Since writing my first marriage post a few weeks ago, I’ve been struggling with some serious writer’s block. Every time I’ve sat down to write this post, I’ve found about 432 other things to do on my computer, instead of writing more about our marriage story.
I think maybe there’s more going on than just writer’s block though… I heard back from so many of you after my first post and it was apparent that talking in a real way about how challenging marriage can be resonated with a lot of people. I believe God designed marriage as a means of sanctification, a way in which we could become more godly or holy.
In Gary Thomas’s book Sacred Marriage, he asks “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” and then he goes on to prove that marriage is, in fact, far more about our holiness than our happiness. Yes, the marriage relationship can be so life-giving, fulfilling and wonderful, but the chief goal of marriage is not to make us happy or cure our loneliness.
“I don’t really like you right now.”
Like I shared in my last marriage post, the first couple years of marriage were pretty easy for us. I know a lot of people have told me the first year of marriage was a really hard year of adjustment for them, but that wasn’t the case for us. Marriage was pretty darn enjoyable. Yes, we had our occasional frustrations and arguments, but the majority of our relationship was smooth sailing.
Things really shifted for us once we brought Everson home from the hospital. I began snapping at Nick about every little thing. I was exhausted, my body is sensitive to hormones and my emotions were going completely haywire. I was either crying or irritated 24/7. I was a mess. We also are quite certain I was experiencing postpartum depression, but neither of us identified it at the time.
Looking back, I’m sure Nick was walking on eggshells around me. I was way too critical about everything that related to our new baby and we were both extremely stressed out. To my husband’s credit, he is an absolutely amazing father who has always been hands-on with our kids. Everson was a super needy, fussy baby that didn’t sleep well and Nick would take turns with me trying to soothe him throughout the night.
While we were both eager to be good parents, we focused all of our attention on meeting Everson’s needs and just surviving each day. Our marriage was being put on the back burner and our conflicts were frequent. We were both wrapped up in our own frustrations and hurts and we were doing little to reach out to one another for reconciliation.
I tend to be a pretty honest, open person (hence “The Honest Mom”), but I found myself holding back from addressing our conflicts. I had some ugly feelings and I didn’t want to hurt Nick even more by sharing them.
At last, one night, when we had gotten Everson to sleep in his crib, we were sitting on our couch. I can’t recall exactly whether we got into a fight or we just started talking about our marriage, but eventually we ended up having a very real, much needed conversation about our relationship.
It started something like this…
Me: “I don’t really like you right now. I don’t even want to be around you.”
Nick: “Um…ya, I’m feeling the exact same way.”
It was hard to say this to Nick, but I was at a point where I really didn’t “like” him very much and I was feeling pretty miserable within our marriage. I finally shared this with him and (duh) he told me he felt the same way toward me. Of course, in my pride, I was surprised to hear he too was feeling pretty crappy about me/our marriage. It was the kind of conversation that we had been avoiding for months, but it was absolutely necessary. Sometimes we have to (lovingly) say hard things to make way for healing and growth.
After we shared the “ugly” stuff, both of us were feeling lighter by the end of that night. Seriously, just addressing the big elephant in the room unlifted such a heavy burden for both of us. We both knew we had a lot of work to do in rebuilding our relationship, but once we got through the tough stuff, we had space in our minds and hearts to remember what we did actually like about each other. We went from tears to laughter that night and spent time praying together, asking God to restore our relationship and grow us closer again.
That conversation didn’t magically “fix” our marriage, but it taught us how important it is not to shy away from hard conversations in our marriage. We realized how essential open communication is and it was the first time we really saw that marriage was more about sanctification than our own happiness.
We also did some practical things like prioritizing date nights (even just cheap, at home date nights work!) and working on simple things like showing one another kindness and being patient with each other.
The next big lesson God had for me in our marriage (that I’m continually learning and re-learning) was all about my selfishness… I’ll share that story in the next marriage post.
To be continued…
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