Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marriage: Our House Fire

The past few years have been difficult for me and my husband.  Moving, meeting new people, lots of changes-good and bad.  Creating a family. This is all tough. So tough, no one likes to talk about it.

When you get married, you dream about your life together and how wonderful it will be to have your best friend with you through it all.  You have arguments and little tiffs here and there, but you think that's about as bad as it'll get.  You think, and probably say often, no matter what, we'll have each other.  

As I write this, I'm smirking.  I wish little 'tiffs' were the worst of it. Wouldn't we all be so lucky?

I've noticed little patterns in life.  Perhaps you have too.  It usually all starts around college or early twenties.  People start to pair up.  Engagements get announced slowly in your circle of friends and family.  Then it's followed by wedding, after wedding after wedding.  

Then, the other big announcements start.  "We're expecting!"  Again, the same pattern starts to emerge. One after one, friends and family start having children.  Some couples have one, some two, some three, and some are hoping for a basketball team. (These people are amazing to me!)

It seems that right around this time, we start to hear the other big, surprise announcements.  "We're separating......," and then sometimes, more often then not, "We're getting a divorce."

When I was younger (because this pattern isn't new, it's been around for decades), I used to think these people fell out of love with each other, or they weren't sole mates.  Perfect couples (always on the outward appearances only) separating because they fell out of love. This breaks my heart. 

I've never been divorced, but I can easily see how it can happen.  My husband and I feel victim to THE ROUTINE.

When you have a newborn for the first time, or the fifth, routine is strongly encouraged.  We had one with both our kids and still do today. Studies show that routines make infants/babies and children feel safe.  They know what to expect, this calms them and puts them at ease.  I know it makes me feel the same way.  Every night, at bath time, I feel a sense of relief.  I have made it through another day, everyone has, and we're all still alive. 

But, in our marriage, we fell victim to it.

During my pregnancies, we became so focused on kids.  After the first two, we were focused on the, "Are we going to have more and when?"  This seemed like a 100-pound weight we'd carry around.  A lot of times, grudgingly. 

We stopped talking about "us," we stopped dating, stopping doing things together, stopped talking almost all together. Our world centered around our kids. We fought, A LOT!  Mostly about not spending time with each other and how neither one of us could understand what the other was going through.  

I would get angry and hang on to everything until I finally couldn't take it anymore, and I would Anger Vomit (Spew all the negative things from my mouth) all over him. He would hold everything in and just never talk about it. He, more often than not, would just leave.  Arguing isn't really his style-he hates yelling.  Our communication skills had dropped to below zero.

So there we were.  Three years of a life of this.  We co-existed in our routine.  We never really wanted to address the big issues, the issues that drew us into fighting.  The issues of us.  As long as the boat wasn't really rocking, we both just seemed comfortable being, well, roommates with children.

Get up in the morning, breakfast, kids, snack, work, lunch time, naps, play time, make dinner, come home from work, work out (maybe), bath time, and finally bed time for everyone.  Weekends were a nightmare.  But this was our life, for three years.

I don't have the personality or belief, to get a divorce. Plus, I still loved my husband. Dearly. Honestly, it's because I am so stubborn about not getting divorced, that I decided to reach out. I reached out to friends. Quietly. I went in search of dear friends who knew, or had seen things between us, that wanted to help.

I mean, when you've gone this long and this far, WHERE DO YOU START?  How do you break free of the ROUTINE? 

We started with a book.  What a magical, wonderful book it was! This should be given to everyone around their third or fourth year of marriage. It's called The Love Dare. If you know ANYONE struggling, get them this book! I have loaned it out a couple of times now. We loved it. It was our first step.  We also bought the movie, Fireproof. It's based on The Love Dare book.  If you can get through the cheesiness of it, the point of the whole thing is amazing. It is honest. It is good.

Forty Days of Dares. Most of these are so easy, that it is hard to believe that you didn't think of them yourself. There are also some that are challenging, but worth doing. Marriage is a marathon. It's these little workouts, over the course of a few weeks, that help re-trained us into being a couple again.

We started to talk to one another. We started to ask questions. We started learning. We started dating. Starting setting alone time just for us. We fell in love all over again, and this time it was an even deeper love. The last year and half have been a lot of work to gain back what we've lost.  But this has been so rewarding. 

We love our family, no question, but when our children are all grown and gone, we want to be able to still be together.  I've heard statistics that the fastest growing age of people getting divorced are people in their late 40's and 50's. Couples who raise their children together, and then go their separate ways.

We are starting to really have fun together. This is so important, not just for our marriage, but our children. We want to show them what a good, strong marriage can look like. How to love their spouses. How to make marriage work. Marriage may not be easy, but what in life is supposed to?

I look back now and I am so thankful for where we are.  I am thankful that I can fully appreciate my husband for who he is and what he does for us. I am thankful for my marriage. I am thankful for my family. 

Everyone has a fire at their home, but depending on how they react to it, determines if it means a total loss, or just a little singe.

Our little singe has reminded us of what is truly important in our short lives. Love. More importantly, OUR LOVE.

Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:8

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