Tuesday, June 14, 2016

MarriageMonday: "Woah, you guys _________"

We were talking marriage with an engaged friend recently. We're pretty open with our journey and life so when we mentioned out time in counseling with a friend I was surprised when he responded with, "Woah, I didn't know you went to counseling." Maybe it put us in a different category in his mind or maybe it was a sigh of relief to hear that even those you look up to have their junk.

Fill in the blank:

"Whoa, you guys:
  • fight (like call each other not so nice names kinda fight)
  • ignore each other for your phones
  • put other people/things above each other
  • have gone to counseling
  • struggle with intimacy (that doesn't just mean sex)
  • go to bed angry
  • wake up angry
  • and so on...
Often times I like to throw our messy out there. Sometimes it is because I don't want my people getting the wrong idea (that we are anything close to perfect). Social media does a good job of making people think everyone else has it good. Often it is because we work with college kids and the last thing I want is them deeming "#relationshipgoals" on us. I mean, I am flattered, but that just isn't the full story.

Have you ever watched someone you admired? They do everything right. They treat people well. They keep their home tidy. They go on adventures. They eat the right things. They parent nicely. Whatever it is. It looks glamorous, good, perfect. BUT then you get a little glimpse into the messy and you are relieved. Relieved they aren't actually perfect. Relieved you are a little more like them then you believed.

Well, be relieved here people.

Marriage isn't always pretty. Marriage isn't always exciting. Marriage isn't always easy.

What relationship is? If yours is, good for you (and good luck convincing me).

We've been to counseling. Twice. Once just after our first year of dating. Again about a year into marriage. They were for different reasons and not because we hated each other. But why isn't the point. The point is that we needed some help. We needed some unbiased support. We needed counseling.

We fight, a lot. I am stubborn, often right (so I think), easy worked up, hangry (this has really caused fights) and so on. We communicate differently. We miss each other. We get short with each other when we are busy, exhausted and stressed.

Our first year was filled with big decisions we didn't know how to make together. We disagreed a lot. We fought a lot. It sucked a lot.

So what do you do when you feel like you've got more junk than you'd like?
Of course, it depends, but here's some guidelines we've valued:
  1. Choose each other. Sure, your person isn't perfect. But you committed for a reason (well, reasons). Remember that. Choosing takes discipline. Choosing helps adjust your attitude. Choosing values your person above temporary feelings. 
  2. Share. Please don't keep it in. Communicate with your person. Let your feelings be heard. Hear theirs. Learn to speak each others language.  
  3. Enlist the support of your tribe. Who are your people? Who do you trust? Who will tell you the truth (not just what you want to hear)? Who will lift you (and your spouse) up? Call/text/enjoy a glass of wine/spend time with that person. We're not always rational when we're heated or defeated. The perspective of those we trust can be pivotal. 
  4. Have Fun. Make time for fun. Have date nights. Plan getaways (quarterly, yearly). Be engaged as you ask about your persons day. Pursue the things you enjoy together (or the things your person enjoys). This isn't easy when life is heavy but it is so valuable to keep the connection and intimacy alive. 
  5. Spend time in God's word/praying. For me it is often journaling or taking a walk. I put this one last. Not because it should be but because often that is how I (maybe we) function. I go through my list of options/resources and my last thought is, "Hey, I should stop and pray about this." Lame indeed. But I am human. And I struggle with this. But I also know how valuable this time and discipline it. 
I like this picture of us from a recent trip because it isn't perfect. It isn't well posed or planned and my hair is weird, but it is us. 

Less focus on how cool other people look.
Less focus on the way other people live.
Less focus on what they have or don't have.
More focus on what you've got and making it the best.

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