhappy in their marriages. For numerous justified reasons, I get it. But may I submit to you this: show up as your best for your spouse. Stop worrying and carrying on about what they are doing or not doing. Give them room to breathe! Give them room to show up. Look into your own heart, I so dare you. It's the hardest thing a person will do. Look directly into your own heart instead of trying to judge someone else's. See what you find when you look bravely into your heart. What ugliness is there? Dig it up and uproot it out! Bring your spouse something better!!! Even if you think they don't "deserve" it. All marriages have their unique challenges and marriage will challenge you beyond your LIMITS, trust me.

Meet your spouse at their competency. We all grow up so differently and we forget that that should all be taken into consideration. Their history of upbringing, experiences, traumas, etc...Learn to love them where they are at. We forget that marriage is a sacrifice. We marry and then forget that we have to do so much work. But if you do the work, it will become less work.

Also, get yourself some tools and skills. A lot of couples don't know how to communicate. Figure out the errors of your communication and that will be a good place to start. Learn how to communicate with one another--this and financial issues are a huge culprit of marriages. We have to tweek ourselves ya see. I know, it totally sucks. But we must if we are living side by side with another human forever. We can still be who we are, but we just need to be refined, that's all. We need to become less so to speak, because we can't just say and do everything we want to or feel like all the time in marriage! We have to stay mindful to all the ways that our marriage isn't working, so we can find out how it can work!

I hope I have made a morsel of sense--all I really wanted to say was dig down deep, give it all you've got and even if the other person doesn't, you know you've done all you can, and you will be at peace.  You've chosen this one person, so you may as well make the most of it!

This is us at our engagement party in 2001. Us again in Colorado?!



Aimee W. said...

Love this Gina! Keep writing & inspiring.

Lindsy R said...

So amazing. So inspiring. Love you.

KnittedFox said...

"Marriage is a sacrifice" This hits home to me right now. My husband and I are facing new struggles with being ourselves as have been the last 12 years together and being new parents.

"Meet your spouse at their competency" This also hits home. It IS so easy to forget that we're not the same one person in a marriage, and this really should be a factor when talking together.

Thank you Gina for sharing this!

Leslie @ top of the page said...

Goodness, the time I wasted trying to "help" my husband heal and grow, until God had to pound into me over and over how much I was interfering with HIS work. Meeting your spouse at their competency is hard because you can't arrive there needy. When I dont allow my needs to be met by Jesus, I can't meet my husband in selflessness and agape love. I can't fully accept his deficits and brokenness, and I can't be used to love him like Jesus does. Thanks for this Gina. Your honesty and vulnerability on the real stuff of marriage is so needed!

Creating Through LIFE said...

Enjoy your trip to Colorado, it's a wonderful place!

Julie Marie said...

Love this Gina. So true.... I've has to back off on suggestions and helping hints as well. Some days I wish desperately Jeff would put down his phone and Crack open his Bible or spend time with his son. But I can only pray that God will enlighten him to be who he should be...and focus on myself and being a better version of me for Him...

Christina Schergen said...

Good stuff. I loved the part about fights ... In marriage you have to learn to choose the battles, and how to communicate, and when to address issues.

I had a pastor once say that you spouse can probably find someone better looking than you, find someone younger, find someone with more money...but it should be your goal as half of a marriage that your spouse will never come across anyone who treats them better than you. And that seemed to stick with me then and now after dating and ten years of marriage.

Loved your thoughts and your heart!

erika said...

So glad you wrote this. I haven't been able to tell Sky that I loved him for more of our marriage than not. It's been so rough. But just knowing I'm not alone makes it a little better. So thank you. <3

Olivia said...

Great post! Thanks for always being so open and sharing your experiences with us!

Jen Brass said...

This is one of the most painful things I have read. Painful because of the truth it speaks into my life and my marriage and my own heart. Realizing you're your own worst enemy can be a painful step forward. How easily bitterness and anger can rise up to choke off progress towards true forgiveness. It always starts in the heart doesn't it..... When two broken people come together is can be a beautiful mess.

April said...

I so needed to hear this today. Thank you!