Marriage Tuesday

having been together for over forty years,  wanda and i have been through a lot.   we’ve had our share of disappointments and situations where sadness and sorrow have been front and center.

we are no different than most people.   in fact,  after having walked through pain and tragedy with so many people over my life,  i think our lives have been easier than most.   but struggle is always present and grief is always just around the corner.

like i said…we’re just like everybody else.

what happens to your marriage when tough times come knocking?   what’s your relationship like when one of you is traveling through the dark night of the soul?   what about when both of you are there?

one of the toughest things we have to do in the shared journey of marriage is to sit across from our spouse and watch them cry.   to drink in their sadness and watch the expression of sorrow in their eyes is something that can take our breath away…and leave us feeling helpless.

that’s why building a lifetime of conversation is so important.   hear me out…

some of the best counsel  we ever give is to say nothing.   i’ve watched as people botch the grieving process by trying to talk…by telling people answers…by acting as if they know what the other person is going through…or playing dime-store psychologist.

instead of simply giving presence,  people feel the need to give advice…telling people what they should think and feel and believe during the time of loss or heartbreak…as if the goal is to make people feel better as quickly as possible.

although there are many times when all wanda or i have needed from each other was silence and space,  there are other times when we have needed more.   a lot more.   that’s when we need true partnership.   that’s when we need the gift of spiritual oneness.

nobody can speak truth better to me than wanda.   nobody can say the difficult things to me better than she can.   there are no words i am more receptive to than hers.   in my darkness,  she is the best light with skin on that i have.   as am i for her.

that’s part of what being married is all about.   a big part.

the truth is,  our souls have gone through some dark nights recently.   and nobody knows about them but us.   this is not about getting sympathy,  but about encouraging you.

we have walked every step of the way with each other.   we talk.   we sympathize.   we get angry.   we challenge each other to take the high road.   we analyze.   we hypothesize.   we dare each other to believe the truth of god we have staked our lives on.

we make each other remember to see the bigger picture and to love as jesus would.

we let each other feel pain and refuse to cheapen the experience.   we listen as we express confusion or hurt or unrealistic expectations.   we laugh at each other and hold each other accountable to love at all cost.

we are not afraid to call each other out when we are wrong or off-base in our responses or unrealistic in our interpretations of what we are going through.   we are each other’s worst…and best…critic.   we refuse to let each other hide or sit in our melancholy unattended.

when others must sit in patient silence,  we need each other’s words.   along with love and understanding and consolation and quiet,  gracious attendance…we are the voices that are raised in defiance over the darkness we are stumbling through.

we are god’s mouthpieces in our union.

that’s what married people do.   that’s what we do.

is that what you do?

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9 thoughts on “Marriage Tuesday

  1. 11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

    Verse 13 says it all….

  2. Absolutely yes and amen. It’s hard. It was impossible at 5 years of marriage, better at 10. Commitment to love is the only thing that got us through. Climbing through selfish choices. But, yes, what else could marriage be?

  3. I read this again this morning. I see God working this in us but we are in the baby step stage. Shouldn’t be. Married 33 years. But God is faithful to continue His work of grace in each of us! You marriage blog is one of the best I’ve read. When you stopped writing it my heart sunk. I’m glad you’re back!

  4. I have enjoyed your marriage Tuesday blogs. I have talked with Kim about it and shared one with Kylie and told her this was good information for the future. It is great to get someone else’s perspective. I read a lot but I am not real great at responding. Thank you for sharing and keep writing.

  5. Channing I think its ironic that 2000 years after Job’s friends screwed it up by talking/judging him we do the same thing. We are in such a hurry to give someone the 60 second answer that will completely solve their life problems that we don’t shut up and just listen. Our words are nowhere near as important as our love.

    1. Luke, give his friends some credit. They didn’t say anything for a week. Which beats my record by six days 23 hours and 10 minutes. But more importantly, I think that last verse demonstrates his friends’ willingness to grieve with him. Unlike us, we’ll hang out for an hour and say our goodbyes.

  6. I’m not discounting them giving him a week. That is far more than I give people before I start giving my self-righteous know it all advice. The problem is that like his friends we all have a stop-watch that is ticking. Their’s lasted a week. Mine is typically about 30 seconds. Then we revert to the judgemental know all friends that his 3 friends were and that I am 99% of time.

    Jesus had no stopwatch on His Love. I’m not claiming to be as patient or unforgiving as Him. Not by a long shot. But I am claiming He is my example and I do a pretty bad job of following Him most of the time when it comes to dealing with other’s hurt.

    1. I think it’s a cool tradition to rip your clothes and dump ash on your head with your friends. it’s a nice symbolic way of saying “hey, I’m with ya.”…and while I agree with your sentiment – let’s not forget you can speak “love” too…it’s all about wisdom and balance…ying and yang….yankees and red sox….the republic v the empire.

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