Marriage, Hardship, and Endurance (Part I)
How is it that we lose sight of the reasons that we fell in love with one another? How is that “I do” turns into “I won’t”? Is it that the people we marry change after we take our vows? Well, of course that is true. We all change. However, is it that your “honey, sweetie, baby” is now nothing more than a “pain in your back end?”
Here is the reality, that person who you dislike at this very moment is the same person who captured your heart. The same person you told your friends and family members, “This is the one that I want to spend the REST of my life with” is the one you are mentally pushing aside for that imagery of a perfect life with your co-worker, opposite-gendered friend, or even, “friendly church goer”.
It is easier to mentally and physically run, to think that others do not have faults, and to lust over other possibilities than to realize that marriage is work. Nowhere in our vows does it say, “For better or for another”. Whether you realize it or not, there are obviously issues going on within each party of a troubled union. “Your response is your responsibility” should be your new mantra if you are feeling what I am saying. It does not matter what your spouse does to you, you have control over the way you perceive their actions, they way you choose to respond to their actions, and how you are going to forgive and move forward from their actions. If you choose to add fuel to the fire, then what do you expect?
In my last blog, A Journey Towards Happiness, my husband shared that marriage is not a game. You see, we are both competitive beings. We were born that way and for most of our lives, that mindset served us well. My husband did very well in professional baseball when he worked as an umpire and I made it through to become a physician. Both professional sports and medicine are competitive fields. If you are not competitive, then you might as well just high-five the person who is going to pass you and take your spot. Our competitiveness comes out when we play recreational games together too. My husband is still irritated that I beat him at miniature golf two games in one day, with both games being in my favor by one single stroke. We can laugh about this, but when we are both trying to one up the other in an argument, it just has served to leave us both defeated.
So, do you want to win or lose? If you want to win, then I encourage you to keep reading.
Lessons that my husband and I have learned through marriage, hardship, and love:
1) The qualities that drive you to your mental threshold now are typically those qualities that made you “fall in love”. Think about this, the childish nature that was so cute in your potential mate, is now the quality that makes you more irate when you are trying to have a serious conversation.
2) Those qualities that attracted you to your spouse and are still very much the same as they were during the “I do’s” are the qualities that are frequently overlooked when the going gets tough. For example, my husband and I returned to the Grand Cayman for our one-year marriage anniversary. The night before our anniversary we met with our pastor who married us the year before. During this evening, my husband and I received counseling from Pastor McLaughlin. During this counseling we were asked to participate in an activity with one another. Part of the activity was telling one another all of the qualities, characteristics, and traits that we love about one another.
After making our exchanges, our pastor gracefully brought it to our attention that neither of us said that we love our spouse for their outer beauty – for their attractiveness. Indeed, we were both very physically attracted to one another and yes that did weigh in on our decision to date one another. So, how did we both overlook such a basic understanding of one reason we fell in love with one another? Did all of the pain and hardship paint a new picture? Did we now view one another as pain, hurt, resentment, effort, and work? This opened both of our eyes to what we were no longer appreciating. Have you told your spouse how attractive you find them today? Imagine the smile that would come to their face. For far too many, these are the simple comments that could make all the difference.
3) Perfection. Marital perfection does not mean that two people will always agree or like one another for that matter. There have been many times where my husband and I thoroughly believe we dislike one another; however, we still love one another. I am going to define marital perfection as allowing one another to mess up. Remember, we all do it. We are all imperfect human beings. Yes, I am speaking to you too.
So what does this marital perfection mean? This means that we might say hurtful things to one another, resorting to childish behaviors when our own feelings get hurt. This means that when we both have had our time to throw our fits, we regroup, calm down, pray, and then get back to our senses. It means forgiving. It means allowing the other person to feel loved more than what you think they may deserve during that particular moment. It means allowing more mistakes and opportunity for growth. It means continually moving forward, encouraging one another, loving one another, and forgiving one another.
4) Change. You cannot force your spouse to change. You can encourage them to understand how to help you feel more loved. If you do not communicate with your spouse, if you expect your spouse to know what makes you feel unloved without gracefully expressing your feelings into words, if you resort to your own childish behaviors believing that they will want to listen or moreover, alter their behaviors to please the one who they perceive as attacking them, then (sigh) I think you are fighting a losing battle. Look at your own approach. This person loves you, so why would you think that they intentionally would want to hurt you? Does that make any sense? If you are analyzing this and I know some of you definitely are, then stop. Take a deep breath and think about this. Why would anyone who loves you, who married you, who goes to bed next to at night, want to intentionally hurt you. Stop the hurt, stop the constant cycle of pain, and look at what is in your control to change. Start by changing you.
