This year we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary – and ten years of being ‘together’. Through the past decade we have had a lot of laughs, talking, love, conversation, loving, talking, loving and probably more talking Recently, friends’ marriages have ended. The ones who had a slow engagement and then married and the ones who met and married. I love love. (and so do they). This is a reminder for me (for you?) on how important keeping connection in marriage is… a few tips shall we say?
Books I have read that are totally helpful (at any point in your marriage). Note: I read a lot about marriage. Like I do about child-rearing. Like I do about Christianity. This isn’t when it’s failing, rather to protect something so special to me. I want to know what a 2 year old should be doing so I read about 2 year olds. Same way, I want love to last in our marriage, I want to be a great wife. Almost a Proverbs 31 wife. But sigh. The cloth making enterprise in my own home is NOT ever going to work… I also listen to podcasts.
So my fave marriage/love teachings are: The Marriage Course/Book by HTB, any dating/relationship book I find(!) and then the CD series from Danny Silk: Defining the Relationship. And a recent find is the one by Zig Ziglar (now, I can’t remember this title but he is an incredible writer and inspired the likes of Seth Godin etc… so pretty incredible at that!!)
I think the most important thing in marriage is. Wait. There are so many, so very many important things in marriage. And since all the words in my blog are goggle-able (if you get me) then I will write about the relationship/talking/conversing aspect of marriage. I’m sure you can find blogs/books on the other parts…
I think being connected: connecting is pretty much the most important thing. So often we get busy. Really busy. Ryan may be in a conference, or working late, for several nights in a row. I might be busy with my stuff, feeding, facebook etc So when we see each other it’s a very quick hello/goodnight/how are you. This kind of conversation can only last for us for a few days. Rather like a business transaction. I give a brief update on the children, any repairs to the house, financial figures, any highlights of the day. I receive a brief update on his day. There is a connection (because we work at that for all the other days we are not really busy) but it would not sustain our marriage.
We would not actually be doing anything at all together. It really would be business. Rather than friendship, love, or fun…and we would end up running two separate lives. Separately. And if they happened to cross paths it would either be good, or (most probably for us) very bad!
In the recent book by Zig, he has a questionnaire and it asks how many times a day do you hold hands without needing to. So initially I thought ‘hardly ever’, but after waiting it out through the day, realised that we do hold hands if going for a walk, sitting in the car – ha imagine being like the couples who sit at traffic lights having a kiss imagine! So holding hands seems so well, basic, doesn’t it? But this is about the ‘connection’.
What I mean by ‘connection’ is: meeting someone in a deep way – not like the ‘encounter’ you will have with the supermarket checkout lady (or the self scanner unit… I guess if you do all your communication via email/social media it could end up like that.. that would be pretty bad for us!!) So connecting at a level where you can not only talk about the events, but about feelings, about emotions and connect in a soul-to-soul kind of way.
This has taken me years to discover! Rushing around isn’t conducive to a long lasting relationship. You get cross. You don’t understand the other person. They don’t understand you. Oh wait. I’m not naturally a busy person. Just in the past five years we have had three wonderful children and somehow from the hours of 7am-6pm I get really really really busy. Never too busy to eat, but just a bit too busy to have super-dooper deep conversations. So we worked out we need a few evenings a week together to re-connect! ha. Not just to go through out diaries and make plans -although we do – because knowing what each other is doing actually helps
I would say that our relationship is better now than when we first got married. It was wonderful then, just making our first home, just enjoying two incomes to spend on us and our holidays [pause to remember our hols to California, Zimbabwe, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge............... loved it! and I love it now - it is so different, and, different is good]. Now we are a family of five things change. And change is also good. Yesterday we realised that Beth and Ben would be staying at my parents overnight and Ryan suggested we catch a train to Paris with Alyssia. OH how I would have loved that. OH how I love that we can still think of things like that
Being connected means that you deal with things. Means that you forgive. Not the forgiveness that you dig back up to use as ammunition in a future argument. btw that’s not forgiveness. Nor is forgiveness saying what happened doesn’t matter. It is about talking about what happened, how you feel and then choosing to give the gift of forgiveness (and not seeking to sneakily take that gift back at some point in the future – you can’t with a real gift can you?) and in choosing to forgive you may forget, you may not, but it’s about your heart response to that person in the hours and days/weeks etc, to come.
So we deal with things. Small things, big things, and mainly expectations. You know. The silent ones. The silent ones that can often kill relationships – and no-one knows why, because they had NO idea what on earth your expectation was. Yeh. Those. You know? Either expectations on someone else. Or on yourself. Here’s a simple one – but you can replace with any scenario. I was absolutely stressed out for several days at 5.15 pm. This is around the time Ryan gets home. There I am with baby in arms, two older children playing and I decide it’s tidy up time and time to cook tea, and time to sort out everything I didn’t get round to in the whole day: laundry/ironing/cleaning/paperwork/unload and load the dishwasher. Can you see this is turning into a disaster… well. As soon as Ryan gets home – probably late as the roadworks are in place for SIX weeks… I just tell him all that I couldn’t do, it’s garbled, I don’t make sense, and then he asked: Why did you try and do it all at once. I said: for you so you get home to a tidy home. We both laugh. thankfully I laugh. My expectation on myself is perfect home for his return. I realise that this is impossible. And begin removing the expectation I put on myself (shame, I loved the ideal of perfect housewife with three children all sat silently paying their own thing, maybe with a little halo around their head, and some classical music playing, as I WAKE UP… this isn’t my life!!!). We realised that 5pm gets super stressful for me because I try to make it all perfect, but that can wait. Dinner can’t! You know what, I think that coming home to us all content – no halos or the likes – is probably more welcoming than a stressed-running out of control wife So glad we talked about that one!
In dealing with the little things, and, it usually is the little things that you hold onto, that makes the next little thing that little bit bigger, which after a few months of this means you start hardening your heart. Start trying to ‘get even’. Start trying to despise the other and then love begins to get lost. So if you have little things… please, take a moment, go on a walk, hold hands, talk, talk, talk…… and let the little thing get sorted out. It protects your marriage. Danny Silk in the CD series spoke about being connected and how that keeps your relationship alive. So by dealing with the small things, the love, romance, fun, love … all can be enjoyed as you have fun in relationship with each other.
To sumarise: talk. Don’t make your relationship like a business transaction. Don’t take record of wrong to use against the other in the future (because if you do, so does the other and it’s not actually nice hearing their list……)
You know I like words so I will ponder on this as I drink my coffee for the morning, but scroll lower to read the message version: 1 Corinithians 13:
4 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) anddoes not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights orits own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
6 It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
7 Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
8 Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].
The Message version says:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
It is this love that connects us. Love that never gives up, love that takes pleasure in truth, love that trusts and looks for the best – never looking back (aka real forgiveness) and keeps on loving.
Thankful for our relationship. And more so to the God who makes love in our hearts so very real, as He loved us first in a way that we can only receive, and love as best we can in return: perfect love. A love that holds us. Thank you God.
Love A xox