Tomorrow marks my 8 year wedding anniversary. That should be a time of celebration right? That's a huge accomplishment. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Marriage is a daily choice to put someone else's needs before your own. That's easy during the dating phase. Your world revolves around that other person. They give you butterflies when you see them. Your face lights up when they text you. You laugh at every joke they make, even if it's not funny because they are just that adorable to you. You spend an hour getting ready before they pick you up for that date, because of course you want to look good. You hear a special song on the radio and you crank it up singing along because that's "our song." You slow dance to it every time you are together. You spend hours piecing together a seashell necklace just make her feel special. You spend hours attending every baseball came just to show him you care.
But then somewhere along the journey, if you both are not intentional, all of those things fade. Your relationship becomes more like a business, a daily checklist. Then, you add children to the midst, and that small bit of energy your spouse got after a long day of work now goes completely to that adorable little thing that you love so much. Now when you see him, instead of butterflies it becomes "thank goodness you are home, please help with dinner or take the baby that is clinging to my leg." Now when she texts you, instead of lighting up with joy, you roll your eyes at another need for the day added to the list. Now when he jokes, instead of laughing, you make a point to say how stupid that was or just ignore the joke completely. Now when it's date night, you may try to get dressed up, even if you don't feel as confident in that tight dress as you used to before baby. You may put the last little bit of energy you have for the day into actually fixing your hair and applying make up, just for him to come home from a long day of work and a) not even notice that your hair is fixed and b) suggest we just stay home and order pizza while watching Netflix. Now when you hear "our song" on the radio, you don't even recognize it as the song we danced to 8 years ago on that wedding night, the song we danced to every time it came on the 3 years of dating prior to marriage. Instead you just keep going about your day and try your best to ignore the fact that that song just leaves you feeling empty and alone.
There is no feeling quite like the feeling of lonely. I can't tell you how many times I have set in our house with a sleeping baby in the other room, just crying. Feeling like the darkness around me would never end. Feeling like nobody could understand the depth of this new loneliness after motherhood. See, having a child is the most wonderful thing in the world. But it also can become the most lonely place. It's easy to lose yourself as a person in the busyness of life and caring for everyone else. For me, I stopped hanging out with my friends because my family needed me home for bath time and to cook dinner. For us as a marriage, it has become another excuse to put each other aside. We work our jobs, we take care of the baby, and then the end of the day comes and we just need time for ourselves. Somehow, the other person becomes less important along the way.
God created us to need other humans, with your spouse being the number one. He says husband and wife leave their mother and father and become one. But to truly remain one, you must work at it fiercely. You must put your spouse before any other relationships, including your children. When anything other than God has come before your spouse, you are on grounds for destruction. Wives, your husband needs to feel your respect even when you don't feel like he deserves it. I know I have not did the best at this. Husbands, your wife needs to feel your unconditional love and to know that you are #1 in her life over your friends, hobbies, work, etc. I know Lucas' has not did his best at this. And that is what has landed us where we are at. Looking at anniversary #8, wondering deep down if we will make it to anniversary #9.
I share this hesitantly. I don't share this for a pity party, for suggestions, or for tips. I share this because few people ever talk about their marriage problems. Instead, they just wake up divorced one day. I share this because there may be a marriage in the same place as us, just needing someone to tell them to keep hanging on. If it weren’t for this one special friend in my life pushing me daily to not give up, to keep holding on, I may have already listened to what the rest of the world has been saying, what Satan has been whispering in my ear, to run away from it all. I cannot stress enough, husband or wife, when your marriage is struggling it is CRUCIAL that you surround yourself with people that are pointing you toward God. If you don’t have that, this world will eat you alive and your marriage won’t stand a chance. Even if you feel angry at God like I often do, you have to still choose to run toward Him. The world will tell you to run away from your marriage. The world will tell you that you don't need him. Your own mind will even tell you that you can handle life on your own. But God's Word doesn't say that. I share this because there may be a marriage out there a few steps behind us, not quite to this point of barely hanging on. There may be a marriage out there where the husband no longer holds the wives hand or hugs her just to hug her. Husband, if you continue that, your wife will eventually feel extremely lonely and unseen. There may be a wife who no longer runs out to greet her husband when he gets home from work. Wives, if you continue that, your husband may eventually stop rushing home from work to see you. There may be a marriage who has ignored the fact that date nights ARE important. If you both continue ignoring that, you may wake up one day and realize you can't even take a date night out because there are no words to be shared with each other. I share this because there may be a marriage out there who can avoid the marriage counseling we are currently in. There may be a marriage out there that can avoid the extremely painful feelings that come with a struggling marriage. It won't be easy. If life hasn't hit your marriage yet, eventually it will. And it will take hard work. Don't wait to reach that point to take care of your marriage, because then it may be too late. Christ HAS to be the foundation. Start now. Tell your wife to get dressed up and take her out somewhere special. Bring her roses for no reason. Make HER your #1 priority. Start now. Cook your husband his favorite dinner and hire a babysitter for the night. Show him HE is your #1 priority. Then, just maybe, you won't experience the loneliness that comes from a broken marriage. But if by chance you are like us, in that dark place that feels like all Hope is lost, don’t forget who God is. Don’t forget that He is big enough to heal and restore all wounds. It won’t happen over night, but I am doing my best to believe He will.