My mama told me as a teen that when you’re dating you are getting the very best of the person. More than once, I remember her saying “this is as good as it’s going to get. Are you okay with that?” She meant that when marriage comes, you can’t just up and leave when things get hard. A person might be wonderful but how will you feel about them when bills pile up, jobs are lost, babies are born and the stress is unimaginable. But I don’t remember those conversations leading to the fact that when you get married you get the very worst of the person. I never truly connected it although that’s exactly what she meant.
I struggle with resentment. And you know what? He does too. My husband internalizes stress something terrible. It builds and although he compartmentalizes exceedingly well it still is hard for me to handle due to the differences in our love languages and personalities. I get his worst and sometimes I resent it. When he’s disappointed, when he’s stressed, when he’s hurting or frustrated or simply over it. I get the brunt of it. So when we’re having a bad moment and he’s giving me his worst but then turns around and is fine to everyone else I feel resentment. It makes me feel crazy, hurt and sometimes even manipulated. Those feelings wiggle around and end up coming out as snarky comments in front of others that actually degrade and tear him down. That’s what pain does. It tears down and tears apart if you let it. Hurt causes hurt. I’m ashamed to say I’ve caught myself doing it multiple times, particularly around his family because more often then not, they get his best. But here’s the game changer, friends. . . I caught it. I caught what I was doing to my mate. I realized what I was subconsciously doing out of hurt and resentment and I nipped it in the bud. How? I slowed down my responses. I took deep breaths before joining the group after a tough moment or discussion during the car ride. I took a moment to pray and ask God to help me love him. And honestly, sometimes I just stopped talking at times. Because that is what it took to stop tearing my husband down.
You know what came next? Honest conversations about how we make each other feel resentful and even at times unloved (our differences in love languages is the main culprit but that’s another blog, another day) and then us working through those things to stop tearing at each other. What did that look like? Asking questions like. . .what made you feel loved when we were dating? What do you miss from when we dated? What do you wish we could do more often? What are ways you show me you love me? (This sounds crazy but what I “expect” as signs of his love are completely different then the signs he’s giving me a lot of times.)
Honestly a lot of this was one sided as Kyle tends to gather his wounds and then bury them and then guard them like a wounded mama bear. I’ve had to dig and then love, dig more and then love more. I have felt alone in my quest to grow our love. I have felt like he could care less. I have felt abandoned. I have felt completely and utterly empty as I tried to keep loving him through these deep dark valleys of marriage. I have cried out to God and begged for Him to help us survive those hard seasons where it looked scary and impossible. I’ve begged Him for healing. The beautiful thing is, each time He has answered. I’ve looked brokenness in the face and in the next instant I see healing. I’ve looked weariness and loneliness in the face and in the next instant, I’m surrounded by rest and support. I’ve laid in the bathroom crying my heart out in grief and confusion and in the next instant I’m seeing victory. Sometimes those instants aren’t immediate. Sometimes it takes days, months, or years to see the promises revealed. Sometimes the answer to the promise hits me in the face like a rogue wave and other times it’s a quiet lapping that gently surrounds me until I realize that while slow in coming, it’s there.
Tonight we talked to a dear friend and we told her she isn’t alone and we shared some of our struggles. We laid hands on a dear friend and we prayed for her marriage. I heard his quiet prayers and I was enveloped in the promise. The quiet lapping was there and I realized we’ve moved into something new and I hadn’t even realized it. I realized we were able to speak life over her situation because we had survived it ourselves.
We aren’t anywhere near where we were 5 years ago, we’ve worked hard in our covenant with one another. We’ve battled and we’ve waged war against an enemy that strives to tear us apart. Some days are easier than others. Some seasons are easier than others. The process has been grueling yet beautiful because we’re growing. I’ve learned that marriage is hardly ever 50/50. Many times one person has to take a majority while the other is in process and then it switches and the other person carries the weight. It’s a delicate balance that requires love and maturity, give and take, truth and grace, and patience and kindness and loads and loads of prayers. I’m learning that this is what life is all about when you’re in a godly covenant with another human being. I’m thankful for my covenant with him and for what it’s brought us through and for where it’s taking us.