5) Faith. Bear with me on this one…I know that all of my readers do not feel the same as I presently do, but please hear me out on this. We are each on our own journey and that is exactly how God intends for it to be. Are you frustrated by the fact that you and your spouse do not see eye to eye on this whole Jesus and God issue? This is a hot topic for me, because it took feeling alone and broken for me to finally open my eyes and heart wholeheartedly to acceptance of my faith. This is the very reason that I know better than to tell people that they have to believe what I do and furthermore, to the extent of what I believe and furthermore, embrace.
I remember coming home one evening in tears. This was only months after my accident, before I was blessed with the knowledge of positive affirmations including “I will get through this and become stronger”, and before I felt that God was for me and for my healing. Throughout my life, there were many times that I could have accepted faith or realized how God was working in my life – how “God was engineering circumstances”. Instead of this realization, the hyper-independent, goal-oriented me, was busy becoming a doctor. Nothing has ever come easy in my life and there have been many moments when I could have just given up. However, that has never been my nature. So, throughout many struggles, I continued on my journey and I took full credit for it. Then, in a matter of seconds everything that I had worked so hard for, through life trials including the death of my father, was removed. All that I worked for was taken from me in a matter of seconds. With this came denial, sadness, fear, questions, and then finally, acceptance. It took all of this for my self-sufficient nature to realize that I needed something more and I truly was not in control. I needed God in my life. When this realization surfaced, I asked my husband to go to church with me. To my surprise, he said yes. Simply, an answer of “Yes”. This was the beginning to both of our individual intimate journeys with Christ. Acceptance of Christ has not made our lives easy or without human fault, however, it has allowed us accountability and standards for marriage, which we did not have prior.
I ask you, if you love your spouse and your marriage is not where you want it to be, then what do you have to lose? Why not submit and pray that you will grow together into a beautiful Godly marriage?
Warning: this will require effort on your part, however, the effort is so worth the result.
6) Divorce is not an option. Okay, now you might be thinking that you already have gone through a divorce and you may be formulating all of the reasons why I am wrong. I am not talking about the past. I am talking about the present. Now, you must train yourself that divorce is not an option. Say that again, DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION. Unless there is escalating abuse or a spouse who no longer is willing to work with you in regards to maintaining a marriage, then divorce is just an easy way out. Even in cases of affairs and betrayal, there is still the possibility to mend one’s marriage. Keep reading, these facts are what allowed me to eliminate the word “DIVORCE” from my vocabulary and I used it as a threat to try to get my husband to change. The use of this word is a prime example of one of my prior human faults. Remember though, we are not going there. We are moving forward, not back.
- * Life expectancies for divorced men and women are significantly lower than for married people (who have the longest life expectancies)
- * A recent study found that those who were unhappy but stayed married were more likely to be happy five years later than those divorced.
- * The health consequences of divorce are so severe that a Yale researcher
- concluded that “being divorced and a nonsmoker is slightly less dangerous than smoking a pack a day and staying married.”
- * After a diagnosis of cancer, married people are most likely to recover, while the divorced are least likely to recover, indicating that the emotional trauma of divorce has a long-term impact on the physical health of the body.
- * Men and women both suffer a decline in mental health following divorce, but researchers have found that women are more greatly affected. Some of the mental health indicators impacted by divorce include depression, hostility, self-acceptance, personal growth, and positive relations with others.
- * People often view divorce as a way to end fighting, but the problems usually don’t go away after divorce. Often, anger and animosity only increase when a divorce occurs. Furthermore, the problems aren’t solved by a second marriage.
- * Second marriages have a much higher rate of divorce than first marriages./
- * Divorced parents also suffer in their relationships with their children.
To read the full article, How Would Divorce Affect Me?, please click on the provided link:
For someone like me, I needed to see the research. I have never been divorced, however, the added situational stress, has made the option come up during times of heated argument. Looking at the facts that have been found through research was exactly what I needed to put things in perspective.
Is divorce really worth all of the negative consequences? Despite the hurt, the pain, the trials, the suffering…the answer is NO.
So how do you go forward? Well, that will be addressed in Marriage, Hardship, and Endurance (Part II). So, stay tuned.
Thank you for reading. I truly appreciate your support and encouragement. May you find your own personal happiness and look at your spouse and tell them just how beautiful they are.